What do Ambien, counting sheep, and making to-do lists have in common? Turns out, they can all help you fall asleep faster.
A study at Baylor University asked two groups of volunteers to write out lists before going to bed. Group One was asked to write a to-do list of things they needed to do over the next few days, and Group Two was asked to write a list of tasks already completed. End result? Those in Group One who wrote out to-do lists fell asleep nine minutes faster; an effect similar to some sleeping aids.
I’ve been doing this for years. Who knew it was helping me fall asleep.
My day always ends with writing out my next day’s to-do list. Not only does this create an agenda for me to follow when I wake, but it frees my mind of trying to remember all the stuff I need to do. And there’s a lot of stuff. Work deadlines, food shopping, scheduling appointments, posting pictures of gloves—the list is endless and relentless, and unless I write it down it follows me to bed.
For many of us, a good night’s sleep is often a thing of our dreams. We may shut off our cell phones, turn on our sound machines, and climb into satiny sheets, but sleep remains out of reach. Which is where the pen and paper come in. Writing down tasks or thoughts bouncing around in our heads eliminates the worry of not forgetting, makes big issues seem minor and allows our brains to sign off for the day and fall asleep.
But those extra nine minutes of sleep isn’t the only benefit. The more well rested you are, the more productive you can be at tackling that to-do list. It’s a win-win.