An activity that may work better than counting sheep

Can’t sleep? Try spending five minutes writing down your to-do list for tomorrow.

work sleep writingResearchers at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, conducted a study with 57 university students. Half were asked to spend five minutes writing about what they needed to do the next day. The others were asked to spend five minutes writing about what they had accomplished during the day, according to a news release.

The group that jotted down things to do fell asleep up to 10 minutes faster than the group that wrote about accomplishments.

“We live in a 24/7 culture in which our to-do lists seem to be constantly growing and causing us to worry about unfinished tasks at bedtime,” says Michael K. Scullin, lead author of the study and director of Baylor’s Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory. “Most people just cycle through their to-do lists in their heads, and so we wanted to explore whether the act of writing them down could counteract nighttime difficulties with falling asleep.”

The act of recording unfinished tasks seems to remove the worries, Scullin adds in a Jan. 15 article on “In other words, it helps your brain check off your to-do list.”