How to do lists can help you fall asleep faster

In 60 Seconds, I’m going to tell you about which sleep gifts people enjoyed most from my gift guide.

But first …

Did you know that writing to do lists or “worry lists” can actually help you get more sleep?

to do list tshirt-luma sleep

It’s true!

Time magazine reported on a Study from the Journal of Experimental Psychology shows:

“writing down worries, in general, can reduce stress levels and help people perform tasks more efficiently.” This was not a big surprise but psychologists at Baylor University wanted to see if writing down future-focused thoughts, specifically, could help people sleep.

To test their theory, they recruited 57 healthy adults, ages 18 to 30, to have their sleep patterns monitored overnight in a lab. Half of the people were asked to take five minutes to write down, in bullet points or in paragraph form, “everything you have to remember to do tomorrow and over the next few days,” the study authors write. The other half were asked to write down tasks they’d completed earlier that day and in the previous few days.

to do lists help fall asleep faster by luma sleep

Data from the participants’ sleep studies, including eye movement and brain-wave activity, showed that people who wrote to-do lists fell asleep nine minutes faster than those who wrote about completed tasks. What’s more, people who wrote longer and more specific to-do lists fell asleep faster than those who wrote shorter, more general ones.

“Nine minutes of extra sleep may not seem like a lot, but that is what we see in clinical trials for some prescription sleep medications currently on the market, says Scullin (Study Author).” –Time Magazine

Why is this so interesting?

A few reasons, first this study was not done with people who have sleep difficulties.

This data may get better for those with higher levels of anxiety since we know this technique helps reduce anxiety. Next, it is a non-addictive, non-drug way to improve sleep. Now here is what is really interesting, I didn’t participate in the study but I’ve been successfully using this technique with patients for many, many years!

So, here are the steps:

• Each night take five minutes and write down in detail what you need to remember to do tomorrow and the next few days.

DO NOT write about what tasks you completed during the day, stay focused on the future

• You can write out a simple bullet point list but try and be thorough, the people who wrote down longer, more thorough lists fell asleep faster than those who wrote the simple bullet point list.

• Try this process for two weeks and see what you notice.

• I like using this journal at night because as a psychologist, I like going back through my weeks and months of writing and looking for patterns of things that reoccur to see if I can optimize or improve. Having all of that in one place makes reading and finding them easy.

If you want to learn how to incorporate a “Worry Journal” into your sleep routine, you may want to check out my sleep course. Not only will you learn this technique, but you will learn relaxation techniques, supplements to try, and even a bedroom makeover for better sleep.