This Trick Might Help You Fall Asleep Earlier Every Night

This simple sleep technique is drug-free and cost-free, and a study suggests its impact is comparable to using pharmaceutical sleep aids.

This Trick Might Help You Fall Asleep Earlier Every Night Photo by wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com

Struggling to get some shut-eye? The cure for your insomnia might be as simple as grabbing a pen and paper.

Spending five minutes writing a to-do list prior to going to bed might help you fall asleep faster, according to a study out of Baylor University published earlier this year in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

As part of the study, participants assigned to write a to-do list fell asleep in 16 minutes, on average. That compared with 25 minutes for participants assigned to write about tasks they already had completed.

The more detailed you are in your to-do list, the better. The study notes:

“The more specifically participants wrote their to-do list, the faster they subsequently fell asleep … Therefore, to facilitate falling asleep, individuals may derive benefit from writing a very specific to-do list for 5 min at bedtime rather than journaling about completed activities.”

Lead study author Michael K. Scullin — director of Baylor’s Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory and assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor — told Psychology Today that the nine-minute difference is comparable to the difference seen in recent clinical trials for pharmaceutical sleep aids.

He says that making a to-do list is a “quick little thing” people can do to “fall asleep faster than they probably would have otherwise.”

More tips for falling asleep

Jotting down a few notes prior to bedtime is far from the only unusual suggestion for helping you fall asleep. In our story “7 Crazy Ways to Guarantee a Better Night’s Sleep,” we highlight several more suggestions, including snacking on cherries and bananas before turning in:

Cherries contain natural melatonin, known for regulating the body’s circadian rhythm. Bananas are rich in calming magnesium, which can help promote a relaxed, sleep-ready state.

Changing your lightbulbs also might help you sleep. I write about this in “How Cheap Light Bulbs Let Me Sleep Soundly.”

I’ve dealt with insomnia since my teens, but a single change — to LED bulbs — has made a world of difference. Check out the article to find out more about how this has helped.

For more tips on catching 40 winks, check out:

What’s your take on this study’s findings? Would you try spending five minutes writing a to-do list before bed? Let us know by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More

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