Lying in bed, overthinking and over-planning rarely accomplishes anything but making you over-tired the next day. It may be better to get those thoughts out in the open, even right up to the time that you go to bed than trying to inwardly compile your to-do lists, says a new study.
Researchers from Baylor’s Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory focused on a type of cognitive offloading in an experiment to determine if there was an easier way to alleviate the nighttime tasking that keeps so many of us up at night. The researchers monitored brain activity in two groups of participants who were asked to spend 5 minutes before sleeping to write down what they needed to focus on remembering. The other group journaled what tasks they had already completed in the preceding days.
The groups that wrote down their goals for the next few days and detailed their upcoming to-dos actually ended up falling asleep more quickly, but the group who only wrote about what had been done in the past experienced an increase in sleeping difficulties.
Could a simple fix like this help you fall asleep faster? It may be worth trying! Using good old- fashioned pen and paper could be a good way to get those feelings, goals, and desires out of our heads in a healthier way than trying to schedule things out on a device before bed. It may also keep your melatonin production where it needs to be without the effects of blue light from the screen, which could help you fall asleep more quickly as well.
Michael K. Scullin, Madison L. Krueger, Hannah K. Ballard, et al. The effects of bedtime writing on difficulty falling asleep: A polysomnographic study comparing to-do lists and completed activity lists.. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 2018; 147 (1): 139 DOI: 10.1037/xge0000374