Want to fall asleep faster? Try this

Want to fall asleep faster? Try this

Tired of lying awake at night trying to fall asleep?

How often do you find yourself calculating how many hours of sleep you’ll get if you could start sleeping that moment?

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests something you can try.

Researchers sought to determine if writing down future-focused thoughts before bed could help people sleep faster. They studied the sleep patterns of nearly 60 participants between the ages of 18-30 as they slept overnight in a lab. Half of the participants were asked to spend five minutes before bed writing down a to-do list of things they’d like to complete in the next few days.

The other half of participants were told to spend five minutes writing a “completed” list of things they had accomplished in the last few days.

The results were promising.

The participants who wrote to-do lists fell asleep nine minutes faster than those who wrote completed lists. Also worth noting – those who wrote longer, more specific lists fell asleep faster than those who wrote shorter, more general ones.

“My experience has shown that this type of technique can work very well for some people,” says Dr. Kevin Krippner, clinical psychologist with Advocate Medical Group.

“Many people have a hard time falling asleep because they are thinking about problems or their work for the next day,” Dr. Krippner says. “Making a list of tasks that will need to be addressed during the next day can help many people let go of their worries, as they have a plan in place for addressing the issues.”

Dr. Krippner cautions that some people may become more anxious by pulling together a list of uncompleted tasks.

“It would be important for someone who is considering this strategy to determine if making a list would make them more or less anxious,” he says.

How can you tell?

“The best way might be to try the strategy for a few days and see how it impacts the length of time it takes to fall asleep,” Dr. Krippner says.

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  1. I’m not sure how helpful this is.
    I could not fall asleep before work tonight– stress factors= a lot on my mind. Before lying down, I made of list of things to do the following day. I stayed awake, in part, remembering things I forgot to add to the list, but being too tired to get up and write it down. Then I stressed that I might forget to add it to the list.

  2. Never take tomorrow to bed with you. Play your day over from beginning to end, or do it in reverse.

About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator at Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks and playing with her dog, Bear and cats, Demi and Elle.