Node Smith, ND

Could Writing a “To-Do” List at Bedtime Help You Sleep?

There are many reasons why people have trouble sleeping. But one thingisfor sure, people have trouble sleeping. A current estimate from the National Sleep Foundation states that 40 percent of Americans struggle with sleep.

Always being “On” and Available 24/7 Could be the Culprit to Getting a Good Night’s Rest

One factor that upsets sleep is our 24/7 culture. We are expected to always be “on.” Many of us sleep with our phones on, next to our beds, subconsciously waiting for some pressing business to wake us in the middle of the night. And it’s relatively common for individuals to lay in bed for hours ruminating on what needs to be done the following day.

Research Suggests Taking 5 Minutes Before Bed to Write a To-Do List Might Help with Sleep Struggles

This latter point is the underlying rationale for a recent study on sleep. A research team looked at whether taking 5-minutes before bed to write down a “to-do” list might actually help people sleep better. It did!

Small Sleep Study Compared 2 Groups

The research study was relatively small, however it compared 2 groups – one group took 5 minutes to write down a “to-do” list for the following day and the other group took 5 minutes to jot down a list of completed task of that day, or previous days. The study was conducted at a sleep lab, on a weeknight to ensure that weekend sleep factors did not interfere with results. All participants were in a controlled environment where they went to bed at 10:30 pm and had minimal distractions (no technology, work, or homework).

To-Do-List Group Fell Asleep Faster Than the Other Group

The findings showed that participants who completed a “to-do” list fell asleep faster than the other group. Furthermore, the more specific the “to-do” lists were, the faster the participants fell asleep. The opposite was found with the other group.

So, the next time you’re having trouble sleeping because you’re thinking about all the things you have to do over the next day or two, get up and make a list. It may give your mind the go-ahead to stop thinking about it, and take a break.


Image Copyright: <a href=’’>arsenisspyros / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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