Forget warm milk or counting sheep — study shows THIS is the way to fall asleep faster

Bethany Biron
Forget warm milk or counting sheep — study shows THIS is the way to fall asleep faster

With so much going on in our busy lives (not to mention the particularly anxiety-inducing news cycle), getting some quality shut-eye can be a real challenge. Luckily, a new study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology has a great tip to help you quiet your mind and fall asleep faster.

We already know that having sex before bed is one (really fun) way to get a good night’s sleep. Research has also shown that starting a worry journal can help quell your anxiety before you hit the sheets. But psychologists at Baylor University have found that one specific kind of pre-bedtime writing is key to falling asleep faster.

In the study, 57 adults between the ages of 18 and 30 had their sleep monitored in a lab overnight. Half of them took five minutes to write down future tasks they wanted to accomplish. The other half wrote down tasks they’d completed that day and in the previous few days. And guess what? People in the first group fell asleep nine minutes faster than those in the second group.

Michael Scullin, the study’s lead author, said it was the “act of writing it out” that helped participants fall asleep faster. Simply thinking of a to-do list in their minds wouldn’t cut it.

“When people offload everything in their mind that might be hard to remember otherwise, it gives them some relief from that rumination,” Scullin told Time magazine.

Before you scoff at the idea of just a few extra minutes of sleep, consider this:

“It’s not insignificant,” Scullin said. “Getting nine extra minutes of sleep every night can actually make a real difference.”

The Dalai Lama once said “Sleep is the best meditation.” If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for us.

Bonus: There is such a thing as the best way to make a to-do list, so you’re already getting a head start on your new pre-bedtime ritual. Score!

So, if you really want to fall asleep faster, grab a notebook and jot down the things you need to get done the next day. And then GO DO THEM, like a #boss.

Happy writing and sweet dreams, friends.