People who spent the five minutes before bed writing a to-do list for the next day fell asleep faster than those who spent the same time journaling about what they had accomplished that day, says a new study.
Anxiety about what you have to do tomorrow prevents your brain from drifting off to sleep, explains lead study author Michael Scullin, Ph.D., principal investigator at the Sleep Neuroscience & Cognition Laboratory at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. "Writing helps us to off-load information from our mind. We don’t have to keep obsessing over it because we know we have it on paper," he says.
What’s more, it’s worth glancing at the more detailed tasks, such as your full exercise routine, a second time. "There's some evidence that what you’re thinking about at night is more likely to be consolidated while you sleep, so it’s possible that taking a deeper look at your workout could prepare you to follow through more effectively on it the next day."
Take five minutes each night to make a list of the next day’s tasks and be specific. Vagueness such as 'pack gym bag' can cause more rumination and keep you awake longer, notes Scullin. Instead, you should list out each individual item that you need to bring.