Insomnia – How writing a to-do list can help insomnia!


Is Insomnia keeping you awake?


Insomnia affects millions of people

Insomnia and sleep problems are a common complaint from millions of people every year. As our stress levels reach new heights, the working day gets longer, more is expected of us and we have bigger bills to pay its hardly surprising that for many people getting a good night’s sleep is a big problem.

But anyone suffering with insomnia may be surprised to know that getting to sleep might be a little easier than most of us realise! According to new research from Baylor University in Texas, people who write to-do lists tend to fall asleep approximately nine minutes faster than those who write about tasks they have already completed. Furthermore, those who write more detailed and longer lists tend to fall asleep more quickly than those who write shorter more general lists.

Sleep study research

Michael Scullin PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Baylor University says “We think that when people offload everything in their mind that might be hard to remember otherwise, it gives them some relief from that rumination”. He adds ”It seems to be the act of writing it out that’s the key ingredient”.

Scullin who is Baylor University’s director of Sleep and Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory was pleasantly surprised by the findings. “We live in a 24/7 culture in which our to-do lists seem to be constantly growing and causing us to worry about unfinished tasks at bedtime,” he says. He goes onto say that “Most people just cycle through their to-do lists in their heads, and so we wanted to explore whether the act of writing them down could counteract night-time difficulties with falling asleep.”

It seems that spending 5 minutes writing down specific upcoming duties versus chronicling completed activities makes the difference.

57 Students were asked to stay the night in the lab on a weekday night. They were divided into two group. One group were asked to write down everything they needed to remember to do over the next day or next few days. The other group were asked to write about tasks that they had completed during the previous few days.

The more specific the to-do list the faster you’ll fall asleep

Whilst a small sample size, the study showed that those who wrote their lengthy to-do lists benefited from an additional 9 minutes of extra sleep per night. Whilst this may not sound like a lot but is comparable to the improvement we see in clinical trials for some prescription drugs to aid sleep and insomnia.  Scullin comments that “It’s not insignificant. Getting nine extra minutes of sleep every night can actually make a real difference.”

And for those of us who may consistently have difficulty getting to sleep may benefit from the additional shut eye each month. What’s more Scullin adds “It’s a quick and low-cost thing you can easily do for a few days to see if it has any benefit for you.”

Help with sleep problems

Rebecca Sanderson, Clinical Hypnotherapist and Director of The Mindset Clinic in Watford, Hertfordshire says. “I help a lot of people with chronic sleep problems. One of the many things I recommend is to write down worries and things to remember to do before going to sleep. The mind can settle more easily if it doesn’t have to keep remembering things”. With 1 in 3 people suffering from mild insomnia it is a common problem for many people in the UK.

Writing a to-do list is an easy thing to do – and it’s free! Of course if it doesn’t work then you can always seek out a specialist service like The Mindset Clinic to help work through any issues or worries that might be contributing to sleep problems. Rebecca adds “It’s tempting to see a GP for medication if you can’t sleep but there are many alternatives to aiding a good night’s sleep. Sleep hypnosis is a wonderful thing to try and experience if you are having problems getting to sleep, waking up from sleep or feeling tired when you wake up in the morning”.

Contact or call 07803 603 882 today to find out how we can help you sleep better.