Do you ever lie awake at night thinking about all the tasks you need to accomplish the next day? Writing your to-do list before going to bed might actually help you get a better night’s sleep, according to a new study from researchers at Baylor University in Texas.

In our fast-paced culture, our to-do lists are ever-growing. Most people just cycle through their long to-do lists in their heads. The researchers set out to discover whether the act of writing the list down, instead of just cycling through it in their minds, would help people fall asleep easier.


The researchers found that out of 57 university students, the group of students who wrote down their to-do list five minutes before going to bed actually slept better than the half of the group who wrote down tasks they already completed.

Writing down a to-do list might help reduce anxiety, thus leading to a better night’s sleep because your worries are out of your head and in a journal, the researchers proposed.

“The practice of journaling is often used to help reduce stress and anxiety. Writing down tasks or problems can help individuals think more clearly about solutions and process them emotionally,” said Dr. Marissa Leslie, medical director of Adventist HealthCare Behavioral Health & Wellness Services in Rockville.

While writing a to-do list before bed might help to reduce anxiety for some, other stress management techniques might work better for others.


Try these tips to reduce stress.

  • Relax for 30 minutes per day, whether it’s reading, listening to music or meditating
  • Exercise regularly, whether it’s walking, cycling or dance fitness
  • Balance work and play
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals
  • Stick to the same bed time each night for a full night’s rest
Marissa Leslie, MD

Marissa Leslie, MD

Marissa Leslie, MD, is the medical director of Adventist HealthCare Behavioral Health & Wellness Services in Rockville.

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