Can’t Sleep? Write a to-do List

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If you’re kept awake at night by worries about an upcoming work project, unpaid bills, or unfinished errands, a new study has a simple tip to help you fall asleep: Write a to-do list. Scientists at Baylor University made that discovery after asking 57 students to spend a night in a sleep lab free of smartphones and other distractions. Five minutes before a strictly enforced 10:30 p.m. bedtime, half of the volunteers wrote a list of things they needed to do over the next few days and the other half listed tasks they’d already completed. Researchers monitored the participants’ brain activity overnight and found that those who wrote a to-do list dozed off nine minutes faster on average – an effect similar to that of some pharmaceutical sleeping aids. “Throughout the day, we have all these things cycling through our head,” lead author Michael Scullin tells PsychologyToday.com. “There’s something about the act of writing, physically writing something on paper, that helps us hit the Pause button.”

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