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J Exp Psychol Gen. 2018 Jan;147(1):139-146. doi: 10.1037/xge0000374. Epub 2017 Oct 23.

The effects of bedtime writing on difficulty falling asleep: A polysomnographic study comparing to-do lists and completed activity lists.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Baylor University.
2
Department of Neurology, Emory University School of Medicine.

Abstract

Bedtime worry, including worrying about incomplete future tasks, is a significant contributor to difficulty falling asleep. Previous research showed that writing about one's worries can help individuals fall asleep. We investigated whether the temporal focus of bedtime writing-writing a to-do list versus journaling about completed activities-affected sleep onset latency. Fifty-seven healthy young adults (18-30) completed a writing assignment for 5 min prior to overnight polysomnography recording in a controlled sleep laboratory. They were randomly assigned to write about tasks that they needed to remember to complete the next few days (to-do list) or about tasks they had completed the previous few days (completed list). Participants in the to-do list condition fell asleep significantly faster than those in the completed-list condition. The more specifically participants wrote their to-do list, the faster they subsequently fell asleep, whereas the opposite trend was observed when participants wrote about completed activities. Therefore, to facilitate falling asleep, individuals may derive benefit from writing a very specific to-do list for 5 min at bedtime rather than journaling about completed activities. (PsycINFO Database Record.

PMID:
29058942
PMCID:
PMC5758411
[Available on 2019-01-01]
DOI:
10.1037/xge0000374

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