Sleep was so great. I can still remember—so well!—the muted delight in putting my head down on a pillow, sliding my socks off under the covers, and falling quickly into REM sleep. Or later, post-children, lying face-down on the bed with a pillow doing its heroic best to safeguard against noisy nights. That worked pretty well, too.
But no longer!
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve accumulated more responsibilities, more worries, and apparently more always-firing synapses. I’ve consequently said a reluctant goodbye to an easy full-night’s sleep.
These days, sleep requires more rigorous methods of relaxation. I read of course…although some books put me to sleep more quickly than others. But now, in addition to reading, I’ve also started writing.
According to new research in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, writing—and specifically writing a to-do list—can promote sleep (or act as an aid for falling to sleep). Researchers found that people who wrote to-do lists fell asleep faster than people who instead wrote out their day’s accomplishments.
In some ways, it’s totally counterintuitive that writing out the day’s un-done tasks would provide a map to dreamland. In other ways, it makes a lot of sense. Writing has always been a method for imposing order on chaos. And writing a to-do list is often much more satisfying than actually completing any written-down tasks.
If you’re not sleeping either, perhaps your to-do list should include writing tonight.
English PhD, former arts administrator, obsessive cook, native East Coaster, mom to two rabblerousers.
English PhD, former high school teacher, obsessive organizer, native Midwesterner, mom to three troublemakers.