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Why Writing a To-Do List Can Improve Your Sleep

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Have you ever tossed and turned at night, thoughts racing in your head as you reflect on all you have to do the next day?


Worrying about what lies ahead can put a serious damper on our sleep.


Luckily, there's a quick and easy way you can tackle those concerns: writing to-do lists.


The Benefits of Writing a To-Do List

Writing to-do lists provides more benefits than you may think. According to researchers, it helps relieve stress and anxiety, reduce doctor visits, and leads to better quality sleep.


The Journal of Experimental Psychology published a 2018 study where participants followed the same rules: lights out at 10:30 p.m., no technology, and spend five minutes writing before bed.


However, one group wrote about what they had done earlier in the week, while the other wrote about upcoming tasks. The result? The second group fell asleep an average of nine minutes faster. If the participants were more specific about their to-do list, they fell asleep even more quickly.


Making lists helps lighten your mind's load before bed. Rather than having upcoming tasks bouncing around in your head, you've written them down — which helps you sleep more soundly.


Nighttime writing can also help improve memory. Sure, you may still forget where you left the keys once in a while, but you'll remember a lot more overall.


The act of putting pen to paper before bed helps with building a regular sleep routine, too. You can even track items like when you go to bed and how many hours of sleep you get per night.


How to Write an Effective To-Do List

Even knowing the positive impact of a to-do list, it may seem daunting to start one. But don't worry — you can simply follow this to-do list template and you'll be making lists in no time.


Jot Down Your Gratitudes and Worries

A gratitude journal is an easy way to create a regular writing habit. To get started, simply write down things you're grateful or thankful for in a notebook or ledger every day. Then explore why you're grateful. Did you overcome a challenge? Or do you have something in your life that provides consistent joy?


By writing these thankful things down, you're accomplishing two things. One, you're reflecting on positive achievements. Two, you're laying the groundwork for future to-dos. If one of your accomplishments was that you finished a workout you had struggled with, you already have that foundation in place for your next workout task.


You can also take this time to write down any stresses or worries. Writing down what's on your mind ensures you won't forget later on. This has a calming effect before bed as well.


Separate Work Tasks and Chores

Especially if you do work at home, it's important to draw clear lines between office work and chores. An easy way to do that: create two separate task columns.


Write down your work to-dos for the day in one column. In the other, put chores to accomplish. Packing too much into the list can make everything cluttered. Aim for five to seven work tasks and two to three chores and you'll have a much better shot at success.


Focus on One Day

Making a to-do list for the entire week can leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed. And if it's a particularly busy week, you might strain your wrist from all that writing!


Instead, break down your to-dos for the next day only. You'll want the items to be realistic, too. For example, if it's difficult to find time to work out, you probably wouldn't write “run ten miles." Instead, you may add "walk for ten minutes." That's certainly doable!


Write Specific and Achievable Items

Breaking a to-do list into specific and actionable items helps to keep you focused. That focus means you're more likely to accomplish your task list.


Writing “finish the project" or “network more" is vague and makes it tough to see the finish line. But “add links to presentation" or “send three emails to potential clients?" Now you know what you're working toward.


To-do lists don't take much time to put together, yet they can provide a world of benefits. Give it a try before you go to bed tonight. When you wake up in your Sleep Number® bed tomorrow, you'll be ready to tackle the day.


Like diet and exercise, quality sleep has a profound impact on our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. Because no two people sleep the same, Sleep Number 360® smart beds, with SleepIQ® technology, sense your movements and automatically adjust firmness, comfort and support to keep you both sleeping comfortably and provide proven quality sleep. Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night's sleep, and if you own a Sleep Number® bed, log in to your InnerCircle℠ Rewards account to see your exclusive offers, refer friends and more.

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