I do ten stupid things before breakfast, but I did not spell the word “write” incorrectly.  Sleep deprivation is a serious problem and I have been teaching the following technique for years.  Now there is scientific evidence to back it up.  According to a study recently published from Baylor University, taking 5 minutes before you go to sleep and writing down what you are thinking about may help you sleep better.

“We’ve known for a few years now that the act of writing helps decrease ‘cognitive arousal’ and worry,” says Dr. Michael K. Scullin, PhD, Director of Baylor’s Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory.  “We started this research with patients that had anxiety disorders and had them write everything they’re anxious about.  It helped!”

Last year, Americans spent an astounding $41 billion dollars on sleep aids.  This should increase to $52 billion by 2020.  Over 40% of Americans are sleep deprived with the average sleep time being 6.8 hours per night.  That’s down over an hour from 1942.  Experts recommend between 7-8 hours per night.  One reason is that the average bed time is now 11:19 pm.

In the study for lost sleep time, researchers took two groups of test subjects.  The first group wrote for 5 minutes on what they did that particular day.  The second group spent 5 minutes writing down their thoughts and what they needed to accomplish the next day.  They had to be finished at 10:30 pm, and there were no electronics allowed (take note Mr. President).  The second group not only fell asleep faster, but they experienced a much deeper sleep.  “That is similar to what some sleep medications have been shown to do in clinical trials,” said Scullin.

The more detailed group two wrote about their thoughts and “to-do-lists” for the next day, the faster they fell asleep.  The opposite was true of group one; the more specific they were in writing about their accomplishments that day, the longer it took them to slumber.

“It’s possible that writing your accomplishments actually had little or no effect,” said Scullin.  “If you’re only thinking about what you still have to do rather than writing it down, then that will make falling asleep more difficult.”

Quite simply, getting your thoughts out of your head and on to paper eases your mind.  “In other words, it helps your brain check off your “to-do-list,” said Scullin.  A Wake Forest University study confirms this.  It found that people who wrote tasks down completed them more effectively than those that went into the activity cold.

You are supposed to get 8 hours of sleep per night.  That’s spending 1/3 of your life in bed, which amounts to 9,125 hours, or a total of 25 years!  We have a lot of catching up to do people.  Start doing it the right way and start writing!

Dr. K

(For questions or feedback, please email me at drk1400@gmail.com)