The Struggle to Fall Asleep

Dr. Lorin Bradbury, author of "Treasures from an Old Book, Ancient Wisdom for a Modern World".

by Dr. Lorin Bradbury

Question: I love to sleep, once I fall asleep, but I struggle to fall asleep, so sometimes I dread getting into bed, knowing I am going to have a hard time falling asleep. Is there anything I can do that might help?

Answer: In a recent article published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, psychologists at Baylor University tested the hypothesis that writing down future-focused thoughts could help people fall sleep.

To test their theory, they recruited 57 healthy adults, ages 18 to 30, and their sleep patterns were monitored overnight in a lab. The recruits were divided into two groups. The individuals in the first group were asked to take five minutes to write down everything they had to do the next day. The second group wrote down a list of tasks they had completed earlier that day and a few days prior.

The results found that those who wrote down tasks they had to accomplish the next day fell asleep, on average, nine minutes faster than those who made of list of previously completed tasks. Further, those who wrote longer lists fell asleep faster than those who wrote shorter lists.

Researchers believe what happens when you write down the to-do list for tomorrow is that you offload the tasks on to paper, reducing the amount of time ruminating on the uncompleted tasks.

Give this a try and see if it works for you. If your insomnia persists, talk with your medical provider, or contact a sleep specialist.

Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel. For appointments, he can be reached at 543-3266. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to [email protected]

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