It may not change the world, may not get you published or make you famous, but writing in a journal every night may be just the trick to get you to sleep at night.
A recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology shed an interesting light on how the act of writing in a journal for five minutes each night before bed may have a significant impact on how you sleep.
Unclog your brain.
In the study, 57 young adults were divided up into groups to study how their behavior affected how quickly they fell asleep. One group was tasked with writing out a to-do list of things they needed to accomplish over the next day or two. The other group was asked to write a list of tasks they had accomplished that day.
At first, it seems counterintuitive: the group that wrote out a to-do list fell asleep on average 9 minutes faster. But the more you think about it, the more it makes sense. You see, we carry around a constant to-do list in our minds. It swirls all day, and doesn’t really stop just because it’s bedtime. The accomplishment group — the ones who wrote about their completed tasks — they may have temporarily felt some pride in what they did that day, but that didn’t stop their minds from swirling about what needed to happen next.
The to-do list group, on the other hand, was able to let it all go. By writing out those tasks, we’re able to sort of get it off our chests, and out of our heads. It decreases our instinct to ruminate — to think about things over and over — and at the same time decreases our anxiety about those tasks.