|June 6, 2024

Do This One Thing to Fall Asleep Faster, Says New Study

By Julie Hand
Reviewed for Scientific Accuracy

Do This One Thing to Fall Asleep Faster, Says New Study

A study[1] in the Journal of Experimental Psychology demonstrates that people who took five minutes to write a to-do list for the next day before going to bed fell asleep faster. For the 40% of Americans who report trouble falling asleep at least a few times a month, this is a valuable technique to try.

Study suggests writing a to-do list helps you fall asleep 9 minutes faster

Baylor University psychologists theorized that writing down future-based thoughts before bed might help people sleep. To test the theory, they recruited 57 healthy adults, ages 18-30, and monitored their sleep patterns in a lab overnight. Half of the participants wrote down “everything you have to remember to do tomorrow and over the next few days,” the study authors write. The other participants wrote about tasks they completed earlier in the day or previous days.

Participants’ sleep data, including eye movement and brain-wave activity, revealed that people who made to-do lists drifted off nine minutes faster than the other group. Furthermore, people who jotted down elaborate to-do details fell asleep the fastest. Sure, nine minutes doesn’t seem like much time on the clock, however it is about the same amount of sleep you gain on prescription sleep medication. A to-do list is surely more cost-effective than prescription medication, and doesn’t have the adverse effects[2].

More tips for better zzz’s

Whether or not you struggle with insomnia, there are plenty of ways to improve the quality of your sleep, so you get more — and better — rest in less time. Quality sleep is one of the most important ways to boost brain function, longevity, and performance in all areas of your life. Here are a few ways to hack your sleep for better rest:

  • Stop drinking coffee by 2:00 p.m. each day, or at least 8 hours prior to bedtime (earlier if you’re sensitive to it)
  • Turn off electronics, including TV, phones and tablets two hours before bedtime — or at least dim them
  • Go to bed by 11:00 p.m. — your body creates a cortisol surge after 11 p.m. which gives you a burst of energy and keeps you awake.

For more lifestyle, food and supplement tips on how to sleep more efficiently, check out

How to Hack Your Sleep: The Art and Science of Sleeping.


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