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Why Making a To-Do List Before Bed Helps Me Sleep

If Stress Keeps You Up at Night, Try This Simple Trick That Totally Transformed My Sleep

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We bring you The Big Burn Out — a content series made up of honest personal essays, expert advice and practical recommendations.

There are few things I hate more than skimping on sleep. Even as a kid, the idea of not getting enough rest made me anxious and uneasy. I remember being a cranky, frazzled mess after grade-school sleepovers forced me to pull an all-nigher, to the point that my mother gently reminded me that I didn't have to go to slumber parties if they made me that miserable.

Not much has changed since then. I still hate missing out on sleep, whether I'm struggling to doze off or being woken during the night — two issues that crop up time and time again when I have a lot on my plate and mind. Thankfully, I've figured out a simple way to free up my brain and get some rest.

In a strange way, it feels like I'm transferring the never-ending ticker tape of my mind onto a sheet of paper.

Every night before bed, I make a very detailed to-do list in my journal. This list includes everything from work assignments I need to finish the next day to smaller tasks like calling my grandmother or organising my closet. I neatly outline everything that comes to mind, knowing that the next morning I will steadily tick off the boxes next to each item until they're all completed.

In a strange way, it feels like I'm transferring the never-ending ticker tape of my mind onto a sheet of paper — something tangible that I can pick up and put away when it's lights out. More importantly, writing down these bullets transforms my mountain of worry into an action plan for the next day, which helps to ease any anxiety I had leading up to bed.

When I'm done writing my list, I put the journal either on my shelf or in my bedroom drawer — not looking at it or picking it back up until the next morning. This allows me to climb into bed, knowing I won't lose any sleep thinking about how much I have to do. It's like putting my anxieties to bed, too, even if just for the night.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Sheila Gim
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