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Various people were told it is best to express your feelings and thoughts on paper. Bottling up your emotions and keeping them inside, could cause major stress on your body. That’s where the subject of diaries and journals come in to position. They are made to help others who can’t express their feelings verbally, express their feelings by writing them down. Writing however, does have a significant connection to sleep.
Writing can affect how we sleep in multiple ways. “Forty percent of American adults say they have difficulty falling asleep at least a few times each month. The most common reason is an inability to stop thinking about…whatever it is you can’t stop thinking about.” (Denworth, 2018). Almost everyone has had trouble falling asleep either because they were worried about something or someone, or they constantly can’t stop thinking about a situation. Studies shows that if we write down our thoughts before we go to bed, then you’ll be able to fall asleep faster at night. “There’s something about the act of writing, physically writing something on paper, that tends to offload it a little bit, or help us hit the pause button on it. The outcome seems to be [that] you decrease cognitive arousal, and you decrease rumination and worry” (Denworth, 2018).
Cognitive arousal comes from a theory that was created by Stanley Schachter and Jerome E. Singer. This theory is known to the cause of misinterpret thoughts because it is based off two factors: cognitive label and physiological arousal. To sum this up, writing your feelings down before bed, will help you fall asleep faster but it will also decrease the chance of misinterpreting your thoughts. Not only does writing before bed helps you fall asleep quicker but writing a to-do list versus a completed list, will also affect how you sleep. “If you test people’s memory for things that were unfinished versus things that were completed, people remember the things that were unfinished a lot better. It seems that unfinished tasks rest at what we call a heightened level of cognitive activation” (Denworth, 2018).
Cognitive activation is the idea of stress. It is about learning new ways to solve problems and focusing on the steps that was taken to solve the problem. Not so much of focusing on the answer itself but the action. When something is not done, our mind tends to drift off towards that because we consistently think about ways we can complete that project. We think of events that will happen the next day that will affect how the project gets done.
From personal experience, I can recall a time where I had a major mid term project due. Of course, I was a procrastinator, so I waited till the day before it was due to fully complete it. It was late in the night and I told myself that I was going to finish it in the morning. Moral of the story, I was up all night and I didn’t get any sleep because I was thinking about this unfinished project that I still had to complete. The next day I was drowsy, and I didn’t feel very well. I did finish my project but because of my lack of sleep, my presentation did not reflect my best work. Thinking back, some ways I could’ve took to avoid this situation would include; not waiting until the last minute to finish or taking a few minutes before bed to write down exactly what I needed to do in order to complete it. Based on the reason of not having that completed or written down, I lost a very much effective sleep and major points on an important assignment. Don’t be like me. Write your thoughts down.
Researchers and readers still have unanswered questions pertaining to writing and the affects of sleep. The two main questions Denworth is being asked are, did to-do lists improve sleep in other ways? If so, do you think the effect can be sustained? Her response was “We haven’t tested that. It could be, yes, because each night you’ve got this big to-do list. But [it’s also true that] the to-do list fluctuates, and how much you accomplish during the day also feeds into that. So maybe it’s going to be most effective on the nights when you have a whole lot of stuff to do, and it’s more likely to be eating at you if you don’t write things down” (Denworth, 2018). During this study, I believed she used an experiment for only one night.
The goal of this study is more so understanding because we are having the ability to understand the connection between writing and sleep. You write down your day’s thoughts, you get a longer sleep. Structuralism is an idea founded by Wilhelm Wundt and his ideas was focused more on the structure of mental life into the building blocks of life (personal experiences). This study corresponds more with structuralism because the connection between writing and sleep is reflecting off your pass experiences and analyzing them into your mental life, to determine the amount of sleep your will get. In this experiment, the dependent variable is the amount of time it takes for that individual to fall asleep. The independent variable is taking five minutes before bed to write down your thoughts, feelings, or your to-do list.
In conclusion, taking a little time before bed to reflect on your day is very effective. It will determine how your body act towards sleep. Remember our body need as much energy as it can get, so we should treat it with care. Even the littlest thing, can affect how much sleep we can receive. Our brains are always working, so it is highly recommended that we clear our mind while we are sleeping to get that full stock of energy for the next day. One way to achieve that is to write.
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