I recently posted about the Bizarre Sleeping Habits of Famous People. The subject generated a lot of comments, so here’s a followup post on that. How can sleep help boost your writing?
Many writers find themselves in a creative slump every now and then. When you’re looking for ways to be more productive, creative, and efficient, you may not need to look any further than your own bedroom.
Sleep—the most basic of needs—is often all you really need.
It may sound too simple, but sleep acts as your body’s way of healing and recharging. It’s also when key aspects of learning and creative problem solving take place.
Increase Your Creative Edge
Your creativity, in part, relies on a full night’s rest.
You may be unaware of the world around you while you sleep, but your brain is hard at work. While you sleep, your brain keeps working through problems or tasks you’ve encountered during the day, actively looking for solutions.
In so doing, sleep enhances your insight and ability to think creatively. If you can’t figure out how to get your protagonist from point A to point F, the answer may come after you’ve slept. Your brain goes through possible solutions and scenarios while you’re completely unaware. If you’ve ever woken from sleep and the answer to a complex plot twist suddenly hit you, it’s probably because your brain worked through the solution during the night.
Absorb, Connect, and Retain
Writers are learners. Whether it’s observing human behavior or absorbing new technical information to give your characters real-world credibility, writers are constantly in learning mode.
While you sleep, the brain gets to work putting new information and experiences into the context of what you already know. Knowledge deepens and gains context when it fits within the framework you already have. It also allows you, as the writer, to use information in ways only you can. After all, you are what makes your writing unique.
Deep insight into human behavior and motivation builds worlds and characters with the breadth and depth that make them come alive.
The brooding artist archetype may seem mysterious and exciting, but in reality, it can make for irritability and mood swings. Additionally, writers (present company included) are known for their self-doubt and imposter syndrome. Sleep can alleviate both.
Without sleep, the emotional center of the brain goes into hyperdrive by overreacting to negative thoughts and feelings. Usually, the logical part of the brain steps in and keeps things under control. However, when you’re running low on sleep, this part of the brain goes dormant.
Sleep keeps everything in balance, including your imposter syndrome.
Build Better Sleep Habits
- Comfort is Key: Everything in the bedroom should lead you to sleep. Your mattress should support your weight and maintain a neutral spinal position. If you struggle with hip or back pain, try a pillow between the knees and be sure your head pillow doesn’t kink your neck.
- Consistent Sleep Schedule: A consistent bedtime regulates the release of sleep hormones. It also strengthens your body’s response to your circadian rhythms, which control all of your biological cycles that repeat within a 24-hour period.
- Create a Bedtime Routine: A bedtime routine helps you transition from a stressful day into a restful sleep. Start it at the same time each day and perform each activity in the same order. Include activities that release physical and mental stress and tension.
- Eat for Sleep: Fuel your body with nutritional foods. Eat your meals at regular times and intervals to strengthen your body and stabilize your circadian rhythms. Check out my post, 5 Foods and Drinks to Help you Boost your Creativity, for more surprising ideas on how your diet can help you write.
Sleep can be a full partner in your creativity and productivity. Make it a priority, and you may find the solutions to plot issues and find more joy in your writing process!
Great advice, Nicholas. I’ve been prioritising sleep after a medical episode a few months ago, and I’ve found a good night’s sleep makes a world of difference to my health – and my creativity. One thing I stopped doing was checking my phone in the middle of the night. Have a fab week, Toni
Spot-on, Tine! That’s why I always put my phone in airplane mode before sleeping. Saves me from the temptation to check 🙂
I need 8-10 hours a night or I’m a bear, lol
Same here! Now to convince the wee one of that…
Sorry, I was asleep! 🙂
Lol–I love a man who can sleep like that 😀