Sleep and Creativity

So after giving my recent bout of the blahs some more thought an analysis, I think I’ve figured out the primary cause: not enough sleep.

My dog Evita is a champion napper

My dog Evita is a champion napper

Now, this should be a no-brainer to a lot of people, but it wasn’t to me. I’ve always had trouble sleeping, even when I was a kid, so not getting enough sleep is nothing new. I also believe that each of us has our own optimal sleep-wake cycles, hence why we have “morning people” and “night owls”.  The traditional 8-5 work world, of which I’m a part, definitely is more suited to morning people, which I am definitely not. So there’s part of my problem: my body seems to much prefer going to bed at 1AM and sleeping until 9, but that doesn’t fit in with the day job very well (or school, way back when).

At this point, a lot of people say, “why don’t you just go to bed earlier?” And at which point, I bite back a sarcastic, “gee, why didn’t I think of that” and explain that just because I go to bed, doesn’t mean I go to sleep right away. In fact, going to bed when I’m not sleepy is pretty much a guarantee that I’ll sleep worse, not better. Naps are not an option either–I’ve never been able to sleep during the day, unless I’m sick or have a really bad migraine. Otherwise, they just don’t happen, no matter how tired I am. Besides, they are kind of frowned on at work.

I can adjust for my schedule a little, and usually try to go to bed around 11 (more like midnight) and get up around 7. But for the past few months, I’ve pushed past that, starting with NaNoWriMo back in November. I’d put off doing my writing until well after 10, and by the time I was done goofing off and actually getting to it, it was 11, and bedtime was closer to 1AM. Then came December and all the extras that entails. I took a week and a half off work, and my body happily stayed in its preferred schedule–even slipping it a bit later.

And I haven’t been able to fully adjust back since. So once I realized that, I worked on it a bit this week, and it helped. Being less physically tired meant being less mentally tired, too. But I still need to work on it. Better to spend less time awake, and make it more productive time, than to be awake more but staring at the computer like a zombie because I’m wiped out as soon as I get up.

ROW80Logo175How did that work out for me? I was still tired, so didn’t get as much physical activity in as I would have liked. But I did get to where I wanted with my writing and formatting, so that’s a win. Here are the details:

  • Format anthology for print and proofread – Done
  • 2500 words – Done
  • Fitness 3-4x – Partial: got 2x in

The writing especially went well–I was still tired early in the week, so all the writing got done Thursday-Saturday. Imagine what I could have done if I’d been more on my game earlier in the week! So it’s time to boost the word count. Here are this week’s goals:

  • Anthology: make corrections and upload
  • 3500 words
  • Fitness 3-4x

What about you–are you a morning person, or a night owl? If you have a job, kids or other responsibilities that force you out of your natural schedule, how do you deal with it? And whether or not you’re participating in ROW80, how did you do this week on whatever goals you might have had? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.
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12 Responses to \

  1. I’m a morning person. No matter what time I go to bed at night, if I’m not up before 7, I feel like I’m wasting the day!

    I thought that meant I could write better in the morning. And maybe I can, but I don’t. I have to do the OTHER stuff (stuff I don’t want to do, like exercise) in the morning or it doesn’t get done. Fortunately, I don’t mind writing in the afternoon. Good thing, huh?

  2. I was so tired all the time when I was working full time out of the house. I had to fight sleep at my desk after lunch everyday. It was terrible. I still don’t have my sleep pattern figured out. The amount of exercise changes it. You’d think I’d need more, but I seem to need less when I’m getting regular workouts.
    I used to be a night owl, but now I seem to be somewhere in-between.
    Good for you for figuring it out. Amazing how small adjustments can make huge changes. :D Have a great week.
    S.J. Maylee recently posted..ROW80 Check-in #87 Art Imitates LifeMy Profile

  3. Changing our natural rhythms to adjust to the daily 9-5 is brutal on most people. I don’t envy you, Jennette.

    If naps don’t work for you, perhaps a ten minute meditation once in the afternoon and once more before bed? It might help relax the body enough to make sleep easier in the evening and the afternoon one might rejuvenate you for the rest of the day.

    Good progress given the exhaustion.
    Eden Mabee recently posted..Sorry, I Don’t “Like”… — a ST4S postMy Profile

  4. My wife says I am a morning person. You cannot be a morning person when it takes three smacks of the snooze bar and a long hot shower to start the motor.

    Then again, I’ve found I work better when I get up early and come into work early. Afternoons, I’ve gotten to be pretty useless, and I have no alcohol problems to blame that on.

    Maybe I am a morning person.

    Damn.
    Jim Winter recently posted..The Compleat Winter: The Heckler, Standoff, In CollectionsMy Profile

  5. I’m definitely a morning person, Jennette. During all of the years I worked full time and wrote on my off hours, the morning was always most productive. So I got up early so I could spend at least an hour at the computer before I headed off to the day job. By the time I returned home in the evening, I was pretty much brain dead, so that time was reserved for emails, critiques, or just crashing on the couch. :) Now that I’m writing full time, I still get up early (but not quite as early!), head straight for the computer and focus on writing before I do anything else. And I still don’t write when I’m up late at night, but instead will focus on website maintenance or other things that don’t require the creative side of the brain.

  6. I’m a night owl for sure. I didn’t realize how poorly suited I was to the 9-5 lifestyle until recently. I feel so much healthier now that I can choose my own sleep routine. (In fact, a couple chronic conditions have become much easier to manage now that I’m sleeping better!) Still, sometimes I wish I was a morning person. I’d love to drink tea and watch the sun rise…

    I did fairly well on my goals for ROW80–in fact, I took your suggestion and added my “super-secret project” that I mentioned in a previous post to my goals for this round. Thanks for the encouragement, Jennette! Have a great week. :)
    Denise D. Young recently posted..Reworking my #ROW80 goalsMy Profile

  7. Stacy, it sounds like you’ve found your rhythm – good for you!

    SJ, exercise is indeed supposed to help us sleep better, but it’s tough to do when you’re tired to begin with. I still try, so we’ll see!

    Lynn, I was so glad my daughter slept through the night at two months old! You are right, getting up got old quick! And thanks!

    Eden, I’ve never seemed to be able to get the hang of meditation – can’t get my mind to quiet. But maybe I’ll give it another try sometime.

    Jim, sounds like you could be a morning person who just doesn’t get enough sleep?

    Sheila, you’re lucky you’ve figured your ideal schedule out – and are free to work within it!

    Denise, I definitely feel better when I don’t go to work as early. Keep up the good work on your goals, and thanks!

  8. Oh dear, the old not sleeping malady. I suffer from that too and it seems to be getting worse. With the onset of menopause I think I have an excuse, but it’s annoying as hell. No matter what time I go to bed, 9:00 or 2:00, I’m awake at 4:00 for about an hour and then when I get back to sleep at 5:00 or 5:30 the alarm goes off at 6:30. Grrr.

    And my husband’s no better. He’s up about 4 or 5 times every single night. And when he’s not up, hes snoring. Between him and dog I have to sleep with a pillow over my head and then I wake up coughing because I’m breathing in pillow case or I’m so dang hot from having my head covered up.

    I actually dread going to bed at night.

    But, that’s my horror story, not yours.

    Hang in there. Eventually you’ll be able to give up that day job.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt
    Patricia recently posted..Get Your Game OnMy Profile

  9. I am a morning person. I take the kids to school at 6:50, but I get up at four to get a few things done while all is quiet. I do go to bed between 8:30 and 9 during the week, and once my head hits the pillow, I’m usually out.
    Maria McKenzie recently posted..Cincinnati ChiliMy Profile

  10. Jennette, I am a night owl too. But I used to be able to fall asleep anytime, anywhere. Not any more. So frustrating. I would say for a walking zombie you are very productive. I am in awe! So keep up the good work. And get some sleep! I mean that in a good way. {{Hugs!}} :)