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, Kobo, iTunes, and more.
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