This blog has been written by Jane Sandwood, freelance writer. For further information about Jane, see her bio at the bottom of the post.
Creativity and inspiration are vital to authors; if both seem elusive, a lack of sleep could be the reason. Sleep deprivation, or lack of proper rest, affects our brains, and can impact the way we process our thoughts and come up with ideas.
Why is sleep so important?
Scientists have proved that sleep has a hugely beneficial effect on our bodies and minds. The National Sleep Foundation’s website shows how many hours a person needs per night, depending on their age. For example, school age children (6-13yrs) need at least 9-11 hours sleep, whilst adults (26-64yrs) require 7-9 hours to stay well, physically and mentally. Studies also confirm that our brains need to rest if we’re to function properly – a tired brain is no good when attempting mentally-challenging tasks. A writer’s creativity could stall, therefore, when they’re in desperate need of inspiration.
As we sleep, our bodies goes through rapid eye movement (REM) phases and non-REM phases. The REM phase includes dreaming; during which, events are recreated, we remember things, and we try to find solutions to our problems. REM also leaves the door open for ideas to wander in, such as an exciting plot twist, or a character for your next book.
Negative effects that can come from a lack of sleep
Not only is creativity stunted when we don’t get enough rest or sleep, it can also affect our moods and behaviour. The ‘wakeathon’ experiment in 1959 proved this point. Peter Tripp, a New York DJ, worked 201 hours non-stop for charity. At that time, there had been few studies on the subject of sleep, so scientists took the opportunity to learn more about deprivation. Doctors and psychologists monitored Tripp, and found that he became increasingly irritable, moody and anxious as the hours ticked by. Towards the end of the experiment he even began to hallucinate, and showed paranoid behaviours.
A lack of sleep can lead to heightened emotion, anger, depression and anxiety; it affects our ability to multi-task and make sound judgments. Sleep deprivation, if prolonged, can affect the brain in many ways. in many ways. For example, our hippocampus – the area responsible for learning and memory – needs to rest and renew itself to function properly; a lack of sleep could stop us from tapping into our memories…a useful resource for authors when they’re trying to drum up ideas. There’s little doubt that sleep is an important activity for our overall wellbeing; not getting enough could impact our physical and mental condition.
So, if you’re stuck in a rut, wondering what to write next, make sure you get enough sleep. Schedule time for a decent snooze or an afternoon nap – it might be all you need to get your creative juices flowing!
Jane Sandwood is a professional freelance writer and editor with over 10 years’ experience working across both print and online. She decided to move into freelancing to take advantage of the flexibility and work-life balance it offers. When Jane isn’t writing, she is busy spending time with her family. She also enjoys music, reading and travelling whenever she can.