DAY 11 – #MonthOfBlogging #June2024 #MonthOfWriting

That’s an interesting quote, and like many writers, I’m happy to quote it, because I wrote it!

I used to quote something else: “I can get all the sleep I want when I die.”

Yeah. Typical macho nonsense. I apologise.

And although, arguably, I still don’t get enough sleep, I don’t do that deliberately under some deluded male invincibility. But I seem to require less sleep than I used to. And yes, if I get really sleep-deprived, I’m lucky enough to be able to take an afternoon nap or fall asleep in front of the TV.

So, what do we mean by “rest”? For me, that comes in two forms:

1) a rest from writing, in that we do something else – not for a short period to reduce stress and chaos, but for a day or two or slightly longer. Too long can be detrimental, but I’ve found a day or two works best.

2) a bodily rest. Now, you might think that our bodies don’t need much rest after sitting and writing, but I’m thinking particularly of the tops of our bodies – our brains. A healthy life depends on a complex mix of nutrition, exercise and sleep!

There have been many studies of the performance of creatives being impaired by lack of sleep. When we sleep, our brains spend time organising thoughts and ideas into some sense of order – so when you wake up, your mind is clear and settled. Our brains form new neural connections. Sleep spindles, a type of brain activity recorded during stage two of sleep, has repeatedly been associated with improving brain plasticity and consolidating memory.

Lack of sleep can cause writers’ block, an inability to organise logically – and it also affects our memory. Our vocabulary contracts, and our word choice becomes tortuous and over-simplistic. Don’t ask me how I know!

I have found, personally, that my ability to write new words is much better when I’m well-rested. I have also found that I write better in the morning. Quite often (if I wake up early enough!) I can have an extremely productive hour or so in the quiet of the early mornings. My creative ability drops off considerably during the afternoon and I can’t work (on creative writing projects) much beyond 4pm. 

Additional detrimental effects of lack of sleep include weight gain and depression – both can curtail creativity.

Tips for better sleep
These are common sense, but sometimes we need to see things written down before they take hold in our minds.
1. Time your caffeine intake. Yes, obviously, but try to restrict your caffeine intake (including ‘normal’ tea!) after lunchtime.
2. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule. Our bodies work best with regular schedules, so try to use regular sleep / wake times as much as you can.
3. Avoid sugar and alcohol in the evening. Sugar for obvious purposes, but try to stop having alcohol within 2 hours of sleep. No nightcaps!
4. Blue light. The light from laptop screens and mobile phones has been proven to stimulate our brains, and thus might stop us from dropping off to sleep.

There is the added advantage that many ideas for stories have come to me in a dream. There are examples from more famous writers: Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Shelly’s Frankenstein, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, and even Paul McCartney’s Beatles song, Yesterday all came to them following dreams.

Remember: a couple of hours of good, calm sleep can give you a whole day of improved creativity.

(That’s another one of mine. You’re welcome.)



  1. Another interesting piece. Thank you Gerald. You make the link between adequate sleep and creativity very well. And I learned something! I had to google Sleep spindles, which I have never heard of, so thanks for that.
    Refreshing the mind, body and spirit is really important
    Relax, refresh, recharge. Essential ingredients for wellbeing.


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