The Writer's Guide To Insomnia by Tina RadcliffeYou are a writer. Your mind is constantly going.
Sooner or later insomnia is going to strike. Today I'll share some insight on insomnia and sleep, along with ideas on how to make the most of your insomnia.
Let's talk sleep.
A typical adult needs about 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. You say you only need five hours of sleep a night, but researchers have found that this is true of only about 10% of the adult population.
The sleep cycle consists of four stages, going from light to deep sleep and finally REM (Rapid Eye Movement). The sleep cycle takes about 90 minutes. Adults spend nearly half of sleep time in stage 2, about 20% in REM and the other 30% is divided between the other three stages.
So what do you think? Are you sleep deprived?
Try this Sheep Dash test to find out. Remember, the sheep don't lie.
Besides the usual hints for a good night sleep, consider whether you are fighting your natural sleep rhythm. Try this test to see what your sleep cycle is. Knowing your sleep cycle helps you to understand your body's natural dip in energy and how to plan your day.
If you naturally have a 3 p.m. dip in energy it's not most optimal time to plan to write, but it is a good time to nap. And if your peak energy time is 5 a.m. until 11 a.m. don't waste those hours checking email or grocery shopping when you could be writing.
Curb Your Insomnia
Besides working with your natural circadian rhythm, try these tricks for a better night sleep.
1. If you nap during the day, keep it short. If you allow your naps to move past stages 1 and 2 of the sleep cycle the result is sleep inertia, where you feel worse (groggier) that before you began your nap. For more information on naps check out this great Boston Globe article.
2. Sleep Dex offers tips on sleep hygiene to help you get a better night sleep such as:
- Maintain a sleep schedule and don't change it on the weekends.
- Don't drink alcohol before sleep.
- Avoid caffeine 14 hours before sleep.
- Avoid nicotine in the evening.
- "Wake up with the sun, or use very bright lights in the morning. Sunlight helps the body’s internal biological clock reset itself each day."
- Keep the sleep area quiet, dark and at a comfortable temperature.
- Avoid exercise right before bedtime.
"Don’t lie in bed awake. If you can’t fall asleep within 30 minutes, go to another room and do something restful until you feel tired. Don’t read in bed. If you want to read, get out of bed and sit in a chair."
When Insomnia Does Strike
Keep a list of simple things you can do when you can't sleep. This list should be posted close to your computer. Two a.m. is not the time to create the list. It should be prepared ahead of time.
1. Write letters (real paper and ink). Works well for contest judge notes.
2. Catch up on my world events on People.com and US Magazine, and NewYork Times online.
3. Go to my library's web page and see the status of my account and put new fiction on hold.
4. Update my personal webpage, blog, Facebook and Twitter pages.
5. Go to eHarlequin and listen to editor podcasts.
6. Scour the Kindle pages of Amazon for good deals.
This is an excellent time for surfing the web. But have destinations in mind so your time is productive. I suggest an Insomnia Folder on your desktop. Here are some of the best things to do on the web when you can't sleep. And it's all related in some way to writing.
1. Read editor and agent blogs to find out the latest in industry news. Here's a few of my favorites:
- Janet Reid, Literary Agent
- Between the Lines
- Pub Rants
- The Steve Laube Agency
- Rants & Ramblings
- Bookends, LLC
3. Checkout Netflix.com. For less than eight bucks a month you can stream as many movies as you want. Even at two a.m. Recently, I watched, The Take Home Chef (Season 1) Each episode is only 20 minutes.Great research. Or watch a flick until you get sleeeeeeepy..... But don't forget to put your earbuds in.
4. The middle of the night is a great time to find new reads along with industry insider news.
- Publishing Perspectives
- BookPage America's Book Review
- Library Journal . com
- Bookwire The Book Industry Resource
- Book Spot
- Publishers Weekly
5. And if you really want some just plain writerly fun, check out these sites:
What do you do when you have writer's insomnia??
This post first appeared in Seekerville April 1, 2009.
Today is the last day to be considered for our weekly critique.
More info here.
More info here.