Did You Sleep Well Last Night?
I remember the first time I tried to pull an all-nighter in college. The ridges of my apartment’s carpet floor dug into my elbows as I lay with my face propped up on my hands, inches away from the blinding light of my laptop screen. Cheetos and candy wrappers surrounded me as I imitated the glorified idea of what it means to be a college student.
I’m stubborn. I thought I could do it. I wanted to push through and crank out that 20-page paper just like everyone else in my class; but when I woke to the sound of my roommate telling me to go to bed, I found myself in the exact same position with no further progress on the page. I never pulled an all-nighter again.
I learned a valuable lesson that night: you can’t sacrifice sleep for creativity or productivity; the two go hand in hand. We tend to think of sleep as an obstacle: if only we didn’t need to go to bed, we’d have that many more hours to be productive! However, the contrary has been scientifically proven: sleep makes you more productive, healthier and happier.
Yesterday, I got a good night’s sleep for the first time this week, and the moment I hopped out of bed I had a whole bunch of ideas for scenes in my book, revisions to my website and more. These were ideas I had been trying to force out of myself late at night before letting myself slip into slumber. Clearly, that method had been counter-productive.
Working to revive your sleep schedule can be a massive challenge, however. As writer Jeff Goins writes, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is a badge of honor worn proudly by those who embrace a “hustle” mentality. Getting a full night’s sleep is often seen as somehow dishonorable by our peers, family and coworkers.
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is a badge of honor worn proudly by those who embrace a “hustle” mentality.
It takes a whole lot of humility and self-discipline to choose a lifestyle of adequate sleep; but it’s so worth it. Here are a few first steps to help you on your way.
- Stick to a bedtime
Our bodies adjust to routine. When we go to bed at the same time every night, it regulates our sleep cycle. This allows for us to fall asleep faster when we hit the hay, and sleep deeper throughout the night. Setting a bedtime requires that you create a culture of honoring sleep in your home. Talk with your family about how you can work together to achieve this.
- Avoid screen time 30 minutes before bed
For many of us, our phones or laptops are the last thing we see before bed and the first thing we see when we wake up. Studies show that screen light mimics sunlight, tricking our minds into thinking it’s still daytime and throwing off our circadian rhythms. Do yourself a favor and give yourself a half hour of screen-free time to wind down before bed.
- Cut the caffeine after 2:00 PM
We live in a culture that worships coffee, all day every day. Everyone responds to caffeine differently, but studies show that drinking caffeine after 2:00 PM can drastically interfere with your sleep cycle. Stick with a cup o’ Joe in the morning. As you start to get better sleep from steps 1-2, you’ll find you won’t need coffee to get through the mid-afternoon slump.
Honoring sleep has been one of the best decisions for my creativity. I hope you have a similar experience. Good luck!