Are you getting enough sleep for writing?

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about getting enough sleep for writing….

I always roll my eyes when writing coaches and productivity experts advise people to set their alarms and get up earlier in the day in order to write.

Not getting enough sleep is always a bad idea!

Now, research in the journal Nature Human Behavior has shown a connection between deep sleep and anxiety levels. Using functional MRIs, an anxiety inventory and an online survey, researchers concluded that a full night of sleep can stabilize emotions while a sleep-disrupted night had led to as much as a 30 per cent rise in anxiety.

In another study, researchers also learned that the participants who attained “deep” sleep, also known as non-REM or slow-wave sleep, had the greatest reduction in anxiety. The greater the duration of a deep sleep, the better the effect on anxiety.

Psychologist Robyn Koslowitz explores these studies in an interesting post by on the Psychology Today website. As she puts it:

Our body tends to cycle into a deep sleep after it has completed a cycle of light and REM sleep. When we have interrupted sleep, we can skip deep sleep entirely. It’s possible to sleep the entire night but get very little deep sleep. This is the type of sleep that mothers of infants get. While they might log 9 hours of sleep, it’s fragmented and light, with very little deep sleep.

While Koslowitz specializes in working with children and their mothers, don’t discard what she says, imagining it doesn’t apply to you. The value of sleep for writers is often highly under-rated. Creativity suffers if we don’t get enough sleep. And if if the thought of writing is making you anxious perhaps it’s time to consider whether your sleep — or lack thereof — might be playing a role in those feelings.

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on Dec. 2/19.

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