A Writer’s greatest tonic: SLEEP!

Ha!  I know, you thought I would say that the writer’s greatest tonic is  …. perhaps, some scotch (straight up, of course) or a glass of Pinot Noir!  Well, I jest you not … a good night’s sleep does indeed stimulate the creative juices.  Waking up in the morning and feeling refreshed and alert (until you catch a glimpse of your puffy-eyed reflection in the mirror!) will go a long way to helping you finish that oh-so-wordy chapter 6 (the chapter that keeps on giving ….. me heartburn).  All right, enough of my writing woes.  Here are some interesting tidbits and links on the physical and psychological benefits of sleep — not just for neurotic writers, but for everyone:

Many of us think that we can get by on very little sleep.  When deadlines loom near, we pull a few all-nighters. And this is okay …. once in a while.  The startling news is that far too many of us follow a daily sleep regimen of less than 6 hours per night. This, according to researchers at Harvard Medical School, falls under the category of chronic sleep loss and may contribute to a number of health problems, such as  a compromised immune system, weight gain, and high blood pressure.  The Harvard Women’s Health Watch reports that there are at least 6 good reasons to get enough sleep:

  1. Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
  2. Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
  3. Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
  4. Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
  5. Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
  6. Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.

And, here are some sleep guidelines from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke:

Sleep Requirements by Age

Newborns (0-2 months old) 12-18 hours
Infants (3-11 months old) 14-15 Hours
Toddlers (1-3 years old)l 12-14 Hours
Pre-schoolers (3-5 years old) 11-13 Hours
School-aged Children (5-10 years old) 10-11 Hours
Teens (11-17 years old) 8-9 Hours
Adults 7-9 Hours

And, for those of you who complain incessantly that your mattress is the reason why you don’t sleep well at night — please do some research and then invest in a new mattress!

Sweet dreams …

Sleep – the most beautiful experience in life – except drink.
W. C. Fields

I couldn’t resist.

Cheers,  h.f.t.g.

Image via kiwimagonline.com.