Full disclosure: I’m not the best person to hold this discussion. In other words, this is going to be one of those “Do as I say and not as I do” lectures. It doesn’t make the topic any less relevant, though. Particularly as, the older we get, the more we tend to abuse this important aspect of our health: Sleep. You know, uninterrupted rest lasting around 8 hours a night? (Yeah, sounds like a mythical creature to me, too)
As kids, we fought against enforced nap times. We had too much we wanted to do. Now, we’d often KILL for 10 minutes of down time in our day to doze off. Usually because we didn’t sleep properly the night before. That “busy” appellation becomes our excuse to avoid sleep when we need it most. Suddenly, we’re pulling all-nighters for the stupidest reasons. (Okay, there’s never a GOOD reason for an all-nighter…unless you’re Santa Claus)
And your health crashes.
I’ve heard (and used) every excuse in the book to avoid getting a proper night’s rest. After all, writers are creative people. We come up with all kinds of inventive reasons to sit at a computer into the wee hours of the morning. As if that lightning strike of inspiration won’t remain once your brain’s rested and operating at full strength. I know it, you know it, EVERYONE knows it: jotting down a few notes for the morning will allow you to pick things up where you leave off. There’s NO justification to straining your body past the breaking point for nights on end. All you get for the trouble is a caffeine addiction and poor health.
As someone who suffers from insomnia (medical-grade, no less), I implore you: stop the madness. That whole message of “Get 6-8 hours of sleep a night” isn’t a joke or random idea; it’s a medical recommendation. I rarely manage more than 4 hours of sleep – once you add all of the time together. And you know what? It’s not enough. That deficit is why I struggle with other health problems. It’s why I spend my days exhausted and fighting to stay alert and functional throughout the day.
And it SUCKS!
I’ve had to face the truth of taking naps (much as I hate admitting it). And there are times when I have to write out those notes and put my writing aside. When you know every word coming from your fingertips is crap, it’s not worth continuing to sit there. It’s a crushing admission – especially when you know lack of sleep is the reason. And if it’s beyond YOUR control? Admitting you need to see a sleep professional is downright humbling. (I have TWO of the damn doctors – talk about feeling two inches tall!)
The world won’t end if you stop and go to sleep at a REASONABLE hour so you’re body has time to rest, recuperate, and recover. Your world MIGHT end if you don’t. Sleep allows us to reset. It also gives you time to dream – maybe come up with new writing ideas or even ways to work through a problem area you’re struggling with. (Bonus benefit!) The world’s morphed into this hurly-burly whirlwind that functions at 100 miles a minute on a caffeine infusion. It isn’t healthy – for anyone. Take the time to REST. You don’t want to burn yourself out in a couple of years. If evolution intended us to never sleep, we’d have…okay, I don’t know what we’d have, but we don’t currently have the adaptation. Which means you need to SLEEP!
I promise, you won’t die from getting those crucial hours in every night. NOT getting sleep, however, that CAN kill you.