Monday, July 18, 2022

The Impact of Sleep on Your Writing - by Dr. Diane Holloway Cheney

Without enough rest, no writer can create a true masterpiece. Authors tend to have a variety of different tasks to do, in addition to writing. They're busy, so they snatch moments of time when they can. Sleep is often a neglected commodity, relegated to the sidelines of a full life. The proper amount of sleep, however, allows brains to operate at optimal efficiency. Creativity, imagination, intellect—all of these form the core of wonderful prose. If you want to write well, you must give your brain what it needs … proper nutrition, stimulation, and above all, rest and refreshment. 

The following tips are from Arizona Authors Association member Dr. Diane Holloway Cheney. They are taken from her book, Sleep Problems: Food Solutions. The Impact of Sleep Problems on Society. Follow these guidelines to improve your writing: 

1. Most people with insomnia say they can’t sleep because they have too much on their mind. Clear your mind by jotting down what’s bothering you and what to do tomorrow. 

2. Keep a pen by your bed and if you wake up with an idea, jot it down to explore later. 

3. Don’t go to bed till you’re tired! Let eyelids get heavy. Try to keep a regular bedtime. 

4. Don’t use the bed for anything but sleep and fooling around. Watch TV or read elsewhere. 

5. Don’t listen to music or TV when you go to bed. They interrupt sleep. 

6. Have no light in your bedroom. The sleep hormone is triggered by complete darkness. If there is any light, let it be red rather than blue or green. Throw a red paper over the lights. 

7. Make your bed warm enough but slightly cool because it’s better than too hot. 

8. If you snore, buy and use a chin strap (or a CPAP device if you have obstructive apnea). 

9. Sleep is easier with knees bent slightly toward the chest. Satisfy noticeable sexual needs and then get comfy. 

10. Don’t nap during the day or if you do, make it only a short refresher nap. 

11. Exercise at least a half hour a day, even if it's only walking or exercising inside the home, but not just before bedtime. 

12. Eat your last meal at least 3 hours before bedtime, unless it’s a small snack or beverage. Have a bit of something sweet about 30 minutes before getting in bed for the night. See below. 

13. Avoid caffeine six or more hours before you sleep. Also, alcohol in the evening sends glucose into your cardiovascular system. It turns to pure glucose in the middle of the night and may wake you up in a hyperactive state. So have your wine with dinner and no later. 

14. Don’t do anything exciting or watch a scary movie an hour before bedtime. Enjoy relaxing activities or watch comedy, romance or musical things on TV in your last 30 minutes. 

15. Eat a half banana, or a little cereal in milk, or cheese on crackers, or a bit of ice cream or walnuts or some snack described in this book 30 minutes before bedtime. 

16. Drink some tart cherry juice or warm herbal tea or warm water in which you’ve soaked celery or lettuce leaves for a few minutes before imbibing. 

17. Bath or shower with essential oils described in this book (rose oil, lettuce oil, etc.) 

18. If you can’t sleep, set your bedtime one hour later than usual to see if that helps. 

19. Once in bed, sense whether you’re too awake after 30 minutes, jot down what you’re thinking about, and perhaps get up and do something boring (read the dictionary) and see if it helps. 

20. Be safe with a security alarm, a sign of it in your yard, lock all doors, and when travelling stay on upper floors away from traffic and bad people who usually burgle lower floors. Safety is important for sleeping well. 

Dr. Holloway Cheney belongs to the American Psychological Association, International Association of Police Chiefs, Intelligence National Security Alliance, American Society for Industrial Security, National Association of Social Workers, American Nursing Association, American Medical Writers Association, International Social Science Review, American Film Institute, Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, and Sundance Institute. She served as Drug Czar under Dallas mayor Annette Straus. Among her many works she has written three books on the Kennedy assassination. 

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