WritersButt-Let’s talk SLEEP!

Hello my WritersButt Lovelies! Before we get to what we did last week, I’m going to jump right in and talk about sleep and WHY YOU NEED MORE OF IT! Today’s blog is longer than I’d normally post, but I really wanted to share with you all how important sleep is for your physical and creative self!

Getting enough sleep literally recharges your brain.  Getting enough hours of quality sleep a night allows your brain to pass through all the different phases of sleep, giving you multiple trips through that dreamy (literally) REM state.  Picture our creativity soaring, stories unfolding, you finally getting your Hogwarts letter, packing your trunk, buying your owl … well, you get the idea!


Let’s talk for a moment about the importance of dreaming and how they are connected to your creativity and writing.  In Kelly L. Stone’s great book Thinking Write, she has a whole section on dreams and how they connect to our creativity and of course, our stories.  I loved this book as well as the two others in the series, Time to Write and Living Write, and highly recommend them.  From Thinking Write, Kelly says:

“For the writer, dreams are a powerful source of creativity and a venue to problem solving.  They are often rich in symbolism, metaphor, and creative inspiration. When you learn to utilize the dream mechanism of subconscious communication, you can use them to generate ideas for plots, create new characters, and get guidance when you are stuck.”

How Much Sleep Do You Need?  Well from this article about Sleep and the Brain, it says:

Most adult people seem to need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. This is an average, and it is also subjective. You, for example, probably know how much sleep you need in an average night to feel your best.

The amount of sleep you need decreases with age. A newborn baby might sleep 20 hours a day. By age four, the average is 12 hours a day. By age 10, the average falls to 10 hours a day. Senior citizens can often get by with six or seven hours a day.

If you don’t get enough sleep, the ramifications on a cognitive level are immense.  There is a plethora of articles out there that will, in very scientific terms with much mumbo-jumbo tell what exactly happens to your brain with continual lack of sleep.  Hey, if you can’t fall asleep, just start reading all of those!  Or just trust me, do what you can to get more sleep.

In addition to affecting your brain activity, memory, reasoning and creativity, not getting enough sleep has negative side effects to your physical body as well, in terms of your metabolism, growth hormones and controlling hunger.  A website that I love for nutritional information, among other fantastic things, is Whole9Life and within that website, one of the co-owners, Dallas Harwig, wrote a great article for a wonderful online magazine for athletes, Performance Menu, about the undervalued aspects of getting enough sleep.  Here’s a quote from that article:

From a hunger regulation and weight management perspective, reductions in slow wave sleep (common with chronic sleep loss) cause significant decreases in insulin sensitivity, and tend to increase cortisol levels. In addition, sleep loss causes decreased levels of leptin (a hormone that tells your brain that you’re not hungry) and increased levels of ghrelin (a hormone which stimulates hunger and appetite), and as such, is associated with obesity. Depressed leptin and increased ghrelin contribute to an uptick in appetite, particularly cravings for carbohydrates. Being sleep deprived means that you’re more likely to make poor choices about which foods you eat and how much of them you consume, especially in the hours after dinner when elevated cortisol has you “tired but wired”. Combined with the direct effects of sleep loss on insulin sensitivity, this can be a destructive situation for one’s metabolic state.

Now, the focus of WritersButt is not about weight loss, but it is about health.  I believe we can all agree that part of being healthy is to be physically fit.  Hence, it’s not a stretch to say that if you’re not getting adequate sleep, and that causes you to crave unhealthy foods, which will wreck havoc with your insulin, which brings you a slew of negative side-effects, you will be less healthy and therefore not be in the best position to utilize your cognitive abilities, right?

I mean, this is GOOD NEWS! I’m telling you to sleep more. Yay!  You can nap too. Woo Hoo.  Ginger Rocks!

Alright, let’s settle down. I suspect many of you are shaking your heads and are going to tweet me that you have crazy schedules that are not conducive to more sleep time.  I don’t know each of you, or what demands or responsibilities you have in your life, but I do feel you have a responsibility to your own health. Examine your schedule.  See if you can shift some things around to give you more sleep at night. If you are able to do this, I truly believe you’ll feel the difference if you’ve been living in a state of sleep deprivation.  Most of us are sleep-deprived, myself included.

Here are some tips to improve your sleep:

*Get regular exercise. All you WritersButt warriors are doing this. It helps to tire and relax your body. Note—vigorous exercise can, as I pointed out in a previous WB blog, release endorphins that will give you a high.  For some, vigorous exercise later in the day might make it harder to fall sleep.  Experiment with this.

*Reduce caffeine and other stimulants after mid-afternoon. (3-4 pm)

*Avoid alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol disrupts the brain’s normal patterns during sleep. Drink at breakfast and lunch.  KIDDING!!!  Just making sure you’re still reading.  It’s true that drinking alcohol may get you to sleep faster, but it does wonky things with the sleep phases. Ye be warned. I won’t tell on you if you won’t tell on me, K?  J

*Create and stick to a pattern of regular bedtime and wakeup times, even on the weekends.  There will be exceptions to this but staying on schedule as much as possible will allow your body to follow its own cues and you’ll find yourself getting sleepy when you’re supposed to and waking up automatically at around the same time every morning.

Here’s to all of us getting more ZZZZZ’s this week!

Moving along … last week one of the challenges I presented to you was to do at least 3 days of food journaling?  Did any of you do it? If so, what did you see? Anything surprise you? As I promised, if you did your food-journal and would like a chance for me to personally examine it and give you feedback on how it can be tweaked, tell me in the comments that you did it and from all those (2) people, I’ll randomly pick one (of their) name.  I’ll pick the name tomorrow night at 9pm.

In the meantime, I’d like you to think about the nutritional advice I gave you last week and see if there is something in your food journal, or if you didn’t do one, something you KNOW you need to cut back on.  I want you to make that effort this week.  Are you a soda drinker, say 3 a day.  Try 1 or 2 a day instead, or only 3 per week, you pick when.  Are you a sugar-addict with a sweet tooth that rivals Willy Wonka? Find ways to cut back. It’s time to start detoxing off the items that are wrecking havoc with your body and mind.  If you have any questions about how to go about cutting back, ask me. I know all sorts of tricks!

Next week, I’ll be discussing dairy and/or grains at greater length.

What’s in store for you this week?  Well, you’re going to get a break from push-ups.  Again we all cheer, Ginger Rocks!!  And, you only have to do 1 mini-workout a day this week. Who’s your favorite?  In addition to your 100 oz of water (consider this part of your life forever!) and your gratitude journal, I want you to do the following workout once every day.

5 Rounds of:

10 Walking Lunge Steps

5 Up-Downs (otherwise known in my world as a burpee w/out a push-up—we’ll get to burpees later, be afraid!)

Below is a video on the proper technique on how to do a walking lunge:

And here is a video showing an UP-Down. Now, when you see this, don’t freak out that you have to do it just like that. You can modify it, taking out the ‘jumping’ and just stepping your feet back to the plank and again back up to your ‘frog/squat’ position.  Questions?  Ask me in the comments!


100 oz water

3-5 Gratitudes daily

Specifically cut back or eliminate an unhealthy food choice

1 mini-workout every day

Examine schedule and find a way to get over 8 hours of sleep at night.

Love ya!!!



About Ginger Calem

I never met a notebook I didn't want to buy. Pens speak to me. Sticky notes are dear to my heart. Some of my best friends are those clambering in my head trying to get onto the page. And when they have their stories told, and I release them to the world, I hope they'll be your friends too.

Posted on January 25, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. I have been sorely lacking sleep recently and I am grumpy:( I like my dream time and I’m not nearly as creative when I don’t get it! Great, great advice all around. I started taking a barbell class twice a week on top of my couch to 5K program and I am loving it. Now to work on drinking much more water!!

    • Hi Kara, see, you already know that cranky-pants effect of not enough sleep. Very cool that you’re taking a barbell class. Power lifting or olympic lifting or both …. or something different. My husband and I own a CrossFit gym and we are heavily (no pun intended) into barbell work. Excellent! Now, drink some water and head to bed.

  2. Ok – so I sucked on workouts this week – my own and the mini ones prescribe. And here I had such great intentions!!! Dang. I’ll try better this week. LOL!
    I am loving the water. Loving the food journal. Love the gratitude.
    In February, hubby and I will start tweaking our meals even more. Right now, it’s just the habit of eating at home. So food tweaking is coming. And I must get better on exercise. And here I started so hot out of the gate. Must get back to it! LOL!
    Thanks for the pep talk Ginger…love it!

    • I am Ginger and Pep-Talks are my game. 🙂 So, you already said it, get back to it. For you, you can alternate the lunge/up-down workout from this week and the squat/push-up from last week. Just do one a day. You’ll thank me!! Promise.

  3. Sleep is in short supply in my house and since I live alone, there’s no excuse – I get a second wind about 10PM and then I’m not tired. but oh in the morning – ugly. need to work on this for sure.

    • Ah, so you threw yourself under the bus. Yep, no excuse for you. Let’s see if we can get you past that second wind, get you to bed, and have you feeling less-ugly (although I’m sure you’re not remotely ugly) in the morning. The feeling of waking up after enough quality sleep vs. the alternative is so acute.

  4. I am so glad to have read this! I feel like such a lazy butt sometimes because I LOVE to sleep. I always get 8 hours during the week, even though people laugh at how early I go to bed. On the weekends when I let my body go to bed and wake up when it wants, I usually get 9-10 hours. I thought there was something wrong me for sleeping so much. I’m so happy to know I’m at least within normal.

  5. Life is so much easier to manage if I get enough sleep- but its so quiet when the kids are sleeping 😦 I know I’m trying- of course having to be up at 5:30am means I need to be in bed by 9:30- bummer.

    • I hear you, 100%. I love a quiet house too. Also, many days my alarm goes off at 4:45 for me to head to the gym to coach our early class. Do the math on that beddy-bye time. In fact, that is tonight and it’s 8:30 and I’m getting twitching knowing I need to get to bed ASAP so I feel human tomorrow. Start to ease into it. If you normally go to bed at 11. Do 10:45 for a few days, and work your way back.

  6. Shannon Esposito

    Errrr….when you say “5 rounds” do you mean do 50 lunge steps??? I will try if you say so, but I’m just making sure cuz that seems like…alot. My thighs are shaking their head. 🙂

    Hmmm. Sleep. Yeah, it’s so funny. I need lots of sleep, I’m happiest on 10 hours. I get about 7. I could forego my hour reading time before I sleep but then I’d be cranky. I read somewhere that creative people need more sleep so I’m not a closet sleeper anymore, but my husband does great on 6 hrs, if he sleeps more, he gets cranky. The funny thing? We have twin 6 yr. old boys and one of them NEVER sleeps and the other one needs 10-12 hours.

    • Shannon, you always make me smile. Ok, so yes, I do mean 5 rounds. Of course you can do 3 instead but let me suggest you not think ’50’ but just 10 … albeit with repetitions. You might say, “Ginger, that’s the same ass thing.” But psychologically, it’s not. You have to step 10 times, no biggie. Ok, so you’re lunging too, but you can handle that … there are only 10. Then you get a break and you do those up-downs. Those might suck a bit, so you might look forward to the next 10 walking lunge steps. Before you know it, you’re done. AND — you only have to do this 1 time a day. It’ll take less than 5 minutes. In the bag, girl!! I know you can do it. 🙂

  7. This is a timely post. This week I couldn’t sleep at all. Even though I don’t participate in the WritersButt challenge, I appreciate the information 🙂

    • Thanks, Fabio! I frequently suffer from different degrees of insomnia. Naturally, it occurs when I’m more stressed. Also, coincidentally, when I’m strict with my diet (I do sometimes go off track a bit) and I’m really hitting my workouts hard, my insomnia goes away.

  8. Hey girlie! The lunges look doable to me, but I’m thinking the burpees might not work out so well with this swollen belly. I’m at the stage where any sudden movements will make me cramp up. Blech, but normal fare for my pregnancies. Any suggestions? Oh my goodness, though, I can’t wait until these are doable again…I used to love these when I was a cheerleader…in another century. 🙂

    The water thing’s going well – yay – and I’m very blessed with a relaxed schedule that allows for at least 8 hours of sleep every night…plus an almost daily nap these days. Though I’ll be glad when I get to a place that I don’t need those anymore. 🙂

    …I didn’t do the food journal. :/ Sorry. Bad girl. No good excuses.

    I think what you’re doing here is AH-MAZING. The effort and work you put into this astounds me – and I SOOO appreciate it. Have you ever thought about doing this in an enrolled-class form, WANA-style? I know I’d fork out a little cash for it – esp. after this little nugget’s born.

    Love you, girl.

    • Hee hee! Ok, for you, I’d like you to drop and do 5 cat/cows instead of the up/downs. I also want you to keep up with your squats and a few times a day, hang out a bit in the rock-bottom position so your hips remain flexible and stretched. *wink*

      Yay for naps. I took a little one yesterday. 2 days a week I get up at 4:45 for coach and on those days, I’m dying by the afternoon.

      You may not need a journal if you can recognize some trigger items on there that might be messing with you. On that note, I’m no fool and I’m not messing with a pregnant woman’s food.

      Finally — thank you SO much. It is a effort/time investment but totally worth it. We do have ideas for WritersButt beyond my little blog. Had not thought of the enrolled class format but that would be so doable. See, now you all are Beta WritersButt Warriors. You all heard it first at no-charge! That means I’ll need testimonials to include in the next round and for workshops. So keep up, make progress and TELL ME ABOUT IT! hahaha

      Love ya back! ~g~

  9. Sleep is my priority. Of course from time to time I don’t get my eight hours but I really try. I also stick to my three-times-a-week workout routine and a healthy eating plan (although I often forget to eat, seriously).

    Great post, Ginger. You did a lot of research and it shows! Love it.

    • Hi Angela. Sounds like you’re on the right track, except for that forgetting to eat. I will admit that there are days when this happens to me too, but I usually end up with a wicked headache, so I try very hard to keep my calories up and make them quality. No way I could work out the way I do if I skimped on meals.

      Thanks for you very for the compliment. You’re great.

  10. Whew – sleeping. This goal is so much easier for me to grasp on to. After all those push-ups and crunches and lunges, all I want to do is sleep. Course the 100 ounces of water keep my up peeing all night, but whatever.

    Thanks again for the reminders, Ginger.

    And, for the record, this week I lost the 2 pounds I gained last week. So after a month, I’m back where I started. Sounds like the story of my life. Oh well, we’ll see what next week brings.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • I thought you might like the sleep challenge. *huge grin* Now, where have I told you to do a crunch? You imagined that. Sit-ups are coming but they will be full sit-ups, no halfsies! lol

      Hey, a woman’s weight is so finicky. I wouldn’t even weigh. Just examine nutrition, keep moving weight around, drink that water, SLEEP and they weight won’t be a blip on the radar.

  11. Ugg, I’m ridiculously sleep deprived, as in, I’ve been sleep deprived for going on a year now. And I’ve seen the way it negatively impacts my attitude and my work. I’m really good about working out and I’m usually good about my eating habits, but sleep . . . that’s where I need to put in the most effort to get things back on track.

    I’ve also read somewhere that getting too much sleep (over 10 hours) can be a bad thing as well. Did you come across anything on that? I’ve often wondered if it’s true.

    • Hi Marcy. I can relate. I’ve gone through periods of time where I’m really sleep deprived. You know when people ask if you’re a morning or a night person. I kind of like both (although getting up before the sun isn’t fun, I do love the sunrise!) … but I can’t ‘do both’ for long before I’m just not a happy person to be around. haha

      Yes, you can get too much sleep and it often is connected to some disorder. I don’t know a ton about it but here’s the first hit when I googled and as I scanned the article, it looks like good info.


  12. Great post, Ginger. Sleep is truly essential but I do have a confession — Bear in mind I do NOT recommend this for the general public. I will more often than I should stay up working on the computer round the clock literally past sun-up into the next morning and then got straight to the gym. My energy level varies on these zero sleep days but I’m seldom slowed down by it. Oddly I even have had some of my best workouts at these times. I don’t drink coffee but I have always had way more physical and mental energy than I needed. I do have a few minor injuries that flare up (arthritic right toe joint — hate it) now and then. Still my partner prefers me on some days when I’m going round the clock because I am mellower. It sort of feels like I’m on valium. I do not recommend this practice on a regular basis. And I do need to get five to six hours at least most nights to feel optimum.

    • Very interesting perspective. Whenever I’ve had to go on little to no sleep, I do go through this buzz time where I’m running on adrenaline. Then of course, if you workout, you get that endorphin high too, so I can see what you’re talking about. As you said, not recommended but I don’t think it’s necessarily without merit. Sometimes it’s good to throw your body and mind a curve ball and see how it adapts. It’s through that adaptation to certain stressors where you can often benefit. Cool!

  13. Apparently I have sleep apnea and as you know, this makes a catch-22 for weight loss. I finally made all the necessary appointments and got myself a snazzy little machine to help me sleep and now I just need to use it. Yep, I’m a dolt. I like to sleep on my tummy and that’s not conducive to good CPAP sleep. I guess I have to teach myself to sleep on my back. It’s one of those things you know you need to do, but it doesn’t seem to be all that bad, so you slide on it. If I’m working so hard on all the other areas, then I need to work a bit more on the sleep thing too.

    • Tameri, I’m so glad you commented and shared this. I’d love to see how your progress goes with this. Yes, you ‘should’ just bite the bullet and lay down on your back and figure this out. haha But I know it’s hard. I’ve heard back-sleeping is the best for your body (hips, shoulders, back, etc). I sort of roll throughout the night, but spend most of it on my left side. (what they recommend when you’re pregnant and I did and it sort of ‘stuck’.)

      Yes, please use your machine and then tell me how it goes. I’m genuinely interested in how getting more, uninterrupted sleep, effects the other areas of your life, especially in the fitness department.

  14. I’m one of those whose sleep is on the low end of the totem pole. I usually get about five hours a night, occasionally three or four, rarely six. But, I do take 15 minute power naps at least twice a day that refreshes me and keeps me going. One thing that bothers me is that I don’t recall any dreams at all. Perhaps I’m not going deep enough. I’m pretty sharp, still, but I do have a goal to get more sleep…someday.

  15. Hi Ginger! Great post. I need 8 to 10 hours of sleep and have always been that way. Even as a teen, I’d come home from school and have to take a nap. I wish I could get by on 5 hrs. but just can’t function on that little bit. I once heard that people who drive when they’re sleep deprived are like people who have had a few drinks. That’s kinda scary and is another important reason for people to get enough sleep.

    I’m sharing your parenting story in tomorrow’s post. Thanks so much. Still cracks me up!

  1. Pingback: WritersButt Wednesday: 5 things you may NOT be doing to sabotaging yourself « Ginger Calem

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