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.