Heard that phrase before?
"I'll sleep when I've finished xyz"
"no rest for the wicked"
The sleep deprived, inspiration driven artist within me used to always get those crazy ideas when I was tired. I used to dream up song ideas in the middle of the night, when I was meant to be in bed (sorry to the next door neighbours who had to listen to my piano bashing, going over that one riff again and again). Sometimes I couldn't get to a creative state UNLESS I was tired. When I was so tired, all I wanted to do was draw. Then pen had a mind of it's own when my mind was too fatigued to control it.
That can't be good long term.... and well, it wasn't. I burnt out.
I went through the creative 'dry patch' as all my juice was used up due to poor health, little sleep and a blossoming relationship with anxiety that was as fun as paying taxes.
And suddenly, it changed. The old 'eat well, sleep well' switch FINALLY turned on in my brain, along with many other painful realisations that I really wasn't taking care of myself. Have you ever sat down and really thought about what you do EVERY DAY to take care of you? Are there some bad habits that you need to have a one-on-one with?
Here's some tips to get started.
1. Caffeine is not your friend (after lunch).
Caffeine can stay in your system for up to 12 hours, so if you're having that 'afternoon pick me up', it is most likely going to pick you up, but also keep your brain buzzing right into the early hours of the morning. Caffeine is also not just in coffee, it's in teas, chocolate, many many things (check the label). So combine caffeine with a late night sugar hit and you've got a winning combo for staying awake.
2. Sugar intake
Leading on from #1, be wary of how much sugar you're eating throughout the day. Not just the obvious sweets, energy drinks, chocolate but hidden sugars in things like tomato sauce (anything pre-made like pasta sauce, dips, condiments etc), fruit juice, bread (YES bread... that old faithful), cutting down to wholefoods as much as possible will calm the mind as well as give you the right kind of energy throughout the day so that when you reach bed time, your body and mind can switch off. I also take a wholefood supplement that helps me curb my sugar cravings. Mmmm vegies!
3. Separating the worry, from the wort.
If you're one of those who goes to bed and then spends about an hour thinking (or worrying about) the day, the next day, what will happen in a week, what you haven't completed etc... it's pretty hard to sleep right?! Having a journal or notepad beside the bed to write all these thoughts down help unwind that big old brain of yours, as well as give peace of mind. If it's written down on paper, you won't forget it. If you write in a journal, it's like having a debrief with yourself at the end of the day, and gives your inner, knowing voice a chance to say 'hi, we've got this'.
4. Go to bed earlier.
Simple, yet not always easy. BUT if you try to have a regular bed time before 11pm, your future self will thank you. Your mind and body only get 8 hours (less for most) to reset, nut things out in the subconscious and repair every day. Pretty important for general happiness and wellbeing. If you're only getting 5 hours of sleep every night, for 6 months. What do you think that's going to do long term?
P.S having a body clock that wakes up same everytime will help relieve the stress of "Oh shit I only have .....to get ready for work" if your alarm clock/phone magically dies in the night, goes off in a different time zone or stops working (we've all been there... thanks technology).
5. Get a good bed
Money well spent if it's an item you use every single day. A good mattress that supports your back, instead of create backache and a pillow that's juuust right for you will help. The only trick is getting out of it in winter :P
6. Too much alcohol will not help you sleep (productively)
Wine is high in sugar (remember that). Alcohol may help you feel drowsy/pass out, but you'll fall into a light sleep, rather than REM (cellular repair, daily damage repair), as well as wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom once it's processed. Alcohol also dehydrates, so once it leaves your body you'll be craving more water in the middle of the night.... meaning more trips to the bathroom :D
I'm not claiming to be an expert on sleep, or bodily functions. I'm simply sharing what has worked for me, and might help you too. If any of this information helps, I'm winning. Also, there's so much to research when it comes to sleep patterns and what works for your body might be different.
The main message is; Try to get more sleep. Sleep is awesome :D
From a happy artist