Tell me about it.
Pushing late into the night is a health and productivity killer. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at the Harvard Medical School, the short-term productivity gains from skipping sleep to work are quickly washed away by the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on your mood, ability to focus, and access to higher-level brain functions for days to come. The negative effects of sleep deprivation are so great that people who are drunk outperform those lacking sleep.
We’ve always known that sleep is good for your brain, but new research from the University of Rochester provides the first direct evidence for why your brain cells need you to sleep (and sleep the right way–more on that later). The study found that when you sleep your brain removes toxic proteins from its neurons that are by-products of neural activity when you’re awake. Unfortunately, your brain can remove them adequately only while you’re asleep. So when you don’t get enough sleep, the toxic proteins remain in your brain cells, wreaking havoc by impairing your ability to think–something no amount of caffeine can fix.
Skipping sleep impairs your brain function across the board. It slows your ability to process information and problem solve, kills your creativity, and catapults your stress levels and emotional reactivity.
Sleep Deprivation Is Killing You and Your Career – Travis Bradberry, Inc.com (20 January 2015)
Oh. They told me about it. Read the full piece so that they can tell you too.
That’s a phrase from Alan Plater’s writing that has stuck with me. And there are times in the middle of the greatest whirlwind when I truly have to stop. I have to stop being me, I have to go away for a short time. I thought it was just me and I thought it was my body’s way of saying I need to take exercise so that’s two reasons to ignore the signals. But Lifehacker and Medium say it’s a real thing and they advocate doing something about it. Specifically this:
Every day around 3pm, my brain gets weary. I’ve tried numerous techniques to counter this challenge: coffee (especially when McDonald’s is giving away free smalls), splashing cold water on my face, surfing around online, snacking. Yet I’ve found one technique to be the most effective: going for a walk.
Why You Should See Quiet Every Day – Lifehacker via Medium
I knew exercise was involved. Read the whole piece for how much exercise and why it works.
Hand on heart, I'm having trouble adjusting to getting up at 5am to write. Given that today is the 190th time I've done it, I may have to accept that I never will figure it out. Alternatively, I'll have to accept the old man concept of naps.
But the problem is at the end of the day and during the evening, it's fine when I get up and often it is fine actually getting up. Not today, as it happens, but often. Okay, sometimes. Alright, once. Once I fair bounced out of the bed. Madness.
However, I think my getting up early like this works as much because the phones don't ring – and I cannot call anyone – as because it happens to be the time that suits my writing. In my head I'm a late-night jazz kind of guy, possibly without the jazz, but in my typing fingers I'm an early riser.
I know you can't equate the time you get up to the quality of your writing, but that hasn't stopped a lot of people trying. Now comes what may hopefully be the definitive analysis. It's got to be definitive because it doesn't come up with an answer. It just shows you a lot of facts. A lot:
We ended up with a roster of thirty-seven writers for whom wake-up times were available — this became the base data set, around which we set out to quantify, then visualize, the literary productivity of each author.
Take a look at Brain Pickings' gorgeous infographic about famous writers and what time of day they got up out of their beds, the lazy bastards.
I now cannot imagine lying in later than 5am on a writing day. I can dream about it, but I can’t imagine it. The New Yorker here makes me feel a little better. Only a little. But alongside it’s harsh information about not snoozing on, there is advice we can all apply whatever stupid time we have to get up.
Here’s The New Yorker article.