Do you have a favorite creative habit?

How do you start off your mornings? Do you journal? Write first thing? Doodle, meditate, or just contemplate life while sipping tea?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about creative habits. Do you realize how much the little things like sleep, nutrition, and stress levels can affect the BIG things in our lives?

The #1 creative habit I’m working on right now is SLEEP.

What does sleep have to do with creativity and writing? A lot, it turns out.

I took Matthew Walker’s Masterclass on sleep recently. He’s a Stanford professor who has dedicated his career to proving that sleep is one of our superpowers. Thanks to him, I’ve been paying attention to my sleep patterns. Top Takeaways:

  • 1 or 2 coffees are okay in the morning. But NO caffeine after 2 pm because it takes 8 hours to exit your system. So if you have trouble falling asleep, check your caffeine intake.

  • Decaf coffee still has caffeine. Consider switching to decaf if you are sensitive to regular coffee.

  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps get your body into a sleep routine. No binge-sleeping on weekends (I’m guilty of this). It can really screw up your sleep clock.

  • We all have a sleep clock that is hard-wired into us. Some people are night owls while others are “morning larks.” Most of us fall somewhere in between on a continuum. I found a good SLEEP QUIZ in case you want to check out your type.

  • It’s no surprise that alcohol affects your sleep cycle and reduces the amount of deep sleep. So consume sparingly.

  •  If you take melatonin as a sleep aid, know that many supplements have way higher amounts than the bottle says. Buyer beware!

  • Cramming the night before a test (aka pulling an all-nighter) can seriously impair your cognitive performance. They tested students’ brains in an MRI and proved it.

How much sleep you get and the quality of your sleep can have a tremendous influence on your day. When you feel rested, you can perform at your best.

Every athlete, actor, or singer knows this. So, why is there a pervasive myth that writers and creative types must “suffer” for their art, guzzle mass quantities of coffee, and write into the wee hours of the night?

I’m pretty fascinated by this question, actually. My hypothesis is that when you study the world’s top writers and artists, you will find the best ones have healthy creative habits such as getting plenty of sleep, eating well, and meditating.

Questions to Ponder

1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your sleep?

2. Read through the Matthew Walker tips listed above. Do any of them stand out as something that might be affecting your sleep?

3. What one thing can you do this week to get better sleep?