Many writers sit at the computer late into the night. Is this the best thing for our health?
Over the last year I’ve read many statements from online writers, telling of how they seem to be developing sleep disorders. The inability to have a good night’s sleep seems to be coming more and more common. Whilst some may not worry about this, not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to a writer’s creative capabilities as well as their health.
Personally, I know that when I work at the computer too late at night I often have difficulty sleeping, no matter how tired I am. After using the computer I seem to have broken sleep, sleeping for shorter periods at a time. While this is fine for a few nights, it eventually catches up with me. As a writer I find it difficult to come up with new ideas when I haven’t had enough sleep. I need to find time to catch up on sleep when this happens.
Research shows that those who work late at night are definitely at risk of having sleepless nights, eventually developing serious sleep disorders. Part of this is due to exciting tasks stimulating the brain before going to bed. Writers definitely fall into this category, especially those who choose to write at night. I know myself, that too many ideas late at night can keep my brain humming long after I should be asleep.
The other problem is that of the bright light of the computer screen. Apparently the bright light of the computer screen affects one’s biological clock and suppresses natural production of melatonin, which is responsible for regulating sleep, thus producing sleep problems.
As writers we should be aware of the possibility of developing sleep problems. Often working on the computer late at night is unavoidable, especially if we are trying to meet deadlines or achieve publication goals. However, like everyone else, writers need to take care of their health.
The obvious answer is to turn off the computer earlier. This may mean writing less, but for many writers it may mean being more organised and starting the writing process earlier in the evening. Set a deadline, an hour or so before regular bed time. Use that time away from the computer to relax. Read a book, write journal notes for the day by hand, take a relaxing bath – anything that is not stimulating.
We need to slow our body clocks down a little before retiring to bed. By establishing bed time routines away from the computer and becoming more aware of our night time activities, we may well be doing ourselves and our bodies a favour. Sleep may not seem an important issue to you now, but after a few years of broken sleep your health may well become broken. Your writing dreams rely on having adequate sleep.
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