Good Things Come From Sleep Deprivation


You know, I was going to start this post off with an image from Google Images via a search of the term ‘sleep deprivation.’ And you know what?

They’re all negative!

Now, I completely understand why the majority of people feel that way. Consistently not getting enough sleep is eventually going to screw you up. But I think a lot of writers don’t quite see it as being super negative. Not all writers, of course. Some of you weirdos (lol) are early risers. Get your best words in while the sun is still coming up.

That is not me, though. Me? I do my best writing when it’s way past my bedtime. And yes, unfortunately my day job means I need a bedtime. Sigh.

fede705855d28bf7fc974c1386b2421c.jpgWhen I was on vacation for Christmas (oh, how I miss those days already), I saw no point in heading to bed with Brad most nights. I didn’t have to be up early like he did. I could sleep in as late as I wanted! In turn, I was up until usually 3am, Food Network in the background (always Chopped or Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives that late at night, I noticed), smashing the words out. And I felt good about them!

Not only in writing, but in reading as well. Any night that I spend reading a new book, by the time it starts getting late and Brad is heading off to bed, I don’t want to sleep! I’m hooked in! So you know what I usually do, keep reading!

On vacation, I was drinking coffee at like 11pm every night (plus at least two other cups for the day). Brad was usually asleep by then. 😉

I truly don’t rely on caffeine to stay awake. I cut it out for a couple weeks a few months ago, and never dealt with being tired all the time or anything of that nature. I think the sensation of drinking the warm stuff just gets the muse going, and the words start flowing, and then BAM. You look down at the clock and realize that the sun will be rising in a mere 3 hours. Oops.


I found this hilarious blog post about “The advantages of sleep deprivation (for writers).” Here’s a quote:

5) Sleep-deprivation induced hallucinations can be creative. WHAT IS THAT WEIRD THING FLOATING IN THE CORNER OVER THERE?! Oh, it’s nothing, just my eyes aren’t working properly… hang on maybe I could write a story about a weird thing floating in a corner…

Really, sleep deprivation doesn’t have to be bad. Maybe don’t do it all the time? Because I remember when I was a teenager staying up super late all the time in the summer, I used to start getting sick because I was barely sleeping. OR my freshman year in college, when I was working 11 hours at the library, PLUS my douchebag manager was scheduling me for 44 HOURS at IHOP in one week. I got sick, called out, and told him to fix my schedule. So yeah – it can be bad.

BUT if every once in a while you find your muse and your bedtime comes and goes, keep writing it! Because when you get up in the morning to continue where you left off, that spark might not be there anymore (it never is for me, sigh). On that same note, if your writing starts turning into mindless drivel, you may want to consider going to bed. Though I’ll admit, it’s super fun to read back the next day. 😉 


(most of the time)

So go have a cup of coffee or tea, friends. Spark your muse. And if you’re still pounding out some words and realize that it’s 3:30am, well, my vote is that you keep writing! Write until you can’t write no more!

And if you’re reading a good book that you can’t put down, keep reading it!

PS – this is my 50th post! Woo!

As a side note of sorts, the assignment for Blogging 101 today is to identify your audience. Readers and writers alike can all identify with the words I post here every few days. These are problems we all have (particularly the staying up late thing!) whether we’re the writer of the book, or the reader of the book. So if you’re reading books OR writing books, you’re in the right place!

Tell me: Are you an early riser? Or do you work hard to keep your eyes open while the rest of the city sleeps?


52 thoughts on “Good Things Come From Sleep Deprivation

  1. I was always a night writer. I love the hours between midnight and three am. So productive for me. However, I can’t do that anymore. I do find however by getting up before the sun, it almost gives that feeling of alone and dark out in the world and just enough sleep dep sensation to be creative. LOL

  2. some people do need less sleep than others. I find that I sleep less now that I am older. I too like to write in the mornings, and if I get up early it really is a delicious feeling of being awarded some extra time. nice blog. 🙂

  3. Nine times out of ten I won’t be able to focus on my writing until 9 pm or later. No matter what I try or how much free time I have the words don’t really start pouring out of me until after dark.

    I try my hardest to avoid sleep deprivation though. For some reason missing just a few hours of sleep can really mess me up even a week or two later. Right now I’m just lucky I can make my own schedule and sleep in if I stay up late.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly agree with missing Christmas Break! I used to be an *up-all-nighter*, but I find now that my best time is in the wee hours of the morning while the house is still asleep. Having a few moments to start my day off on my own terms, before I start attending to everyone else’s needs, gives me the fulfillment to provide for their needs. Thank you for the reflections!

      • My children actually didn’t change things for me much until the last few years. As homeschoolers, we have the freedom to set our own schedule. We work when it makes sense for us to work, but I found as the children get older they need me differently. It allows me to start the next chapter of my life, transitioning to having growing young adults.

  5. I go to bed between 3 and 4 am for several nights a week and then one night I will crash. The last time I crashed, I was just a minute or so away from finishing a post and publishing it, so I shook my head, did my best to focus my eyes, hit publish, and then was startled awake when my head it the screen. I slept until noon the next day and then took a short nap around three hours later. It is a weekly ritual for me. I don’t have a home office, so I end up doing most of my writing at night. I am trying to reschedule myself, but it isn’t easy to change your established sleep patterns, especially when you feel you work better at night!

  6. I can go without sleep for short periods like when I’m up against a deadline (NaNoWriMo is a good example), but I have two jobs besides writing. I get real cranky and angry if I do it for too long and it becomes a problem for me family.

  7. I go through periods of bad insomnia, and I also tend to stay up pretty late. 😉 Ever since I was a kid, I’ve often told myself stories in my head when I was trying to fall asleep, and that’s still when I get a lot of my ideas. I’ve also found that I’m usually more productive at night, although I can’t concentrate if I start to get *too* tired!

    • I still do kinda make up stories when I go to sleep. Trying to control my dreams. Let my dreams write the story first! (I don’t know if it works. I only ever remember the last dream I had.) but yeah, all the creativity flows in late at night and I can’t stop it! lol

  8. Oh, the mindless drivel I have written when I am strung out. I’ll write a couple thousand words and have to delete 90% of it. But that 10% is often astounding to me. I’ll sit there and read it over saying, “did I really write that? Huh.”

  9. It has been such a long time since I’ve been able to let my body follow the rhythms it wants that I’m not sure what schedule I would keep if I were free to chose. In college, I managed a bar and kept the weirdest night breed schedule ever. For the last 13 years I’ve had jobs that have required me to be at work at 6-6:30am so I get up at 5am, because this is the scheduled I’m adjusted to – I think I’m most productive earlier in the day, so I guess I’m a weirdo early bird, Lol.

    • Haha, weirdo. I think I’m all messed up because my day job is only part time, and the hours alternate. I work-early morning, early morning, afternoon, night, afternoon. Fingers crossed I go FT this semester and get a normal schedule. If I had to do 8-5 everyday, maybe I could become more of an early bird. Who knows?

      • HA, thanks for the advice then! I’ve never been an early bird. I used to pull all nighters for fun. But if I need to be up early? Gotta set like 3 alarms lol. I don’t know if that’ll ever change. I guess we’ll see!

    • YES to the weekday thing. If I’m working early, I have to set several alarms or I’ll oversleep. Weekends, I usually manage to pull myself out of bed by 9. I don’t think that constitutes as early though, haha.

  10. My preference, especially from spring to fall. Is to get up before the sun and then write. That requires a somewhat earlier sleeping time.

    Then I’m retired. So I can do as I damn well please. Some might say “whatever floats your boat”? Since being retired also means health concerns. Not getting sufficient sleep ranks right up there, for gaining serious illness problems.

    When younger, the attitude is this will last forever. Then, not surprisingly, all of a sudden you’re looking aging full in the face. So, grab it now while you can. Because it’s not going to last. Cheers Jamie.

    Holding the Ball

  11. Interesting perspective. I don’t do well with staying up too late (1 or 2am is my limit) but I have noticed that I get my best ideas late at night. The writing itself isn’t so good then, though, lol. I like writing by a window with the sunshine coming through! Darkness depresses me.

    • I’m productive in the dark. When it’s light outside, I’m thinking of all the /other/ things I could be doing, lol. True thing though, getting the best ideas late at night. Always while I’m lying in bed, haha!

      • I end up having to scramble out of bed to write random things down. That, and dreams. I get a good chunk of material from dreams, when I can remember them.

      • Yes! Dreams! I used to keep a small notepad and pen under my pillow lol. My dog unfortunately found them. They were salvaged! But now I need to find a better place lol

  12. I am an early riser, not by choice. Must eat so job comes first. BUT I am a night owl! Even though I’m physically standing and communicating with others in the morning, I usually don’t wake up until about lunch time. 🙂 On the flip side of that I do my best work in the morning. By the night owl time, I dont want to go to bed but Im in a deep haze not able to think anymore.

  13. Pingback: Intriguing Results of Online Searches | The Caffeinated Writer

  14. The only way I can be awake for the sunrise? When I stay up all night and then crash as the sun is making its entrance. Makes for a rough tomorrow, but you gotta do it once in a while just to make sure you still can.

  15. I love this! I know, with me, i don’t want to quit writing when I’m on a roll, while I’m hot! So yeah, I understand. You just keep sipping that coffee girl. I like your blog and look forward to reading more of your work!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s