Kay: Are You Getting Enough? Sleep, That Is

Lots of times when I have a problem in my story, I can go to bed and wake up the next day with a solution. “Sleeping on it” isn’t just for decision making any more!

As we all know, sleep affects us in many ways, from our energy and moods to our brain development. We’re told we’ll be happier, thinner, and healthier if we get enough regular sleep. (Plus maybe richer and better looking. I can hope.)

I recently ran across a blog post that made a stab at correlating the sleep habits of famous writers to their level of productivity. The blogger makes no claims to causality—data was hard to find and hard to quantify, many factors in a writer’s life affect output, and the analysis is subject to an enormous degree of subjectivity—but the results are fun, if not scientific.

The data set consisted of 37 writers for whom wake-up times were available. Productivity was measured by the number of published works and major awards an author received. The duration and era of an author’s life were acknowledged variables.

Overall, with the exception of outliers such as Ray Bradbury and Stephen King, who are both prolific and award-winning, late risers seem to produce more works but win fewer awards than early birds.

Click to see all 37 authors, their wake-up times, and their literary productivity, depicted as colored “auras” for major awards and teeny bars for number of works published. The writers are organized from earliest to latest wake-up times, beginning with Balzac’s 1am and ending with Bukowski’s noon. I’m with most of the crowd in the 8am–9am range.

It’s always fun to see how the greats worked, but it’s good to remember that no specific routine guarantees success. It’s just important to have a routine, to show up and work most days. That’s how the books get written.

Check out the full blog post and graphic. Where do you fit in?


4 thoughts on “Kay: Are You Getting Enough? Sleep, That Is

  1. One of the great things about quitting the desk job is that most days I don’t have to set an alarm. I sleep for as long as my body wants to, and wake up when I’m ready. That doesn’t mean I sleep late. Mostly I’m awake some time after six and get up around seven. I’m not sure, but I think it may change a little with the seasons–I wake earlier in the summer when it’s light, and sleep a little longer in the dark winter months.

    Overall I don’t think I’m getting much more sleep than I was when I had a more structured routine, but perhaps the quality of my rest is better. My stress levels are at an all-time low, and I have imagination to spare for my WIP. For all those reasons, I feel better than I have in years, though sadly I have to report I am no thinner and considerably less rich 😉

  2. Hee-hee! Misery loves company, or at least the insecure would like a security blanket of other people doing the same things. I would love to fit into the 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. start-time slot. And I could do that on weekends, I suppose (I’m heading off all the excuses I was about to make!). I like a lot of those authors, and it’s a pretty good time of day for me — after a good breakfast and a stretch, and I’ve got at least two or three hours before a lovely lunch.

    Right now, I blog Saturday mornings about that time (yay, time zones!). But if I could get my blog posts done a little earlier (say, Friday afternoon), then I could spend some really good writing time on the weekend. Just like Charles Darwin and Jung, LOL!

    I am so jealous of the people who manage to live full and active lives on five or six hours of sleep a day. When I was younger, I needed about 10 hours. Now, I can get by on eight, but I tend to skimp and cheat myself, and try to get by on seven or seven and a half. Naps are definitely useful, especially the 20 minute nap, but I often feel guilty or conspicuous about going out to my car during my lunch hour for a nap. I really should take up the habit. It’s *my* lunch hour, after all.

  3. What a fun analysis. Glad to see that late risers produce more books, since sleep is definitely my supper power (or at least one of them), and sleeping in is a favorite activity. I do my best (most creative) thinking while either falling asleep or just waking up. Wonder about the productivity/awards of those who write later in the day (i.e., I write after dark).

  4. I get up around 5:30 during the week, 6 or so on the weekends. Since I retired, I’m pulling down an hour more sleep each night than I was when I worked and I’ve noticed big improvements in my cognition (although not my memory. Sigh.).

    In my final job, I worked as a data quality analyst and spent a lot of time studying data presentation techniques. That chart is really pretty, but it makes it really difficult to compare and analyze the data. And now I’m trying to think how I’d re-do it. As a horizontal bar chart, I think, with the little pictures on the left-hand side, then the years of their lives. I’d still order it by rising time, and provide two colored bars for each one–peach for number of works and black for awards. Not nearly as pretty as this one, but far easier to analyze. (Why, yes, sometimes I do miss my old job, thanks for asking.)

Let Us Know What You Think

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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