It’s winter in Australia and I am not a fan. And I live in the warmer climes of northeastern Australia where the temperatures are far milder. And yet, I am still not a fan. I am like a bear in winter. I long to rise late and retire early - just to keep warm.
In all honesty, I lose about three hours of my working day in the colder months. In summer, I am awake and moving before the first tweets of the native birds. And I love it. Being awake early and into the day with a mountain of things accomplished by morning tea. But winter is a different story. I am slow to rise and it takes a whole lot of positive self-talk to tear back the bedclothes and launch into the day.
The upside is, I usually sleep longer and better in winter. Mostly, I sleep like a baby. There’s something appealing about snuggling in a warm bed when it’s cold and miserable out. Not a night goes by where I don’t find gratitude in the fact that I have a warm bed and shelter each night.
After pondering this morning, I started searching for the positives of this extra slumber time I accumulate and I learned that sleep plays a vital role in enhancing creativity.
Did you know when you sleep, your brain sorts and arranges information, which helps create new connections and ideas? We become an idea-making machine as we gently push out zeds all night long.
Rapid Eye Movement or REM sleep (which happens when we dream) helps with creativity by allowing the brain to process emotions, memories, and experiences. This leads to new ideas and innovative thinking. Good sleep also helps with mental clarity, attention span, and flexibility, which are important for creativity. When well-rested, people are more open to inspiration and can approach creative challenges with renewed energy and imagination.
Regardless of the season, good sleep is vital to our creativity and there are habits we can initiate that will set us up for a good night’s slumber.
Here are some that may help:
1. Cool your room as much as possible. Our body temperature naturally decreases as we fall asleep. Keeping the room cool helps facilitate this process, as a cooler environment promotes the release of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep.
2. Sound therapy: Calming music can help you sleep better in many ways. It can make you feel relaxed and reduce stress. Slow and gentle music or sounds from nature can help you feel calm. It can also block out other noises that might keep you awake. Calming music can help slow down your thoughts and quiet your mind. This can be especially helpful if you have anxiety or tend to overthink things. Listening to calming music can help you establish a good sleep routine.
I am an Insight Timer fan and every night, I play the Devi prayer by Song by Ananda Vdovic and Craig Pruess as I settle into bed. Playing this every night signals to my brain that it’s shut-eye time.
3. Aromatherapy: Utilising essential oils such as lavender, or chamomile can have relaxing effects on the mind and body, helping induce sleep. Be careful using essential oils around your pets as many can be toxic. Do your research and be sensitive to other people’s sensitivities if you share a household!
4. Sleep-inducing foods: Consuming foods rich in tryptophan, magnesium, and melatonin, like turkey, bananas, almonds, and tart cherries, may aid in better sleep.
*Foods to avoid include dark chocolate which contains caffeine, so don't eat it before bed. Hard cheeses are tough to digest because of their saturated fat, so have them at lunch instead of at night. Red meat is hard to digest because of its saturated fat, so try having it for lunch instead of dinner. Tomatoes have tyramine, which can keep you awake, so avoid them before bed.
5. Digital curfews: To improve sleep, avoid screens before bed. This helps regulate your body's natural sleep cycle. It’s hard to hang up the screen at the end of the day but it does help you get a better night’s sleep.
6. Get some sunshine when you can: Sunshine exposure during the day helps regulate the body's internal clock and promotes a healthy sleep-wake cycle. It signals the brain to produce melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. Sunlight exposure also improves mood, energy levels, and alertness, contributing to better overall sleep quality.
Having a regular sleep routine helps with creativity. It makes sure you get enough rest, which helps your brain work better. Good sleep also helps you remember things and connect ideas. When you're well-rested, you can be more creative and come up with new ideas. Having a sleep routine can also help you feel less stressed and anxious, which can make it easier to be creative. In general, a good sleep routine helps your brain feel refreshed and ready to be creative.
You can find more information on sleep here.
Using a sleep tracker can help you find your perfect sleep hygiene routine.
Use a tracker to monitor important things like sleep times, room temperature, use of music or white noise to help you settle, whether you got some sunshine time during the day, whether you managed to avoid screen time before bed and also note the quality of sleep out of 10. As you monitor your nightly sleep patterns you can refer back to what works well for you and what doesn't. All the little things add up to give you a great night's sleep and optimal creativity.
Sweet dreams !
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