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Practice strategies of super elite performers: Sleep your way to creativity

I’ve learned that taking a break from the computer and “sleeping on” my writing often reveals breakthroughs — a solution to a problem or a story idea. And often this inspiration happens right after I lie down when my brain is buzzing from a writing session.

But I recently found that sleep is more important to the creative process than I realized.

Christine Carter, Ph.D, a sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, writes on her blog about elite performers and how they become successful. “People who go to the top of their fields don’t just practice deliberately and persistently, they also rest strategically,” she says.

It’s well known that most people need seven to eight hours of sleep a night. But Americans average only 6.5 hours of sleep per night, Carter says. She’s written about characteristics of elite performers and says super high achievers clock in more sleep time than average. Elite performers tend to get 8.6 hours of sleep a night and high performing athletes even more.

I’ve found sleep and rest breaks are a good way to step back and let my brain process what I’ve been working on. Do you get enough sleep? Consider how you can use the power of rest to enhance your creativity and writing performance.

For more insight about rest and how it affects creative performance and practice, read Carter’s post, The Quiet Secret to Success.

For more One Wild Word posts about sleep and creativity, read Rearrange your life and write your book faster and Nap your way to health and creativity.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Between working on my writing and blog and tending to my young kids I average 4 broken hours of sleep a night. It isn’t enough! Only caffeine fuels my creativity! And walking the dog. I guess that’s my rest time – if I get stuck on an idea I find the fresh air and break from the computer of walking the dog always helps.

    September 19, 2013
    • Oh no! Four hours isn’t enough! Maybe you could take a caffeine nap 🙂 Drink a cup of coffee and lie down. About the time the caffeine kicks in, you’ll have had a brief nap and have the best of both!

      September 20, 2013
      • Sounds wonderful! I do nap sometimes when the kids watch their lunchtime programme but I usually wake up feeling much worse! A couple more years and they’ll both be at school, maybe then they’ll start sleeping well at night! 🙂

        September 20, 2013
      • I wish I was a good napper but I have trouble turning my brain off. And I know what you mean about that “feeling” !

        September 20, 2013
  2. Awesome post! Sleep is the secret to creativity few practice. I love my sleep and since I’m a recovering insomniac (fully cured, in fact), I can attest it’s the key to success when working through ideas!

    September 20, 2013

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  1. If You’re Busy, You’re Doing Something Wrong: The Surprisingly Relaxed Lives of Elite Achievers | Innov8tive Thoughts

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