I had the hardest time concentrating today. Usually, all it takes is a tepid shower and a couple of cups of coffee to turn me into a lean, mean working machine. This morning, though, even the change of scene - and a third cup of joe - provided by the nearest Starbucks didn't do the trick.
I mentioned my attention deficit in an email to my critique partners around lunchtime. They dared suggest that I try some...drum roll...sleep.
The audacity! I thought. I get plenty of sleep! Five or six hours every night, whether I need it or not. Even though, admittedly, sometimes I feel guilty about giving up and going to bed.
I decided to do a bit of research. The consensus is that adults require an average of seven to eight hours of shut-eye daily, and that chronic sleep deprivation can affect not only the memory and the ability to process information, but also increase the likelihood of work-related or automobile accidents and contribute to serious health issues such as heart attack, stroke, obesity and psychiatric problems.
Wow. And I thought being tired just made people cranky.
My dog gets plenty of sleep.
Finally, I read this fascinating blog post by Martha Beck; she says that during periods of intense creativity, restructuring takes place in our brains, necessitating extra sleep. If that's true, I probably should be sleeping at least twelve hours out of twenty-four, because everything I am trying to accomplish - from teaching piano to revising my novel - is requiring creativity I didn't even know I possessed. My brain must be some kind of wrinkled gray transformer.
We live in a society that wears sleep deprivation like a badge of honor, and my demanding schedule and chronic insomnia make a wicked combination. But the bottom line is I will write better if I rest better.
I'm going for seven hours tonight.