Does Writing Every Day Improve My Sleep?

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Nothing in my memory has disrupted my sleep patterns more than this pandemic we find ourselves in. A few months into the pandemic, I found I wasn’t sleeping well. This grew steadily worse until I was experiencing the worst sleep problems I’d ever had. I began meditating to see if that helped. I saw my doctor and went through a variety of prescription sleep medications to see if they helped. Meditation and drugs had little effect.

My sleep improved slowly, for a time. Then it would get worse again, then better, then worse. I read up on the subject and discovered I was having what are known as “epic dreams” for which there is no real treatment. I wore a FitBit to sleep to see if I could correlate my bad sleep to some external event. But I was having more good sleep than bad sleep. What about the good sleep?

I’ve had a lot more good sleep lately. I’d chalk it up to vacation, but it has continued almost unabated since returning home. It can’t be more exercise. It has been so cold out most mornings that it’s been difficult to get out for a walk. It can’t be stress levels since the Omicron spike is as bad as ever. What could it be?

I might have an idea: writing every day.

I published a post to the blog every day in 2021, but I didn’t write every day. I tried to stay a little ahead of things so that if I didn’t have time or inclination to write on a given day, I didn’t have to. This year, I set a new goal for myself: write 2 posts a day. I thought of it as banking a post for the future each day, but also, writing helps relieve stress and that is an added bonus. I’ve been sticking to that goal, writing at least 2 posts a day and I’ve worked up a nice lead. For instance, I am writing this post on January 19, but you won’t see it until January 28–a week and a half later.

How does this have anything to do with sleep?

I’ve noticed a subtle pattern. On the days I write a lot, it seems that I sleep better. Yesterday, for instance–a day in which I wrote 4 posts totalling 4,000 words–I slept really well. But the day before–when I ran out of time and didn’t write at all–I didn’t sleep nearly as well.

So far this is anecdotal, but I’ll be drilling into this more to see if a correlation really exists. I’ve been doing all my writing in Obsidian. I use the Daily Stats plug-in to track how much I write each day. It captures the data in a JSON file. With that file, and a measure of the quality of my sleep each night, I should be able to determine if there is a correlation between how much I write on a given day, and the quality of my sleep that night.

I need quite a bit of data for this, so I don’t expect to have results any time soon. But when I do, I’ll report them here. What will be particularly interesting will be to identify the tipping point. Is there a certain word count around which pivots a good versus bad night’s sleep? Stay-tuned.

Written on January 19, 2022.

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