To write my best, I need to be well rested. As I get older, sometimes good sleep, that real quality sleep that lets you feel refreshed, it can be harder to come by. A time came in my life when I needed to pay attention to my sleep.
Life hasn't always been smooth and I haven't always had the healthiest habits. Almost a decade ago now, for instance, someone very close to me died. I didn't handle it well. I stopped sleeping well and for a while I'm not sure I was dreaming. Normally I vividly remember dreams, and from this period, nothing.
I paid more attention to my sleep hygiene and one thing helped more than anything else. It was so successful I've shared the recipe with others, who got similar relief. It's called Gold Milk. It's an ancient recipe from India. It's simple to make and easy. There are many versions, but here's the one I use every night.
Take 1 1/4 cup of milk and add it to a saucepan. I use goat milk because I don't digest cow's milk well, but any animal milk is supposed to work. Add a pinch of turmeric, cardamom, and cinnamon each. Stir and heat until it's just beginning to boil, and remove it from the heat. I use maple syrup, about a teaspoon, but any sweetener will work, stirred into the milk. Stir well and pour it into a cup. I let it cool for a while because it holds heat surprisingly well. Drink when it's at the temperature you like.
Other good tips for a restful night include:
1. Making sure the room is a comfortable temperature and your blankets aren't too warm or cold.
2. Turn off electronics early before bed, and be aware of how bright the lights in your rooms are. We stop all electronics around 9 pm, except e-readers and other devices that don't emit blue light. Lower lights as the evening progresses
3. Set a regular bedtime and wakeup time. Sure, I let myself sleep in on Saturday, my day off formal writing, but I still get up within about 15 minutes of my normal time. Going to bed at a regular time helps your body settle, too.
4. No heavy meals before bed. I'm active and need food spread throughout the day, but I try to have my last snack before 9 pm as well. Some people need to stop earlier. Try things and do what works for you.
5. Some foods can help us sleep. Do a little research and try some, if you need that last snack like I do. Your body will be different, so play and keep notes.
A proper sleep can be the difference between writing well and feeling fuzzy. If I have a less restful night, maybe a thunderstorm or my significant other didn't sleep well, I remember to be kind to myself the next day. Maybe I won't be as productive, and that's okay. Since he started drinking Gold Milk, he's slept more restfully and longer, too.
I’ve been writing stories for myself for years. Now, I’m a published author. No genre is off limits, though I have some favorites.