A great book came out this year called the Ripple Effect written by Dr Greg Wells which I found incredibly interesting. Below is the link to a podcast where he talks about it but in a nutshell, he looks at the effects on creative and work performance of sleeping, eating and exercise, in that order. And how they affect each other as sleep as primary and most important weapon…
SLEEP: We all sleep in 90-minute cycles and need 5 cycles (7.5 hours a night) for a full night’s sleep. When we’re awake, our mind is too distracted to solve complex problems so it waits until we’re asleep. But it only solves problems for the final 3 hours. The first 4.5 hours or 3 cycles are just used for rest. Especially as a creative, solving problems is what we are here to do but unless we are getting 7.5 hours sleep a night, we’re not able to fully apply our brain power to the problem at hand.
EATING: If we sleep well, we are generally a lot more prepared to eat healthier foods; foods that contain fibre, protein, fruit and veg. If we sleep poorly, and are tired, we look for energy elsewhere, namely in high carb/sugary foods. (Think back to your last hangover and ask yourself if you would eat a salad). And then, if we eat properly, science has shown how healthy foods, especially protein, enables our brains to work properly, firing better and accessing more parts of it, making us more creative beings.
EXERCISE: And lastly, if we don’t sleep or eat well, we don’t have the energy to exercise. We feel too lethargic. And exercise is hugely important as a creative. As little as 15-minutes repetitive, rhythmic exercise like walking, running or cycling (especially in nature) has been proven to open our brains up, let them function better and allow us see problems and solutions much clearer. His advice is next time you’re about to tackle a brief, go for a 15-minute walk to clear your mind and get your brain working properly.