The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Cognition Without Chemical Stimulants: A Mini-Case Study

And lo, there was insomnia.

I think sleep deprivation plus uppers may kybosh some key writing processes in my brain, so I’m going to try to ford ahead sans meds today. Then again, sleep deprivation alone may in itself be enough to mangle my brain’s word production capability. But I’ve been wondering for a while whether the Adderall—while giving me the energy I need to stay motivated and productive—may actually be impairing some of my creative ability. I’ve got the verve, but the words seem lodged somewhere in my head that I can’t access with anything like the same fluidity and ease that I use to. I can still do routine and very technical wordsmithing, like copyediting and, well, editing in general—those skills may actually be enhanced by the meds—but my ability to create new prose feels diminished.

‘Course, I can’t write if I’m passed out and drooling on my desk, either. So I’m keeping the shiny capsules close to hand in case this doesn’t work out.

And now: coffee.

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3 Responses to The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Cognition Without Chemical Stimulants: A Mini-Case Study

  1. I’m sorry you’re having this problem, Eugie. I know this won’t help much but I’ve found that the best instigator of creativity is a good night’s sleep. I’ve been having problems with insomnia, too. I can’t sleep more than five or six hours before I wake up and can’t go back to sleep. A few years ago I didn’t have this problem and I was a morning writer. Now in the morning I don’t feel all that creative so I seldom try. On the good side, I find that in the evening my energy level increases so I’ve become an evening writer, something I never did before. I know this doesn’t help much either as you have a 1000 hamsters wearing you down in the course of your day. Just saying that I understand the correlation between rest and creativity and solving this problem is the key to finding my muse.

  2. A devo\ilish dilemma. Hope you managed to cope? I saw you finished the draft and sent it in, so java must have sufficed?

    • Eugie Foster says:

      As it turns out, I made it until around noonish, and then my eyelids started drooping, and my brain turned to complete and utter mush. Ended up popping an upper with a chaser of Coke Zero, and that got me going again.

      It’s still up in the air whether the meds are having any negative effects on my writing abilities—and I want to do more experimenting to determine that—but one thing’s certain: I can’t write if I’m not awake. And whatever else they do, my meds keep me awake.

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