Sleep Secrets of Bestselling Authors 

Sleep Secrets of Bestselling Authors

 Sleep is a powerfully generative process that can transform your storytelling overnight. 

You may have never thought of sleeping as a critical factor in your writing success, yet so many bestselling mega-famous authors approached sleep in highly specific – and highly creative – ways. 

I bet you’ve already heard of the immense value of sleep for health, focus, clarity, energy and vitality. 

Those are all scientifically validated reasons to look more deeply at sleep. I wonder if you’ve also heard just how powerfully sleep can generate resourceful states of creativity?


Sleep Secrets of Bestselling Authors 

Sleep As Bestseller Practice

Like the rest of us, bestselling authors develop patterns of sleep and wake up times. 

Certainly there are variations, yet these patterns may bring to light certain understandings that help you determine your own preferred sleep schedule. 

Here is a brief summary of a few of these patterns followed by a link to a longer study of bestseller wake up times: 

  • Bestseller wake up times range from a comatose 1 am to a well-rested 12 pm.
  • The vast majority of bestselling authors woke up between 5 am – 8 am. 
  • Perhaps what is most important is not the specific time but the discipline and structure inherent in an established routine.

For more in depth info on this topic, check out this blog post by Brain Pickings:


Future creative genesis – Leaf mattress optional

Sleep As Story Generator 

Stephen King has often noted that many of his story ideas were generated from dreams or “visions”. 

In On Writing, King compares writing to self-hypnosis, an altered state of consciousness comparable but not equal to dreaming. What if you could produce this state at a moment’s notice? What if, like King, you tapped into this powerful state of creativity. 

Studies have shown evidence that the transitory stage between sleep and full wakefulness is ripe for creativity. In these periods, the strange connections and symbolism of dreams converge with the logic of critical thinking. 

Journaling dreams as quickly as possible upon waking has shown to be an effective means of not only capturing dreams before they disappear forever but of also training our minds to pay attention to these nocturnal imaginings.

Why is this important? Dream connections and symbolism can infuse our writing with deeper richness. We learn to connect unconnected things or to find connections where we didn’t think they existed. 

And connectedness is a clear quality of bestseller writing. 

Sleep As Genius Solution Provider

Many high-performing individuals have relied on sleep (and dreaming) to fundamentally transform their lives 

  • Jack Nicklaus fixed his golf swing with a dream 
  • Robert Louis Stephenson recieved the idea for Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde from a dream 
  • Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein also came from a dream 
  • Paul McCartney got the tunes for “Yesterday” and “Yellow Submarine” during sleep or instantly upon waking (in that dreamy transitional stage)
  • A blogger for Psychology Today gets tons of ideas immediately upon waking from sleep – read her article here

For more examples of creative solutions from sleep, check out this Wikipedia article.

Napping, too, is associated with peak performance. So called “power naps” can power your mental focus, thinking flexibility and creative dexterity. 

Famous nappers include Thomas Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci, Winston Churchhill, Arnold Swartznegger, Salvador Dali, Yogi Berra, and John F. Kennedy, among others. 


I’m not napping; I’m idea-incubating through sleep productivity 🙂

 How To Hack Sleep

Here is a quick list of strategies or hacks for deep, restful and creative sleep:

  1. Establish a regular routine for going to sleep and waking up – consider setting an alarm for when to go to sleep 
  2. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon – especially after 3 pm 
  3. Go to sleep by 11 pm – the body produces natural chemicals to keep you awake at 11 pm 
  4. Get black out blinds or eye mask for complete darkness 
  5. Take a warm bath 
  6. Drink warm milk 
  7. Avoid too much liquid consumption an hour before sleep
  8. Keep the room temperature between 
  9. Avoid the blue light from cell phones, tablets and laptops (etc) an hour before sleep
  10. If your phone is nearby while you sleep, turn it to airplane mode 
  11. Wake up at the end of a 90-minute sleep cycle (hint: try counting backwards from what ever time you want to wake up – see this article)
  12. Use the scent of lavender (for example from lavender oil or spray) as this scent is known to promote drowsiness 
  13. Try hypnosis – there are many free and paid apps, CDs or MP3 downloads available. This free app knocked me out in mere minutes

If you want to take this to the next level, get access to a bonus article – “3 Ways to Generate An Avalanche of Creative Breakthroughs ” by clicking on the link below. 

If you liked this article, get exclusive Writing Tips, Tricks and Secrets directly sent to your inbox. 


Christopher Kokoski is a speaker, trainer and author of Wicker Hollow and the Past Lives novel series.

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Posted in books, reading, screenwriting, writer, Writing

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