Starting Out

How Does Sleep Deprivation Affect Your Freelance Business?

Whether you are a full-time work from home writer, forced to write from home by coronavirus, or a part-time writer who still holds a 9-5 job, you need to dedicate time to your writing to be successful.

And this can mean sleep deprivation.

How Does Sleep Deprivation Affect Your Freelance Business?

One way or the other, you struggle with finding time: the right time, enough time, and best time for your work.

This makes a lot of freelancers to create time out of their sleep hours for work.

Freelancers could be compared to an endless tunnel, where learning, reading, and creating never ends.

New trends pop up every day which you need to catch up with in order to be on the top of your game.

Upon setting up your business, you discover there is more to it than only writing.

Freelancers could be compared to an endless tunnel, where learning, reading, and creating never ends.

When you are starting out and finances are slim, you learn to do everything yourself: web design, graphic design, social media management, writing, editing, marketing; it could be overwhelming, giving an impression of not enough hours in the day to meet up.

Somehow, you believe that to find success as a freelancer you must put in the extra hours.

What best time then at night when everywhere is serene?

Staying awake all night long or most of the night might give you the feeling of higher productivity but in the long run, leads to the effects of sleep deprivation and burn out, which hurts your business more than it helps it.

What is Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation is when one does not get enough sleep to keep him/her active and alert, affecting your mental and physical wellbeing.

Getting enough sleep is vital to the overall wellbeing of an individual. It keeps you healthier, more alert, focused, and productive.

How much sleep is enough sleep?

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) in 2015 recommended sleep needs for different stages thus

  • Newborns (0-3 Months): 14 – 17 hours each day
  • Infants (4 – 11 Months): 12 – 15 hours each day
  • Toddlers (1 – 2 years): 11 – 14 hours each day
  • Preschoolers (3 – 5 years): 10-13 hours each day
  • School-age children (6 – 13 years): 9 – 11 hours each day
  • Teenagers (14 -17 years): 8 – 10 hours each day
  • Adults (18 – 64 years): 7 – 9 hours each day
  • Older Adults (Over 60 years old) 7 – 8 hours each day

Getting less than the required hours of sleep builds up and leads to sleep debt.

Sleep debt simply put is the difference between the number of hours spent sleeping and the required hours of sleep.

What Are the Signs of Sleep Deprivation?

This leads to sleep deprivation, characterized by tiredness, aches and pains, body weakness, fatigue, sleepiness.

A one-off sleepless night is different from sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is a habitual, consistent, lack of adequate sleep.

How Does Sleep Deprivation Affect Your Freelance Writing Business?

1. A Sleep-Deprived Writer is An Unproductive One

When you cut short your sleep hours, it not only affects your health, your productivity as a writer is compromised.

Studies conducted on a group of American employees showed that those who don’t have enough sleep, either due to insomnia or self-task, were significantly less productive and performed below expectations than those who slept well.

It also report that lack of sleep leads to more overhead costs for businesses due to associated health challenges.

Not getting enough sleep can keep you away from your writing desk for longer than you bargained for.

Apart from the attending health challenges it poses, lack of adequate sleep leaves you feeling irritable, moody, and lacking concentration.

Your mood seeps into your writing and can be felt by the reader.  You cannot produce high-quality content when you are irritable, tired, and sleepy.

You sleep less because you are overwhelmed by the work you need to put in to succeed in freelance writing.

But truth is, you are less productive when you don’t sleep well. To be more productive as a freelance writer, you must get the required hours of good quality sleep.

To sleep better:

  • Don’t overstretch yourself, don’t agree to deadlines that are too close, avoid taking on more jobs when you are booked stiff.
  • Draft a to-do-list of tasks you know you can complete and work with it
  • When you feel sleepy, please stop and sleep
  • Outsource extra work if you can afford to
  • When it is time to sleep, lay aside thoughts of work and concentrate on getting a good night sleep

2. It Causes Forgetfulness

What is the relationship between sleep and forgetfulness?

Sound sleep is essential for intellectual routines like writing. It increases creativity, focus, attentiveness, and ability to grasp new concepts easily. At its various levels, sleep produces brainwaves that enable you to store memory.

When sleep is cut short, memories remain stuck, resulting in forgetfulness.

It also slows down your understanding of concepts.

You wouldn’t want to be forgetful as a freelance writer, would you? Imagine forgetting deadlines or client’s work or meetings and appointments? It could pass you off as unserious and cost you jobs in the future.

If you are forgetting things due to sleep deprivation,

  • Identify the cause of your sleeplessness. Is it insomnia, anxiety, or work-related? If it is work-related, cut down on the volume of work and make out time to sleep when you are tired.
  • See a doctor if you are having insomnia or anxiety.
  • Get a sleep tracker to measure the quality of your sleep. Sleep quality is as important as sleep quantity.
  • If you find that you always wake up at intervals, try sleeping with your preferred music on, lights off or on as per your spec,
  • Avoid alcohol before bedtime. Cut down on screen time before you sleep. 

3. Caused Lack of Concentration

When the brain is fogged by sleep deprivation, it is difficult to concentrate and be focused.

Freelance writing requires concentration because it is multi-faceted. research, writing, prospecting, completing client work, website update, Social media management, learning, processing payments, and completing many other tasks requiring reasoning.

All these require mental alertness and you stand to lose your business and credibility if you cannot concentrate and get work done because you are sleep deprived.

If you’ve noticed you are clumsy due to sleeplessness, endeavor to sleep well.

Get the required hours of sleep per day. If you work all night, sleep all day!

4. Sleep Deprivation Brings on Health Challenges

Sleep deprivation poses numerous health challenges, physically and mentally.

Chronic lack of sleep may cause high blood pressure, impairs immune function, metabolic changes leading to insulin resistance, mood swings, and mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression.

Being in sound health will make you more productive as a freelance writer.

You need to be fit in your mind and body to succeed and you can keep fit by getting enough sleep.

See a doctor if you are facing any health challenge so it can be traced and treated.

As a freelance writer, when next you feel a lack of motivation, concentration, or declined productivity, check your sleep life and get it fixed!

Ekei Joy is a freelance Christian, health, and fitness writer for hire who specializes in creating in-depth content such as blog posts, articles, Emails/Newsletters to help grow client business.  With a background in Religious and Humanitarian Studies, she is passionate about curbing the effects of violent conflict on the girl child and other vulnerable populations. Find her on LinkedIn.

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Thank you so much for the detailed information. I like your post a lot! You should write some more on this! Great job coming with such a post!.Reply to ROSHAN
Ekei Joy Okafor Thank you Roshan.Reply to Ekei
Hi Ekei, I learnt alot from your article,great writeup. Having to work at night ,i have my long hours sleeping during the day. Regards, Chinny.Reply to Aneke
Ekei Joy Okafor Thanks for stopping by Chinny. Yes, you can make up for a sleepless night by sleeping during the day.Reply to Ekei