Artist Stories: Rorie Kelly's Tips for Artists to Combat Sleep Deprivation


Contributed by Rorie Kelly, a NYC-based indie rocker documenting her quest to go from part-time musician to full-time musician.

Greetings, dear readers! I'm writing to you from Sleep Deprivation Land.

I'm currently a resident of Sleep Deprivation Land due to a very late night rehearsal. An acquaintance hired me to sing backup for a children's concert this weekend and we spent last night cramming the songs into my brain. What this boils down to is that, in addition to running on very little sleep, I've got souped up versions of Humpty Dumpty and This Old Man running phrenetically through my head. It's a little surreal. It also gives me a little bit of insight to what my sister's daily life must be like, as the working mommy to a 17-month-old toddler. Props to you, sister. I will buy you a coffee next time I see you.

Sleep deprivation is not cool—it leaves you at way less than your best and makes it hard to enjoy the life you're losing sleep for. But for an indie musician, sacrificing sleep is sometimes a necessary evil. So here's a list of tips I've accumulated over the years.

IS coffee really your best friend? If, like many, you have been slowly grooving along on a caffeine addiction for the last several years, you may find that your beloved cup of joe does very little for you when you really need it to. Long-term fix: DON'T USE COFFEE AS A CRUTCH IN YOUR DAILY LIFE. Short-term fix: Try taurine instead. Vitamin Water's "Power-C" contains a nice dose and does not taste as disgusting as most energy drinks.

Walk it off. I have noticed over the years that a brisk walk to get a cup of coffee often wakes me up more than the coffee itself. Standing up and moving your body can help your brain stay a little more alert too. 

Take a moment to be grateful. I'm more emotional when I'm tired and this can set the tone for a grumpy-ass day if I'm not careful. Looking out your window and sincerely enjoying the view for a few minutes, or making a quick mental tally of five things you're lucky to have in your life, can boost your mood in a big way. Wouldn't you rather be happy-loopy than grumpy-loopy?

Don't be a hero. Today is not the day to start that diet you've been meaning to jump on, nor is it the day to push through finally building your EPK from scratch. You're not at your best, and hopefully that's because you had a good reason to stay up last night. So don't push yourself today.

...Really, don't be a hero. If you read "Sleep Deprivation Land" and thought "Ah! Welcome to my humble home, my friend," you are not doing yourself any favors. Yes, losing sleep is occasionally necessary – and it's your job to make sure it really is occasional. If you're rolling your eyes and going "yeah, yeah," try this experiment: Commit to getting 8+ hours of sleep a night for a full week. See how you feel, see how much you get done. Then pull an all nighter. Examine the difference in your emotions, stamina and mental faculties the next day. I did this and I was horrified to learn that I'd been walking around partially zombified for years and didn't even know it. Spoiler alert, I've also booked and played more shows, made more money and gotten sick less now that I have committed to getting quality sleep.