Monday, July 14, 2014

To Sleep, Perchance To Create

It was during her sleep that Mary Shelley (left) found inspiration for Frankenstein. A dream led Dimitry Mendekeyev (right) to create the periodic table, and a dream is credited with improving the swing of golfing legend Jack Nicklaus.

Even if your slumber hasn’t led to a work of great fiction, the link between creativity and sleep is hard to deny. Studies have shown that a solid night’s sleep can improve problem solving skills by 50 per cent. While other studies have shown that a lack of sleep can impair brain performamce, therefore reducing creative performance.

Creatives throughout history seem to be aware of the power that sleep can have on their abilities to create. This chart created by New York magazine from the bedtimes collected from Mason Currey’s book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, shows the sleep routines of some of the most creative contemporary and historical figures. It shows not only the how much sleep they get, but the apparent time of resting and rising too. Beethoven slept 8 hours (from 10pm to 6am). As does contemporary performance artist Marina Abramovic. Darwin slept 7 hours (12pm – 7am), with an hour siesta during the day. And though he went to bed and rose late, F. Scott Fitzgerald sleep 7.5 hours a night (from 3:30am – 11am). These times should be no surprise given his penchant for a Parisian soirée.

It seems that not only is it important to get plenty of sleep, but it is also as important to have a solid routine. With consistency, your internal clock has the ability to know when you’re waking up, allowing for your last period of REM (our time for dreaming) to fall just as you are about to rise. No surprise that we are more likely to be creative if we wake during this time.

Conclusion: Get the right amount of sleep, and do it like clockwork.


Ryan everton said...

Another good post. Sleep also has dramatic effects on hormones (.our life blood). Like walking sleep is one of the best ways to reduce cortisol. Stress.

This in turn reduces testosterone. Lowering mans ability to be motivated. Do more. Be more.

I first learnt about this from john Romaniello. John heads Arnold Swazernagers board.

John has a great book. Worth the read.

Another thing that seems to resonate. Is walking. Lots of amazing creatives walked. This was when they found the connection. I now walk. Lots. 4 hours a day.

Darryl said...

Great advice. Lack of sleep can make the most routine tasks seem like you're drunk or hung-over, similar in a way perhaps to the feeling of skipping breakfast.

Media Messiah said...

I go to bed at 11:11 and rise at 09:01 precisely. A Big Idea will come to me at 02:17, which I quickly jot on a pad I keep next to my bed. I then return to sleep, dreaming of the presentation the next day where the agency and client give me a round of applause.