How well do YOU sleep? I think we all know that sleep is extremely important for our health – feeling good and thriving.
But do you recognize any relationship between your dreams or sleep patterns and your Creativity?
As someone who has experienced sleep issues for a few years, I was interested in how sleep affects our Creativity, so I decided to do a little digging into research on sleep and Creativity.
Sure enough, many studies have shown that highly Creative people often have a more difficult time falling asleep. This may be because as our bodies slow down, our minds become active at solving problems and coming up with new ideas. It is also true that most Creatives actually sleep MORE hours per night than the average person.
Most of you have probably had the experience of waking up after a good night’s sleep, and quickly solving a problem that the night before was eluding you. If you have had this happen to you, you are in good company. Creatives such as Paul McCartney, Salvador Dali, Stephen King and the Mathematician, Medeleev, have experienced stunning solutions to creative problems while they were sleeping.
During REM sleep, the brain becomes more fragmented, and reassembles bits and pieces of images and scenes in strange ways.
How cool is that?
Sleep and Creativity are also connected chemically in our bodies. Dopamine levels rise in the pleasure centers of the brain BOTH when we’re dreaming AND when we’re being creative. And… the stress hormone, Cortisol, rises during REM and then helps us form new and imaginative ideas from pieces of information gathered throughout the day.
All this to say, sleep does seem to be very important for brain health and Creativity.
So here a few tips to help you sleep better and stay creative and healthy.
· WRITE YOUR DREAMS. Keep a journal and pen next to your bed so you can re-call your dreams when they are still fresh in your mind. Studies have shown that those who kept track of those dreams, had them more, and were more creative. You may also want to think about your “problem” or “project” as you are falling asleep to help program your dreams to answer your Creative questions.
· GET SLEEP. Do your best to get a good night’s sleep for both your health and creativity. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine can help. It may also help to have a nightly routine to slow down, such as some quiet reading time. Give yourself a break from your phone and computer an hour before bed time. If you have insomnia, see a doctor, try alternatives such as Acupuncture, or other Alternative medicine. Herbs/supplements for insomnia include Melatonin, Valerian, Zizyphus, Chamomile and Skullcap… but there can be many reasons for Insomnia (such as food issues, and hormones) so if these options don’t solve your insomnia, keep searching for answers.
· ALLOW INCUBATION TIME. If you have an upcoming project, start early to allow incubation days – and nights! You will then be able to come up with some more inventive ideas, using sleep and wake cycles.
· DO NOTHING: Allow yourself time to “do nothing” as this is often when ideas can integrate, and we come up with novel ideas. Many Creatives report that ideas come to them as they are taking a “purposeless” walk.
· USE YOUR TIMING: If you come up with awesome ideas at certain times of the day, make the best use of it by allowing yourself some extra time at that point in the day for ideas to incubate.
Happy Sleeping and Creating!
Sources: Sleepline (website), “Sleep and Creativity”, Nov, 14, 2018. Time Magazine Special Edition on Sleep and Creativity, “The Power of Sleep”, Nov 2018.