Creative Insomnia: the Link between Sleep and Creativity

February 17, 2014

Sleep and Creativity

There are a lot of people who spend countless hours lying on their beds, waiting for sleep to come and take them. It happens often no matter how comfortable their bed mattresses are – whether they are innerspring, latex, memory, or polyurethane foam. I’m sure you’ve experienced this yourself at some point.

During those times, we just wait. Staring at the ceiling, or at the walls, or at the screens of our devices. A lot of thinking happens, and a lot of ideas come to our minds. It’s sometimes overwhelming. It’s sort of like a mixture of unusual “almost-dreaming” ideas and rare creative thoughts. You know what I’m talking about.

But all that aside, have you ever thought of what having a hard time sleeping can do to your creativity? After all, there should be some sort of effect done by all that thinking. Does it affect creativity positively or negatively?

This article won’t be all too scientific, since for most of you, being too technical might be a little too boring, so my job is to make this as simple and as easy to understand. So don’t worry; I’ll try to make sure to keep this as basic as I can.

Sleep Art

Sleep and brain function are closely tied

Actually, you can even think of them as being one and the same. If you think about it, most of what happens to us during sleep is in the brain. That’s why when scientists study people when they sleep, they hook up their examining devices to their heads in order to study their brain activity.

For the sleepers themselves, it’s even much more obvious when they dream since it’s something they experience. This primary concept – that sleep and brain function go together like love and marriage – ought to be established first before we take a peek into the link between sleep and creativity. Creativity is something that originates from the brain. Let’s try to keep that in mind.

Sleep deprivation negatively affects the brain

Sleep is a basic necessity. We do it in order to rest ourselves and refresh the way our body works. Familiar with the idea that the brain never sleeps? Well, that’s actually one indirect explanations as to why we dream. However, you don’t use your brain actively as much during the day like when you go to work. You can attest to that yourself.

Sleep deprivation negatively affects your brain mainly due to fatigue and stress. That’s why it’s always a great idea to sleep as comfortable as possible, like on a foam bed, in order to minimize sleep deprivation. It affects performance and the cognitive process. Have you ever tried taking an exam with only 2 hours of sleep as opposed to being well-rested? That pretty much speaks for itself.


Several studies show us surprising links

With the logic portrayed in the first two points, you might think that it’s right to conclude that creative insomnia doesn’t happen as positively as we might hope.

However, some scientific studies have concluded that it is possible to be more creative than you usually are as a result of insomnia. Now isn’t that surprising? I won’t go into the details of those studies, but in a nutshell, some people are shown to have their creativity enhanced as a result of operating on less sleep.

A lot of artists and poets throughout history have struggled with sleep deprivation, and they were able to take the positive end of that. Great, huh?

Well, knowing that insomnia can cause a boost in creativity doesn’t mean that it’s the only way to be creative. There are a lot people without sleeping problems that are able to show some creative works. But keep in mind as a general principle that you should try to have as much quality sleep as possible. Don’t go on depriving yourself of sleep for the sake of being creative. You operate best when you are yourself. Remember that. So go on to a comfortable bed and sleep well.