Posted by: Kerry Gans | February 26, 2009

No Sleep, but Still Can Dream

Sleep deprivation, as we know, is a form of torture. But it can also be a well for great creativity. There have always been highly creative people who sleep very little, at least for bursts of time. Of course, many of them were also mentally ill, but we won’t go there!

 

Sleep deprivation is on my mind because I had a terrible bout of insomnia the other day. Virtually no sleep at all. And although it made my normal functioning difficult, I found that my creative functioning was easy. My brain put two and two together and made five, but somehow, it all made sense. I made connections between the oddest things, yet they were real connections that I had never seen before. For instance, I was speaking to Jerry Waxler about the craving for “story” that people have in their lives, and I suddenly started to wonder if part of Obama’s appeal to people was his ability to weave “story” into his speeches.

 

I can only theorize that my sleep-deprived brain had moved into a state of semi-dreaming. Who among us hasn’t been half-asleep in bed and come up with a crazy idea? Or juxtaposed two things in their half-sleep that they never would have done when fully awake? The subconscious mind comes to the surface, and solves problems in creative ways we never expected. It is phenomenal, what the mind can do when our logic will leave it alone!

 

Now, I do not recommend long-term sleep deprivation, as that is seriously detrimental to your health. Just ask any new parents out there how “creative” they feel after a few days! But on days when nature has thrown you a curve, and you’re functioning on less than ideal amounts of sleep, be open to your brain, and let the strange ideas come forward.

 

Enjoy your day of waking dreams.

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Responses

  1. I become an insomniac whenever my writing is going well. I think it’s because late at night, when the rest of the world is quiet and I’m sleepy, it’s easier for anything to seem possible. My mind stops caring about whether the laundry’s done or what I should cook for dinner and is able to focus completely on the world I’m creating. When I’m on one of these manic writing jags, I miss sleep. But not as much as I should. I thrive so much on that creative energy that sleep seems like something that gets in the way and a extravagant luxury. So I may be sleepy, but I’m also creatively satisfied (and a little caffiene-powered).

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