Day 49: Got sleep?

Posted by on Feb 18, 2012

Day 49:  Got sleep?

Day 49.  I passed out a little before 8pm last night.  I crawled out of bed this morning after sleeping not 8, not 9, not 10, not 11, but almost 12 hours!  That’s a lot even for me unless I’ve got the flu.  I don’t have the flu.  As my mother is fond of saying, “You must have needed it then.”  Apparently, I did need it because I feel like a new, saner woman this morning.  I am grounded, focused and excited about my projects and the work it will take to pull them off.  At the end of day yesterday, shortly before face planting at a ludicrously early hour, I was not so grounded, focused or excited.  I was a mindless lump of useless goo freaked out about how much I needed to get done this weekend.  All that anxiety and freaked out-ness is gone after a dozen hours with the sandman.  Oh how I love him.  My rejuvenated self has me thinking about not only how important sleep is to my health but also to my sanity and creativity in general.  Are we more creative with it or without it?

Sleepy time!

One of my best friends is notorious for not sleeping.  She’s the queen of anywhere from 4 to 6 hours a night.  I marvel at her ability to not sleep much but still function in her career and family life and on top of that she’s outrageously talented and creative.  According to Wikipedia there’s something called creative insomnia.  There are not a lot of hard scientific studies to back it up but there are many famous insomniac writers.  Supposedly Marcel Proust wrote most of his À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time) while staying awake at night due to a chronic illness.  Well, I’m not with my friend or Marcel.  I gotta have my zzzz’s.  I’m worthless without them.  I prefer 9 hours but I do okay as long as I get at least 7 or 8.  According to Joanne Cantor, Ph.D in her blog Sleep for Success: Creativity and the Neuroscience of Slumber for Psychology Today’s website, “for years, scientists thought that the function of sleep was merely to rest the body and mind, but recent research suggests that sleep is essential for both learning and creativity.”  I could have guessed that even without reading the book she’s referencing:  Sleep, memory, and plasticity. Walker, M. P., & Stickgold, R. (2006).  

It’s interesting in our culture that we have a negative bias towards sleep.  Benjamin Franklin probably started it all with his, “Up, sluggard, and waste not life; in the grave will be sleeping enough!”  No, Ben, we all need sleep to actually live and neuroscience proves it.  It turns out it’s not a waste of life it actually enhances it.  A recent study shows that creativity is enhanced during REM sleep and according to Mark Stibich, Ph.D. you have to be asleep about 70 to 90 minutes to get there.  Oh yeah.  That’s right.  I can only presume I got there multiple times in my 12 hours of sleep.  As I think outside the box inside the box and create from what I have I now know that what I have to create from includes sleep.  Oh how that makes me happy!

Until tomorrow, create from what you have…the ability to sleep.

Kelli Joan Bennett is a filmmaker, actress, writer, entrepreneur, advocate for creative thinking and Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Think Outside The Box Inside The Box Media.

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