Have you ever gone to bed feeling overwhelmed by a problem, only to wake up the next morning with a possible solution? Ever opened your eyes in the middle of the night with a great idea so cool you just had to write it down? If so, you aren’t alone.
History is full of creative thinkers who experienced powerful insights while sleeping. Scientists like Mendeleev, who discovered how best to organize elements in the periodic table, actually had their breakthrough insights while sleeping and writers and artists often report that their work is inspired by dreams. Mary Shelley, for example, was inspired to write her masterpiece Frankenstein after she had a dream.
Why is Sleep so Important for Creativity?
Researchers are now coming to understand just how important sleep is to the creative process and how the mechanism may actually be working. One theory is that the brain processes thoughts, memories, experiences, and information in different ways, depending on the phase of sleep one is in. During rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, neurons in many parts of the brain fire in an apparently random sequence. It’s this wild, unpredictable process that is theorized to allow fresh, new connections between ideas to occur. Pulling together different pieces of information in new ways is considered to be an essential part of the creative process.
During slow-wave sleep (SWS), on the other hand, you are more deeply asleep and activity in the brain is more consistent with many neurons in different areas firing in unison. Researchers believe this is when memories are replayed, consolidated and strengthened. When the two processes alternate, as happens each night in a series of 90-minute sleep cycles, the two processes work together to come up with new ideas.
Have A Brilliant Dream? Write it Down
Capturing the new ideas and inspired thoughts that may arrive under the cover of darkness is often best done in the moment, which is why creative thinkers often keep a notebook and pen beside the bed so they can jot down their thoughts in the middle of the night. It’s not a bad idea to get in the habit of jotting your thoughts down during the night or as soon as possible after you wake up in the morning. It doesn’t take long for the activities of the day to cause the images and ideas of nighttime to dissipate.
A Great Pillow Facilitates a Good Night’s Sleep
Underlying every great night’s sleep is a good pillow like those from Luxe Pillow. Designed with good sleep in mind, Luxe Pillows are the perfect combination of premium materials, new school creativity and old school comfort. If you’ve slept on one, you’ll know the difference a Luxe Pillow can make!
Have you ever solved a problem during your sleep? Written a poem, story, or book inspired by an insight that came to you during the night? Do you sleep with a notebook and pencil by your bed? We’d love to hear about your experiences with creativity and sleep. Leave us a note in the comments so we can share your stories of inspiration!