I don’t sleep very well. I’ve had serious chronic insomnia since I was a child, and have been known to go for several days at a time without sleep. Specifically I have both sleep-onset and sleep-maintaining insomnia. In recent years my sleeping habits have improved, mostly due to complete physical exhaustion. And wine.
Lately though I’ve been experiencing a regression, and am only getting 2-3 hours sleep per night, if I’m lucky. I don’t feel tired, I’m fully functioning. Typically I am up at 6am, having finally gone to bed at about 3am. Insomnia is not like having a restless night. You don’t feel tired and sleepy the next day. Don’t get me wrong, it does have an effect on your body, but not like general lack of sleep will.
Usually I have medication that will help me sleep. But since becoming a mother I haven’t taken it. I’m too frightened of not being able to hear my kids crying at night. So, when a bought of insomnia comes, I just have to struggle though it.
I’ve been reading a lot this week about the link between creativity and sleep, and am fascinated by how much sleep can improve creativity. It’s a well known fact that it’s during sleep that we process the things we have learned and experienced that day – which is why sleep is so important for children. It’s the point at which they are storing away all the new information they have learned. It’s the time of the day when they make sense of things.
As an adult the need for sleep does not diminish. We still need that time to recharge, to process, and to come up with solutions.
However, there has been much research done into sleep and creativity, with studies showing that doing creative work while deprived of sleep can actually lead to better outcomes and creativity. It’s all to do with the way out brains are wired – when tired they don’t function as well, and things don’t tend to link up properly, so the analytical part of our brain doesn’t function quite so well. However, this is great news for the creative part, which relishes the leaps in logic and non-linear thinking that lead to ‘thinking outside the box’ – making connections that we normally wouldn’t make when fully refreshed.
I’ve certainly noticed that I get more done on days where I haven’t slept well, I work better and feel more creative. I have better ideas and I don’t feel as lethargic as do when I’ve slept all night.
There must be something in this link if the number of successful and creative people with insomnia is anything to go by. Insomniacs include Charles Dickens, Marcel Proust, Mark Twain, Alexandre Dumas, Franz Kafka, and many, many others have suffered with insomnia.
Now, for all it’s ‘benefits’ insomnia can have some serious health implications. People with insomnia are 5 times more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, and twice as likely to suffer congestive heart failure. This is in addition to general wear caused to the body by lack of sleep.
Unfortunately there is very little that can be done about insomnia, even with medication. Most over the counter medications won’t help with insomnia, and prescription drugs will only work until your body becomes immune to them.
So, for now I’m hoping that this bought will pass quickly, and until it does, I’m getting five chapters a day done.
Sleep well folks,