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Sleep and creativity

Sleep and creativity

The majority of studies on sleepiness has been shown to be flexible and flexible, and there are several hypotheses about the creative function of dreams. On the other hand, a few recent studies have supported a theory of creative insomnia, in which creativity is significantly correlated with sleep disturbance.

Anecdotal accounts of sleep and creativity

  • Jack Nicklaus had a dream that allowed him to correct his golf swing.
  • German chemist Friedrich August Kekulé stated that the idea for the ring structure of benzene came to him in a day-dream, in which he saw snakes biting their own tails. This story has been disputed.
  • Jasper Johns was inspired to paint his first painting as a result of a dream.
  • Aphex Twin wrote a lot of the music on his album by Ambient Works Volume II by going to sleep in the studio, and then recreating the sounds he heard in dreams as soon as he woke up.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson came up with the plot of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde during a dream.
  • Paul McCartney discovered the tune for the song ” Yesterday ” in a dream and was inspired to write ” Yellow Submarine ” during hypnagogia .
  • Mary Shelley ‘s Frankenstein Was inspired by a dream at Byron ‘s villa.
  • British poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote ” Kubla Khan ” after finding inspiration from an opium induced dream.
  • Otto Loewi , a German Physiologist, won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1936 for his work on the chemical transmission of nerve impulses. He discovered in a dream how to prove his theory.
  • Giuseppe Tartini , composer, gained inspiration for his Devil’s Trill Sonata in a dream where the Devil appeared to him and played the melody on Tartini’s violin.
  • An alternative interpretation of The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters considers Francisco Goya’s commitment to the creative process and the Romantic spirit-the unleashing of imagination, emotions, and even nightmares as made possible by the unconscious.

Sleep and creativity studies

REM sleep as a state of increased cognitive flexibility

In a study on cognitive flexibility across the sleep-wake cycle, researchers discovered that when woken from REM sleep , participants had a 32% advantage on an anagram task (when compared with the number of correct responses after NREM awakenings). [1] This hypothesis is based on the hypothesis that it is highly conducive to fluid reasoning and flexible thinking. Interestingly, participant performance after awakening from REM sleep was less than participants who stayed awake, which indicates that in REM sleep, there is an alternative (but just as effective) mode of problem solving that differs from the mechanism available while awake.

Sleep facilitates insight

Participants in a study are reduced to a reduced number of digits using a single digit (number reduction task). Out of three groups of participants (participants who have stayed in the night), participants who have gained control of the rule of law. built into the task. [2]

Lack of sleep impairs creativity

Some participants in a study went 32 hours without sleep while the control participants slept normally. When tested on flexibility and orality, the sleep-deprived participants had severe and persistent impairments in their performance. [3]

More creativity in humor while asleep

Under hypnotic-induced sleep, participants were much more likely to produce paraphrases of jokes that they had heard before and to spontaneously create new jokes (when compared with their performance while awake). [4]

Integration of relational memory

Recent studies have also shown that sleep not only helps consolidate memory, but also integrates relational memories. In one study, the participants were investigated to see if they helped this aspect (Ellenbogen et al., 2007, as cited in Walker, 2009). The subjects of the experiment are taught five “premise pairs”, A> B, B> C, C> D, and D> E. They were not aware of the overall hierarchy, where A> B> C> D> E. The subjects were split into 3 separate groups. The first group was tested 20 minutes after learning the peers, the second was tested 12 hours later without sleep, and the third was tested 12 hours later with sleep in between. The groups were tested in both first degree pairs (A> B, C> D, etc.) and 2nd degree pairs (A> C, B> D, or C> E). The results were made with the first degree pairs, the first group has performed better, and the second and third groups had significantly better performances. With the 2nd degree peers, the first group still performed at around the same level, and the second group performed at the same level. However, the third group performed even better than before, gaining 25% over the group without sleep. The results of this study show that sleep is a significant factor in integrating memories, or gaining the bigger picture. the third group performed even better than before, gaining 25% over the group without sleep. The results of this study show that sleep is a significant factor in integrating memories, or gaining the bigger picture. the third group performed even better than before, gaining 25% over the group without sleep. The results of this study show that sleep is a significant factor in integrating memories, or gaining the bigger picture.[5]

Creative insomnia

Creative insomnia refers to the idea that insomnia can actually spark creativity.

Anecdotal accounts of creative insomnia

  • Marcel Proust wrote most of his in search of lost time (In Search of Lost Time) while staying awake in the night due to a chronic illness. In Sodom and Gomorrah , he suggests that “A bit of insomnia is not useless to enjoy sleep, to project some light into this night. [A little insomnia is useful for appreciating sleep, for projecting some light into this night. “
  • Film maker Alan Berliner made a documentary on his lifelong insomnia and its complex role in his creative process. [6]
  • “Insomnia is almost an oasis in which those who have to think or suffer darkly take refuge.” – Colette
  • night is so precious it would be pusillanimous to sleep all through it! A bad night is not always a bad thing.[7] – Brian W. Aldiss
  • Acquainted with the Night: Insomnia Poems (edited by Lisa Russ Spaar) is a collection of famous poets and writers like Walt Whitman, Emily Bront and Robert Frost, all inspired by sleepless nights. Fifteen of the poems actually “insomnia” in the title.
  • “If the insomnia of a musician make him create beautiful works, it is beautiful insomnia.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • Vladimir Nabokov believed that insomnia was a positive influence on his work. He once remarked that “sleep is the most moronic fraternity in the world, with the heaviest due and the crudest rituals.” [8]

Studies that support creative insomnia

Although no studies have actually shown a causal relationship yet, various studies have suggested that the positive relationship between sleep and creativity is more complicated and less clear-cut than previously thought.

  • One study with children (ages 10-12) in New Zealand demonstrated correlation between insomnia and creative thought. This study Looked at the impact of sleep disturbances in thirty highly creative children When Compared with thirty control children . The hypothesis was that there would be a higher incidence of sleep disturbance in children. Results showed that there is a difference between the two groups, with the creative children reporting more than one person. More specifically, out of the sixty children tested on a standard creativity test, seventeen of the highly creativechildren reported that they had higher levels of sleep disturbance (compared to only eight of the control children). [9]
  • In another study that examined the interactive relationships between sleep, fatigue, creativity and personality, participants were given the “Sleep Questionnaire”, the “Fatigue Inventory”, the “Remote Association Test” and the “Probabilistic Orientation Test”. The researchers found that arousal measures of sleep and fatigue were meaningfully related to one another, but not to measures of thinking and of attitudinal orientations. Most importantly, they found that creativity was not significantly related to the dimensions of sleep. [10]

Studies that reject creative insomnia

  • The participants who were classified as “fast sleepers” were more likely to score highly than others. creativity test, (2) participants who were highly creative, and (3) adults in creative occupations . [11]

See also

  • Dreams
  • Creativity
  • Sleep and learning


  1. Jump up^ Walker, P .; Liston, C .; Allan Hobson, J .; Stickgold, R. (2002) Cognitive flexibility across the sleep-wake cycle: REM-sleep enhancement of anagram problem solving. Cognitive Brain Research14, 317-324
  2. Jump up^ Wagner, U .; Gals, S .; Halder, H .; Verleger, R .; Born, J. (2004) Sleep inspires insight. Nature427.
  3. Jump up^ Home, JA (1988) Sleep loss and “divergent” thinking ability. Sleep: Journal of Sleep Research & Sleep Medicine11; 6, pp. 528-536.
  4. Jump up^ Dittborn, JM (1963) Creativity during suggested sleep. Perceptual and Motor Skills16: 3, p. 738.
  5. Jump up^ Walker, MP “The Role of Sleep in Cognition and Emotion.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1156. (2009): 181-83.
  6. Jump up^ HBO: Wide Awake – Interviews
  7. Jump up^ Brian W Aldiss Quotations Index: Quotes at Quotatio
  8. Jump up^ Sleep Quotes, Sayings about Sleeping
  9. Jump up^ Healey, D. and Runco, M. (2006). Could Creativity be Associated with Insomnia? Creativity Research Journal18: 1, 39-43.
  10. Jump up^ Narayanan, S .; Vijayakumar, P .; Govindarasu, S. (1992). Subjective assessment of sleep, fatigue, creativity and personality orientation. Psychological Studies37: 1, 17-25.
  11. Jump up^ Sladeczek, I. and Domino, G. (1985) Creativity, sleep and primary process thinking in dreams. Journal of Creative Behavior19: 1, pp. 38-46, 55.