It is the middle of the night and I have tossed and turned for over an hour. My back is aching, my feet are threatening major-league cramps, and my brain will not stop lusting over the new ice cream machine I read about last week. I grab my phone to record funny little snippets about old age and blind ambition when it hits me. Why in the bloody hell do I become my most creative at 3:00 a.m.?
And there it is. A Google search about sleep and creativity returns multiple theories. Imagine that. One confirms that research suggests we are most clear and creative when we have recently awakened from REM sleep. Tell that to my aching back and crampy feet that have robbed me of anything close to REM sleep tonight.
Another theory teaches when tired at night, your frontal lobe is missing vital energy signals that spark distraction, leaving you slightly more creatively focused than usual. It goes on to say that your brain’s creative response when tired is exactly the same as when you drink alcohol. Well, well. Now we're talking. I want desperately to sleep but my frontal lobe has decided to serve up martinis instead. I'll have mine shaken, not stirred, thank you.
I also question what silence has to do with creativity. Except for the tinnitus echoing ominous Gregorian chants deep in my ears, it’s a quiet night. It is common knowledge that silence relieves stress and tension, and mindful meditation allows us access to our innate imagination and creativity.
Scientific research also found that when exposing mice to two hours of silence per day new cells developed in the hippocampus - the brain region associated with memory, emotion, and learning. Perhaps I need to find my two hours of silence during the day and add a cheese tray to complement the martinis. Problem solved!
All this nonsense, however, does make me pause in nostalgic reflection. Throughout my secondary and collegiate studies, and long into my 30s and 40s, I rarely slept for more than four or five hours every night. I simply did not need more to feel revitalized every day.
And, I can honestly say I do not recall bouts of sleeplessness. I ran like a freight train until I dropped and slept without interruption. Even though an aging body probably does need more rest, I push the envelope too often and give in to an early bedtime. All theories aside, I am simply at my best after about five hours of sleep. Will someone please tell that to my body?
So, I have learned a couple of immediate lessons from this exercise. First of all, if you search the internet long enough you can find logic to support any result you want. I wonder if I could be awarded a federal multimillion-dollar grant to prove it? Secondly, there is no logic to why I don't just put my phone down and go to sleep! None. Zero. Zilch.
Okay, so I’ve counted sheep, slammed a couple of hot toddies, and wrapped myself in a toasty electric blanket, yet my body is still dead set on running a marathon. If this were an Olympic sport, I’d be a national hero. Ah, but that is fodder for yet another rant.
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