While trying to sleep last night I thought about the nature of sleep and its role in the creative process. Of particular interest was the article on the same subject in today’s NY Times page 4 of the Business Section.
It essentially promoted the same notion–that sleep is not a ‘waste of time’ but a useful adjunct to creativity.
Personally, I have always found a short nap to be invigorating and refreshing. During periods of stress it serves as a mental and emotional ‘time out’. Something most be occurring on a biochemical level as well. I have found it to be a welcome source of solace and renewal.
As I was ‘dreaming’ or ‘thinking’ in my sleep last night, I observed that sleep allows the brain/mind to juggle a variety of previous sensory inputs and to possibly reconfigure them in new ways.
In our normal waking consciousness, we are continually bombarded by new sights, sounds, impressions. Ultimately these are necessary for survival and evolution. But sleep allows the new input to dissipate and the old material to be re-examined.
I recall in my pre-med days struggling over a course in physics. The exams were difficult and I am not mathematically inclined. I recall the night after an examination in which I ‘solved’ a question on the test–one which I had failed to do during the alloted time.
Studies of sleep deprivation in the past demonstrated that the human brain requires sleep in order to ‘discharge’ certain toxic chemicals–to reboot itself in some way. Those prevented from sleep began to hallucinate while still awake–simulating the experience of psychosis.
So to those work-a-holics who regard sleep as a waste of time–think again. This time, think creatively because that is exactly what you may be missing.