The Perks of Insomnia: Why Creativity Strikes Us at Night

And how to make the most out of it

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

It is quite ironic to think that as the world goes to sleep, our minds flare up with a drive to take on a new project. I know what you’re thinking. Why is there such a paradox in the routine that was designed for us? After all, our circadian rhythm can be trusted with delivering the incentive for us to get our well-deserved amount of sleep. Or can it?

  • An undisturbed space to create

It turns out, despite the human body’s adaptation to sleeping at night and waking up at the dawn of day as a result of a tradition worth centuries, the presence of exhaustion can cause us to be more creative. At a deeper glance, it isn’t so surprising at all.

Coming to think of it, silence and a lack of distractions related to broad daylight (including but not limited to other people around us) can be excruciatingly beneficial for our brain, which, even though it begs for some rest, yells out loud and clear: Now is the time for me to finish that book/article/painting/business idea! (or any other product of our imagination).

Serenity can be rewarding. As the poet Rumi once said:

Listen to silence. It has so much to say.

Photo by Aral Tasher on Unsplash

Given that tiredness stems from the brain’s lack of activity in its frontal cortex (the part that reacts to the stimuli we encounter during the day), we are inevitably left with less energy; hence our partial willingness to sleep. The remaining energy however is there to counteract our droopy eyes, claiming: You know what? Why not finish that thing you’re working on, or what if you were to think of developing this idea that you’ve had lurking behind your head for a while?

In the evening, our minds are essentially free from any of the harsh expectations set out by the frontal cortex, leaving us with the still-functioning part of our brain that is now restrain-less and ready to dig into our imagination.

  • Night-time’s preciousness

We like to think that with the sun’s disappearance comes our inescapable will to follow its path; snuggle away into dreamland for a few hours. But with the presence of the dark skies surrounding us, some lucky few of us tend to see its worth. While the majority of people are vast asleep or partaking in some form of social gathering, our solitude spent under the moonlight may enact something magical, or even primal, within us: the thirst to create.

With the fall of evening also comes the release of our day’s self — the self who spends a proportionately large amount of time consuming information from around us and reacting to it; leaving little to no space for us to concentrate on the information willing to come out from within. As there are no external influences left to react to, what is inside us will have had enough of merely brewing, and will want to see itself realized as something beyond an idea.

In fact, these ideas are so eager to create themselves that they may take the form of ranting big chunks of them, carefree of what anyone may think, thanks to our lack of action in the frontal cortex. With the space that has just opened up before us, we are free to fill it with anything we wish; unconstrained by fear of criticism or failure.

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash
  • Unleashing your inner creator

I like to think that, as children, evenings were a time for us to encounter or tell stories because of its ability to foster imagination. Without that component, perhaps our participation in those tales would not seem as outlandish or ethereal as it may have felt. Along with a child’s tendency to have a creative mind that succeeds any distractions from the outside, we were in the process of building a whole new world with our bare hands. That tendency, although ignored by a number of adults, has remained within us. Sometimes we just require a return to that pre-sleep state in order to capture what we wish to express.

“The only real valuable thing is intuition” — Albert Einstein

The most renowned artists or creators have been known to have one thing in common: listening to the voice within and following its orders all the way until it is brought to life in this world. When our own inner voice decides to strike, many times encouraged at the departure of the sun, it is our duty to take out a piece of paper, a pen, a paintbrush, a sketchpad, a computer, a camera, an instrument, or any medium we wish to create something through; something worthwhile that we have been carrying within us during the overwhelming emergence of day.

Author | Creative | Film Enthusiast. A 19 year old passionate about uplifting people and trying to make sense of a place we call the Universe.

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