I’ve always been a great sleeper. I love sleep. I sleep well. I sleep long.
Lately, August has been enjoying his “babies being babies” status by waking every two hours overnight to feed. I’m talking ravenous feeding. He’s little, he’s growing, and it’s just not an option for me to refuse to feed the little tyke. So I’m up. A lot.
As the days wore on and my maximum length of slumber at a time peaked at 2.5 hours in a 5 day period – I hit delirium. And this is where it gets interesting. I think I found a correlation between creativity and sleep deprivation. A positive spin on a shite situation – yes indeed. Could it just be the delirium talking – quite possibly.
I can only liken it to that level of drinking when your barriers come down, you get all loosey-goosey in the chatter department, and you suddenly become a champion pool player. I have proof that after approximately 3.5 glasses of wine, I “get my eye in”* and start sinking balls like I’ve joined the professional circuit. I once got someone to take a video of me executing some crazy shot that included ricochets, jump shots and 3 balls sunk, just so I could show people my mad skills in the harsh light of day. Amy and I once went away for a weekend to write an ebook (still in progress), drank a couple of bottles of red, befriended the local pub owner and creativity positively sparked out of us. We think.
I started to see this side of me emerging around 3pm each day, but now my mad skills extended to heightened wit and crazy styling ideas. And there was no booze involved. I had inadvertently “got my eye in”** by not sleeping.
My self-editing went out the window, with any idea getting airplay. I was spinning puns and weaving wordplay without pause, and thoughts were streaming out of me. I also got totally over-emotional, like a drunk crying into a beer. But this was a small price to pay for flashes of brilliance.
A lack of inhibition has been characteristic of many creative greats, with an ability to tap into ideas that might never have seen the light of day had they allowed editing to occur. I can totally understand the need to chase this feeling, this crazed state of heightened everything where it just seems easier to work. Sure – you’re dancing (sometimes flailing) to the sound of your own drum. Sure – timeframes go out the window and strangers give you polite smiles and start to back away slowly. And SURE – your partner/family/dog are a little unsure as to why things are getting made when there are chores to be done. But all just a byproduct of the delirium. A small price to pay.
For a spell at least.
We know that sleep deprivation also does a whole heap of bad stuff to your body if it continues for too long a stretch.*** You shouldn’t drive, operate heavy machinery or basically do anything that requires refined motor skills and quick judgement. And we don’t CHOOSE it (that would be taking it one step too far).
But you know what? Two nights ago, August slept from 9pm to 5am. I awoke with both the fear of God that something had happened to him, and the pain of Zeus in my engorged breasts. After I’d checked that he was indeed totally fine and happily gurgling to himself in the cot, I realised that I felt like a new woman. I felt great! Good Morning World!!
But I also felt something was amiss. I sat down to try to plan my day, to write some more and plot a moodboard. And struggled a little. Then it hit me. My eye was out. I was totally rational and rested. And although I was so relieved to have been handed this delicious stretch of sleep, I was also a little sad that my loose crazy genius had also retired. Now I really had to think.
For the time being at least. August is nothing if not unpredictable.
* not scientifically proven
** also not scientifically proven
*** this is totally scientifically proven but I just don’t have time to Google the appropriate reference. Soz