Saturday, March 15, 2008

Insomnia

I have trouble sleeping.

Not every night. But often enough to drive me crazy. It’s so frustrating being wide awake in the middle of the night, knowing I need so get some sleep but of course the harder I try, the more awake I am. I just read an article about a book by Eluned Summers-Bremner, English professor and cultural historian at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, called Insomnia: A Cultural History. She talks about being “head tired” where you can’t shut your brain off. Apparently because we spend so much time sitting still but working with our brains, our body isn’t tired, even though our mind is, and we have a harder time getting to sleep.

She also believes there is a link between insomnia and creativity. A lot of poets and writers believe this, too. Many great artists and thinkers (Franklin, Edison, Wordsworth, Proust) were insomniacs.

Now, I’m no Proust, but I know that I have written some of my best work in the middle of the night while lying there wide awake! Too bad it never made it onto the computer screen. Some people keep a notebook by their bed so they can write things down, such as dreams. I guess I could do that. Sometimes I get great ideas in the night but the worst is when I lay there for two hours and actually write almost an entire novel. I should just get up and go downstairs and start typing.

But then there’s no chance I’d be getting any sleep that night!

All this raises the question for me…does my insomnia result in creativity? Or is my creativity causing my insomnia?Ms Summers-Bremner doesn’t think that insomnia causes the creativity, but because some people think it does, they don’t want to give up their insomnia.

What do you think?
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