Sleep and Creativity

I read this post on Lifehacker the other day, which was timely considering my lack of sleep this week. I took Monday off to spend time with my family, and my week was unusually full with meetings and other time-drainers. So, instead of carving out time at work to write and plan for class meetings, I did most of this until the wee hours of the morning. People who know me are aware of my struggles with staying alert at night. In an earlier time in my life, I used to meet a couple of my buddies every Monday to watch football, and I can’t remember one time when I stayed awake for the whole game. However, I had no problem waking up at 5:00 a.m. for a 5-6 mile run. Clearly, I am a morning person.

In my efforts to create a schedule for myself that includes writing, planning, service, research, teaching, and oh yeah, family, I find it increasingly easier to give up the one thing that usually helps me stay focused … sleep. The later I stay up, and the more often I stay up late, the more of a decrease I notice in my creativity, yet it’s the same creativity I strive to find when I am staying up late scratching out a couple of extra hours of work.

This is a personal problem, I know, but it definitely falls within the “things they don’t tell you in grad. school” category. It’s probably better if we (new faculty) discover this kind of thing ourselves, anyway. If I ever get the opportunity to mentor doc students or new faculty, I will be sure to put this on the list.