REM Creativity

If you get a full night’s sleep, only a small percentage of it is “REM sleep” and that’s supposed to be the truly restorative stuff. You might get like 90 minutes of REM sleep but for most people that’s all you need. Less than 2 hours of REM sleep would be enough to fully restore you.

But the rub is that most people can’t get 2 hours of REM sleep without a bunch of normal garbage sleep around it.

Lots and lots of people put lots and lots of time and effort into trying to improve that. Everyone from scientists to mattress companies try to find ways to get into REM sleep faster, extend it longer, require less sleep around it, etc.

I think that’s valuable work! Could you imagine if eventually we developed medicines, devices, or techniques that allowed you to just drop right into the “good” sleep, do it for 2 hours, and then wake fully rested? I’d pay a lot for it.

I was thinking about that in relation to creativity. When I put myself in a creative flow I can do pretty cool things. I might only do them for 30-60 minutes but get a lot out of it. But my best, most creative 30 minutes often happens in the middle of a 4-hour block.

When I first get warmed up I have to create “the zone.” And when I know I’m approaching another scheduled responsibility the fire tends to cool a little and I’m wrapping up, saving files, organizing things. But that sweet spot in the middle is where magic happens.

Shortening the time it takes for me to get into “REM Creativity mode” or extending how long it lasts in the face of looming responsibilities would be of great help to me. Because of how I currently work, my best work happens pretty exclusively in the wee hours, because that’s the only time when there aren’t any upcoming responsibilities for several hours (sleep? what’s that?).

So just like the scientists and mattress makers, here I am.

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