Your Creativity Could Affect How Much You Sleep

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Creative individuals are more likely to be sleepy ones, too, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Haifa in Israel evaluated the sleeping habits of undergraduate students from various schools. Half of the students were majoring in art, while the other half were majoring in social sciences.

Credit: Ivan Mlinaric/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

“Visually creative people reported disturbed sleep leading to difficulties in daytime functioning,” said Neta Ram-Vlasov, one of the authors of the study, to Science Daily. “In the case of verbally creative people, we found that they sleep more hours and go to sleep and get up later.”

The two kinds of creativity, visual and verbal, were observed in the study as well as how the different creativities affected sleep duration, time and even quality. Those who were considered to be visually creative reported the worst quality of sleep.

“In other words, the two types of creativity were associated with different sleep patterns,” Ram-Vlasov said. “This strengthens the hypothesis that the processing and expression of visual creativity involves different psychobiological mechanisms to those found in verbal creativity.”

Defining Creativity Types

The study used four different attributes to define creativity. Fluency is the ability to produce a variety of ideas; flexibility is the ability to change thought patterns easily to provide a variety of ideas; originality is known as the quality of ideas in relation to the environment; as well as elaboration, the ability to develop ideas separately.

Participants underwent a sleep study where they wore an activity monitor on their wrists, wrote a sleep monitoring diary, answered questions about their sleeping habits, and took visual and verbal creativity tests.

Related: Simple Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

The students who were considered to have the highest verbal creativity levels reported more hours asleep, along with sleeping into later hours as well. The art students slept more versus the social science students, but that doesn’t mean the quality of sleep was any better, the authors said.

Credit: Krista Grinberga/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

“It is possible that a ‘surplus’ of visual creativity makes the individual more alert, and this could lead to sleep disturbances,” the authors said. “On the other hand, it is possible that it is protracted sleep among verbally creativity individuals that facilitates processes that support the creative process while they are awake.”

Art students did report more disturbed sleep along with daytime dysfunction as opposed to the students in social sciences. The authors added that it is possible to link the two types of creativity with sleeping patterns, but more studies should be conducted.

“In any case, these findings are further evidence of the fact that creativity is not a uniform concept. Visual creativity is activated by — and activates — different cerebral mechanisms than verbal creativity,” the authors said.

The study was led by professors Tamar Shochat of the University of Haifa Department of Nursing and Ram-Vlasov, a doctoral candidate with the Graduate School of Creative Art Therapies. Amit Green of the Sleep Institute at Assuta Medical Center and professor Orna Tzischinsky from the Department of Psychology at Yezreel Valley College were also involved with the study.

Related: Trouble Sticking to Your Diet? Try Looking at Art

Tori Linville

Tori Linville is a freelance writer and editor from Clarksville, Tennessee. When she isn’t writing or teaching, she’s faithfully watching her alma mater, the University of Alabama, dominate the football field.