Just as actress, Catherine O’Hara, said so beautifully, “Night time is really the best time to work. All the ideas are there to be yours because everyone else is asleep.” Magicians never reveal their magic, but what if, just this one time, we dive into the magic of our creativity at night? What truly happens to us? Is it pure coincidence, or are there scientific ties?
Everyone has experienced writer’s block; Something so irritating and useless, and it just ends up taking away any motivation or concentration to write properly. Yet, as soon as you’re lying in bed and want nothing more than to sleep… BAM! The perfect idea for your piece comes, knocking you over. Thank god you’re lying down in bed, and not standing upright. But, what is it, and why does it happen?
Our creativity gets the better of us at night, and this is based on two factors: our psychology and our brain chemistry.
Believe it or not, our brain processes 70,000 thoughts a day! If you look at it from this perspective, it makes sense that our day has been filled with endless inspiration and experiences to reflect on. This creates that smoother ease in writing at night, as opposed to during the day. Another factor is that during the day, you are simply surrounded by too many distractions, whereas at night, when everyone is asleep and it tends to be quieter, there is nothing else to feel guilty about not doing. Also, darker hours bring about a more calming feeling. Our social media usage decreases, the lighting is softer, and both lead to a more tranquil and peaceful setting, making it the ideal setting to write and let our ideas flourish. So overall, there is a proven change in our psychology at night.
Our brains, however, also undergo chemical changes at night. Due to our circadian rhythms, also known as sleep patterns, our brains create a rhythm of whenever we go to sleep, and when we are awake. Therefore, due to this routine, your brain prepares you for bedtime by shutting down certain areas. Very dominantly, the frontal lobe, which is responsible for decision-making, becomes inactive, leading to an increased usage of the right hemisphere of our brains.
Scientists have inferred that the creative control centre of our brains is located in the right hemisphere of our brains. This part incentivises creative ideas, emotions, and our intuition to the way we dream. As there is a shift in activity to this part of the brain at night, we tend to become more creative during dark hours.
It is extremely difficult to achieve the same urge of ‘night writing’ during the day, as Prolactin is significantly lower during the day, due to the sunlight. This hormone allows you to find yourself in a calm and tranquil state, and it primarily releases itself during the night. Here are a few things you could do to try to work just as well during the day:
- Incorporate soft lighting in your room, as this puts your body in a calming state, just as if it were receiving Prolactin at night. Not only this but…. Get into comfy clothes! This again simulates that similar peaceful feeling you have at night when everyone is asleep and you are ready to seize the night.
- If you have an office job, the previous tip might be slightly harder to achieve. Therefore, you can buy yourself a soft light lamp to bring to your office. You can set it on your desk, and it will coat everything in a calming light that will help ease you into a calmer state.
- Limit any distractions. This can easily be done by closing the door, or losing yourself to music whilst you write.
As long as you prioritize a feeling of comfort and self-love, you are capable of anything. Have fun trying to see what works for you! Who knows? Maybe you’ll become a night owl and find your next creative adventure under the moonlight.