By Mary Grace Nguyen

News on the lack of sleep has spattered the media insisting that workers sleep – more – regularly and at set time frames to accommodate the 9-5 slog and inspire creativity for brilliant new age writers and artists. The typical recommendation is a steady 8 hours of sleep per day, but that would mean having to come home early and possibly missing out on episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Made in Chelsea’. 

Yet, a newly released New York infographic by Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. has proved the opposite. Based on new research, the sleep times of the famous intelligentsia: world renowned novelists, musicians and academics, has shown that a smidgen of tiredness might play an influential part in conjuring novel ideas, furthering lexical dexterity and galvanising revolutionary movements (in the literary sense.) Whether it’s psychology, literature or music, the results thwart the established idea that we need a good night rest to come up with fresher and innovative ideas.

Gustave Flaubert 1821 – 1880

Just looking at the diagram it has shown that some of the ‘greats’ had interesting sleeping patterns. It seems that whilst writing ‘Madam Bovary’ Gustave Flaubert was up from 3am until 10am getting his patient and frustratingly slow romantic novel in order which explains why the book lulled me to sleep; he was also falling asleep writing it!

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)

Most revered composer Mozart got a measly 5 hours sleep from the morning of 1am to 6am and it makes sense considering he lived an over-demanding existence. He performed to European nobility since the age of five and his father Leopold demanded he learn to play instruments – extremely well – on a daily basis. Later on in his adult life, whilst trying to abide to his fathers disciplinary values, he was given deadlines from the Freemasonry and was hard done by his frivolity with money and endless partying. This, coupled with getting in debt and accumulation of – speculated – illnesses including gum disease, bronchitis, small pox (to name a few,) one could say he died of over-exhaustion, stress and not enough sleep?


Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939)

Sigmund Freud, on the other hand, is a bit surprising considering his sleep slot was between 1am – 7am. Naturally, one would think his books on Psycho-analysis were inspired by his experiments with sex by having lots of it until the early morning yet these times prove otherwise. Perhaps he had early therapeutic sessions with Anna O. on her state of hysteria and spent time having sex earlier in the evening although there has been much mentions of his preference for stimulants as oppose to caffeine.


F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 – 19400)

F.Scott Fitzgerald got rest from 3.30am to 11am and isn’t it unsurprisingly? Having read the ‘Great Gatsby’ it is a bit too obvious. How could he know about the glitterati of the time if he wasn’t there dancing with them? His prose on the dazzling and audacious parties of the roaring 30s could have only bore from his first hand experience. We can assume that the day after was spent getting over the hangover by writing about it. One can imagine him writing about all the night antics in a half-intoxicated state which was possibly the best remedy to keeping him productive and getting his imagination boiling; that, and a dose of narcotics and the residue of gin churning in his stomach. Ouch!  

Immanuel Kant (1724 – 18

Immanuel Kant has his servant, Martin Lampe, force him to wake up at 5am. He would tell Lampe to be persistent in getting him to start the day early even if he resisted. Some research suggests Kant started working on lectures immediately, with two cups of weak tea, while other sources say he had an long stroll to get his thought juices flowing as well as some fresh air. His days and nights were spent in philosophical thought until 10pm which was the time he got some shut-eye.

If the enlightenment philosopher, Kant, had to be shoved out of bed to get him working it only proves that not all intellectuals naturally want to get out of bed early. This isn’t a public cry to engineer people to sleep less but it seems that these intellectuals had varied sleeping patterns mostly pointing out that they slept less than more. One could argue that it only shows their average sleeping patterns and that the infographic is slightly biased considering that it doesn’t show enough data about female intelligentsia. We can assume, however, that since they had a job or target aim in mind – to get X book written or symphony Y done – they were abiding by certain time frames which required set sleep slots. As a writer, carrying a notebook has its benefits for when a stimulating idea blossoms – morning, afternoon or night – it is captured instantly. And here comes the cheesy part: We never know where true inspiration stems from, but within thyself. 

 More information can be found here. Please click for here (All opinions are my own: Mary Grace Nguyen)

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