What keeps you awake at night? When I was growing up, it was the threat of nuclear war. I don’t think my mum had any idea how terrified I was about that; she’d just shrug and say it would probably never happen. But I didn’t believe her. I’d go to bed and stare at the ceiling, thinking that at any moment, someone would press that red button and BOOM: we’d all be toast. Or vaporised, even. Unless you had the foresight to hide under a table.
When I was about eight, a friend told me that because I’d just swallowed some gum, I would die. I believed her.
A couple of years later, I saw a science programme that explained how eventually the whole solar system would get burned up by the sun. I somehow overlooked the part about this not happening for millions of years, and all I could think of was the coming apocalypse.
It’s hell having an overactive imagination: yes, it means you can be good at making up stories, but the downside is ALL THAT SCARY STUFF. That’s why I’ve had a lifelong sleep disorder. As a young child my method of getting to sleep would be to repeatedly bang my head against the pillow. It was pretty annoying for my brother, with whom I shared a room.
I still don’t have the answer. I worry less. I think there is a lot of wisdom here:
But lately I’ve developed Restless Legs Syndrome…the truth is, sleeping like a rock doesn’t come naturally to me, and it probably never will. And since it’s often at 3am that the best ideas come to me, then if I’m honest, I prefer it that way. It’s my Magical Hour. Just don’t ring my doorbell at three o’clock in the afternoon, because the chances are, I’m making up for it then. Oh, and I have the most bizarre dreams, every night. They’ve become weirder and more frequent in recent years: it’s brilliant!
As this blog is read by a lot of creative people, I’m interested in whether you have an overactive imagination that keeps you awake at night – and if so, what sort of things trouble you. How do you deal with it? Do you think it’s all part and parcel of being creative, and you just have to learn to live with it? Or do you think it’s something we can and should be trained out of? Perhaps you’re one of those people who’s out like a light from the moment your head hits the pillow, right through till morning? Maybe you think this whole creativeness/sleeplessness equation is a load of rot, and you needn’t be neurotic in order to write good books, compose music, make art…? Let me know!