Why Am I Creative At Night? You’re Not The Only One Who Gets The Best Ideas At The Worst Times
I always find that my best ideas come from the times when I am in my quietest moments. In fact, I make it a point now to mindfully create quiet moments around me to allow inspiration to do its thing. Sometimes, when music is playing, my phone is going off, and my laptop is open, I can almost feel my inability to think -- and it drains me. While I've recognized that my prime time for great ideas tends to come long after the sun has gone down and my surroundings are silent, I still often wonder why I'm most creative at night.
Of course, these inspiring moments still sometimes come during the day, but the timing is still never that opportune. If you're like me, your best ideas might come to you when you're in the shower, while you're exercising, or, as I said, when you're about to go to sleep, and the last thing you want to do is get up and write down your bustling thoughts.
First of all, you and I are not alone in these randomly timed moments of inspiration and creativity. A 2014 study found that 72 percent of people get their best ideas in the shower.
But why is this such a phenomenon? What exactly is the science behind all of this?
Random moments of inspiration are due, in large part, to your brain's default mode network.
Manoush Zomorodi, author of Bored and Brilliant, gave a TED talk explaining exactly why you need to allow yourself to be bored. She explained that, basically, when you're bored, your mind begins to wander. The wandering that happens is called "default mode."
When we solve some of our most nagging problems...we do something called autobiographical planning. This is when we look back at our lives, we take note of the big moments, we create a personal narrative, and we set goals and figure out what steps we need to take to reach them.
This default mode happens during those seemingly odd times, while doing tedious tasks like washing the dishes or when you're most relaxed -- hence, those shower thoughts that dawn on you every now and again.
According to boredom researcher Dr. Sandi Mann, who Zomorodi referenced in her TED talk,
Once you start daydreaming, and allow your mind to really wander, you start thinking a little bit beyond the conscious, a little bit into the subconscious, which allows different connections to take place.
Of course, when it comes to the millennial generation, there's an overwhelming urge to never allow ourselves to get bored.
Restlessness is more or less the bane of our existence. We mindlessly scroll through our phones once we feel like we're entering a rare moment of quiet. We cry about FOMO when we realize we decided to stay in while all of our friends went out and partied. But it turns out, fighting these quiet moments may be disastrous for developing our creativity.
Elite Daily spoke with Emma Goldman, psychotherapist and owner of Collective Lotus Healings, who explains how the simple act of just sitting with yourself and your thoughts in silence can spark your greatest ideas.
She says the best ideas tend to come at the quietest (and, if you ask me, most random) moments because you're naturally entering a meditative state, in which you are not trying to achieve a specific thought.
Goldman tells Elite Daily,
When we are feeling no stress or urges to achieve, we naturally enter states of relaxation and healing. These gateways can be reading, writing, sitting with ourselves, listening to our favorite song, running, fishing, etc. We begin to activate our minds from this meditative state, which often brings profound thoughts or new innovative ideas about something that we have been working on for months.
Goldman says it's the times when you think you're doing absolutely nothing and need to fill that time with something constructive -- that's when your brain is actually the most productive.
Plus, when it comes to harnessing your creativity, multitasking is just about the worst thing you can do. Even if you think you're getting sh*t done when you update a Google doc while watching TV, or you wash dishes while talking on the phone, you're actually exhausting the crap out of your brain with these unnecessary, simultaneous tasks.
In her TED talk, Zomorodi referenced neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Levinson, who explained,
Every time you shift your attention from one thing to another, the brain has to engage in neuro chemical switch that uses up nutrients in the brain to accomplish that. So if you're attempting to multitask, you're not actually doing four or five things at once, because the brain doesn't work that way. Instead, you're shifting from one thing to the next, depleting neuro resources as you go.
From now on, challenge yourself to be bored, to thrive in quiet, to rest. I'm almost certain that your brain will begin delivering all the answers you didn't even know you had.