Jody Kerzman
 
 
    
 
(Megan Milbradt)
 
 

 
(Megan Milbradt)
 
 

It's 10:30 p.m. I should go to bed.

But the house is so nice a quiet. Everyone is sleeping. I could get so much accomplished.

So I head downstairs to "my room" - my space to craft, write, work, and relax.

* I finish up a couple of work details that I couldn't focus on earlier (four kids can be a little distracting).

* I finally cut the fabric I bought a month ago for new throw pillows.

* I finally make a memory box for 2014 -- an idea I saw on Pinterest to record memories of the year using index cards. I even get up to date on our 2014 memories.

* I catch up on Facebook.

* I think of a great idea for my dad's upcoming birthday.

Before I know it, it's 12:30 a.m. Oops.

I head back upstairs, with every intention of going to sleep. I am exhausted, after all.

But once I'm in bed, I toss and turn and cannot fall asleep. The ideas are popping into my head like crazy.

I glance at the clock. 1:30 a.m. I give up.

I am back downstairs. The ideas in my head are spinning out of control, and I need to start on a few of them, or at least write them down so I don't forget them.

An hour later not only do I get my ideas written down, I actually get a few more ideas, and even do a little creating -- I sew the fabric I cut earlier and whip out a dozen handmade birthday cards. For some reason, my handmade birthday cards turn out way cuter in the middle of the night.

As I wander back to the computer, I stumble upon an article that sheds a little light on my creativity in the middle of the night. The blog title jumps off the screen at me: "Why we're more creative when we're tired." Um, wow. Was this written for me, or what? I've been tired since the birth of my first baby. 15 years and four babies later, I have forgotten what it's like not to be tired. Still, I've managed to whip out some pretty creative projects over the years. I always figured it was just the Diet Coke working its magic. Maybe not.

I read on.

The author says our brains do creative work better when we're tired because when we're tired, our brains don't work as efficiently. She says that's not necessarily a bad thing, because this is when creativity strikes.

I still am not convinced.

So I reached out to Bridget Martel, a teacher and a brain researcher. She burned the midnight oil to give me some insight. She says "tired" might not be the best word to use, but there is some truth to this idea.

"Your brain does not process well when it's tired. And, I think in our society where lack of sleep has become the norm it is a bit dangerous to suggest that tired brains are good," says Martel, who has studied the brain for more than a decade. "But the idea that you get better ideas late at night is valid. Some researches say that our brains process 6,000 bits of information every second. Think about the things that you do every day that are important, but are automatic -- driving, cooking, texting, emailing, reading the mail, listening to voice mail, making a shopping list, laundry. Now, add the 'Mom! Morgan took my marker,' and 'Honey, do we have any milk?" and 'Mom -- I need help with my homework!' and 'Mom, can you take me to practice?' constantly. That's a lot for your brain to process."

Martel explains it like this: consider the information your brain has to process is a pie. That pie gets cut into as many slices as what you are required to pay attention to (the cries for help, finding lost keys, getting supper started, helping with homework). That doesn't leave a lot of pie left over for creativity. But, late at night, when everyone is sleeping, many of those pieces of the pie are eliminated, and that leaves more of the pie for other things, like thinking up great ideas.

It makes sense -- I'm not a morning person, but on the weekends and days off from school, I like getting up early so I have an hour or so of quiet time. It's amazing what I can get done before the rest of the house wakes up. The same is true at night: I can get more accomplished between 10 p.m. and 12 a.m. than I can all day long. I realize now that's because it's quiet, and my brain isn't being pulled in a million different directions.

The lesson here, for me and for all busy women: make time for me time, whether it's early in the morning, or late at night. Because it is then -- when our brains are allowed to stop thinking about things like laundry, homework and bedtime -- that we just might come up with a really great idea.

Now, I think I can finally go to sleep -- right after I hand stitch those pillows shut.



 
Jody is married to Brad, and they have four super-busy kids. When she isn't at one of their events, she's probably driving them somewhere.