Creativity – Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison (1847 to 1931) was an American inventor and businessman. With 1,093 US patents, as well as numerous patents in other countries, Edison is regarded as the most prolific inventor in American, if not world, history. If you work in any job that requires some element of creativity then you may have wondered how he did it. He certainly valued the mind over the body and this is best illustrated by the quote, “The chief function of the body is to carry the brain around”.

Well he used a form of self-hypnosis to problem solve, come up with ideas and inventions.  When you are awake your conscious mind is fully in control and you are producing beta brain waves. By lowering the brainwave frequency into alpha and even theta wave lengths you are more relaxed. This allows you conscious mind to loosen its control and allow your subconscious to be more dominant. As he said, “The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil”.

He also reportedly slept only three to four hours at night and was said to have regarded sleep as a waste of time and a heritage from our cave days. I am not sure that wasn’t just bravado or a trick to try to hamper his rivals such as Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse. He did in fact value sleep and seems to have understood its importance.  We now know that sleep is essential for good mental health and is useful for overcoming creative blocks.

So while he used his apparent lack of sleep as a badge of honour he frequently power napped. He had numerous cots located throughout his home and workplace. And there are many photos of him taking a nap in these cots in various locations. And he may well have been onto something. Increasingly today we realise that sleeping for one long period is a relatively new thing. There are many references to ‘first sleep’, ‘second sleep’ and ‘morning sleep’ in older legal documents, literature and other archival information from pre-Industrial times. Meaning that sleeping for a shorter time, but more frequently was common.

As anyone who has meditated, used self-hypnosis or tried deep relaxation techniques knows, there is a risk that you fall asleep. In this day and age we set an alarm on our phone to make sure we don’t over sleep. But Edison would hold marbles in his hands so that if he fell asleep they would fall to the ground and wake him.

Now, there is an irony that Edison seemed to really understand how to use sleep to his advantage, while at the same time invented the electric light bulb. As it was the light bulb, and the industrial revolution, that disrupted our internal clocks, our sleeping habits and sparked numerous cases on insomnia.

If you are struggling with a lack of creativity or sleep then hypnotherapy can help. Contact me for more details.

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