Current Issue
This Month's Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

1 minute read

The Sleep Schedules Of 27 Of History's Greatest Minds

What do Freud, Marina Abramović, Beethoven, and you have in common? For one, the need to sleep.

[Image: Ben Franklin and Sleep mask via Shutterstock]

The science of sleep and its glorious effects on creativity, productivity, and sanity gets a lot of press these days. That said, the sleep habits of some of your favorite writers, musicians, and artists may surprise you a little.

The bedtimes and rising times of history’s greatest minds are inventively illustrated in this New York infographic based on Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals: How Artists Work.* The infographic seems to debunk the myth that geniuses stay up through the wee hours working manically, and that you're more creative when you're tired—most of these 27 luminaries got a wholesome eight hours a night.

Unfortunately, the infographic doesn’t yield any sleep-related tricks for unleashing your own latent genius, other than following the boring eight-hour rule. You could try rolling like Balzac, a prodigious coffee-drinker who slept from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. and then napped mid-morning, but he was likely creative in spite of rather than because of his schedule. A few others skimped on their sleep too, of course—hard-partying F. Scott Fitzgerald slept between 3:30 a.m. and 11 a.m., and Sigmund Freud averaged just six hours a night, but his love of stimulants far stronger than caffeine is well-documented. So if you think pulling all-nighters is the key to finishing up your Great American Novel, reconsider after taking a nap.

*An earlier version of this article failed to credit New York for the visualization and misspelled the first name of Marina Abramović. We regret the errors.