It’s tempting, when we pull an ill-advised all-nighter to catch up with our own procrastination, to tell ourselves that we’re following in the foosteps of sleep-deprived geniuses. After all, as we all know from that one episode of Seinfeld, Da Vinci only slept for twenty minutes every three hours (also, The Flying Sandos Brothers will steal your borrowed jacket).
As it turns out, that logic may be just one more poorly thought-out product of our sleep-deprived minds. According to this infographic, put together by New York magazine using information taken from Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, many of history’s great creative geniuses, including Dickens, Maya Angelou, and Tchaikovsky, were in bed by midnight, usually getting eight hours of sleep per night. While the chart does feature a few night owls—F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gustave Flaubert both stayed up until 3, and Balzac kept a weird schedule that included a light nap from 8 am to 9:30—there’s a remarkable normality to when the heads housing these great minds hit the pillow. It’s like your mom always told you: If you want to revolutionize all understanding of modern language and catapult the human soul to hitherto unknown dizzying flights of joy, you need your beauty sleep.
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