The best ideas do not come at 3am

Coco Khan
Photograph: Alamy

Anecdotally, there is a longstanding relationship between creativity and insomnia. Countless works of art have been inspired by those delirious, sleepless hours in the middle of the night, where, from the softness of our beds, dreams and reality collide: the dreamy art of Dali; the nightmarish novels of Stephen King; some of the most famous songs by the Beatles.

I, too, am an insomniac. I, too, wake in the night having seen in a vision something that I am convinced must be remembered, and written on my phone through squinting eyes. These notes are messages from my subconscious.

There is no disappointment quite like opening up these could-be profound lines the next morning, exhausted and aching from a night spent tossing and turning, only to find they read: “Pringles aren’t really made from potatoes”. Thanks a lot, brain! Glad to see that, despite years of inputting colourful experiences and obscure knowledge, the engine of my existence – my mind – chooses to output a schoolyard urban myth about crisps (other nonsense notes include one that says: “Why do people bring babies to work when babies hate capitalism.”)

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In truth there is no benefit, no upside, to sleeping badly. There is no way I can romanticise it in good faith. And despite my tendency to try and do just this, I am learning to make peace with the truth. Simply put: some facts of life, some moments and people in it, are just a bit rubbish. And that’s OK.

Then again, in writing this column and remembering those night-time notes, I did Google Pringles: it turns out that they are in fact only 42% potato. So perhaps – perhaps, perhaps! – sleepless me does have her qualities? Oh gosh, here I go again.