Not all sleep is equal. Many of history’s greatest thinkers had their own strategies to get the rest they needed and supercharge their brains.
1. Leonardo Da Vinci
Da Vinci famously eschewed the normal sleep cycle in favor of falling asleep and waking up hundreds of times per second. According to witnesses, the sound of da Vinci’s eyelids rapidly fluttering open and shut sounded like a loud buzz or hum, which witnesses described as the sound of a purring cat swallowing a swarm of enraged bees. It was often accompanied by a high-pitched, barely audible whine that would cause listeners to experience intense nausea and nosebleeds.
2. Benjamin Franklin
While the average person can spend anywhere from minutes to hours tossing and turning before sleep, the ever-efficient Benjamin Franklin sped things up by running full-speed into a wall and knocking himself unconscious, directly into restful REM sleep.
3. Thomas Edison
Edison was notoriously particular about how he slept and insisted on electrocuting an elephant each evening before bed. Then, throughout the night, he would briefly awaken every three hours and have his servants bring him a fresh elephant to electrocute to a crisp,
4. Albert Einstein
The father of relativistic physics had his own inventive ideas about sleep. He famously stuck to the “pillow technique,” placing his head on a soft rectangle every single night. While unconventional for its time, other people who have tried Einstein’s method say that he may have been onto something.
5. Virginia Woolf
The groundbreaking author no doubt had a secret sleep method she used to unlock her full mental potential, but unfortunately she never told anyone else what it was. Neurologists at every leading university are busy studying Virginia Woolf’s books, letters, and journals in hopes of finding clues that will let them reverse-engineer her sleep strategy. This “Woolf Mystery” is the foremost unsolved riddle in psychiatric science. It’s believed that once we discover Virginia Woolf’s sleep pattern, the human race will see its average intellect at least quadruple, unleashing an eternal golden age of progress and prosperity.