Somnambulists who do creative work in their sleep

36 year-old Lee Hadwin of North Wales, Britain has neither the talent nor training to be an artist.  His day job is a nurse.  But he wakes up in the middle of the night and creates fantastical works of art, of which he has no recollection in the morning.   He began drawing in his sleep in childhood and these drawings  became more detailed by the time he was sixteen.  Today, his work is displayed in art galleries! The Edinburgh Sleep Clinic has described his case as unique.

The 1871 issue of “All year round” journal published by Charles Dickens carried an article on somnambulism which discussed similar cases.  This is the relevant passage from the article in the journal:

…Still more curious, however, are those instances in which the sleeper, after composing or speculating, gets up in a state of somnambulism, writes the words on paper, goes to bed and to sleep again, and knows nothing about it when he wakes. Such cases, the authenticity of which is beyond dispute, point to an activity of muscles as well as of brain, and to a correctness of movement which is marvellous when we consider that the eyes are generally closed under these circumstances. Doctor W. B. Carpenter mentions the case of a somnambulist who sat down and wrote with the utmost regularity and uniformity.  “Not only were the lines well written, and at the proper distances, but the i’s were dotted and the t’s crossed; and in one instance the writer went back half a line to make a correction, crossing off a word, and writing another above it, with as much caution as if he had been guided by vision.”  The young collegian, adverted to in a former paragraph, got out of bed in his sleep, lit a candle, sat down to a table, wrote his geometry and algebra, extinguished the light, and went to bed again; the lighting of the candle was a mere effect of habit, for his eyes were shut, and he was really not awake.

About the beginning of the present century a banker at Amsterdam requested Professor (Jean Henri) van Swinden to solve for him a calculation of a peculiar and difficult kind. The professor tried it, failed, and submitted it to ten of his pupils as a good mathematical exercise.  One of them, after two or three days of work at it, went to bed one night with his mind full of the subject, and fell asleep. On waking in the morning he was astonished to find on his table sheets of paper containing the full working out of the problem in his own handwriting; he had got up in the night and done it, in his sleep and in the dark.

The first French Encyclopedie narrated the case of a young ecclesiastic at Bordeaux who was in the habit of getting out of bed in his sleep, going to a table, taking writing materials, and writing a sermon. He was often watched while doing this, and an opaque screen was cautiously placed between his eyes and the paper; but he wrote on just the same.  One example of mental discrimination displayed by him was very remarkable, showing how strangely awake even the reasoning faculties may be during somnambulistic sleep. He wrote the three French words, “ce divin enfant” then changed “divin” into “adorable”, then recognised that “ce” would not suit before an adjective commencing with a vowel; and finally changed it into “cet.” On another occasion the paper on which he was writing was taken away, and anothcr sheet substituted; but he immediately perceived the change. On a third occasion he was writing music, with words underneath.  The words were in rather too large a character, insomuch that the respective syllables did not stand under their proper notes. He perceived the error, blotted out the part, and wrote it carefully again; and all this without real vision, snch as we ordinarily understand by the term. [1]

It is difficult to decide how much authenticity to accord to these cases which transpired more than a century ago, but we can assume that the reputable people who published them saw some truth in the incidents.

The first case of the somnambulist who wrote with regularity can also be found in the  Principles of human physiology, p 662 published by Dr W.B Carpenter in 1869.

The second case of the student of Prof. van Swinden who solved a problem has also been discussed in Notes and Queries: Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, second series, vol. 9, Jan-June 1860, p 23

The third case of the ecclesiastic at Bordeaux who wrote “ce divin enfant” in his sleep, has also been discussed in The Eclectic Review, vol. 3, p 461 which was published in 1815.

Partial explanation

It is not possible to provide an accurate diagnosis of these unusual powers displayed by Lee Hadwin.   It could be a friendly occult being who is working through him or it could be because the hidden talents of the inner being spring up only in sleep, after the regimented waking-state mind has been suspended.

The explanation for the general phenomenon of  somnambulism, according to the Mother Mirra Alfassa, is as follows.  When we fall asleep, the astral body can eject from the physical body and  begin to move about.  There is a silver cord which maintains the bond between the astral and physical bodies. Now, if the physical body consciousness does not have the will to resist the astral body’s pull, it can happen that the physical body begins to involuntarily follow the astral body’s motions.   The full  explanation was given in an earlier article : Sleep disorders : somnambulism and somniloquy

Lee Hadwin

Lee Hadwin’s homepage displays some of his work.  These are a couple of videos of him.  The first video shows him drawing in his sleep, and the second video is an interview.

See first few minutes of the video


  1. Charles Dickens.  All the year round, vol. 6, 1871, pp 7-8) (google books)

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6 thoughts on “Somnambulists who do creative work in their sleep

  1. Mohan Krishna

    This’d be ideal for a student studying at university! Wake up every morning with brilliant work already done and sitting at the desk!

  2. mike

    As it happens there was a documentary on tv a few nights ago about Lee Hadwin, and some other somnambulists.
    There was also a woman who would get up in her sleep and make all sorts of meals for herself, and then eat them in her sleeping state.
    Another was a child who would start talking to some invisible friend/friends and get out of bed
    performing all sorts of activities. Driving her parents crazy of course lol.
    The last one was a man who seemed to turn into a sex-addict in his sleep and would start molesting his wife sleeping beside him. lt was very upsetting for both of them.
    Apart from the astral body influencing the physical mind, l suppose it could be the subconscious coming through in some way, or even some past-life ability or obsession breaking through in this life when the waking barriers are down.
    The little girl sounded interesting. Could be her astral consciousness or whatever connecting with other beings in other worlds, while she sleeps. Or perhaps she was just acting out her own little dream scenario’s.

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