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How Sleep Can Lead To Creativity And Problem Solving

Did you know that Paul McCartney came up with the melody of Yesterday while he was in a dream? We all know how important sleep is for our brains to function properly, and indeed for the rest of our vital organs, but were you aware how sleep can lead to creativity and problem solving? According to this study at UCLA and UC San Diego, when we go into a state or REM, ideas and solutions can enter our minds, when we allow ourselves to drift out of focus, into the subconscious.  This is a fascination article from James Kinn for The Hornet.

How Sleep Can Lead To Creativity And Problem Solving

How Sleep Can Lead To Creativity

How Sleep Can Lead To Creativity

In a study conducted by investigators at UCLA and UC San Diego volunteers were asked to solve a puzzle known as the remote-association test (RAT). In a typical RAT question subjects were given three words and were asked to produce a fourth word that links to the three words that were previously given. The volunteers had to take the test twice between a forty-minute interval in which they were told to take a nap. The volunteers that hit REM while they slept improved by 40%, while the others who didn’t sleep watched as their scores dropped.

Deirdre Barrett a psychologist for Harvard University stated that, “In the sleep state, the brain thinks much more visually and intuitively.” The famous Beatle, Paul McCartney announced that he came up with the melody for “Yesterday” in a dream, and Elias Howe, the inventor of the sewing machine, is said to have invented the hole in the needle while she dreamt.

While we sleep the prefrontal cortex in our brain, which allows our brain to focus on one particular task, dials itself down as you fall asleep. This allows your thoughts to mix up at random. For example, when we are awake information travels from the left to the right side of our brain allowing the left brain to control and regulate what goes through the right. However, during REM there is no preferred direction, thus the creative right can overcome the literal left.

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So before you go to bed, remember how sleep can lead to creativity and problem-solving.  Take a note pad to bed and think about those ideas for which you need inspiration and problems you need solving so you can make note of them as soon as you wake. Or similar to the case of Paul McCartney, possibly a guitar or piano?  I think tonight I shall sleep on my piano.


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