Tuesday, 09 Jun, 2009 Science

Sleeping Improves Creativity When Solving a Problem


Scientists found that sleeping considerably improves your creativity. After taking a nap people are able to think faster and put more imagination into their thinking. Besides, if we dream than the thinking abilities are improved even more.

Researchers consider that sleeping on a problem in most cases leads to elucidation. They say when a person enters a phase called Rapid Eye Movement (REM) during sleep, it increases the effect. Such phase takes place right before we awake and according to scientists it helps our brain make links between unrelated subjects.

In the study, led by Professor Sara Mednick, scientists made a conclusion that the REM was "important for assimilating new information into past experience" in order to find solutions to creative problems.

Prof. Mednick is a psychiatrist at the University of California. Her study involved the analysis of 77 adults. Each participant was given a several word-associated creative tasks. All tasks were given in the morning, with participants being shown a number of groups of 3 words, for example: cookie, heart and sixteen. They were asked to come up with a word that would be associated all three given terms - like sweet. Sometime later, after some participants were allowed to sleep, they were asked to perform the same tasks and some new ones. It is worth mentioning that while some people slept, researchers used brain scans to see the type of sleep each participant entered.

When given the same tasks, participants, who took a nap, were able to give more varied solutions, some of which were much better than they gave earlier. But when given new tasks, researchers found that those who entered REM sleep had a 40 percent better results compared to the performance they showed in the morning, reported The Daily Telegraph.

"We found that - for creative problems that you've already been working on - the passage of time is enough to find solutions. However, for new problems, only REM sleep enhances creativity," said Prof Mednick. According to the scientists, their findings show that sleep represents a creative process and it is even more useful when we dream.

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