People who say they'll sleep when they're dead are sacrificing their ability to have good thoughts now.
--Jessica D. Payne, University of Notre Dame
When we’re overwhelmed by life, sleep tends to be the first thing we sacrifice. Big work projects, family transitions, and other stressful life situations leave us too busy and too stressed to get a good night’s sleep. As it turns out, sleep is exactly what we need during those times—research from University of Notre Dame shows that sleep plays a vital role in creativity and problem-solving. So well-rested people can slam-dunk big projects, solve those vexing problems, and generally kick butt at life.
Just how does sleep help us to be more creative? Thanks to fresh research, we know that sleep is not the passive state it was once believed to be—during sleep, our brains our busy strengthening our memories, but that’s not all that’s happening. Our memories are also sorted and made more relevant, which allows us to organize and connect ideas in new ways.
Want to make your sleep even more productive? Other scientists are studying ways that we can actually problem-solve during sleep. This Psychology Today article explains how you can improve creativity and problem-solving by incubating thoughts in your subconscious mind—a tactic that can improve creative thinking by 39 percent.
So the next time you’re stuck or need a creative boost, try getting some sleep (even just a nap). Set the problem on your brain’s back burner for a few hours or a few days, and see what happens. You might be pleasantly surprised at your brain’s ability to do the heavy lifting while you’re not even looking.
What about you—are you more creative after a full night's sleep? Or are you more of a "sleep when you're dead" type?