Sleep + Creativity

Promote your creativity with sleep! Sleep makes memories stronger and is one of your most creative times of the day. Numerous studies on sleep have shown that sleep can facilitate insightful behavior and flexible reasoning, and there are several hypotheses about the creative function of dreams.

In a study on cognitive flexibility across the sleep-wake cycle, researchers discovered that when woken from REM sleep, participants had a 32% advantage on an anagram task. This was consistent with the hypothesis that due to the lack of aminergic dominance in REM sleep, this particular sleep state is highly conducive to fluid reasoning and flexible thought. Interestingly, participant performance after awakening from REM sleep was not better than participants who stayed awake, which indicates that in REM sleep, there is an alternative (but just as effective) mode of problem solving that differs from the mechanism available while awake.

Sleep can also facilitate insight. On the contrary, lack of sleep will certainly impair creativity. In a study, participants went 32 hours without sleep while the control participants slept normally. When tested on flexibility and originality on figural and verbal tests, the sleep-deprived participants had severe and persistent impairments in their performance.

Try “sleeping on it” tonight!