CANCELED The New Habit Challenge: Can We Really Problem Solve In Our Sleep?
Join our resident habit expert Rachel Gillett and other Fast Company staff on Friday, December 19 at 11 a.m. EST as we discuss what happened when used sleep to hack our creative thinking.
If you’ve ever been told to “just sleep on it,” you may have considered the platitude a thinly veiled attempt to avoid giving any real constructive advice. But what if this was, in fact, the best suggestion you could receive when trying to solve a problem?
Sleep has been proven to improve our ability to come up with creative solutions to problems by assisting the brain in flagging unrelated ideas and memories and forging connections among them. One neurologist at Harvard Medical School found that if an incubation period--a time in which a person leaves an idea for a while--includes sleep, people are 33% more likely to infer connections among distantly related ideas. Essentially, sleeping on it is the ultimate means to approaching a problem from a new angle.
To use sleep to our problem-solving advantage, we can first ask ourselves the questions we’ve been wrestling with in our work or personal lives, thereby giving our brains something to ruminate on as we sleep. To give your brain more material to work with, you may also do some reading on the subject before bedtime, since research has shown that memory works best when something is learned shortly before sleep.
For this week's habit challenge, several of us at Fast Company will sleep on the various problems and questions we wish to solve.
Join us for a live chat at 11 a.m. EST on Friday, December 19 to find out how it went, share your thoughts, and ask us questions.
Did you use sleep to problem solve? Tell us about your experience in the "make a comment" box below or join in the discussion on Friday.
This is an odd habit challenge for me. I feel like I have very little control over the outcome, unlike with previous challenges. I get ready for bed, say my prayers to the creativity gods, and hope for the best. No breakthroughs yet!
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the gods my creativity to keep.
I've been practising this technique for many many years and it is very powerful. Our unconscious is a much more effective at processing complex information than our concious brain. However I find I need to work on the problem as soon as i wake to get the benefits. If I wait until the distractions of the day have started before I try do the work i find it to be much less effective.