CANCELED The New Habit Challenge: Can We Really Problem Solve In Our Sleep? | Fast Company
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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?

It turns out, there are ways to hack into our brains as we sleep to come up with creative solutions.

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.

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