Mind the Nap – Sleep More, Create Better. (Part 1)

Written By Felix Chi - March 31, 2015

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Can Sleep Cure Creative Block? 

In the advertising field, ideas are your bread and butter. Throughout history, creatives everywhere have pursued countless ways to induce, inspire and downright finagle ideas and innovating thinking from the muses. From the oracle of Delphi’s penchant for toxic fumes to inspire creative visions to Mad Men’s liberal use of libations to get creative juices flowing, people in the creative fields have turned to a little help to create better. But you don’t have to find yourself sipping at the bottom of an old whisky bottle, or at the mouth of a volcanic vent for that matter, to push through the dreaded creative block.

Idea-deprived and creativity-blocked ladies and gentlemen, meet Morpheus – no, not the Matrix’s preachy guru with a charming inclination toward tough love. I’m referring to the mythological Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams that takes you to the land of slumber every night, because the secret to more creative thinking is actually better sleep. But what’s so special about sleep?

In the first part series, we’ll learn how sleep wakes the muse in us and even makes us smarter.

 

 

From Snooze to Muse: Sleep helps us connect ideas

A study done by Matthew Walker of University of California at Berkeley found that sleep helps us connect “remote associates”, which are like pieces of information that our mind usually keeps separate. Basically, sleep makes it easier for our brain to pull together little flashes of brilliance into cohesive ideas!

“Making links between pieces of information that our daytime rational minds see as separate seems to be easiest when we’re offline, drifting through the dream world,” said Tom Stafford, of the BBC’s Neurohacker Column.

This skill cannot be overlooked in creative fields, where clever headlines and visuals must constantly push the envelope, depending on these “free associations” to craft new ideas by linking together useful associations between seemingly separate themes. Next time you need a clever headline or stunning visual, consider your time under the sheets.

 

 

Sleep Smarts: Sleep makes us better problem-solvers

A research study by the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine found that sleep enhances our problem-solving capabilities. It seems that REM, or Rapid Eye Movement, the special eye activity that only happens while you’re snoozing, boosts the brain’s creative problem-solving centers.

Sara Mednick, the leading scientist in the study explains, “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.”

Mednick and her colleagues think that REM sleep boosts creativity by stimulating “associative networks”, allowing the brain to make new connections between bits of information.  If you don’t think that problem solving is important to creatives, just think that every logo, website or even a headline is actually a small problem to be solved, each with its unique obstacles.

Time to put to practice what we’ve learned. Go catch some z’s, and tune in next time for more of sleep’s awesomeness.

 

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