News - Sleep Boosts Creativity
by Life Positive
Sleep enhances performance, learning and memory. And most unappreciated of all, sleep improves the creative ability to uncover novel connections among seemingly unrelated ideas.
Sleep: the secret of creativity Sleep assists the brain in flagging unrelated ideas and memories, forging connections among them that increase the odds that a creative idea or insight will surface. After sleep, people are 33 per cent more likely to infer connections among distantly related ideas. Scientists increasingly are focussing less on sleep duration and more on the quality of sleep, what's called sleep intensity, in studying how sleep helps the brain process memories so they stick. Particularly important is "slow-wave sleep," a period of very deep sleep that comes earlier than better-known REM sleep, or dreaming time. Researchers found that those whose deep sleep has not been interfered with performed better in learning new tasks and in finding the relationship between ideas. Bad news for those suffering from fragmented sleep, whether from aging or apnoea. It can suppress the birth of new brain cells in the hippocampus, where memory-making begins – enough to hinder learning weeks after sleep returns to normal. None of the new work is enough, yet, to pinpoint the minimum sleep needed for optimal memory. What's needed may vary considerably from person to person. "A short sleeper may have a very efficient deep sleep even if they sleep only four hours," notes Dr. Chiara Cirellia of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. But altogether, the findings do suggest some practical advice: Get apnoea treated. Avoid what Harvard's Stickgold calls "sleep bulimia," super-late nights followed by sleep-in weekends. And don't feel guilty for napping.
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