When you are working through a tricky problem in your head, you may want to sleep on it. New research published in the Journal of Sleep Research found that a daytime snooze can help us wake up with new insights on how to tackle a challenge.
How sleeping on it helps us think better
To test the brain-boosting power of a nap, researchers from the University of Bristol recruited 16 healthy participants to complete a word-response task that had implicit clues on how to answer and a control task. They then either had to either stay awake or had the opportunity to take a 90-minute nap before doing the tasks again.
The short snooze helped. You may not look like you are doing much during a nap, but underneath your resting eyes, your mind is rapidly facilitating the processing of unconscious information. Researchers found that this short nap was enough to help participants’ score higher on the task with hidden clues.
“Even a short bout of sleep may be sufficient for nuanced implicit cue processing and improved accuracy of response,” the study concluded.
Daytime naps can not only help you process unconscious information, but they can also improve memory. A one-hour nap after lunch improved 3,000 people’s ability to recall tasks better. Nap haters say that a nap is an easy way for us to put off our problems.
But if you need a new way of thinking, rest your weary eyes and sleep on the problem. You may wake up with a new answer you never would have dreamed up before.