Napping Technique Allows You to Tap Into Creative Thought

Napping Technique Allows You to Tap Into Creative Thought

A fascinating new study examines the mysterious twilight state between wakefulness and sleep and finds that it can be harnessed for creativity and problem-solving.

Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Salvador Dali, among others, were all said to have used a curious napping technique to spark their creativity and inspired discoveries. Holding an object in their hands while napping, they would wake as the object fell and recall the thoughts they were having at that moment.

Inspired by these visionaries, researcher Delphine Oudiette and her colleagues at the Paris Brain Institute conducted a study to scientifically investigate this phenomenon. The researchers presented participants with mathematical problems that had a hidden rule which would allow them to be solved almost instantly. 

They were then given a 20-minute break during which they were instructed to relax in a reclined position while holding a bottle. If the bottle fell, they were asked to report what they had been thinking right before they let go.

Throughout this break, subjects’ physiological activity was recorded to assess their state of wakefulness. Then, after the break, the participants were again presented with the math problems. 

Findings revealed that those who had dozed off into a semi-lucid state known as hypnagogia or N1, were three times more likely to solve the hidden rule than those who had stayed awake, and six times more likely to do so than those who had slipped into deeper sleep-just a minute later.

The findings were less clear in regard to the technique of dropping objects to keep from deeper sleep, as some participants dropped the bottle after they had moved onto deeper sleep.

However, the study did convincingly show that “There is a creative sweet spot within the sleep onset period, and hitting it requires individuals balancing falling asleep easily against falling asleep too deeply.”

It’s unclear why this N1 sleep stage boosts creativity. Oudiette told live science, “It might create an ideal state where you have this loose cognition and weird associations, and the ability to catch it if you get a good idea.”

Adam Haar Horowitz of the MIT lab, sees the practical implications of the study, as he told Scientific American, “It’s the kind of study that you can go ahead and try at home yourself. Grab a metal object, lie down, focus hard, and see what kind of eureka moments you can encounter.”

Ouidette is also very excited about the potential for practical applications and hopes future research will determine if focusing on this rich twilight state might help solve real-world tasks and problems.

“We could even teach people,” she reported to Scientific American, “how to reach this creative state at will.”

So, try it for yourself, and perhaps you too will get to experience this intriguing potential for creative insight.

What Your Sleeping Position Reveals About You

What Your Sleeping Position Reveals About You

I know it’s better for me as a woman to sleep on my back, arms at my side or resting on my torso peacefully. But no matter how hard I fight, the lure of sleeping in my favorite position—curled up on my side, legs tucked bent towards my chest—is just too much to resist. Sleeping in this position simply comforting to me, and sends me right to sleep, whereas sleeping on my back is a struggle. You might have a similar predicament, with this pose or a different one. Why is it like this? Why can’t we just automatically shift to the position that’s better for us?

Your sleeping position may actually have a connection with your personality and the way you think, feel and behave. There’s enough research to indicate that the posture adopted while sleeping has a lot to tell about the kind of people we are – introverted, confident, fun-loving, trusting, or something else.

It’s along the same vein as body language. How you sit, stand, or gesture when you’re awake can be unconscious signals, such as leaning away from someone you don’t like or crossing your arms during an argument. Sleeping positions are similar, and maybe even more revealing, as you have very little control of where you end up when you’re asleep, thus sending signals that are true to you without any filters.

Here are the top six most common sleeping positions, as well as a general overview of what they can mean:

sleep fetal position

  1. Fetal Position

What It Looks Like:

Curled up on your side.

What It Means:

This is the most common sleeping position (though it’s more common for women than men). According to research on this sleep subject, those who sleep in the fetal position were found to be sturdy and strong on first impressions but introverted and sensitive at heart when better known. These people are reserved and usually take time to open up to others but when they do, they are relaxed and comfortable. The outwardly tough appearance and brave face is actually a protection against the world. People with leg cramps or conditions like the restless legs syndrome generally experience leg discomfort, and tend to adopt the fetal position.

Health Considerations

If you’re like me and are constantly curling up to your left side, you may be increasing the pressure and stress on vital organs such as the liver, the heart, the stomach and the lungs. So, if fetus is your position of choice, take care to curl up on the right side of your body.

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