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Creativity & Sleep : 4 Tips brought by Neuroscience Research to boost Creativity

Can neuroscience research help us be better at solving complex problems ? When are we at the top our creativity ?

 The difficulty is to navigate among the tons of available research results ! I found an amazing web site collecting facts and findings about sleep, many of them based on the latest scientifical outcomes : I was intrigued by a recent article there linking creativity and sleep. I made a short selection of the most amazing tips listed in it which you can easily apply when trying to boost your creativity with the best natural ingredient ever : sleep !

1 - Sleep on a problem to solve it ! 

What is sometimes advised to children - read a lesson just before bedtime - is confirmed by neuroscience : the brain continues to work in background during sleep - and this works especially well in “deep“ sleep (don't ask me too much scientific description of "deep sleep"...please look at the original aticle for more details!). So if you're late in the evening and you still cant' find a solution to a problem, just stop there and go to may well be that your brain have moved forward with a solution when you wake up the next day!

2 - Short naps (a.k.a. "power naps") are useful but don't work for new issues

Power naps (typically 5 to 15 minutes after lunch) are great to gain energy and let the brain be crisp and clear for the next tasks of the day to come. But the sleep is not deep enough to boost creative solutions to emerge.

3 - Solve complex problems just after deep sleep phases

Some features of the deep sleep phases (so-called "Rapid Eye Movement", REM) play a key role in our brain and studies suggest that solving complex problems and making associations is boosted just after REM sleeps. You will normally find this phase after a night sleep...provided you've not been waken up at the beginning of cycle, before REM occurs. 

4 - Plan creative phases at the opposite of your productivity peak

Although some myths state it, it has never been proven that insomnia is a great ingredient to boost creativity. However, when a bit tired, our mind wanders and does not forbid exploring original solutions that a fully awake brain would have excluded from the begining. So if your best time to work is in the morning, try to brainstorm and be creative in the evening - and vice-versa.

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About the author

portraitsmallDavid Colliquet is a coach, consultant and trainer in project management. He accompanies project management professionals to develop their leadership, their performance and their intercultural skills.
He is founder of Coda Coach and co-creator of the platform, as well as co-author of “Alice au Pays des Projets” (Alice in Project Land, AFNOR Publishing)

 Credits : Title picture by Annie Spratt on Unsplash