Sleeping helps you think

A nap can boost your ability to think laterally.


You’re able to think quicker and more laterally after a nap, scientists at the University of California have found. It seems that sleeping on a problem could help you solve it, too, reports the Telegraph.


The researchers think that ‘incubating’ a problem often results in finding a solution, and that this is increased when you experience REM sleep, a phase of sleep that mostly happens just before you wake up. REM sleep helps the brain make links between subjects that seem unrelated.

In the study, young adults were shown groups of three words (like cookie, heart, sixteen) and had to find a fourth word that could be linked to all three words (like sweet).

Later in the day some participants had a nap. Brain scans monitored what kind of sleep they had. They were then given the same task, plus new tasks.

For the same tasks, time and sleep let the participants ‘incubate’ their thoughts and come up with better solutions. For new tasks, those that had experienced REM sleep had improved on their morning performances by almost 40%.


Most of us have heard the advice, “Try to sleep or nap when your baby does.” Perhaps a quick nap might actually be helping us solve those parenting problems more creatively!

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