We can all marvel at the great innovations that enrich our lives today. These innovations aren’t just restricted to products like iPhones many of us carry around, but also techniques and processes like CRISPR gene editing that has the potential to correct genetic disorders and diagnose and treat cancer.
Behind these innovative products and processes is the work of some very creative people. I am envious of the creative spirit that drives these individuals to achieve the things they do. Interestingly we were all creative once, way back in our childhood days. While most of us moved into other areas of endeavour a few never lost that creative spirit. It turns out that we all have the capability to be just as creative as we were, or even more so. So how can we boost our creativity?
Sarah Mednick at the University of California has measured people’s creativity after allowing them to rest. She studied three different groups. The first group slept with REM sleep, a second group slept without REM sleep, while the third group rested quietly. She found that the people who had REM sleep showed improved creative ability compared to people in the other two groups. The purpose of why we have REM sleep remains unclear. However it is known that while in the REM state our brains are unable to make associations between things that we normally would, resulting in us having bizarre dreams. These dreams allow us to make creative connections we might not make at any other time.
Personally I know that often I wake up with great clarity on how to solve a problem I have been pondering over for several days or even weeks. Just ‘sleeping on it’ overnight is all it takes and the solution is laid out in front of me. Being able to think more creatively and solve problems like this might just involve REM sleep.
How can I get more REM sleep?
Research shows that for most people a higher proportion of REM sleep is achieved when you sleep for more than 5.5 hours, alcohol is known to delay REM sleep and marijuana suppresses it. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule, keeping fit, avoiding blue light and stimulants later in the day, and keeping a dark, quiet and cool environment is the most reliable way of getting good sleep in general and in particular, good REM sleep.
By paying more attention to my sleep cycle, and the amount of REM sleep I have, I may boost my creativity and solve those gnarly problems with innovative solutions.
I will have to pay more attention to my sleep cycle and the amount of REM sleep I get.
Perhaps then I can boost my creativity and come up with innovative solutions to solve those gnarly problems more quickly.
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Michael posts on topics relating to organisational growth and excellence
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