Sleep & Creativity

23.05.2017 |

Episode #8 of the course How to manufacture the greatest sleep of your life by Austin Gill


In addition to strengthening and organizing memories, the brain also integrates new information during sleep—an action responsible for the creative insight phenomenon that has produced many wonderful contributions to humanity.

Of the many types of thought, sleep affects divergent thinking most. Divergent thinking is the type associated with creative problem-solving.

One brilliantly designed study asked participants to solve a problem involving complex algorithms. What they weren’t told is that there was an easy shortcut to solve the equation.

Two groups attempted to solve the equation three times, then took an eight-hour break before attempting again. During the break, one group slept and the other remained awake.

Upon returning, 59% of the group that slept during their break found the shortcut, compared to only 20% of the group who stayed awake (Wagner, 2004).

Sleep improves creativity in all fields, from language fluency and art to music and business. It does this by enhancing your mental flexibility and originality.

Lack of sleep, alternately, destroys creativity. Quickly.


Sleep Improvement Tip: Use Sleep Supplements, Sparingly

Supplementation is a powerful way to aid sleep. I don’t, however, recommend frequent use.

It’s important for your body to be efficient at falling asleep and staying asleep naturally. Reserve the supps for when you need them most, like after a long flight or an unusually stressful week. But here are several that can work wonders:

1. Magnesium calms nerves, relaxes tense muscles, and helps regulate heart rate. It’s often used to treat insomnia. Here’s a good article by Dr. Axe for everything you need to know about magnesium. You can get this into your system in powder form, by taking an epsom salt bath, or from a topical magnesium oil. Some people even report that rubbing magnesium oil on their skin before bed gives them vivid dreams.

2. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in your brain. It’s understood to be a neurotransmitter that regulates your wake/sleep cycle. Taking just 2.5 mg at bedtime will help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.

3. Chamomile tea is an easy to use and long-trusted sleep aid—and you don’t have to worry about any long-term consequences. I like to add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and honey to mine—a trick I picked up from author and lifelong insomniac Tim Ferriss.

4. Essential oil aromatherapy is a reliable method for inducing relaxation prior to bedtime. This technique has been proven to sooth even clinically induced restlessness associated with things such as cancer treatment. Lavender and sandalwood are excellent choices to freshen the air while you cozy up to your new fiction novel.

Tomorrow is our final lesson, and perhaps the most significant one. I’m going to discuss the relationship between sleep and aging.

Sleep tight.


Recommended book

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace


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