Historical innovators and artists, including Thomas Edison and Salvador Dali, used to strategically fall asleep with an item in hand, as a means to enter the first stage of sleep and to unlock the greater power of creativity.
The Institute du Cerveau in Paris recently tested 103 participants for abilities in completing a task by using a hidden short cut that researchers incorporated into the assignment. This shortcut was intended to give participants a quicker and more creative option to complete an assigned task and test the creativity of participants after entering the first stage of sleep.
All 103 participants were tested both before and after taking a rest. Researchers determined a baseline that only 16 percent were able to find the hidden shortcut without napping.
Participants were then sent into a dark and quiet room for a quick 20-minute rest before doing the next assignment. The scientists even replicated the style of sleep utilized by Edison and Dali by giving the participants an item to hold in their hand to try and avoid falling into a deeper slumber. When their grip on the item loosened it can be enough to wake participants from their nap.
For those who entered just that first stage of sleep and then awoke to prevent the object in their grasp from slipping, a remarkable 83 percent were able to find the hidden short cut—a massive jump in productivity.
However, creativity is not the only benefit of such brief naps on the human brain.
It is shown that naps like the ones recreated by the Institute du Cerveau, can also increase levels of serotonin, which improves a person's mood. That serotonin boost can also decrease stress.
Sleep is such an important part of maintaining your health and well-being. Without 8 hours of sleep at night, a person can become more impatient, prone to mood swings, and compromise decision making processes.
A lack of sleep has also been linked to a loss in creativity, so it is no wonder that innovators such as Edison and Dali were testing out how a short burst of sleep can improve their thinking and creativity.
With older age it is a fact of science that memory starts to fade. Maybe the next time that you are trying to be extra creative or recall a fond memory, maybe a quick nap will do wonders.