Taking a power nap during a demanding problem solving event may improve productivity ten-fold. In a recent study, the problem solving abilities of college aged students was measured and recorded during daytime sleep periods. The study revealed that naps of one hour or more were most effective in stimulating the creative processes involved in complex problem solving events. However, the most impressive memory boost came when the nap included rapid eye movement (REM) stage sleep.
The conclusion is that the brain performs problem solving tasks more slowly and less efficiently during the day if the person remains awake during the problem solving period than those who took naps as part of the problem solving process. The research also suggested that REM sleep bolstered problem solving success by up to ten times the average problem solving capacity of those not reaching REM level sleep.
REM sleep is called level one sleep, and occurs as part of the normal sleep cycle as part of a 60 to 90 minute roller-coaster sleep pattern, with REM sleep occurring at the peak of the sleep cycle. During REM sleep, the brain is most active in evaluating problematic situations that are currently held in short term memory and often allows the person to see various approaches to solving the problem.
The internal functioning of the brain changes during sleep, allowing a streamlining of the creative analysis and creative problem solving sections of the brain. The linking is altered in a positive manner allowing the problem solving to occur in a highly visual environment of REM sleep. The frontal lobe of the brain and the hippocampus segment of the brain appear to interact in processing the problem and storing solutions.
Power napping during the day seems to be a possible solution to workers and students who seek a boost in developing creative solutions to complex problems.
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