Sleep & Creativity

Dr. Dan JensenLifestyle, Research

Sleep & Creativity

Dr. Dan Jensen

Following the completion of his undergraduate studies at Brigham Young University, Dr. Dan Jensen trekked to the University of Nebraska, where he received his dental degree in 1996. After he received his degree, he worked with his dad (Dr. Bruce Jensen) for five years until he moved to Alaska, where he practiced dentistry for six years. Utah family life soon called his name again and Dr. Jensen moved back to Utah where he opened up his own practice in Kaysville, UT.
Dr. Dan Jensen

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A good night’s sleep can often make you feel on top of the world and prepare you to face your day with the best possible outlook. More rest and relaxation can lead to more heightened states of creativity. Scientific studies have proven that there is a definitive link between a nap and creative problem-solving. Two stages of deep rest work together to boost creativity along with the ability to problem-solve more efficiently.

The study of resting is a complex subject as the brain changes between two central stages, REM and non-REM. REM stands for rapid eye movement because this deep form of rest is often characterized by the eyes moving rapidly under the eyelids.

Brain waves during REM look very much like brain waves during wakefulness. This stage is often associated with intense dreaming. Napping is not a passive activity, it’s an active time for the brain when a lot of physiological phases are running. It is interesting to note that the brain is more active during rest than when a person is fully conscious.

The Secret Link Between Creativity and a Good Night’s Sleep

There are new theories as to why snoozing and creativity are linked. While a person is unconscious, the brain will replay memories. The memory replay works to strengthen and group newly formed memories so that they will be integrated into existing knowledge linking them by common themes or subjects.

Creative thinking and problem-solving happens with the ability to experience both non-REM and REM. Non-REM extracts memories and ideas, while REM connects them.

If you are trying to work through a problem and cannot seem to find a solution, try getting some rest. During REM, a part of the brain called the neocortex will replay abstract and simplified elements of the problem and randomly activate other thoughts strengthening ideas that the elements have in common.

The neocortex is essentially putting together the pieces of the puzzle for you. When you awaken, you will often find that your solution is clear. You start to see the problem from other angles and in a different light. Before you know it – the problem has been solved.

That’s just one of the benefits of quality rest. Naps or deep meditation can also have the same effects. You can rest anytime day or night and as long as you get a quality amount of rest, your creative problem-solving abilities should be intact.

There are also hindrances to that deep restful sleeping that can interrupt the creative problem-solving ability. One common problem is obstructive sleep apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

This kind of apnea is a condition where the throat muscle relax and block the airway passage during rest. People suffering from this condition will repeatedly stop breathing during the night. A clear sign of this condition is snoring.

This kind of apnea is serious and can cause problems like excessive tiredness, impaired neurocognitive function, mood changes, and difficulties in driving and work performance.

While some medical professionals will prescribe a CPAP breathing device or other therapies, it is important to keep in mind that long term solutions to obstructive sleep apnea should include personalized physiological exams to rule out any other problems that can be treated.

CPAP machines are a form of continuous positive airway pressure therapy. This breathing device is generally a standard treatment option for this kind of apnea. The machine uses a hose and a mask or a piece that fits over the nose to deliver a steady and constant flow of air pressure to keep the throat from closing.

There are downsides to this type of treatment including bacterial problems that can occur with insufficient cleaning. Masks can also leak, and the noise and air pressure can cause a person to have problems falling asleep. A CPAP breathing device can also cause nasal congestion and a dry mouth.

Also, lifestyle interventions can help. Weight loss is associated with improving the severity of this condition and help with quality of life. It’s important to consult with your doctor or medical professional for the best possible course of treatment for apnea.

 Sound Sleep Medical

Sleeping is not only important for creative problem solving, it is critical and plays an important role in optimal health and wellbeing. It protects mental and physical health along with safety and a good quality of life.

Visit us at Sound Sleep Medical to assess your sleep patterns, find out if you have sleep apnea, and get the treatment you need to get back to sound sleep.