A new study reports that rapid eye movement sleep – or “REM sleep” – enhances creative problem solving.
Participants completed a creativity task in the morning. Afterward, some took a nap that included REM sleep; some took a nap without REM sleep; and some simply rested quietly. Then they were tested on the creativity task in the afternoon.
Results show that REM sleep enhanced the integration of unassociated information for creative problem solving. Members of the REM sleep group improved their performance on the creativity task by almost 40 percent. There was no performance improvement for members of the other two groups.
“We found that – for creative problems that you’ve already been working on – the passage of time is enough to find solutions,” study author Sara Mednick, PhD, said in a UCSD statement. “However, for new problems, only REM sleep enhances creativity.”
The AASM reports that there are multiple stages of sleep in a sleep cycle. Each complete cycle lasts about 90 to 110 minutes. REM sleep tends to be the final stage of the sleep cycle in normal adult sleep.
Learn more about REM sleep and sleep stages on SleepEducation.com.