How to stimulate creativity? Dali and Edison’s Sleep Technique Really Works

Many of the world’s most creative minds, including Salvador Dalí and Thomas Edison, have described using an unusual sleeping technique designed to enhance their creativity. Now scientists have discovered that this method can be effective.

To increase your creativity, you need to wake up at the right time in your dream, where reality seems to merge with your fantasy. To do this, visionaries like Dalí and Edison held an object in their hands, such as a spoon or a ball. When they fell asleep in the chair, the object fell noisily and woke them up. After spending a few moments on the verge of unconsciousness, they were ready to begin work. Known as the hypnagogic or N1 sleep state, this early stage of sleep only lasts a few minutes and can affect creativity, researchers say.

– People spend about 5 percent. N1 sleep is a very poorly studied stage, explains study co-author Delphine Oudiette, a sleep expert at the Brain Institute in Paris. In N1 you can imagine shapes, colors and even see fragments of your dreams, while staying in touch with reality, even hearing sounds from your room.

The research is published in the journal Science Advances (DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.abj5866).

hidden mystery

Inspired by the great minds who have used this technique, Oudiette and her team set out to find out if awakening would actually work for creativity in ordinary people. They recruited 103 healthy participants and asked them to avoid stimulants and sleep a little less than usual the night before the experiment.

The subjects were presented with a mathematical problem in which they had to guess the last digit of the sequence. There were also two step-by-step methods that could be used to solve the puzzle. Additionally, however, there was a hidden rule in the problem, that the eighth digit was always the second digit in the sequence. If someone could figure it out, it would greatly reduce the time needed to solve the task.

Contrary to popular belief, creativity isn’t limited to specific areas like art, says Oudiette. Creativity has two elements: originality and relevance in a given context. – In this case, the participants who discover the hidden principle are creative because they have not been instructed on how to solve the problem in this way, so they have found a new and useful strategy – explains the expert.

In the first part of the experiment, participants had to solve 10 math problems using two rulers. They were then given a 20-minute break during which they were told to either relax or fall asleep in a comfortable position. They held a drinking cup in their hands, so that if they fell asleep, the pot would fall out and wake them up. “The goal was to isolate the specific effect of N1 without going into other stages of sleep,” says Oudiette.

Because different stages of sleep have different brain wave patterns, the researchers were able to monitor, using an electroencephalogram (EEG), when the participants progressed from the N1 stage to the deeper N2 stage.

Surprising effects

After the rest, the researchers asked the participants to solve the math problems again. They recorded whether the people involved in the experiment were more creative, solving tasks faster. They also hoped that some of them might “discover” the hidden rule.

Scientists observed that volunteers who fell asleep for a short time solved problems much faster. Most also saw the hidden ruler. According to the researchers, participants who spent at least 15 seconds in the N1 phase had 83%. chance of discovering the hidden rule, down from 30%. an opportunity for those who have not fallen asleep.

According to Oudiette, the results have been “spectacular”. However, if the participants stayed asleep for too long, the effect wore off. Therefore, the authors concluded that there is a certain point beyond which creativity does not increase.

“Research proves the importance of the massively ignored hypnagogic state,” says Prof. Robert Stickgold, a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist who was not involved in the experiment. According to him, the most surprising thing was that you had to wake up and resume the task without falling into a deeper sleep.

It’s unclear why the N1 stage increases creativity, but since it’s a semi-fluid state where we lose some control but remain aware, it can lead to different associations.

Scientists agree that more research is needed on sleep in the N1 phase to understand the role it plays in humans.

Source: Live Science

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