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Can Sleep Solve Your Problems?

SashaW / flickr

When you hit the sack at night, your brain doesn’t stop dealing with life’s toughest questions. Sleep scientists at the University of California, San Diego, found that the brain attempts to solve problems during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, a stage of deep slumber that’s associated with dreaming.

The researchers said that the REM stage actually boosts creative thinking, possibly by forming new communication pathways in the brain. Meaning, you’ll be able to harness more of your noggin’s true power.

“We found that—for creative problems that you’ve already been working on—the passage of time is enough to find solutions,” meaning you’ll actually wake up with new and creative problem-solving abilities, according to study author Sara Mednick, Ph.D., in a news release from the university. “But for new problems, only REM sleep enhances creativity.”

So what does this mean for you? If you've got something troubling on your mind or you're trying to make a big decision, sleep on it. Getting a good night's sleep will allow your brain to do some peaceful thinking, which may result in a solution.

Try these tips from the National Sleep Foundation to reap the benefits of a solid night's sleep: 

  • Establish a regular bed and wake time
  • Avoid nicotine and alcohol, and don't drink caffeine close to bedtime
  • Exercise regularly (at least 3 hours before bedtime)
  • Establish a consistent wind-down routine
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet and comfortable

About The Author

David Schipper – David began writing for CorePerformance.com in 2008, after spending six years at Men's Health magazine digging up the newest scientific research in health, weight loss, nutrition, muscle and cardiovascular fitness.

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Tags: Rest, Sleep, Tired