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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Study: Sleep essential for creative thinking

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards said the riff in ”(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” came to him in his sleep, while the 19th-century chemist Dmitri Mendeleev literally dreamed up the periodic table of elements.
Now, for the first time, scientists say they have proved what creative minds have known all along: that our sleeping brains continue working on problems that baffle us during the day, and that the right answer may come more easily after eight hours of rest.
The German study is considered to be the first hard evidence supporting the commonsense notion that creativity and problem-solving appear to be directly linked to adequate sleep.
Some researchers said the study provides a valuable reminder for overtired workers and students that sleep is often the best medicine.
”A single study never settles an issue once and for all, but I would say this study does advance the field significantly,” said Dr. Carl E. Hunt, director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health. ”It’s going to have potentially important results for children for school performance and for adults for work performance.”
Scientists at the University of Luebeck found that volunteers taking a simple math test were three times more likely than sleep-deprived participants to figure out a hidden rule for converting the numbers into the right answer if they had eight hours of sleep. The findings appear in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.
Jan Born, who led the study, said the results support biochemical studies of the brain that indicate memories are restructured before they are stored. Creativity also appears to be enhanced in the process, he said.
”This restructuring might be occurring in such a way that the problem is easier to solve,” Born said.
Born said the exact process in the sleeping brain for sharpening these abilities remains unclear. But it appears that memories start deep in an area of the brain called the hippocampus, and are eventually pushed outward to the neocortex to be consolidated.
The changes leading to creativity or problem-solving insight occur during ”slow wave” or deep sleep, which typically occurs in the first four hours of the sleep cycle, he said.
The findings also may explain the memory problems associated with aging, because older people typically have trouble getting enough sleep, especially the kind of deep sleep needed to process memories, Born said.

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