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Studying the benefits of sleeping on it
People can be helped in their efforts to find a solution to a problem by sleeping on the dilemma, new research has suggested. Published in the journal Memory & Cognition, the study found the old adage can be particularly true when the task is a difficult one.
Investigators from Lancaster University discovered sleep can facilitate problem-solving, but the effect is most noticeable for harder quandaries.
Professor Padraic Monaghan from the Centre for Research in Human Development and Learning in the Department of Psychology at the learning institute noted getting plenty of shut-eye can allow people to be more creative.
"Sleep appears to help us solve problems by accessing information that is remote to the initial problem, that may not be initially brought to mind," Professor Monaghan observed.
He went on to note sleep has the capacity to spread activation to the solution, which is distant from first attempts to find the answer.
Chartered Psychologist Dr Joan Harvey says:
"Whilst accessing remote memory can certainly help with a problem, it may also be that difficult or uncomfortable problems could also benefit from a period of time elapsing - perhaps sleep, or perhaps by doing something completely different, preferably even in a different place.
"Attempts to solve problems can often benefit from being able to see things 'in the round' or from a different perspective, and often to do this we need time. This might allow the problem to be given more emotional distance so we are not too close to it or focusing too much on the specifics. A different perspective might present a different or better solution than the one taken too quickly.
"Sleeping on a problem would seem to be one solution. Getting away from the proximity and focus of the problem for a time interval can be another solution. Sleeping on it, or taking time for some exercise such as going for a walk might also help".
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