Do you have a difficult problem to solve? If you have time and cannot make a decision, you might get advice to sleep on it. Some may take that advice to take time out and to attend to other things before coming back to the difficult problem. Others actually may literally sleep on the problem. But how can we actually solve problems while sleeping?
A study made at Northwestern University gave 57 participants brain teasers before they went to bed. During the brain teasers, the researchers played unique sounds to each participant so that they could associate the teaser with the sound. When the participants went to bed, the researchers played the unique sound to each participant based on the teasers they did. The sound was played loud enough to be heard but not enough to interrupt or wake the participants from their sleep.
Prior to the audio experiment, participants were only able to solve about 20.5 percent of the puzzles. But the next morning, the participants could solve 31.7 percent of the puzzles after hearing the audio during sleep, an improvement of 55 percent.
The researchers concluded that these results clearly demonstrate the brain can be manipulated to solve problems during sleep by directing it to the issues we want answers for. Of course, this technique would not work if you have no background knowledge in the problem you are trying to solve. This only works for problems you already have all the pieces of puzzle for.
Not only can you manipulate your brain to solve problems while you are asleep. You can do it too while you are half asleep. The brain emanates four electrical waves from activities. Beta waves are generated when we are in the middle of a task, such as being at a job interview. When we are feeling relaxed having completed a big task, our brain generates alpha waves. Delta waves are turned up when we are in deep sleep. The last frequency wave, theta, is the best for solving problems.
Theta is the state where tasks become so automatic that our brain is able to disengage from them. It can also occur when you are in the shower or when brushing your teeth or shaving. Problem solving and having creative ideas can occur during the theta state, which is free from guilt and censorship. The brain is also in the theta state when you are falling asleep or in the state of waking up. During the awakening state, we can extend the theta state for 5 to 15 minutes which allows for a free flow of ideas to contemplate a problem to be solved.
Many well-known personalities have made use of their theta waves to produce creative ideas from artist Salvador Dali to writer Mary Shelley. Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison are well-known to have used half asleep moments to contemplate on big ideas. Running through the day’s challenges while you are in the theta state when you are in the half-awake and half-asleep state can produce interesting and amazing results.
When you are starting to become conscious in the morning or when your eyes are closed at night about to fall asleep, immediately think of the problem or task you had to face in the day. It could be a report, a new marketing strategy or a negotiation you have had to solve. Choose one problem and allow your brain to be focused on the topic without directing your brain in any specific direction.
As you ponder on the problem, a solution will show itself. But do not try too hard to think of a solution as this will be counter productive to using your theta state for creative solutions. Do keep a notebook near your bed so that you can start jotting down ideas when you are either about to fall asleep or when you are just waking up.
To help you with sleep, you will also need to create conditions for falling asleep. One of the most important conditions for good sleep has to do with your bed sheets and there are different bed sheets to choose from to help you fall into dreamland quickly.
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