ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Posts Tagged ‘sleep’

Use This Simple but Underused Technique for Being More Creative (and get a bonus!)

Posted by Plish on September 6, 2017

Wouldn’t it be great if solutions to our problems came to us from alternate universes? Places where the laws of nature may be different?  Where wonderful and fascinating things occur on a regular basis?

Guess what – they do.

They’re called our dreams.

All you have to do is remember and keep track of them.

Researchers have determined that logging dreams actually aids creative thinking.  From the abstract:

Enhanced dream recall through daily dream logging fosters aspects of creativity. Associations between creativity, dissociation, and thinness of boundaries, suggest that increased awareness to dreams increases creativity through a “loosening” of stereotyped thinking pattern.

The challenge then is to be able to remember what the heck we dreamed in the first place.  I researched multiple sites but at the end of the day, Amy Cope summarized the best ways to remember dreams here. I’ll paraphrase below with a few supplements 🙂

  1. Write the dreams down.  Don’t worry about catching every aspect of the dream.  Words, images, fragments, feelings, concerns associated with the dream, all are important.
  2. Seems obvious,  but make sure the journal is handy.
  3. Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine prior to sleep
  4. B-Vitamins
  5. Various herbs also increase vividness of dreams (the more vivid the better the chances of remembering them).  Calea Zacatechichi is one such herb.
  6. Eat foods high in melatonin
  7. Prime yourself for remembering your dreams.  Tell yourself: “I will remember my dreams” or “In the morning I will remember my dreams.”
  8. Set your alarm 20 minutes early.  This could in theory interrupt a dream and thus make it easier to remember.  However, some people get too startled when woken from a dream and they are so rattled they ‘shake loose’ the dream and forget it.
  9. Don’t move when getting out of bed. Use gentle movements to record the dreams.  Sometimes assuming the position you were in prior to waking  up and closing your eyes can take you back to the images/etc. of your dream.  Keep your eyes closed. Stay with the dream for a while. Meditate on the meanings.
  10. If you don’t remember anything, think of other dreams you’d had, or common images, movies you’ve seen, anything that might provide a connection to what you just saw.

The Mindful Dreamer site has this great tip (In addition to many of the above tips): If you’ve got a problem that you need answered, write it down before going to bed.  It gives you something to start with before sleep and something to pick up on when you wake up.

Dreamstudies.org has this Snooze Method for remembering dreams.  It’s pretty much summarized above, but for the detailed method, check here.

Oh, and what’s the bonus I mentioned in the headline?

In addition to being more creative, if you practice the above regularly, the quality of your sleep will go up as well. 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Creative Thinking Techniques, creativity, innovation, problem solving, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Sound, Remembering, and Sleeping – An Innovative way to Design Memorable Experiences

Posted by Plish on April 22, 2013

The idea of learning while we sleep has been around for almost a hundred years.  It turns out that getting information while we sleep doesn’t appear to be a terribly successful way of learning. But all is not lost.

If we learn something and sleep on it, we do in fact process information and thus can retain and categorize information more effectively.

Now, researchers have determined that if a sound is experienced along with something that we want to remember, hearing that sound again helped recall the original experience.  In addition, if that sound is heard while we sleep, it seems to cement the memory of the experience even more than simply re-hearing the sound in a waking state.

In other words, if you see a picture of a cow, and you hear a ticking clock, just hearing that ticking clock the next day will probably help you remember the cow.  However, it you hear that same ticking clock sound while you’re sleeping, your ability to remember the picture of the cow will be improved greatly when you hear the ticking.

So,  it appears that sonic branding, like I  discussed last week, can even have a more powerful impact if those sounds can be heard while people sleep.  This could create a powerful way to remember experiences if say, audio brands were interspersed in relaxing music that played while we slept.

It could also be used to design classroom experiences. Key points in a lecture could have musical notes or sounds as an accompaniment.  Those sounds could be given to students in MP3 form so they can listen to those sounds when they study and sleep.  They could replay those sounds later to help with recall.

I could see it used as well for training purposes.  People do a certain task to certain musical tones.  When they’re first learning, they can listen to those tones as they sleep.

What if operating rooms had musical sequences to help nurses, techs and surgeons remember pre-operative prepping procedures?

How could you see this research being used?

Posted in Brain Stimulation Tools, Brands, cognitive studies, Customer Focus, Design, Experience, innovation, Research, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cortisol Levels and Sleeping, Stress and Creativity

Posted by Plish on December 26, 2008

This recently published blurb in Wired gives three reasons why sleeping late may be better than going to bed early and rising early.

They are:

1. You may need more sleep than you think (i.e. You don’t sleep nearly enough)

2. Night Owls are more creative.

3. Rising early occurs during peak Cortisol levels so you may feel tension upon waking early.

When I checked the study responsible for point number 3, another interesting thing became obvious and it may account for point Number 2.

Cortisol is also at its lowest between 10pm and 1am. If stress hormone is low, creativity may be higher during these times.

FORMULA A: Less stress hormone (Cortisol)=more relaxed=more creative.

If I extrapolate a Creativity Curve based upon the cortisol curve we see the following:

Circadian Rhythm Graph with creativity

Possible Creativity vs. Cortisol Curve (michael plishka, 2008; red curve courtesy of http://www.phoqus.com)

Is the above relationship absolute? Probably not. The folks over at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine have shown that changes in stress (i.e the relaxation response) can produce “aha” moments. And, as I mentioned here, stress is essential to performance. So there are most likely some micro-stress trends within the larger trends that can help or hinder creativity.

Nevertheless, studies are starting to show that increased cortisol levels that don’t decline during the day may induce clinical depression.  So…

FORMULA B: Less sleep=greater stress=clinical depression=less sleep=greater stress…

It’s a downward spiral that will not help with creative endeavors.

What do we take away from this all?

1. We need sleep.

2. We have to be careful not to stay up too late. If we overshoot our lowest cortisol levels, we may have trouble falling asleep. Since cortisol rises quickly in the AM, we don’t want to be stuck getting stressed when we should be recouping. Rising cortisol levels also might maker it more difficult to stay asleep or get good quality sleep. That means waking up feeling sleep deprived and that puts us into FORMULA B above….bad news.

3. We need to learn to relax better- take time to meditate/pray/relax/play so that we minimize the effects of stress when we’re awake.

What are your thoughts on creativity and sleep?

Posted in Nature of Creativity, Research, Science, stress, Workplace Creativity, Yerkes-Dodson Curve | Tagged: , , , , | 23 Comments »

 
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