Sleep is a particularly important aspect of life for humans. Sleep deprivation leads to many health problems. Its sleep affects our cognitive functioning, performance at work, and leads to health issues.
According to a study, incubating specific dreams as you fall asleep fosters creativity. MIT conducted this study. Sleep onset is the duration between sleep and waking. The creative mind is productive during the sleep onset. Participants completed the assigned creative tasks more creatively when asked to dream about a particular subject during the sleep onset phase, according to the research.
The researchers demonstrated that when prompted to dream about a specific topic during the sleep onset phase, the participants completed the tasks assigned in a more creative way. The creativity was comparatively low in the people who just took a nap or were awake. Studies show that the brain makes a wide range of disparate concepts, which boosts creativity.
Insights on Creativity:
An anecdotal proof suggests that N1 sleep stage or hypnagogia, has fertile ground for creative ideas. Thomas Edison often used this state. During a difficult problem, he used to sit down for a nap and used to hold metal, ball in his hand. The moment he fell asleep, the ball would fall out of his hand, waking him up. And after doing this most of the time he used to have a new solution to the problem.
Paris Brain Institute conducted a study in 2021, it gave experimental proof of sleep onset promotes the generation of creative insights. The study’s results showed that participants who fell asleep in the N1 phase were much better are completing number-solving tasks.
The study conducted by MIT tried to extend this finding to domains more commonly associated with creativity like storytelling. As per Pattie Maes, a professor at MIT’s Media Lab, the goal of the study was to understand more on brain functioning and what are its cognitive states and how it can be influenced. Horowitz and MIT Media Lab students developed a device called Dormio. The device provided an analysis of the targeted dream incubation. The device is a glove that measures three physiological markers of sleep. The three physiological markers were changes in muscle tone, heart rate and skin conductance. The device connects to a smartphone or a laptop app.
The study included 49 participants divided into four groups. One group of participants took a 45-minute nap with the Dormio device. The device prompted them to dream i.e. About a tree and recorded the description of the dream. The other two groups took 45 minutes of napping or being awake. Then the participants were given three tasks to complete which included storytelling about the word “tree.”
43% of the participants performed creatively in comparison with the people who took a nap with targeted dream incubation and the people who took a nap without targeted dream incubation. And 78% more creative than the person who did take a nap.
Sleep is essential for cognitive functioning, performance, and health, and when targeted dream incubation is performed in the sleep onset, creativity is increased. Sleep onset promotes creative insights, and the Dormio device provided analysis of targeted dream incubation. 43% of participants performed creatively, 78% more creatively than those without targeted dream incubation.