Napping, particularly if it includes dreaming, may help people think more creatively.
Researchers gave young adults creative word-association tasks in the morning, then allowed some to sleep. The extra time and z's appeared to improve their scores on the same tasks; on new tasks, patients who had entered REM sleep beat their morning scores by some 40 per cent.
“We found that for creative problems that you've already been working on, the passage of time is enough to find solutions," said the psychiatrist who led the research.
"However, for new problems, only REM sleep enhances creativity.”
REM sleep, the researchers think, helps the brain connect unrelated topics.