French sci­en­tists from Pitié-Salpêtrière Hos­pi­tal report that in the gray zone on the verge of wake­ful­ness and sleep, a person’s cre­ativ­i­ty increas­es, his abil­i­ty to make quick and extra­or­di­nary deci­sions.

It is known that artists, sci­en­tists and inven­tors con­sid­er the moment of tran­si­tion from wake­ful­ness to sleep a peri­od of insights and dis­cov­er­ies. For exam­ple, Sal­vador Dali and Thomas Edi­son delib­er­ate­ly began to doze with an object in their hand, so that at the moment of tran­si­tion to sleep it would fall and wake them up, mak­ing it pos­si­ble to write down the solu­tion found dur­ing the gray zone.

More than a hun­dred vol­un­teers par­tic­i­pat­ed in the study, who were hung with sen­sors of brain, eye and mus­cle activ­i­ty for the dura­tion of the exper­i­ment. As the prob­lem posed to them, the solu­tion of which should have been found on the verge of sleep and wake­ful­ness, sci­en­tists used the Num­ber Reduc­tion Task. First, the vol­un­teers tried 60 times to solve it in the wak­ing state — 16% found the answer at this stage and left the test.

The rest were giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to rest for 20 min­utes in a dark room with a blind­fold. Par­tic­i­pants were giv­en an Edi­son and Dali plas­tic bot­tle to drop as they tran­si­tioned from nap to sleep. In total, three groups of sub­jects were iden­ti­fied: a group of peo­ple who did not sleep at all dur­ing the entire break; those who dozed off and entered the first stage of sleep, N1; those who have reached the sec­ond stage, N2.

At the end of the break, the par­tic­i­pants made anoth­er 330 runs to solve the same prob­lem. It turned out that 83% of the sub­jects from group N1, who dozed off and reached the gray zone, dis­cov­ered a hid­den solu­tion to the prob­lem. Of the group that did not sleep at all through­out the rest, only 31% of the sub­jects found the solu­tion. And, final­ly, of those who reached the N2 stage, that is, fell asleep despite the bot­tle, only 14% of the par­tic­i­pants in the exper­i­ment found the solu­tion.

The sci­en­tists empha­size that the dif­fer­ence between the non-sleep­ing group and the N1 group was about a minute in the first stage of sleep. Nev­er­the­less, this minute gave a three­fold increase in cre­ativ­i­ty.

Researchers believe that this is an occa­sion to con­tin­ue study­ing this phe­nom­e­non. And for those who want to put it into prac­tice, we can advise you to acti­vate your cre­ative abil­i­ties at the begin­ning of sleep: doze with­out falling into a deep sleep. Sci­en­tists warn that the solu­tion does not appear imme­di­ate­ly, but get­ting to it using the method of Edi­son and Dali is faster.


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