How SLEEP affects your creativity

IN a paper published in the journal Sleep, British researcher James Horne reports that even one sleepless night can affect our most creative kind of thinking, known as divergent thinking, which involves spontaneity, flexibility and originality.

This type of thinking is used in creative pursuits such as writing or painting, and is required to respond in innovative ways in an emergency.

Horne says that our ability to try different approaches to a problem or to generate new or unusual ideas is undermined by the loss of only a single night’s sleep. The mind gets into a rut and sticks to known ways of doing things.

This means that while studying all night might be fine for a multiple-choice exam, it is not very good for an exam that calls for creative responses, such as essay writing or analysis.

According to him, people who go for 32 hours without sleep tested were found to have ratings of only 1/3 to 2/3 those of well-rested subjects. In word tests, the sleep-deprived subjects often wrote down the same word repeatedly, then crossed it out.

Excerpted from CAP booklet “How SLEEP affects your body and mind”