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Can weighted blankets boost creativity?

Ever wondered why people use the expression “I had a brainwave” when coming up with a creative solution? The latest theory linking sleep and creative problem-solving might just validate that lingo.

Ever wondered why people use the expression “I had a brainwave” when coming up with a creative solution? The latest theory linking sleep and creative problem-solving might just validate that lingo.

Research reveals that sleep facilitates insight and flexible reasoning. If there’s a specific problem that’s vexing you and you just can’t seem to seem to come up with a creative approach to solve it, sleeping on it might be just what you need.

Read on to learn how sleeping under a weighted blanket can help get the creative juices flowing.

girl reading book

Connecting sleep and creativity


The idea that sleep and creative problem-solving are connected isn’t new. It’s a topic that’s been studied on numerous occasions, and recent research seems to be making some great strides in untangling the wonderful mind web that produces creative thoughts.

Neuroscientist Penelope Lewis wrote an interesting article about how memories are replayed in our minds while we sleep, and how this relates to creativity. Lewis says that a collation of the existing research on the subject of sleep and creativity, sheds light on a new theory.

Her latest hypothesis is that the two main parts of our sleep, REM and non-REM, team up to help us find previously unrecognized connections between things we already know. Here’s how:


Creating connections during non-REM sleep


When we fall asleep we enter the first phase of sleep referred to as non-REM sleep. This phase consists of light and deep sleep stages, with the latter known as slow wave sleep (SWS). During SWS our mind replays thoughts from our day, consolidating these memories as they turn into neural pathways of knowledge.

Significantly, Lewis found that during SWS our brain’s ability to draw commonalities from specifics of a memory (basically making creative connections), is at its strongest. She argues that during this stage of the sleep cycle, the hippocampus (our midbrain area) and the neocortex (the outer brain) are in close connection, and this is key in creative thinking.

Let’s simplify the science talk a bit: the midbrain is responsible for capturing new memories, and the outer-brain serves as a storage space of sorts. During SWS the outer-brain prods the midbrain - through the close connection they have at this point - to recall memories that have something in common. For example, events from yesterday and last week that happened in the same place; or different memories involving the same people etc.

This “prodding” from the midbrain plays a pivotal part in the creative thought process, as it inclines the outer-brain to extract from a bunch of memories, the ones with similar themes.


REM sleep: the similarity strengthener


In turn, the second phase of sleep, rapid eye movement or REM sleep, brings about what seems to be completely arbitrary activation of the neocortex. When switching to the REM sleep phase, a wave of neurochemicals comes along and disrupts the close connection of the mid- and outer-brain.

This separation of the hippocampus and the neocortex during REM sleep, leaves the brain in a particularly fluid state. This means that neural pathways are easily strengthened during REM sleep.

Ultimately, while the neocortex is poised to search for commonalities in what appears to be unrelated subjects during non-REM, it strengthens, during REM sleep, the commonalities that could be drawn. This possibly explains how we make creative breakthroughs.

tea picture and napper

Three key questions


Does this mean we have a mental map leading to more lightbulb moments?
Not entirely. The research is still far from clear-cut. Researchers are candidly disclosing contrasting findings as they go further down the doodled line of exactly how creativity comes about. However, the overarching argument is gaining steady scientific support.

How can we phrase all this sleepy neuroscience in simpler terms?
When the hippocampus and neocortex sync in our non-REM sleep phase, and subsequently split during REM sleep, creativity thrives.

Lewis suggests thinking of it in analogous terms of two scientists working together on a problem, and then splitting up to mull over their work, and meeting up again after a few days to share their insights.

What’s the clincher?
That our best attempt at uncapping creative problem-solving is getting enough uninterrupted, deep sleep. That’s where our weighted Napper blankets come in really handy!

Designed as a means to naturally help us stay asleep for longer, a weighted blanket can help you tap deeper into sleep, nurturing your creative thinking while you’re in sweet slumber.


How weighted blankets help unlock creativity


A weighted blanket helps us keep the carefully composed rhythm of our natural body clocks in sync, making it easier to maintain good quality sleep. And it’s getting good quality sleep that’s setting the stage for hitting those creative high notes.

When we lack sleep, and especially sufficient REM sleep, our overall health suffers. Sleep deprivation can lead to a range of health issues, including brain fog, and as research is now starting to point out, our propensity for creative thought might also be affected by too little, or constantly interrupted sleep.

How does a weighted blanket help address this? By gearing our brains and bodies towards the optimal state for falling asleep helping us relax our way to deeper sleep.

Drawing on the principles of deep touch pressure (also known as DTP), the added weight of a Napper naturally lowers cortisol (the stress hormone) and puts melatonin (the sleep-inducing hormone) on the uptick. Sleeping under weight is like an all-natural sleep-inducing cocktail with some great side-effects:

  • Going to bed with a Napper calms us and makes falling asleep effortless.
  • It also helps us stay asleep for longer so we’re getting through the non-REM and REM stages of our sleep cycles uninterrupted - the crucial pathway for creativity.
  • Another great side-effect is you'll wake up feeling happier as DTP is known to effectively boost our happy hormone, serotonin.
  • Serotonin is important when it comes to keeping our demeanor out of the dumps, and also crucial to our body’s uptake of melatonin around bedtime. This keeps our body clocks ticking along at a healthy pace.

Next time you’re stuck on a problem and can’t seem to find any out-of-the-box solutions, try sleeping on it (with a weighted blanket!). As it turns out, that’s perhaps a much more neuroscientific piece of advice than we know.


Bearassentials

• The latest research linking sleep and creativity points towards the interaction of our midbrain and outer-brain during the two phases of sleep, non-REM and REM, as the key to creative thinking.


• In simplified terms: our ability to creatively connect unrelated topics happens during non-REM sleep and these connections are strengthened during REM sleep; this highlights the importance of getting enough uninterrupted, deep sleep.


• Keep your creativity on the up and up with a great sleep supporter: a weighted blanket. Sleeping your way to problem-solving has never been more snug.

Did you know?
Studies on daydreaming found that next to sleep, it’s the next best place for fostering creative thinking.


THE LAY LOW

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