Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Old adage 'sleep on it' is true -- but only if it's a really difficult problem, study shows

Date:
October 12, 2012
Source:
Lancaster University
Summary:
A new study has found that sleeping on a problem really can help people to find a solution. The study tested whether sleep or time spent awake worked best in helping people find the solutions to a range of problem solving tasks.

A new study has found that sleeping on a problem really can help people to find a solution.
Credit: nyul / Fotolia

A new study from Lancaster University has found that sleeping on a problem really can help people to find a solution.

Related Articles


The study, published online this week in the journal Memory & Cognition, tested whether sleep or time spent awake worked best in helping people find the solutions to a range of problem solving tasks.

Participants in the study -- 27 men and 34 women -- were asked to attempt easy and difficult verbal insight problems and, following a period of sleep, time spent wake, or no delay at all, the three groups of participants reattempted previously unsolved problems.

The sleep group solved a greater number of difficult problems than did the other groups, but no difference was found for easy problems.

The authors of the study -- Ut Na Sio, Padraic Monaghan and Tom Ormerod all from the Centre for Research in Human Development and Learning at Lancaster's Department of Psychology -- concluded that sleep facilitates problem solving but this has its primary effect for harder problems.

Professor Padraic Monaghan said: "We've known for years that sleep has a profound effect on our ability to be creative and find new solutions to problems. Our study shows that this sleep effect is greatest when the problems facing us are difficult. Sleep appears to help us solve problems by accessing information that is remote to the initial problem, that may not be initially brought to mind. Sleep has been proposed to 'spread activation' to the solution that is initially distant from our first attempts at the problem. The advice stemming from this and related research is to leave a problem aside if you're stuck, and get some sleep if it's a really difficult problem."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Lancaster University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ut Na Sio, Padraic Monaghan, Tom Ormerod. Sleep on it, but only if it is difficult: Effects of sleep on problem solving. Memory & Cognition, 2012; DOI: 10.3758/s13421-012-0256-7

Cite This Page:

Lancaster University. "Old adage 'sleep on it' is true -- but only if it's a really difficult problem, study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121012074741.htm>.
Lancaster University. (2012, October 12). Old adage 'sleep on it' is true -- but only if it's a really difficult problem, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121012074741.htm
Lancaster University. "Old adage 'sleep on it' is true -- but only if it's a really difficult problem, study shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121012074741.htm (accessed March 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, March 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AP (Mar. 25, 2015) While distracted driving is not a new problem for teens, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says it&apos;s much more serious than previously thought. (March 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) European researchers say our smartphone use offers scientists an ideal testing ground for human brain plasticity. Dr Ako Ghosh&apos;s team discovered that the brains and thumbs of smartphone users interact differently from those who use old-fashioned handsets. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Newsy (Mar. 24, 2015) According to a new study by the Alzheimer&apos;s Association, more than half of those who have the degenerative brain disease aren&apos;t told by their doctors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

Newsy (Mar. 23, 2015) Researchers found those who napped for 45 minutes to an hour before being tested on information recalled it five times better than those who didn&apos;t. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins