Napping Your Way To Genius

David Trammel's picture

One of the thing I firmly believe is the industrial/capitalistic economic model we have now, has fostered bad habits onto humans in the name of profit for the few. I feel like we just aren't designed to do many of the things we do now. That includes the idea we need one long 8 hour period of sleep, instead of napping at various times during the day when our bodies need it, and the environment encourages it. I'm always on the look out for data to support an alternative life style. Here's one:

"Spark Creativity with Thomas Edison’s Napping Technique"

"Thomas Edison was famously opposed to sleeping. In an 1889 interview published in Scientific American, the ever energetic inventor of the lightbulb claimed he never slept more than four hours a night. Sleep was, he thought, a waste of time. Yet Edison may have relied on slumber to spur his creativity. The inventor is said to have napped while holding a ball in each hand, presuming that, as he fell asleep, the orbs would fall to the floor and wake him. This way he could remember the sorts of thoughts that come to us as we are nodding off, which we often do not recall.

Sleep researchers now suggest that Edison might have been on to something. Published recently in Science Advances, a new study reports that the we have a brief period of creativity and insight in the semilucid state that occurs just as we begin to drift into sleep, a sleep phase called N1, or non-rapid-eye-movement sleep stage 1. The findings imply that if we can harness that liminal haze between sleep and wakefulness—known as a hypnagogic state—we might recall our bright ideas more easily."


I've found that the period between just laying down to sleep, and nodding completely off, my mind goes through a highly creative period. Story ideas or solutions to problems of the day. Sometimes I have to get back up and jot down the thoughts I've had. Maybe incorporating an afternoon nap into our schedule when possible is sometime to consider.

Ken's picture

I recently picked up 'Conscious Dreaming' by Robert Moss and he mentions that very same Edison anecdote. I have found that a little bit of sativa cannabis before bed can extend that creative period and I recently resolved a fundamental plotting problem with the story I'm working on while drifting off to sleep under the influence. I'm not suggesting a bong hit before bed is for everyone but it definitely works for me sometimes!

lathechuck's picture

Evaluation of your ability to solve a problem "under the influence" is hardly objective, when it's a plot problem that you've created yourself, and you subjectively favor your new solution. How does it work when you're trying to solve a problem that concerns the physical world? For example, I'm struggling to repair a broken low-power radio transmitter. I've tried several excitingly plausible (so I thought) approaches, but so far, none of them produced the desired radio signal! The great thing about electronic circuits is that they give me immediate feedback on "will this work?" questions (much quicker than a new gardening technique).