Creativity and imagination can build a career and fuel a rich life full of zest and passion.  Scientific and literary careers are built around creativity. Shakespeare’s Tragedies and Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn had the sparks of creativity written all over them. The making of the iPod was brought on by many creative minds.

What is creativity? It is the ability to take the information and knowledge that you already have and combine them into new concepts. One theory on how sleep helps creativity is through the integration of your experiences into the memory networks that already exist in your brain. This combination can lead to big ideas and concepts- hence creativity.

Sleep deprivation kills creativity. Lack of sleep affects the brain’s ability to muster parts needed for create work. Memory, learning and planning are affected. A good night sleep is an elixir for the creative process. If you feel drowsy and groggy throughout the day, it is very hard to feel motivated and come up with novel ideas.

A major scientific work from Germany in 2004 was titled “sleep inspires insight.” It tested subjects on how well they were able to creatively solve and analyze certain mathematical tasks. When tested after a good night of sleep, they were 16% faster. In contrast, the subjects that did not sleep the night prior, averaged only 6% improvement. There was a hidden way of solving the problem quickly if they figured out the “trick”. On each trial, the last three response numbers (4-1-9) were mirror images of the preceeding three numbers (9-1-4). Thos who had better insight (slept well) were able to figure this out. This study was published in Nature.