13/11/2010 16:36 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Can Sleep Help You Think More Creatively?

Have you ever wondered exactly why you need to sleep? Considering the average person spends a third of their lives in the land of nod, there surely must be a very good reason. Apart from recharging your batteries, scientists think sleep helps fix memories in your brain. And now some experts also believe sleep helps you produce new and creative ideas.

Sleep helps you process memories Having a snooze could make you think creatively. Photo: Flickr, Alyssa L Miller

According to US psychologists writing in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, when you sleep your brain is busy reorganising and reconfiguring memories. During sleep, they claim, the brain tends to hang on to the emotional part of a memory.

They tested volunteers by showing them an image of an emotional scene - a car crash, for instance. Then the volunteers were asked to describe the image the next day, after having a good night's sleep. What the psychologists discovered was that the volunteers were far more likely to remember details of the wreckage - the emotional part of the image - rather than what was in the background.

It's yet another reason, say the researchers, not to skimp on sleep. "We can get away with less sleep, but it has a profound effect on our cognitive abilities," says lead researcher Jessica Payne.

In other words, if you're the type of person who says you'll sleep when you're dead, you could miss out on your brain's natural ability to think creatively.

Getting a good night's sleep has also been linked with heart health as well as losing weight. If, however, you're having problems getting to sleep, why not try some natural remedies for insomnia?

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