Most people think of the sleeping brain as similar to a computer that has “gone to sleep” -- they believe that it does nothing productive. But this is incorrect. Sleep enhances performance, learning and memory. And most unappreciated of all, sleep improves the creative ability to uncover novel connections among seemingly unrelated ideas.
Sleep assists the brain in flagging unrelated ideas and memories, forging connections among them that increase the odds that a creative idea or insight will surface. After sleep, people are 33 percent more likely to infer connections among distantly related ideas.
Business attitudes toward sleep may be starting to shift. Claire Stapleton, a spokeswoman for Google, says “grassroots” interest in sleep led to an on-campus talk by Sara C. Mednick, a napping expert. Google also installed EnergyPods, leather recliners with egglike hoods that block noise and light, that allow employees to take naps at work. Other companies that have installed EnergyPods include Cisco Systems and Procter & Gamble.
* New York Times September 27, 2008