Just read an article where some researchers in Israel have found we should stay awake for 6 hours after a stressful or traumatic event to avoid the memories embedding themselves in our unconscious mind, which is more likely when we sleep.
Staying awake after a traumatic experience goes against standard advice – but it seems that staying awake allows the brain to assimilate a bad event, and perhaps even make some sense of it.
(Source: www.wddty.com and Neuropsychopharmacology, 2012; doi: 10.1038/npp.2012.94).
So maybe this is why we can't sleep when we have a traumatic event on our minds - is our body is trying to keep us awake so we don't make the psychological after-effects worse?
Also, it seems to me that this tells us something about problem-solving - that it takes 6 hours for the brain to make sense of a problem.
Therefore if we're just problem-solving and there's no trauma associated with it, ideally we should sleep on it. Or at least we should wait and come back to the problem again, after a minimum of 6 hours to get the best perspective and results, rather than battle through it immediately.
A great problem-solving technique I've read is to say the problem out loud to and then just let our mind wander without any expectation at all. Allow ourself to not know the answer and see what comes up. Remember or write down any ideas that come without judging them (brainstorming). Think about the ideas we had just before we go to sleep and then see what we've come up with in the morning.
I know that if the problem's a thorny one and I give it time by sleeping on it, it's amazing how the answer just appears in my mind, clear as anything, the next day.
Relax and let the sub-conscious mind take the strain!
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