Thomas Edison nearly ‘killed by a badger’ reveals expert
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Millions of people around the globe swear by the effectiveness of the so-called power nap. Just 10 to 20 minutes of shut-eye during the day is claimed by many to rejuvenate the body and bolster the spirit. According to new research published in the journal Science Advances, there may be more to these claims than just pure anecdote and American inventor Thomas Alva Edison (1847 to 1931) appears to have already figured this out 100 years ago.
Researchers at the Paris Brain Institute have found that taking a quick nap can allow a person to tap into a “creative sweet spot”.
This happens when a person starts to drift into the first stages of sleep, a state known as hypnagogia (N1).
Hypnagogia is described as the transitional stage between being awake and sleeping – the opposite is known as hypnopompia, which occurs just before a person awakes from a deep slumber.
During this altered state of consciousness, it’s not uncommon to hear of people experiencing hallucinations and other dream-like visions.
According to the French research, this bizarre state may also help people become more creative and better at solving puzzles.
They came to this conclusion after recreating a technique developed by Thomas Edison, which he believed helped to inspire his inventions.
Edison would often go take a nap with a ball in his hands, allowing himself to slowly drift off.
As soon as his muscles relaxed, he would drop the ball and be yanked back into being awake, but with the added benefit of being inspired by his pre-sleep dreams and visions.
Researchers at the Paris Brain Institute recreated this technique with a group of 103 people who were asked to take a nap in a darkened room in a reclined chair while holding onto a bottle.
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After the bottle fell to the ground and they were woken up, they were asked to solve a mathematical puzzle.
The problem involved converting a string of eight digits into new strings of seven digits using a specific set of instructions.
To ease matters, a rule was baked into the test that would allow the participants to crack it without much effort but they were not told about it.
The secret rule was that the second number in the final sequence of digits was always the same as the last number in the same sequence.
Each participant was given 30 tries to crack the puzzle after which they were asked to take a 20-minute nap and their brain activity was measured using electrodes to determine what state of consciousness they were in.
About 16 percent of the participants managed to solve the puzzle so they were excluded from the trial.
The remaining volunteers were given a second go after their creativity-enhancing break.
According to the researchers, those who napped and were awoken by the sound of the falling bottle faired much better at finding the secret rule – three times better – than those who stayed awake.
This was after at least 15 seconds of N1 rest.
The results were about 83 percent versus 30 percent of participants who remained awake.
Even more intriguingly, the researchers noted “this effect vanished if subjects reached deeper sleep”.
However, it took on average, 94 runs before the participants discovered the rule even after taking the nap.
The findings were published in a study under the title Sleep onset is a creative spot.
The paper reads: “Our findings suggest that there is a creative sweet spot within the sleep-onset period, and hitting it requires individuals balancing falling asleep easily against falling asleep too deeply.”
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