Ernest Hemingway believed that you should always end your writing for the day with an unfinished sentence, such as, “She threw open the windows only to find…” Leave your writing hanging in mid-sentence and then sleep on it, he suggested, so that you’ll know where to pick up the next morning, but also so your subconscious can work on it, perhaps even dream about it, overnight. Research suggests Hemingway’s advice was bang on.
A study reported in the journal Nature found that when participants worked on a problem or received training and then slept overnight on it, it doubled the likelihood of solving the problem. Other studies have found that even when it comes to rats learning mazes, the rats that sleep between training intervals learn much faster. Sleep helps us process information we’ve learned during the day, strengthen our memory of what we’ve learned that day, and it allows our subconscious to ruminate over our problems and sometimes offer up invaluable insights.
Jack Nicklaus believes a dream helped him correct his golf swing. Paul McCartney credits a dream as the source of the song Yesterday and was inspired to write Yellow Submarine during a state of hypnagogia (the transitional state between sleep and wakefulness).
Here are a few ways you can increase the odds of gaining a creative insight overnight:
Michael Kerr is an international business speaker and the author of six books including The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank!
“Just wanted to say “WOW!” Our group has had many speakers over the years, but none the likes of Mike Kerr.”
Richard Dansereau, President, NAPA Autopro BDG
“Michael Kerr is one of the best speakers I have seen. I highly recommend him!”
Veronica D. Bouvier, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Aspen Properties Ltd.
“Mike held the full attention of our senior management team for a full FOUR hour
presentation – no small accomplishment!”
Martine Rothblatt, CEO, United Therapeutics
“Our participants rated you as the speaker with the highest quality and relevance.”
Lana J. Larocque, Alberta Human Resources