Here’s a better way to sleep your way to success.
It won’t shatter relationships or break the majority of moral codes. And your career may depend on it.
Sleep may be crucial to creativity …
We’re talking about the kind that can help you, as a writer, produce fresh ideas and solve complex problems. Are you stuck on an email subject line? Looking for the perfect plot for your latest mystery-romance novel? Or are you searching for the perfect co-working solution?
Studies show while doing the groundwork of research is still important … you may also need to take a nap.
Researchers from UCSD La Jolla and UCLA discovered that Rapid Eye Movement sleep was necessary for creativity. The results of their work, published in 2009, defined creativity as “the forming of associative elements into new combinations which either meet specified requirements or are in some way useful.”
An RAT, or Random Associates Test, was used to explore the effects of sleep on the brain’s ability to associate unrelated ideas. In one part of the study, subjects were shown three test words and asked to associate a fourth. Each group was given an awake resting period, a non-REM sleep period, or an REM sleep period and retested. The subjects who experienced REM sleep had a score increase of nearly 40%. 
Engineering professor Barbara Oakley describes a process of brain detoxification that takes place during sleep. In her popular book, A Mind for Numbers, she describes brain cells “shrinking” and allowing fluid to wash out accumulated toxins. Oakley suggests that this cleansing helps us to think more clearly.
She also found that when we’ve already laid the groundwork for solving a problem, sleep enhances our ability to make the complex connections needed to reach an answer. Oakley gives a two-step process:
1 – First, lay the groundwork for solving a problem with focused work that reinforces neural patterns.
2 – Second, fall asleep with the intention of allowing your mind to freely work on the problem outside of established patterns (you’ll be operating in “diffuse” mode). 
Another study by scientists from CUNY, NYU and Université Pierre et Marie Curie found that sleep can improve relational memory. While discrete memory allows us to recite the long lists of facts that come in handy on certain fact-heavy biology, law, and history exams, relational memory enables us to connect disparate pieces of information stored in our discrete memory to solve new problems. The study tested participants who were learning English meanings of conceptually-related Chinese characters. The participants who took a daytime nap before the final test on the characters generally scored higher. 
What does this mean for writers?
We still need to lay a foundation for our work with solid research. However, if we want to be truly well-prepared, perhaps each of us should also keep a box of herbal tea and a pillow stashed by the desk.
Need more ideas for getting to sleep? Check out this post.
Ready to leave the writing to someone else? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Cai, D. J., Mednick, S. A., Harrison, E. M., Kanady, J. C., & Mednick, S. C. (2009). REM, not incubation, improves creativity by priming associative networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(25), 10130-10134. doi:10.1073/pnas.0900271106 http://www.pnas.org/content/106/25/10130.full.pdf?sid=9ff40d21-3f24-4681-be11-0b85c0961b87  Oakley, B. (2014). A mind for numbers: How to excel at math and science (even if you flunked algebra). New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher.  Lau, H., Alger, S. E., & Fishbein, W. (2011). Relational Memory: A Daytime Nap Facilitates the Abstraction of General Concepts. PLoS ONE, 6(11), e27139. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027139