Study: More Sleep, Sharper Brain

ByABC News
January 21, 2004, 12:31 PM

Jan. 21 -- Everybody feels refreshed following a good night's sleep. Butcan you wake up smarter? More artistic perhaps?

German scientists say they have demonstrated for the first timethat our sleeping brains continue working on problems that baffleus during the day, and the right answer may come more easily aftereight hours of rest.

The German study is considered to be the first hard evidencesupporting the common sense notion that creativity and problemsolving appear to be directly linked to adequate sleep, scientistssay. Other researchers who did not contribute to the experiment sayit provides a valuable reminder for overtired workers and studentsthat sleep is often the best medicine.

Previous studies have shown that 70 million Americans aresleep-deprived, contributing to increased accidents, worseninghealth and lower test scores. But the new German experiment takesthe subject a step further to show how sleep can help to turnyesterday's problem into today's solution.

"A single study never settles an issue once and for all, but Iwould say this study does advance the field significantly," saidDr. Carl E. Hunt, director of the National Center on SleepDisorders Research at the National Institutes of Health.

"It's going to have potentially important results for childrenfor school performance and for adults for work performance," Huntsaid.

Sleepers Solve Problems Better

Scientists at the University of Luebeck in Germany found thatvolunteers taking a simple math test were three times more likelythan sleep-deprived participants to figure out a hidden rule forconverting the numbers into the right answer if they had eighthours of sleep. The results appear in Thursday's issue of thejournal Nature.