‘Sleeping on a problem’ may be the best way to solve it
Tuesday 21 November, 2017

‘Sleeping on a problem’ may be the best way to solve it

Published On: Mon, Nov 1st, 2010 | Mental Health | By BioNews

A research has suggested that the best way to solve a complicated problem is to distract yourself for a few minutes with something else or sleep on it overnight.

Those who consciously struggle with a difficult question are more likely to get the wrong answer, compared with those who put it on the mental backburner, experiments show.

Students were asked to choose the best models from four imaginary makes of car.

Each had 12 different features but two had better road holding and fuel economy. After reading about each car, one group of students was asked to make an instant choice.

Another group carried out a second test, which was designed to occupy their minds for five minutes before making their decision.

Volunteers in the second group were more likely to select the best car, the results showed.

Experts believe this is because their subconscious minds were given the time to weigh up all the pros and cons.

“Unconscious thought produces better decisions than when people decide immediately,” the Daily Mail quoted psychologist Maarten Bos, who led the research at Radboud University in the Netherlands, as saying.

“Although in our current experiments participants did not actually sleep on their decision, the benefit of a period of rest is clear.

“It allows us to differentiate between the vital and the irrelevant aspects. When your grandparents advised you to sleep on a decision first, they may have intuitively sensed the benefits of letting it rest to get a clear grasp of one’s priorities,” Bos added.

The study will be published in a forthcoming edition of the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

Displaying 3 Comments
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  1. Lorin says:

    This isn't entirely true. See Waroquier et al.'s (2010) study, "Is it better to think unconsciously or to trust your first impression? A reassessment of unconscious thought theory."

  2. Raymond says:

    While, based on personal experience, I can agree with the findings, I think that the experiment that was referred to is far too subjective to be useful. The value of certain car specifications are likely to vary from person to person. One might argue that sleep did indeed impact the decision making of the experimental group, but I still think that a more objective set of tasks ought to be set upon participants, such as the use of logic problems.

  3. Roosevelt P says:

    I think you can use your common sense to work it out easily. I am sure giving it a rest works in many situations but in certain situations it can back fire. For instance, you just got dumped, should you cut your wrist or not? Now, obviously it's a dumb thing to do but at that instance, it may not seem like it. And few hours later you might get a totally different feeling. Giving it a rest, saved you from stupidity!

    On the other hand you get the opportunity you have been waiting for. But the catch is it's not confirmed yet if it will be a long term thing. Now, depending on your courage, experience and drive for success you may decide immediately or not. Since, you have been waiting for something you really wanted, it makes sense to jump in and experience it! Now, whether you succeed later on or if the opportunity you just took works out well in the future or not doesn't necessarily guarantee that the decision you made at that instance is going to be for the better.

    In a nutshell, just weight your priorities, find out what you want in the short term and in the long term and just choose! Chances are if you are not in a rush, it makes sense to take few minutes but if you are in, just go and roll with it. Either way, you win! (that is if you made a sloppy mistake, and learned from it ; )

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