Sleep, Nightmares, and REM-state Problem Solving

Recently, I noted that more people were landing on this web site from the keyword “Nightmares” than from EEG Neurofeedback, or ADHD, or marijuana (numbers 2 through 4 in popularity).  Presumably the reason is that neurofeedback and LENS are being recognised as first-line treatment for sleep disorders.  It’s clear I must blog more about sleep disturbances, anxiety and nightmares.

In the meantime, I’ve come across an interesting study reported on the BBC web site ( confirming the common wisdom that “sleeping on a problem” can provide creative solutions.  In this UC San Diego study with 77 volunteers, problem solving was improved by 40% if they took a nap and demonstrated REM-stage sleep. The REM sleep was important, compared to dream-less sleep and an equal length awake period.  Lead author Sarah Mednick assumes that dream sleep enhances brain plasticity.  As the BBC reports, “The researchers believe REM sleep allows the brain to form new nerve connections without the interference of other thought pathways that occur when we are awake or in non-dream-state sleep.”

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