Drunk And Sleepy? Your Creativity Is At Its Best

Drunk And Sleepy? Your Creativity Is At Its Best

Common sense (and your irrational compulsion to, you know, keep your job) says drinking at work — or working when you’re groggy — are bad news. But as Wired’s Jonah Lehrer points out, recent studies reveal that being sleepy and/or drunk is great for creativity. Here’s why:

Photo by star5112.

When you’re solving problems, your brain is built to shine a spotlight on what it considers relevant, ignoring ideas and connections that aren’t likely solutions to your problem. This is a good thing, as without that focus your mind would be flooded with loads of irrelevant information when attempting to solve a simple task and for what Lehrer calls standard analytic problems, that kind of focus is essential. When it comes to creative problem solving, however, your brain does better without that focus.

To demonstrate, researches presented two groups — one of which consisted of patients with severe attention deficits caused by damage to their pre-frontal lobes — with puzzles. When presented with the more creatively challenging problem, the patients suffering from attention deficits performed significantly better:

In this case, only 43 per cent of normal subjects were able to solve the problem. The patients who couldn’t pay attention, however, had an 82 per cent success rate. What accounts for this bizarre result? Why does brain damage dramatically improve performance on a hard creative task? … The patients with a severe cognitive deficit… can’t restrict their search. They are forced by their brain injury to consider a much wider range of possible answers. And this is why they’re nearly twice as likely to have a breakthrough.

A second, similar study presented creative and analytic problems to groggy students, and a third did the same with drunk students. Like the patients with pre-frontal lobe damage, the tired and drunk students consistently performed better on creative problems. Lehrer sums it up nicely:

The stupor of alcohol, like the haze of the early morning, makes it harder for us to ignore those unlikely thoughts and remote associations that are such important elements of the imagination. So the next time you are in need of insight, avoid caffeine and concentration. Don’t chain yourself to your desk. Instead, set the alarm a few minutes early and wallow in your groggy thoughts. And if that doesn’t work, chug a beer.

Why Being Sleepy and Drunk Is Great for Creativity [Wired


  • It is not because you’re sleepy or drunk you get the creativity out of your brain.

    It is the thinking ‘outside the box’ that gives you different perception of problem in hand, presenting a new cloud layer of ‘other’ possibilities or solutions, thus, creativity.

    Next time you stuck with a problem, or want to get the best out of your brain, try different places (other than your desk) to think, ie. for me it’s under a running shower. For others maybe in steam/sauna room, or at heights. For others, as TFA, while drunk.

    • In addition and to corroborate with Steve Raharja….adding heat to your brain helps thought process and stimulates activity, that’s why the U.S. Airforce uses heated helmets…maybe heated helmets should be installed at office desks and cubicals!
      And if you have a thought or remember a dream, it’s best to keep a pen and paper at your nightstand because sometimes your thoughts leave you before your feet hit the floor…funny how that happens!

  • People please, fuck this research and please don’t sell this bullshit to people and to young ones especially.

    I have 41 year, I am trained counsellor-coach and I have been drunk, tired and stoned many times.
    The creativity that is available to us when we are in touch with our
    being (true nature) in the moments of presence (nowhere) is superior with any obscured creativity in the stages of tiredness or drunkness.
    So don’t give me this nonsense PLEASE with cherry on top and tell the researchers to learn and research PRESENCE.

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