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It’s New Year’s Eve and if you are still struggling to come up with those great new ideas for what is going to transform your work, business or life in 2011 then the best place to start could be in bed.

Yes, grabbing an early night instead of waiting to see in the New Year may let your brain come up with the answer.

Sleep. We all need sleep to consolidate our memories. But more than that, we also need sleep to allow those memories to be reorganised or restructured and make them stronger.

Our strongest memories are usually those with the most emotional attachment. That’s why we can remember so clearly those events such as 9/11, the Haiti earthquake, and (dare I mention it?) Australia losing the Ashes.

During sleep we hang on most tightly to the most emotional part of those memories. Our brain activity during sleep is particularly active in those areas concerned with emotion and memory consolidation.

OK, that’s about keeping those memories stronger, but where does that help us with looking for the best new idea?

Researchers from an article in the Current Directions in Psychological Science have indicated that it is the brain’s ability to reorganise and reconstruct memory during sleep, which is the crucial tool to allow us to come up with creative, new ideas.

This means that even during this holiday period when many of us are perhaps staying up later than usual and getting less sleep, we are also depriving ourselves of the ability to come up with our best novel ideas. So while you can manage with less sleep, why not start the New Year with the brain fitness resolution of always getting enough sleep every night and let that creativity shine.

Happy New Year!

Ref: Elizabeth A. Kensinger and Jessica D. Payne. Sleep’s Role in the Consolidation of Emotional Episodic Memories. Current Directions in Psychological Science,

Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, podcaster, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book 'Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life' (Wiley) is available online and at all good bookstores.

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