Mental Health, Wellness / Self-Care

Does “sleeping on it” really work?

Studies say yes.

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Apr 30, 2022

Everyone says that when you’re presented with a problem, “sleeping on it” will assist you in making the best decision. We’ve all had to make a difficult decision at some point in our lives, but is sleeping on it really a good concept, or is it just a way to avoid doing something or making a decision?


Apparently, getting enough sleep can help you make better judgments. What may appear to be an insurmountable problem may actually have a clear answer after a few hours of rest. The executive director of sleep medicine at Harvard University, Russell Sanna, Ph.D., believes that the value of having a good night’s sleep cannot be emphasized: “If you’re having a problem in life or at work, analyze the problem and its possible solutions, [then] sleep on it before making a final decision” he shares.


Sanna’s counsel is backed up by research. According to a Lancaster University study, the group that was able to sleep before tackling difficult issues was the most successful of three groups of individuals given both easy and difficult problems to solve. When it comes to making difficult decisions, it appears that “sleeping on it” is the best strategy. It’s not worth it for more minor decisions, such as what to make for lunch the following day or what movie to see this weekend, but more so bigger life decisions such as signing a contract or taking out a loan.


A good night’s sleep allows your mind to digest what you learned during the day so you can use it effectively later. However, it is also necessary for bringing in new data in the first place. According to a study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, obtaining enough sleep before studying helps to rejuvenate our brains and prepares them to absorb new information.


If we compare bits of information to pieces of paper and the brain to a series of filing cabinets to depict this process, it would be easy to understand why this strategy works. Think of it this way: Different pieces of paper are filed in different portions of the brain, and the pathways to access those different files are actually strengthened during sleep.


Also, if you aren’t in school anymore, don’t underestimate the value of enhanced learning. Sleep also aids visual and motor memory learning, which are both beneficial in everyday life and work. When it comes to solving difficult problems and issues, the ability to take in and digest new information is essential.


So the next time you’re having problems making a big decision or learning something new, remember that getting some rest can actually help. So, after all, sleeping on it is really good advice.


Here are some meditation apps to help you sleep better.