TLDR; The next time you have a life problem, try lying down! You can process your thoughts much faster when you’re lying down. This is why most psychologists have you lie down when you go see them.
We all had those moments when we just can’t wrap our heads around a problem we are trying to solve. Sometimes, we end up thinking that maybe we are just in over our head or we bit off more than we can chew. However, we should not rush to these conclusions; at least not until we try figuring out the problem while lying down.
Lying down, on your back, can speed up our thought process. Yes, this trick is so simple that it sounds dumb but believe it or not, this claim is backed by research.
How was this idea discovered?
A study conducted by Dr. Lipnicki of ANU found that people solved anagrams more quickly when they’re lying on their back compared to when they’re on their feet. When people solve anagrams, answers come suddenly in “a-ha” or lightbulb moments.
These sudden pulses of insight are usually the sources of breakthroughs. These are the moments when ideas and realizations just come out of nowhere, even during times when we’re not even finding solutions to our problems.
The result of the experiment led to the conclusion that we think more creatively when we lie down on our backs. Dr. Lipnicki says that when we’re up on our feet, our brain produces more noradrenaline (the idea that inspired the experiment in the first place). This chemical suppresses our creative thinking, making it difficult for us to crack anagrams.
How was the experiment conducted?
Dr. Lipnicki had 20 subjects for the experiment. Ten of them solved randomly assigned anagrams while in a standing position, and the other ten while in a lying position. The subjects who solved the anagrams lying down finished 3.6 seconds faster than those who solved them standing up.
When it comes to solving arithmetic problems, however, body position did not have a significant effect on the subjects’ performance. According to Dr. Lipnicki, this could be because insights only occur during moments or set-ups similar to sleep, and answers to anagrams come in insights.
The conclusion of the experiment is that posture influences insight, and to facilitate it, you can simply lie on your back.
This is just one research though. More needs to be done and the results have to be consistent to fortify its validity. It would be premature for people to spend their working hours lying around, thinking about how to increase their sales or where to invest their money.
Regardless, it doesn’t mean it’s not going to work for you on some level. Other people may believe that their thoughts are influenced more by their circumstances rather than their posture. However, you can’t discount those moments when solutions come when you least expect them.
Perhaps, there is some merit to this trick and maybe there are moments when epiphanies hit you in the head when your body is in a relaxed, sleep-like position.
So, the next time you’re treading your way through tough puzzles, stop pacing back and forth. Try to stay calm, lay yourself down to bed, and be still. The solution may come to you.