If you're dealing with a major problem at work, the best strategy to overcome your stress is almost effortless: Get a good night's sleep.

Research has long shown that there are plenty of benefits to sleep. You're more likely to positively maintain physical health, consolidate new information, and process your emotions, since sleeping lets your brain recover from the previous day's stresses.

A 2013 study from the University of Rochester even found that sleep helps cleanse your brain of toxic proteins, which are byproducts of neural activity throughout the day, and would otherwise affect your ability to think.

Conversely, if your body doesn't get enough rest, you're more likely to feel paranoid, stressed, and depressed. What's worse, sleep deprivation has been linked to serious medical issues, such as heart attack, stroke, and obesity, according to the Division of Sleep and Medicine at Harvard Medical School. 

Now, it's becoming increasingly clear that sleep impacts your ability to solve difficult problems, by helping your brain recognize patterns so you can reapply old solutions to new scenarios.

That's according to a new study from the Department of Psychology at Lancaster University, originally conducted in 2013, and more recently in 2015

In the first study, participants were asked to solve problems twice throughout the day -- either in the morning and then again in the evening, or in the evening and then again after a period of sleep. While the "wake" group was better at solving simple problems, the second group was far better at solving difficult ones.  

This year's study offered more significant results, concluding that participants who solved problems after sleeping did so more effectively, largely because they were able to "restructure" those problems against previous experiences. 

The practice, called analogical problem solving, is critical as you grow your business to scale. While it's true that no two challenges are exactly the same, many do have similarities. The question is, are you sleeping enough to identify them? 

Published on: Aug 5, 2015