This has very little to do with baseball, but I know I have a lot of student readers out there to whom this might be relevant. A few times this month I have run into serious problems in a project—it happens to be baseball-related—I have been working on, only to find the answer in my dreams. For example, last night I went to bed perplexed about a complicated problem. I had thought about the problem all day, looking at many possible solutions, but I wasn’t confident in my answers. When I woke up this morning, the answer was clear. I don’t know what happened during that black box of R.E.M., but it worked. When I was in college and grad school, I can remember studying in my dreams. I don’t know how I did it, and it wasn’t intentional.
I guess my point is, I have so many students tell me they stayed up all night studying for a test. From my personal experience, I have learned that trading off sleep to acquire extra information is not the best way to further knowledge. Maybe there is a reader out there who has studied sleep and can comment on this, but I have found sleeping to be one of the most helpful intellectual tools I employ. Now, certainly there are diminishing returns to slumber, but so too are the returns to being awake. So, the next time you are having trouble solving a problem, I suggest sleeping on it.