Daydreaming

Daydreaming makes us better equipped to deal with the deluge of information that comes at us day after day. Dr. Daniel Levitin – cognitive psychologist, neuroscientist and bestselling author of The Organized Mind—says that this is the most effective way for your brain to get some rest.

You write about ‘decision fatigue’. What’s that?
Here again, glucose plays a role. There’s a limit to the number of decisions we can make before this substance runs out in our brain. And guess what? A minor decision takes up as much glucose as an important decision. In a research study, test subjects were given a series of innocuous questions to answer. Would they like a piece of chewing gum, and what flavor? Would they like a green pen or a blue pen? And so on. Then, they were given a questionnaire with important life questions. Those who had already filled out all the questions about nonsense performed notably worse on these important questions. There’s a maximum number of decisions you can make in a row.

How can you get your glucose levels back up?
With sugar—although I don’t really recommend it, because you’ll end up feeling worse in the end. Eating something healthy works, too, but eating all day long is not a good solution either. There’s a better and much more logical solution: take a break. It’s very significant to me that people who have jobs that require multitasking and where one mistake can have great repercussions—like air traffic control or interpreting work for the United Nations, for example—have to take a mandatory break every two hours. And that doesn’t mean checking e-mails; it means taking a real break. The best kind of break is one where you get to daydream. Scientists have discovered that daydreaming works like a neural reset button. It refreshes the brain.

You can read more about daydreaming in issue 12, which you can order in our web shop.

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Interview: Jocelyn de Kwant Illustration: Valerie McKeehan

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