Do you feel at your most creative early or late in the day? Now psychological research is examining whether there’s a best time of day for creativity, depending on the type of creativity and your natural rhythms.
To investigate Wieth and Zacks (2012) had participants take two different types of creativity test. One measured their insight ability: this is the kind of problem which requires a leap into the unknown. Like when you suddenly realise that a silk scarf would make a great sandwich parachute (hey, maybe you want to drop it undamaged from the fiftieth floor).
The second measured their ability to solve analytic problems: these are the type of problems that require you to work steadily towards the answer, like doing your taxes.
Both of these types of thinking are important in creativity, although at different points in the process.
Exactly the same pattern, but in reverse, was seen for people who felt their brightest in the evening: they performed better on the insight task when they were unfocused in the morning.
This research can’t tell us specifically, but it’s probably because being a bit sleepy and vague broadens the mind’s focus.
With more options to play with, it’s more likely you’ll make connections between apparently unconnected ideas. On the other hand being focused narrows down your attention, forcing you into a more analytical mindset.