It’s time to start having a drink or two with that daily lunch break. Just as many of us need coffee in the morning to wake up and sharpen our minds, it turns out that perhaps our grandparents were on to something with those boozy lunches they seemed to favor in the 50s and 60s – you see, Don Draper wasn’t an alcoholic, he was just giving his mind a little pick me up.
Recent studies by Jennifer Wiley, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois Chicago, show that a few drinks actually relax our brains and allow us to think more clearly. In her experiments, Wiley showed 24 sober people and 24 people with a blood alcohol level of .07 – which is under the legal limit – two photographs and asked both groups to find the differences between them. While both groups found the differences in equal numbers, those with a bit of booze in their bloodstream found them faster. The basic reason is because the booze helped them not overthink the solutions, thereby allowing their brains to operate more quickly.
In a separate study Wiley also found that the same amount of alcohol aids in creative problem solving – which is why brainstorming sessions with the team at a happy hour often provide such fantastic results. In this test, Wiley asked her subjects to come up with a fourth word that would make a phrase out of each of the other three words they were already given. For example, the subjects would be given the words “hand,” “split” and “city” and they might determine that the word “second” solved the puzzle, creating the phrases “second hand,” split second” and “second city.” In this test, those teams who’d had a drink or two first not only solved the puzzle faster, but came up with more solutions.
So when you start to feel a little fuzzy in the afternoon or you need to solve an end of the day puzzle, instead of grabbing an espresso or a 5-hour energy, grab a drink instead. Your brain will thank you.