While reading this post on Cameron Moll's blog I discovered that there is a scientific name for this, the creative pause: the time between the moment you stop actively thinking about a problem and the time the solution pops in your head unexpectedly.
Cameron goes further to analyze why taking a shower can help closing this creative pause:
- Minimal distraction
- Minimal mental strain
- White noise
- Change of scenery
All valid points (going on a bike ride or excercise in general creates a similar environment). One addition: people tend to take showers in the morning, I think that that long night of sleep with your subconscious mind griding away might have made the biggest contribution to cracking that difficult issue.
Via Hacker News