Life-Hacks: 4 Ways To Come Up With Ideas In Your Sleep
Is sleep-storming the new brainstorming?
Not only is it possible to boost your odds of generating ideas while you sleep but there’s even a scientific name for it: Structured unconscious generative ideation.
I have coined the term "sleep-storming" – as in brainstorming, but done solo and while you’re asleep – as a snappier, less scientific term for it. The term "sleep-storming" is, in a sense therefore, simply a new term for an existing phenomenon. It is also, however, meant both to place an extra emphasis on the idea of deliberately trying to harness this process – and to pay a slightly tongue-in-cheek nod to what may seem the contradiction (if not even modern absurdity?), of trying to work – and be productive – while you sleep.
But can you really train your brain to harvest your sleep for ideas? And if you do, might you even, who knows, come up with something to match any of these amazing ideas inspired by sleep, including no less than Einstein's Theory of Relativity.
So, what are you waiting for? When you go to bed tonight, why not try one – or all – of these four simple ways to increase your chances of coming up with ideas while you sleep.
1. Keep a Notebook Handy – And Write Down Your Dreams
It can be hard to remember your dreams and/or any ideas they inspire. So, always keep a notebook and pen (even better maybe, a flashlight pen) by your bed. Get into the habit of writing down your dreams – and any ideas they might trigger – immediately on waking and almost before you are fully awake. Write down every dream you can recall rather than being selective. The act of writing them down helps you build a relationship with your subconscious, which should in turn help improve your dream recall.
“I always keep a notebook by my bed,” says Michael Acton Smith, co-founder of Calm. “I often wake up in the night to jot down ideas – and then do so again first thing in the morning.”
2. Ask Your Subconscious The Question You’re Trying to Answer
“Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious”, advised Thomas Edison, the great inventor. So, instead of just falling asleep, brief or prime your subconscious to generate new ideas. Before falling asleep, ask yourself the question that you’re working on and you’re trying to answer; then, finally, focus on something else, such as reading or relaxation techniques.
3. Wake Yourself Mid-Sleep
Waking yourself while dreaming or starting to fall asleep was a technique used by both the artist Salvador Dalí and the inventor Thomas Edison. Dali would put a tin plate on the floor and then sit on a chair beside it, holding a spoon over the plate. He’d then try to doze off so that the spoon would fall and wake him. Edison did similar but with ball bearings and a saucepan. The aim for both was to jolt themselves awake in order to capture ideas from their dreams.
4. Learn to Have Lucid Dreams
Lucid dreaming is the sense of being consciously aware that you are dreaming. This state can help you to explore ideas, control elements of your dream and have better than normal dream recall than. Learning to dream lucidly takes time and practice. You need to try repeating a mantra telling yourself that you want to dream or know that you are dreaming and, for example, want to be aware that you are dreaming and to remember the dream.