Surely, you’ve heard of someone who dreamt up a brilliant idea while they were asleep.
The Beatles’ huge hit, “Yesterday,” came to Paul McCartney in a dream. Hollywood director James Cameron came up with the idea for “The Terminator” during a particularly vivid fever dream. Even Einstein’s theory of general relativity was born from a dream.
In all of these instances, the ideas were inspired by or conceived during dreaming, which is a technique called “sleep-storming.” And sleep-storming is for everyone, says Peter Freedman, the UK-based ideas consultant behind the term. He believes that “sleep is arguably the greatest single source of creativity.”
Structured Unconscious Generative Ideation
The scientific name for this technique is structured unconscious generative ideation, and essentially, it means training your brain to generate new ideas while you sleep. But Peter said that “if there’s a user-friendly term for generating ideas while you’re awake, there should also be one for doing likewise while you’re asleep.” So, “sleep-storming” it is!
If you’re ready to try harnessing your creativity while you sleep, here are some tips to get you started with more productive dreaming.
Ask Your Subconscious a Question
Before you go to sleep, prime your subconscious to generate new ideas. Ask yourself the question you’re trying to answer, or think about the problem you’re trying to solve. Then, shift gears and focus on something relaxing, like meditating or reading, before bed.
Keep a Notebook Handy
How many times have you tried to remember a great dream later, only to discover that it’s completely disappeared from your memory? Always keep a notebook on your nightstand so that you can record your dreams as soon as you wake up.
Not only will this help you keep track of any ideas, but the act of writing them down helps you build a relationship with your subconscious and improve your dream recall.
Try Lucid Dreaming
Have you ever become aware that you were dreaming while you were doing it? If so, then you’ve experienced lucid dreaming. This state can help you explore ideas, solve problems, and make important decisions.
Learning how to dream lucidly takes time and practice. There are many different techniques, but a simple one to try is the Mnemonic Induction to Lucid Dreaming (MILD) technique: try repeating a mantra as you’re falling asleep, like “I will know that I am dreaming,” or something similar.
Keeping a dream journal can also lead to more lucid dreaming, as it will help you become aware of your dream signs that will let you know you’re in a dream.