Can you solve problems in your dreams? Is lucid dreaming a good way to solve a difficult problem? Can you train yourself to solve problems with lucid dreaming?
Dreaming and the subconscious are still largely mysterious concepts, but many significant scientific discoveries (like the discovery of the benzene ring) shows us that sometimes, our subconscious minds are the perfect tool for problem solving. Why? Because dreams allow us to think outside of the box and capitalize on our dreams' richer visual-spatial imagery to look at problems visually.
So how can you use your subconscious to solve a problem? Though not an exact science, these are the three steps widely regarded as the best way to achieve lucid dreaming.
Step 1: Visual the problem.
If you can, put something next to the bed that image of the problem. For an artist, it could be a blank sketch pad. Problem with a person? Use a photo. If it's a scientific quandary, put the half-finished project on your bedside table.
Step 2: Focus on the problem.
Put your problem front and center in your mind before bed, and try to rid your mind of any other distracting thoughts. If you can think of the problem as an image, go to sleep picturing that visual representation.
Step 3: Wake slowly, and stay focused.
Don’t jump out of bed when you wake up – almost half of any dream content is lost if you are distracted right away. Stay in bed without doing anything else. If you feel an emotion, concentrate on it and whole dream may come flooding back.
But this all begs the question... does lucid dreaming really work? When Barrett tried this with students in a weeklong study, the resounding answer was "yes". The students followed the protocol and about half dreamed of their problem, and 25% came up with a solution. Not bad odds! So tuck in tonight with a problem front and center, and see if you can let your subconscious do the work.