You Can Solve Problems While You Dream
Psychologists have uncovered something amazing: when you’re struggling with a life dilemma, one of the best tactics is to sleep. Your brain is actually wired to conjure up the smartest solution as you snooze!
It just got a hell of a lot easier to tackle your problems. According to ground-breaking new research, not only are we capable of coming up with answers to life issues while conked out, but the solutions we devise are often better than what we concoct while awake. Why? Because, scientists have discovered, the dreaming mind is able to go down creative paths more easily, which leads to better, and more innovative resolutions.
“When you sleep, the pre-frontal cortex of the brain shuts down,” explains Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D., author of The Committee Of Sleep. “That’s the area that controls logic and takes into account social constraints—basically, it’s the part that tells you not to do something because it doesn’t conform to social rules. With this area deactivated, you become adept at thinking outside the
box to formulate more successful ways to fix a problem that you normally wouldn’t consider.”
Now, you’re probably thinking about all the weird night visions you have—purple bunnies, cliff diving, whatever— and wondering how you’re supposed to interpret them to find your way out of some dilemma. The thing is, if you train your brain (it’s easy, we’ll show you), you won’t have to decode mysterious scenarios— you’ll dream the actual solution vividly. For example, you’ll put together the precise words you should say to your boss who’s been on your ass, or you’ll come up with a particular date idea that will get your boyfriend out of his funk. So how do you set yourself up to accomplish this? These three simple steps will get you there.
Start thinking about your problem a little before you climb between the sheets. “When something is on your mind at bedtime, you’re more likely to dream about it,” says Ernest Hartmann, MD, author of The Nature And Functions Of Dreaming. “The more you mull it over, the more specific your solution will be.” Jot down your dilemma quickly—it’s been proven that the act of writing helps cement an idea in your brain. Or put an object on your nightstand that reminds you of the situation at hand—like a photo of your guy, if you’re fighting.
Obviously, you don’t need a dream to figure out something small like what to wear to a job inter view. “This technique works best when you’re grappling with something you’re emotionally invested in, like family drama or getting ahead at work. The more important the issue is to you, the more likely you are to come up with your MO as you sleep,” says Dr Hartmann.
Keep your phone or a pad of paper and a pen on your nightstand, so if you wake up in the middle of the night, you can record or take notes. “As you know, dreams are fleeting,” says Barrett, “so be sure to write down specific key details— words you used, points you made, body language you employed. The more precise your notes, the easier it will be to recall your full solution.”
Lie in bed in the morning, and go over what you remember and wrote down. “It’s important to consider as much as you can as soon as possible,” says Barrett. “Once you get up and do things, your brain becomes flooded with other information that eclipses your resolution.”
Last, you may need to tweak your solution a little bit. Remember, the part of your brain that regulates social norms was turned off, so you’ll have to figure at least some of those things back in, so your actions are successful in the waking world.
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