Sleep your way to Creativity
Harness the power of your unconscious
By harnessing the power of your creativity you can sleep your way to heightened creativity. Don’t believe me? Consider this.
You’re having a shower. It’s warm, quiet and peaceful. You’re not thinking too much about anything, just going through the motions, enjoying the warmth and the quiet and … BANG! A massive, important realisation hits you.
It happens all the time. A huge percentage of people report getting their best ideas and insights while in the shower. How? And why?
What happens is that your subconscious mind just finished processing a problem you had put to it. Consciously, you were no longer busy with the problem. Maybe you had already tried to figure it out and given up. Maybe you told yourself that you would come back to it later. Either way, your brain was still busy with it and delivered an answer.
This delay between posing the question and getting an answer often leads people to believe that such insights are a form of magic or divine interventions. That these ideas somehow come from outside us and are delivered to us by an outside agent.
But it is just our own brains doing what they do best: sorting, filtering, comparing, contrasting and worrying away at something until a connection is made or a solution found.
In his incredible book, ‘Thinking: fast and slow,’ Daniel Kahneman makes a distinction between our fast modes of thinking, which largely involves our rational, conscious mind and slow thinking, which involves reasons, introspection and the unconscious.
According to Bruce Lipton, in his amazing book, The Biology of Belief, our conscious mind can process information at about 40 bits per second. But it also only has access to a limited amount of information that is stored in short term memory. Simon Sinek compares this amount of info to be the equivalent of about 4 square feet. The unconscious mind, however, can process much faster, at about 20 000 000 bits per second BUT it has access to an amount of information equivalent to around 11 acres!
So, when you are being creative or trying to solve problems, you can use your conscious rational mind to find answers to simple pattern-based issues or things that can be easily calculated and worked out. But thorny, unobvious problems require greater processing power.
When you sleep, and when you hit REM sleep, your brain goes into a massive sorting, comparing and analysing mode. During this sleep, your brain cross-references this enormous, 11-acre datastore it has access to, looking for connections between pieces of information.
The same happens when you are not actively consciously engaged with something… maybe daydreaming a bit, doing a well-known, repetitive task. Your conscious brain kind of switches of and suddenly, Boom, your unconscious delivers the latest package of information it has processed.
So, if you want more insights, ideas and solutions, you need to get into the habit of using your subconscious computing power more.
One way to do this is to set the problem you need to solve clearly in your mind before sleep. Review the challenge, the information you have and what you know so far. And go to sleep. Do this a few nights in a row. Make sure that you have a pen and paper ready beside your bed for when you wake up.
It might not happen right away, but you will see that within days, your subconscious will start throwing up interesting combinations and references that you consciously would never have thought of. Often this will be in the form of insights, ideas, solutions or just plain visualisations.
When you wake up, write down whatever is immediately in your mind. With practice, you will get better at capturing these ephemeral thoughts before your conscious mind fully awakens and banishes them.
Use your unconscious, sleeping mind to get more, better ideas. Set your intention, sleep, write down what is on your mind when you wake up. Repeat.
Simple, sleep your way to creativity.
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