No one ever said, "Sleep for a better tomorrow”, maybe they should have.
We see thousands of images, texts, movements and events each day. These things when turned into memories, power our thought process and decisions, shape our personalities and lay the groundwork for our behaviour patterns. We become creative when we can interpret these patterns in a way that solves a problem, or creates something better. But when we are awake, our mind is operating within certain boundaries. As the day progresses, we expend all the energy and therefore, can't work or think effectively.
Many people believe that they could have done much more in a day, if only the body’s need for sleep would vanish. But that’s far from the reality because when we sleep our brain continues to function even though our body does not. Sleep is the only time when our body focuses on repairing our physical aspects while boosting our mental functions.
When we sleep, it’s the body that can’t move but the mind remains awake, in fact, it's running, processing and interpreting more information than it does when we are conscious.
We sleep in two phases, the NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) sleep where the body slows down and consciousness shuts. And a deeper slumber called the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase, where the brain activity surges. When we enter the REM stage of sleep, the right creative hemisphere of the brain and the logical left hemisphere of the brain let go of their boundaries and exchange information like parted friends.
In the first phase, good, useful and significant memories are transferred into the long term memory, and useless memory is cleaned out from the immediate attention of our consciousness. All parts of our brain - the amygdala, hippocampus, the four lobes and glands start sending signals to each other. Synapse after synapse, our memories, thoughts and experiences of the past resurface, and form connections. They become a beautiful collection of what we call “binding errors''.
This means the scenarios of our life are mixing, you could be leaving your home to go to the office, but instead you entered the moon, and your car can be a bullock cart, pulled by ducks of course. These might not make immediate sense but it's an open invitation for you to wander beyond the boundaries of this three dimensional world. People who are logical thinkers also experience absurd dreams which are essentially a window to their hidden creativity. The only difference is that such individuals remember their dreams or even the fact that they had one after they wake up. People who remember their dreams or make it a practice to try and remember them are known to become better problem solvers in their lives.
But how do you harness this power of dreams that is supposed to make your life better? You flow with them, accept them but always try and remember them. Although there is no scientific reason to explain why people who remember their dreams are more creative, there is a particular incident that proves this fact.
In an interview, Keith Richards, of the classic rock band - The Rolling Stones admitted that the lyrics to the song ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’ came to him in a dream. He said, “ I dreamt the whole damn thing”.
While predicting the future in your dreams, you combine the information from your past with the current situations. The information is mixed and mashed resulting in the formation of unpredictable connections between the events that helps you think with a ‘big-picture perspective’. Not only that, these thoughts are often known to create new things as well. Speaking animals, flying people, strange worlds and altered scenarios are just some specialities of dreams. Look at the quirky designs, videos and advertisements that trend today, and you will see similarities.
Both dreaming and being creative result in the release of dopamine, rewarding the brain to continue the process and making you feel happier.
Yes, dreaming makes your mind as happy as pitching an idea your clients love. This results in positive reinforcement of the process which makes you want to repeat it again and again. Remember that your mind wants to feel good, that’s how your emotional needs are fulfilled. Being creative is just one of those needs.
Moreover, dreams facilitate the process of visualising. When you write an idea for a campaign, you visualise the execution alongside. You predict the impact and connect it with different channels like social media, advertisements, and so on. This happens because your mind is able to connect these elements for a bigger impact, like your dreams connect to a wider story, overall.
Research done on the impact of dreams shows that people who were allowed to sleep between two stages of a language and math test scored 40% higher than those who didn’t. Another fact about these participants was that they entered the REM phase of sleep.
This showed that even if a person is not inherently creative, or works in a more logic dominated field, dreams bring out the best problem solving skills in them. In fact, by keeping a track of their dreams they can develop creativity in problem solving processes.
The best way of harnessing the power of dreams is by keeping a journal near your bed when before sleeping and whenever you wake up, note down whichever parts of the dream you can remember. Don’t try to interpret them, just note what you saw. If you can’t remember anything, or you believe you don’t have dreams, try to tell yourself that you need to remember the dream. It’s the work of your subconscious to remind you about the dream after that, and it takes its job seriously.
Moreover, to get the best results from your sleep, think about a problem or your idea that you need to work on. It helps your mind run in a better direction. And the right answers might not come to you directly but even if your subconscious notices the subtle hints it will be helpful to devise the entire solution. After all, it's not a coincidence that many great musicians, artists and mathematicians kept their tools and equipment near their beds while sleeping.