A lot has been written about the benefits of a good night’s sleep. Evidence suggests that sleeping on a problem can help generate new insight into a solution. I discovered a trick about 12 years ago that has served me well – and I’ve recommended it many times, to clients, friends, and family. I can’t remember where I first learned about it, but it’s one of my favorite techniques for using the power of sleep to work out problems. And all you need are a pen, paper, and a glass of water.
First, just before going to sleep – state your problem and drink half of a glass of water (I prefer a small glass – I don’t want to have to get up for a bathroom break in the middle of the night).
Next, upon awakening, and before you do anything else, drink the other half of the water. Then lie back down and see what develops. You may get some snippets of dreams, some inner voice clues, a gut feeling, or nothing at all. Just see what happens. Anything that you feel is relevant to the issue you’re working on, write down.
Then get up and go about your day. You may get insights throughout the day, so be sure to have something to jot down any thoughts or ideas as they come up.
If nothing happens, do the same thing again the next night. Usually after 3 nights, I’ve got my solution. Granted, my brain may have worked it out by then anyway, but the trigger of the water before bed helps to keep it focused on coming up with a solution.
I have often wondered if this method works similarly to a placebo – I expect it to work, so it does. But any trick that delivers results is useful, in my book.
A footnote about dream recall – I’ve found that this technique works even if you can’t remember the specific dreams you’ve had. Jonathan Steele (and I’m sure others as well) wrote about a similar technique for dream recall. Honestly I never really cared about remembering the dreams themselves (though often I do). I’m more interested in the “eureka” moment that comes regarding the problem.
Tony D. Clark writes, draws cartoons, designs software and websites, and spends a lot of time talking others into working from home, being creative, and doing what they love. His blog Success from the Nest helps people to design a home-based business that utilizes their unique gifts, and provides advice for those already living the home business life – all served up with humor and cartoons.
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