Problem Solving While You Sleep

/ #solution #reflection #wellness  /3 min read

Prompted by an article written this week by Wonder Woman, I began to ponder about problem solving using your subconscious, rather than your conscious mind.

It is often said that human beings only use about ten percent of our brains capacity. Could it be that we only use this amount because we measure brain activity only when we are awake, that we consider the time we spend sleeping as ‘downtime’?

If that is the case, it is entirely possible that we are missing a trick. For example, have you ever set your ‘body clock’ to wake you in the morning instead of the screeching alarm clock? Many times, being the perpetual pessimist I use both, setting the clock alarm to say 6.30am and setting my body clock to 6.00am. I can’t remember an occasion when I have done this and it hasn’t worked.

Come 6am eyes pop open, quick scramble to see what time it is and sure enough, it’s 30 minutes before the safety alarm is due to go off. There is a drawback that I will admit to, most often after waking, I become complacent and ‘snooze’ wasting the extra time that my own personal alarm has given me, instead of getting up and doing something useful, say writing an early morning post on my blog. This however does bring me back to the main point I was trying to make. I do believe you can problem solve while in slumber. The steps I use are

  1. Have a hot bath to relax and settle into your bed
  2. Outline the problem to be solved in your mind
  3. Set the goal you are trying to achieve
  4. Think about the steps you have already taken to work the problem out, and perhaps the reasons why you think they may not work
  5. Settle down and drift off to sleep

I have found that at some point during that sleep, my brain works on the problem and presents a potential solution. Now, here’s the tricky part (especially if you are someone who likes your sleep). As soon as you realise that a solution has been presented, wake yourself up and record all that you can remember!

Unless you are someone who is blessed with total recall, the likelihood is that the solution will have disappeared by morning and you would have forgotten everything your subconscious granted you, apart from the niggling feeling that you had in fact thought of a solution. Write it down, or record it on your MP3 player or Dictaphone. You could even send yourself a voicemail using your mobile phone.

The important thing is to do it as soon as you are awake, even if you cannot remember every single detail, try to recall all the salient points as they will act as pointers that you can use later to fill out with details. If you do this enough, perhaps you will be one of those who increase the percentage ratio of capacity to usage from 10 to 12.5

Ciao 4 Now

Main Image © Duangphorn Wiriya on Unsplash