While I Was Sleeping…


At the risk of sounding like a complete lunatic, I’m going to share a secret with you…I solve a LOT of my design problems while I sleep!
(among other things)

OK- for those of you that did NOT hit the delete key, let me explain…

Most of us at some point in our lives have had the experience of going to bed with a problem on our mind, and waking up in the morning with a solution to that problem. That’s where the old phrase, “Let me sleep on it.” comes from. But here’s the deal- I really do believe that the human brain is capable of doing things while we’re asleep, that it simply cannot do while we are awake.

I first became aware of this phenomenon in college. I found that no matter what subject I was cramming for, if I could go over my study materials one more time IMMEDIATELY before going to sleep at night, then more times than not, I would wake up in the morning able to recite my notes confidently. It was almost as if sleep was the glue that made stuff stick in my memory.

Over time I perfected this technique almost to a science (my roomate’s might disagree, calling it an obsession). My routine was to go over whatever I was studying (or struggling with) one more time just before closing my eyes, so that I literally “primed my brain” as I fell asleep. That meant no chit-chatting in the dark with the roomie, and no drifting off to sleep with music. And the results were nothing short of amazing (unless of course I had TWO tests to study for in the same evening). And you know what? Today there’s actually quite a bit of medical evidence to suggest that even though our bodies may be sleeping, our brains continue to “work on” whatever we have “fed it with” prior to falling asleep, kinda like the ultimate multi-tasker!

So here’s the deal…even though I’m no longer cramming for exams, I still put my brain to work on a regular basis while I sleep. Whether I’m having trouble resolving a design issue, struggling with the wording in my pattern instructions, or simply trying to come up with a tactful response to a less than tactful email, it’s truly amazing how often I get the answers I need after I sleep on it.

And believe it or not, the original ideas for some of my best designs actually came to me in my sleep. As a matter of fact, I keep a pad of paper, a pencil & a flashlight on my nightstand for the express purpose of recording them immediately.

And LOOK! … I found out that I’m in good company! In her book, “The Committee of Sleep,” dream researcher Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D., recounts stories of celebrities and historical figures who’ve successfully mined their dreams for gold.

Billy Joel: The singer/songwriter says he often dreams musical arrangements; he’s gone so far as to say, “I know all the music I’ve composed has come from a dream.”

Frederick Banting: This Canadian doctor dreamed a way to isolate insulin and therefore, make diabetes treatable.

Paul McCartney: In 1965, the 22-year-old Beatle dreamed the melody of the song “Yesterday.” Upon waking, he immediately sat down and played it on the piano.

Stephen King: The prolific writer of scary tales admits that he’s taken images from his vivid dreams for his novels and short stories, including Salem’s Lot and It.

Any thoughts?   

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