Is it possible to come up with creative solutions in the dream space?
There are many records of inspiration originating in dreams throughout history and leading to advancements in many fields including literature, science, engineering, art, music and sports. In literature – Robert Louis Stevenson’s Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde originated in a dream. In science – Elias Howe’s sewing machine was inspired by a dream. Great composers including Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner and more were inspired by dreams as well. As far back as ancient Egypt, people have used dreams and even tried to create dreams to address problems they wished to solve. The difficulty in using dreams for creative solutions lies in the fact that dreams are unpredictable, so it is hard to guess when they will arrive and offer a desired creative solution. It seems that a more effective method can be lucid dreaming, where instead of waiting for an answer; the dreamer can be active in seeking out a solution (LaBerge, 1990).
Dreams’ creative potential is legendary. The brain is very active during REM sleep and is not limited to sensory sensations. This combination contributes to what we experience as strange events and objects. This creativity allows our thoughts to create structures that are rare in waking life and manifest as increased creativity or as flawed thought (depending on the person’s point of view). As Roland L. Fischer put it “one man’s creativity is another’s brain damage”. The idea of increased creativity in dreams was proven in a study conducted by The Lucidity Institute under the direction of Stephen LaBerge. One study showed that subjects were 29% more likely to create original (uncommon) associations compared to associations they experienced later that day. Another study showed a significantly higher level of creativity in dreams compared to the level of creativity in daydreams or memories. Many lucid dreamers report using lucid dreams for creative problem-solving and artistic inspiration. (LaBerge, 2014).