General Question

JackAdams's avatar

Have you ever dreamed a solution to a problem you were having?

Asked by JackAdams (6479points) September 14th, 2008

The scenario is that you are having a problem of some kind when you go to sleep, and while you are sleeping, your subconscious mind continues to “work” on the problem.

You either wake up immediately with the memory of the dream (and the solution to the problem that was bothering you), or when you wake up at your normal time, you just seem to know what the answer to your problem is, and realize that you solved it in your sleep.

That has happened to me on more than one occasion, and it never fails to astound me when it does. Because of that, I keep a notepad and ink pen next to my bed, to write things down as soon as I wake up. The late comedic genius Johnny Carson told his TV audience that sometimes he would dream-up jokes for his monolgues and wake up laughing hysterically, quickly write down the joke that he dreamed, then go right back to sleep. He said, “Then, when I finally do get up for the day, I read what I have written, and it makes absolutely no sense, whatsoever.”

So, have you ever fallen asleep with a problem on your mind, and discovered when you woke up, that the problem had been solved, while you were dreaming about it?

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20 Answers

wildflower's avatar

Not entirely, but I’ve often dreamt of what’s on my mind and wake up with a different view on it.
I’ve dreamt up many creative ideas (for painting, knitting, sewing, etc.), but haven’t solved any work-related or personal problems in my sleep.

JackAdams's avatar

There are some who might claim that dreaming up a new design for your artwork would be, in a way, responding to the “problem” of, “What do I create, next?”

wildflower's avatar

Fair point, but that isn’t much of a problem for me since it’s leisure/hobby only – there’s nothing pressuring me to create anything.

damien's avatar

I can’t think of a dream where I’ve dreamt a solution, but I have had ideas in dreams which, once I’m awake, steer me towards a solution.

JackAdams's avatar

That “counts” in a way, as far as I am concerned.

SuperMouse's avatar

I once read that if you sit up on the edge of your bed for ten minutes or so before drifting off to sleep and contemplate the problem you want to solve, you might dream an answer. I have done it several times over the years and it has not worked a single time. Apparently my sub-conscious does not find much interest in the things my conscious mind obsesses about.

JackAdams's avatar

There is a possibility that you may have dreamed of a solution to some problem, but you are unable to remember it, upon arising.

I’ve been told by self-proclaimed “experts” on the subject of dreaming, that the “average” person (how they know this, I have no clue) has around 100 dreams in an 8-hour sleep session, and that some of those dreams are only seconds long. So, it’s understandable if a person, when they wake up, won’t be able to recall most of the things s/he dreamt while asleep.

I’m not saying that you have dreamed solutions to problems and not been able to recall them. I am just saying that, according to the “experts”, such a scenario could happen to someone.

wilhel1812's avatar

I often dream solutions, but when i wake up i find out that the solutions are always naive and stupid :(

shrubbery's avatar

I haven’t, no. Although I have woken up in the middle of the night with an essay all planned out, and the same with a speech on another occasion. But maybe you should ask Nimis, cause she has.

wenbert's avatar

i have. not only solutions to answers, but ideas as well ^__^

AstroChuck's avatar

Only problems with insomnia.

sarapnsc's avatar

No, I have never dreamed of a solution to a problem.

augustlan's avatar

I have brilliant ideas in my sleep, solving all sorts of huge problems (like world peace). When I wake up, I either can’t remember what the solution was, or figure out that it was absolutely ridiculous. However, like wildflower, I do get loads of creative ideas in my sleep, seeing artistic endeavors fully formed, with all the knowledge of how to get there.

JackAdams's avatar

I dreamed up a solution to a problem and woke up, wrote down the solution (as best as I could remember it) then went right back to sleep.

A few days later, I ran the solution by an attorney friend (a former college classmate) and she said, “This won’t work.”

When I demanded an explanation, she said,“Well, for one thing, it violates at least three federal laws, so far as I can tell…”

(Gotta have a talk with the person who is writing the scripts for my dreams…)

wilhel1812's avatar

I do the exact same thing augustlan

wildflower's avatar

@jack: was that the time you dreamt up the “assassination is always an option” solution, by any chance??

JackAdams's avatar

No, I learned that expression when I was associated with some folks in Langley, Virginia.

Nimis's avatar

Definitely, I do my best work this way. Best creative work that is. While I’ve done math homework in my sleep, I’m much better at it while awake. I was just a lazy student (when awake).

I was really amused with this habit—which I thought was particular to myself. But after some digging and a lot of discussion, I’ve found it’s actually quite common.

sacaver's avatar

For certain. Back in college, there was a class called “Structural Geology.” Basically, you study faults, folds, anticlines, synclines, etc. This helps in understanding how things got the way we find them (mountains and what not).

One of the exercises is that you’re given a sketch of an outcrop, or a series of them, and you have to basically explain how it got there. This means thinking in 4 dimensions and taking things back through time. As the problems got more complex, I found I couldn’t finish them in the lab. One night, I went to bed and dreamed being in the lab and working on the problem. I finished it. When I woke, I could only remember about half, but it was enough to get me past where I was stuck and I finished the lab.

The rest of the semester, I’d dream up these solutions. Some of them weren’t the correct solution, which kinda sucked.

philosopher's avatar

I have the same kind of dreams auguistan speaks of. In reality the solutions do not always work. On occasion they have.
@sacaver
Your dreams sound awesome. I took one Geology class very interesting but difficult.
I do love Science. I am glad that I learned enough to comprehend our world a little better than most.

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