CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING USING SLEEP
Creative problem solving can be accomplished when sleeping because our sub conscious mind never sleeps. Below are given some such examples.
Dreams can be used very effectively for solving problems. Throughout history, we have instances of people, who were engrossed in seemingly intractable problems, have slept over them and woken up with the solution!
Modern research also suggests that problems can be solved by sleeping over them.
It should be noted, however, that these people had done everything consciously possible to solve the problem. Only when they were totally exhausted by their effort and fell asleep, did their subconscious mind take over the process of creative problem solving for them. I give below some examples of this wonderful process.
The Sewing Machine
In 1845, Elias Howe invented the sewing machine, but not before struggling a lot. In hand stitching, the hole in the needle is the last part of the needle to go through the cloth. But this would not work in machine stitching. Howe tried using a needle that was pointed at both ends with an eye in the middle, but it was a failure. Then, one night he went to sleep after working very hard on the problem and had a dream that resulted in creative problem solving!
He dreamt that he was taken prisoner by a forest tribe. The natives were dancing around him and poking him with their spears. And the spears had holes at their pointed ends! On waking up, Howe realized that he had found a solution to his problem. By locating a hole at the tip of the needle, the thread could be caught after it went through cloth thus making his machine operable.
The German scientist Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz was a remarkable figure in the history of organic chemistry. Not once, but twice did Kekulé have dreams that led him to creative problem solving. Read it in his own words in a speech given at the German Chemical Society:
"I fell into a reverie, and lo, the atoms were gamboling before my eyes! Whenever, hitherto, these diminutive beings had appeared to me, they had always been in motion; but up to that time, I had never been able to discern the nature of their motion. Now, however, I saw how, frequently, two smaller atoms united to form a pair; how a larger one embraced the two smaller ones; how still larger ones kept hold of three or even four of the smaller; whilst the whole kept whirling in a giddy dance. I saw how the larger ones formed a chain, dragging the smaller ones after them, but only at the ends of the chain. . . The cry of the conductor: “Clapham Road,” awakened me from my dreaming; but I spent part of the night in putting on paper at least sketches of these dream forms. This was the origin of the Structural Theory."
Later, Kekulé had a dream that helped him discover that the Benzene molecule, unlike other known organic compounds, had a circular structure rather than a linear one,... solving a problem that had been confounding chemists:
"...I was sitting writing on my textbook, but the work did not progress; my thoughts were elsewhere. I turned my chair to the fire and dozed. Again the atoms were gamboling before my eyes. This time the smaller groups kept modestly in the background. My mental eye, rendered more acute by the repeated visions of the kind, could now distinguish larger structures of manifold conformation; long rows sometimes more closely fitted together all twining and twisting in snake-like motion. But look! What was that? One of the snakes had seized hold of its own tail, and the form whirled mockingly before my eyes. As if by a flash of lightning I awoke; and this time also I spent the rest of the night in working out the consequences of the hypothesis."
An excited Kekulé is supposed to have said to his colleagues, “Let us learn to dream!”
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