Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Productive Sleep


The celebration launching UPositive Creativity and Life Coaching is happening September 19. If you’re interested in attending and haven’t yet received an invitation, please email

The website,, is running---except for the “subscribe” button. Again, if you’d like to be on the free newsletter list, email and I’ll be happy to add you. If you’ve already subscribed on the website, please send me an email; I haven’t been able to collect those names. The problem will be solved one way or another in the next few days (I hope).

Speaking of newsletters. The first issue should be out by Friday, although I’m fighting a computer glitch. Here’s hoping!

Productive Sleep

A number of articles have crossed my path recently about sleep. Sure, there were the gazillion about how to get a better night’s sleep (I run a two-hour seminar about that), but these caught my eye because they brought up a subject that had caught my eye decades ago: how to use sleep productively.

Back in the mid-1970s, Patricia Garfield wrote Creative Dreaming. Later on, Robert Moss, Stephen LaBerge and others expanded on the topic, exploring aware and awake dreaming in the spiritual realm and in the psychological realm.

Now, the topic seems to have awakened again.

One of the many marketing e-newsletters I receive focused on using the hours of sleep to add time to the day. He suggests assigning problem-solving tasks to the brain, extending the work day through the night. Does it work? Usually.

The Scientific American Mind, which I’ve mentioned before and which is one of my favorite magazines, included an article in its recent issue entitled: “Quiet! Sleeping Brain at Work.”

All these discuss the ways we can program the brain to solve problems while we’re sleeping. It takes time and persistence, but it works. I’ve done it myself!

My question is this: should we be doing it regularly?

Yes, it takes some consistency to train the sleeping brain to respond to direction. But after the training period, do we really want to keep our brain on-task 24 hours a day? It seems like we’ll be making robots out of ourselves.

Sure, if there is a pressing problem and we can’t seem to find the solution after a few days of concentrating on it (awake time), hand it over to the sleeping brain for help. Makes sense to me. After all, I am a proponent of whole-brain thinking.
But the sleeping brain already has its own agenda: processing daily activities, stressors, joys, experiences, thoughts, input in its own, subconscious way. It takes our awake time and sorts it out, works it through, and puts it aside with a finesse we couldn’t create if we tried. It’s already at work while we sleep.

My concern is that if we take the sleeping brain away from its subconscious, free-and-do-it-the-way-it-knows-best processes regularly, what will happen to the things that are usually processed at night?

Like everything, I think moderation is important---yes, let’s use our subconscious mind to help solve pressing problems. But let’s pick and choose carefully what we direct our sleeping mind to do…and leave it to its own brilliant work, in its own way, most of the (night)time.

Any thoughts?