4 Ways to Intentional Sleep-Storming and Why It Works

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Sleep-storming is a form of brainstorming that puts productive use to your down time. The act of coming up with great ideas while sleeping is scientifically coined “structured unconscious generative ideation”– but it sure is easier to say sleep-storming.

Sleep vs. Work

Terminology aside, the intentional act of solving problems while snoozing is something that more people are exploring.  The website is dedicated to reducing anxiety, sleeping better, and feeling happier. Americans leave 50 billion hours of unused vacation every year in pursuit of productivity, according to Dr. Alex Pang’s intro to Calm’s Masterclasses.   He talks about how people tend to think that if we work harder/longer hours, we will be more productive. Yet, that’s not the case. Dr. Pang states that most people think of work and rest as competitors when we should think of them as partners.

Here’s how Dr. Pang explains it:

Why Does Sleep-Storming Work?

It’s no surprise that people come up with great ideas when sleeping, but it’s normally considered organic or coincidence or just plain accidental.  Here’s a short list of high-impact ideas that have affected our society through the years:

— The theory of relativity, Albert Einstein

— The periodic table of chemical elements, Dmitri Mendeleev

— The sewing machine’s automated stitch needle, Elias Howe

— “Yesterday” the Beatles song by Paul McCartney

— “Frankenstein” the novel by Mary Shelley

Perhaps there’s more to it than chance. Creativity is the key to solving problems, and creativity has a process. Going back to 1926, G. Wallas proposed in his book The Art of Thought that there are four stages to the creative process (source:

Preparation (acquisition of knowledge to some task), Incubation (process that occurs when conscious attention is diverted away from the task), Illumination (creative idea flashes into sight), and Verification (creative idea is subjected to evaluation).

Research shows that a period of incubation spurs creative problem solving.   In fact, one study mentioned in the Frontiers article states that in an experiment, participants who got several hours of sleep were *more than two times* as likely on a retest to gain insight into a hidden rule. One can conclude from evidence in various forms that sleep acts as a creative incubator that spawns revelation.

4 Ways to Initiate Sleep-Storming

Our friends at said they tried problem solving through purposeful sleep-storming, and it worked! They also claimed that starting with smaller ideas is better than trying to solve world hunger. Let’s say you have a personal or work problem that’s been nagging at you, but the solution seems out of reach.  Sleep-storming may be the low-stress way of finding a solution.

Think about the creative process mentioned above and then follow these steps for training your brain for sleep-storming success. If you want further information about these four steps, visit Calm’s blog post on the subject.

— Keep a notebook close by and write down your dreams immediately.

— Ask yourself the question you are trying to answer as you fall asleep.

— Wake yourself mid-sleep to capture a specific thought. Remember to write it down before falling back asleep.

— “Lucid” dream in a way where you feel conscious of what’s happening.


About The Author

Thea Wood mona lisa

Thea Wood


Thea Wood is the co-publisher of and a certified image consultant from Austin, TX.  She is a TEDx speaker and wrote the upcoming e-book The Intentional Makeover  and co-authored the book Socially Smart & Savvy. Thea shares styling advice at, helping women create a signature style that says who they are and where they’re going.

2 comments on “4 Ways to Intentional Sleep-Storming and Why It Works

  1. Storm sleeping appears to be a great exercise that you can only profit from.
    Willing to try – thank you Thea /SheSpark!!

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