Be The First To Know

Welcome aboard! We are thrilled to have you.
Uh oh, something went wrong. Try submitting the form again.

Nicoline Douwes

Nicoline Douwes is a Dutch dream expert and sleep activist. Her mission? Show everyone how to wake up with new ideas and fresh insights.

The Science Of Sleep
The Science Of Sleep

The Science Of Sleep

Ep
179
Mar
09
With
Nicoline Douwes
Or Listen On:

Why sleeping on a problem may help you solve it.

Nicoline Douwes is a Dutch dream expert and sleep activist. Her mission? Show everyone how to wake up with new ideas and fresh insights.

While our bodies sleep, our minds continue to work. Processing what we’ve experienced and what’s troubling us all while making new, uninhibited connections between thoughts.

In this fascinating Clubhouse conversation, Nicoline and Chris dive into what happens in our brains while we sleep. They get into a bit of science, explain why dreams get so weird, and share useful tips about how to process your own dreams.

Hosted By
special guest
produced by
edited by
music by
Appearances

Episode Transcript

Nicoline:
No one told me that, while I'm resting, the brain actually doesn't go on the back burner. It doesn't turn itself down. It is not resting at all, that is when you get the most work done. It's almost like the minute you rest and you don't even have to fall asleep for this. You could just sit back and look out of the window or close your eyes for a second. The minute that that happens, it's almost like the brain goes, "Oh, finally, some peace and quiet. Let me quickly get some work done. Oh, they're trying to do things again. Okay, fine. I'll wait."

Chris:
So, I want to set the context for the conversation. I first heard our guest, Nicoline on another clubhouse room with Avi. She was talking about dreams and how you can tap into your dreaming, and how that is connected to creativity and being productive and it just really turned me on. But the thing that she was talking about was, when we're listening to other people and interpreting their dreams, it's very important for us to not to insert our own interpretation of what those objects and symbols mean. I was just thinking, "That's exactly what you're supposed to do when you're listening to people."
Just forget about dreaming for a second, forget about interpretation and any kind of woo-woo thing that you might be thinking about right now, but just how do you have better interpersonal communication skills? How do you listen to your clients? Don't make assumptions about what you're hearing or seeing. This is really important. Okay, so without further ado, Nicoline, can you introduce yourself to people who might not know who you are?

Nicoline:
Hey, everyone. I'm really happy to be here. My name is Nicoline Douwes Isema. I'm a Dutch dream interpreter. That's my accent that right there, but I don't just do that. I help people figure out how to wake up with a great idea. I help people figure out how to get a hold of their own dreams and how to just make sense of what happens with the sleeping brain. I got to warn you all, I am such a nerd when it comes to research. I might throw a lot of research papers at you. If you don't mind, Chris will stop me if I get too nerdy.

Chris:
We love the nerdy part about you and that's why today's room, and there was some debate between Nicoline and myself about calling it the science of sleep or dreaming, but you know what? Let's just take a walk on the wild side. This is not one of those woo-woo rooms where we're going to sit there and talk about all your dreams. Talking about how you can tap into this as a creative person, but also the science behind it, and hopefully get you this other creative partner that you may not be working with. This is the ideal creative partner, because this person is smarter than you, more creative than you, never forgets anything, and you don't have to pay them anything and they can come up with all these wonderful ideas. We're going to talk a lot about that, but I just want to quickly go over some concepts here.
Nicoline refers to herself as a dream expert, a sleep activist. That's really cool. This idea about balancing sleep and work, and that when your sleeping brain is doing its thing, it's actually hard at work. This sounds radical. This sounds like that fantasy that I had when I was in junior high, that when I was too lazy to study for my tests or write the paper that I was like, "Oh, I just wish there was this thing where I could be sleeping and telekinetically the paper would write itself." I didn't understand then that there is something such as that. Not quite the way I'm describing it, but it's just... She's got this powerful idea that, when we're sleeping and we wake up rested, the sleep itself is a productive state of mind, this unconscious intelligence that we're going to tap into.
Now, with that, I'm going to turn this over to you to kick off the conversation. Help us understand and get our context and bearings as to what we're talking about here, Nicoline.

Nicoline:
This is my favorite topic, Chris, 100%, because it sounds like science fiction. If we could only get some work done while we sleep, we could have the best of both worlds. I see everybody and including myself in the past struggling with balancing. You know you got to get enough sleep, but you also want to get your work done. You know that it's bad for you and that you get cranky in the morning if you don't get enough sleep, you get forgetful, you can't take in new information anymore. It's not really good for the body. It's been linked to obesity, lack of sleep. Oh, that's fun, but we also need to be productive in the day. No one told me in school that you can do both, that your brain is actually hardwired to do both.
Now, I loved your example of writing a paper because when it comes to the physical writing of it, obviously you got to do that while awake. There is no typing in the sleep, not for me anyway, but it's not just the writing of it. It's the thinking what you're going to write and that process doesn't just happen when you sit behind the computer, we all know that. It happens when you're in the shower or when you're on a run and then all of a sudden you have an idea. You think, "Wait, wait, wait, I should add that," and you do tons of research. But the combining of that research, the connecting the dots and maybe coming up with a new angle, that is the real work in the writing. Amazingly, our brains don't stop doing that when we fall asleep. In fact, it's completely the other way around.
We think of... Well, I say we, a lot of people when I was younger taught me that you rest your body to be productive the next day. So, you got to rest or you got to sleep to have rested neurons in the morning so that you can do shit. Okay, but no one told me that, while I'm resting, the brain actually doesn't go on the back burner. It doesn't turn itself down, it is not resting at all, that is when you get the most work done. It's almost like the minute you rest, you don't even have to fall asleep for this. You could just sit back and look out of the window or close your eyes for a second. The minute that that happens, it's almost like the brain goes, "Oh finally, some peace and quiet. Let me quickly get some work done. Oh, they're trying to do things again. Okay, fine. I'll wait."
This is what our brain does and it's probably more than this, but this is what we know the brain does. It's making new connections and it's connecting information that you already have. Not just the information you know you have, but also things you saw out of the corner of your eyes, whatever you saw in the past, whatever you're feeling about what you saw in the past. Maybe you don't like something, but you forgot about it. Everything gets super integrative, connected way more than you can do when you're focused.
I'm always thinking about a to-do list. Like if I make a to-do list or a pro and con list about something, or if I make a plan about something, I'm only going to put down the things that I think to put down, because you're not going to put down the unknown factors because you don't know them. But when you go into that resting state and sleep is the best part of it, that's where your brain starts evaluating other possibilities. It starts also to connect dots that you might not connect in the day, factor in things that you might not even have thought of. Why? Because of two things.
Stop me whenever I need to explain something. Okay? But there's two things that I find so fascinating. One of them is neurotransmitter shift in the sense that, in the day we got to be focused. We got to do things, we got to be logical, we got to not drive our car into trees. These are really important things. So, your neurotransmitters have to be able to make your brain think linear but when you fall asleep, that shifts, there's no more need for that. So what happens is, your brain becomes super connective, crazy connective, making, exploring amazing connections.
This is probably where dreams get so weird, because things get connected that could normally never happen because your brain doesn't have to worry about that anymore. It doesn't have to be logical. So that one thing, your neurotransmitter shift to be amazing connective and connecting everything. The other thing is a shift in focus on brain regions. In the day, we're pretty reliant on what is called the prefrontal cortex. It's in the front of your head, under your forehead.
Basically, when people portray, I'm thinking, they usually start rubbing their forehead, that's exactly where it is. That part is very much about reasonable thinking, logical thinking, reasoning through things, making plans. That is the one part that really takes a backseat, but the emotional centers of our brain, they fire up so that is another shift that happens. It's more focused towards connectivity, but also more focused to emotional thinking without the inhibitions of preconceived notions of logic, of, "Oh, that could never happen," or, "Oh, we don't have the budget for that."
Can you imagine what a brainstorm environment that is? How much do people pay to get their brains in that state in the day, but you get there every night completely for free and your brain goes wild. Now, I'm here to tell you how to get the benefits of that process.

Chris:
I'd like to jump in here. A common question that I get a lot from creative people is, "Have you ever been stuck? Have you ever just not been able to come up with an idea?" The answer that I gave to them prior to understanding any of this stuff is, "I don't think you're going to like my answer," and my answer is usually something like, "No, I've not ever been stuck where I haven't been able to come up with an idea," it's because I've learned how to tap into my unconscious or dreaming brain.
The way I used to explain it, and I'd love to explain it the way I've said it to other people and to love to get you in on this, Nicoline so that you can tell me, "No, Chris, this is wrong," or, "Yes, this is right and here's the science behind it." Okay? Because at the top of the room here, we're talking about unlocking your creative potential. So, this is my process and I believe in this idea that, the precursor to this incredible Eureka, aha creative moment that you have is usually boredom. That boredom precedes your most creative moments. The more that you grind at a problem, the less likely you are enabled to come up with something that's unique or fresh, or to look at the problem from a different perspective.
So, what I like to do is, I like to saturate my brain with research, reading. I will probably spend, if there were 12 hours to work on a project, 10 of those hours just absorbing and consuming information. I'll watch videos, I'll watch films, read books, whatever it is, read articles so that my brain is super saturated. One other thing that I usually do, back when I was doing creative services was, I would have my army, in quote, of interns, just researching things. "Find me visuals, find me anything related to these words or these ideas," and they would quite literally come up with 1,000 images on a folder somewhere.
So, things related, unrelated, I would just look at all of them as if I'm being brainwashed by this concept. Then, I would say, "Thank you, everybody." I'd go home and I'd just go to sleep. Now, before I'd go to sleep, my wife would just panic. She's like, "Isn't your deadline coming up? What are you doing?" I'm like, "Honey," and I'd just hold up my hand gently like speak to the hand kind of thing, "Honey, just give me a second. This is my process. I'm just going to figure it out," and she's stressed out.
She's looking at me like, "How could this be? What are you doing?" Because the way that her brain works is, "I'm going to sit here, I'm going to grind through this thing until I'm done because I cannot sleep peacefully." I'm like, "It's fine." I slip into bed and I go to sleep and without fail, not always on the first night, but within one or two nights, the answer will appear as a gift from some other part of the universe.
I'll wake up in the morning, fully refreshed and then in those moments and when my eyes are like, I'm just drifting between my active learning brain and my archival brain is usually where the good stuff comes out or perhaps I've dreamt about the solution. It's one of the reasons why I have a notepad right next to my bed. I will do the act of like, "Oh, it's four in the morning, I have the idea," I will write it down because I know it will disappear.
Sometimes I'm a little disappointed. I wake up, I'm like, "Oh, okay. We don't have the idea. Huh?" As I brush my teeth, I'm in the shower, I'm like, "I wonder why I didn't come up with the idea?" In the shower is when it happens or when I go for a walk or when I go for a long drive. It's usually in those states where I don't have to think about anything when I'm in this autonomic just state, that's usually where it comes. That's usually where my best ideas come from. I'm going to pause there and turn it back over to Nicoline.

Nicoline:
This is perfect. You've given me... Okay. There's four points of research that I want to touch upon, because I love everything you're saying. This has become my process as well. I used to think I was lazy for wanting to sleep and that I was procrastinating for wanting to do it at the last minute, but I love this process so much. As long as I do it consciously sometimes it just goes away and I get stressed.
Okay. The thing that you said you were doing, first of all, this idea of saturating yourself... No, let me go to boredom first, because that is so important. I'm going to give you a name. I actually made a little fact sheets, not with everything I'm going to tell you, but I'm going to add to it on my website so that you don't have to take notes of everything that I'm saying. One of the names that was very important in this research is an American guy named Marcus Raichle and he did research about 20 years ago on fMRI machines. They were new, everybody wanted to put people in machines and see what the brain does, it's amazing. Lift your left leg. Hey, that part of the brain goes. Listen to music. Hey, that's what the brain does.
Now, he noticed that when people were waiting for tasks in the middle sitting there, they didn't get any task, they were just bored, they were just sitting there, that's when they saw a lot of brain activity. They were like, "How is that possible? We're not giving you anything to do. What is your brain doing?" Now, in the beginning they called it, well, that's probably static, like brain static, it doesn't mean anything, but Marcus Raichle was like, "What do you mean static? Why is it brain activity if you listen to music, but quote unquote, static if we don't give you a task? Maybe your brain is doing something pivotal. Let's figure it out."
He coined the term default mode network. As in, this is what the brain does by default mode when you're bored, the brain goes to work. Making connections, connecting information, processing as fast as it can because we're so focused on doing, doing, doing and we have this illusion that we're only doing something if you can see it on the outside. But for our brains, boredom, silence, sleep is a useful productive time because that's when things can be processed, connections can be made, connections can be made back.
So, whatever you're going to come up after a period of boredom or rest or sleep, is going to be more thought through and more checked with past realities. More thought about with different possibilities than the thing that you come up with in the moment. That's usually more of either a guess or a reflex or you really know what you're doing so you could just be like, "Oh yeah, I've done this before, this and this."
This is point two, research, buying a house. Dutch researcher thought, "Okay, I just bought a house. This is a complicated process. I could use this." So, what he did with his research subjects, he gave them a dozen houses, just the description, not the real house. One or two of them were logically much better valued than the other ones, but you couldn't really tell on the first glance. They looked the same, was in the same neighborhood, but if you look down on the details and just added all the points up, those were the better houses.
He just asked his test subjects, "What are the better houses?" But I don't know if you've ever bought a house, you get a lot of information thrown at you in such a brochure. So, what happened was, the test subjects, they read all the houses and he divided it in groups. One had to pick on the spot. They were just guessing, Chris. They were no better at just a monkey throwing dice, but the other group got to sleep on it for a few days.
Now, they didn't get the information in that time, they had no chance of reviewing it, but then they were asked, "Which is the better house?" and they picked the right one every single time. Why? Because your brain had time to process all the information that you didn't even know you had. That was my second point. This is why it's so important, like you said, to saturate yourself with information and then just let your brain do its thing.
When I prepare for a moment like this or when I prepare for a presentation, I always make sure that I'm done with the preparation and then have at least one night to sleep on it. Because I'm going to wake up with an idea of, "Oh, I want to say that too or maybe this is a better example," and I'm going to write it down real quick before it goes away. You got to give yourself that time.
I know that there's people who love being quick decision makers, be like, "Oh, I can do a four-hour sleep and I'm so in the moment that I make decisions, decisions, decisions." They're going to be decisions, but are they going to be balanced decisions? Are they going to be thought through? I often wonder what happens. I don't know of a researcher who has put that side by side, apart from the housing decision. But I do think that, if you take that process into consideration and like you said, your archival brain, you know a lot of stuff, why not use that and make sure that you come up with a better idea than you can come up with on the spot? Now, that's part two.
You said it usually takes you a few nights. That's been researched as well. There's a woman at Harvard, her name is Deirdre Barrett. I love her work. She's a psychology teacher and every time that she has a class as a professor, she makes some sleep on problems. She just says, "Keep a dream diary. Pick a problem. It could be, 'Do I break up with my boyfriend or how do I study for my exams?' I do not care, as long as you care about the problem at least a little bit. Math equations work, but not as well, then sleep on it for a few nights and tell me if you had a dream about it. Tell me if you had a dream that maybe is not literally about it, but that gave you a good idea about it." It usually takes some two or three nights so that seems to be a human average.
I notice it as well in my work. People come to me and they say, "Okay, I have a problem. Help me fix it. Help me sleep on this because I want to both solve it and also sleep." But also people know how smart they are in their sleep once they've heard me talk. They know that they don't want to just solve it with a pro and con list, but really get their emotional intelligence involved and get all of their knowledge, all of their ideas that they picked up anywhere in their life involved. They want to make a decision that really, as we say in Dutch, cuts wood. It takes them usually two or three nights to come up with an amazing solution.
Then, we talk through the dreams that they've had. Not everyone is adept at picking apart those dreams and doing a little deep dive, but I'm going to give you some tips for that because it's not that hard, but most people get there. I have not had any client who couldn't get at least some idea to move forward with it, because what you're going to do is you're going to do some out of the box thinking.
Now, the fourth point that I wanted to address is, I love all of this research and I get really excited about it. But I have noticed that, when people get excited about it and they know a bit about dreams, then there's a flip side where it's suddenly this magic thing that can solve all of your problems. If you just listen to your dreams, then you should do everything they say. I do want to caution against that because that's maybe expecting too much from our unconscious intelligence.
We're smart. We're crazy smart in our sleep, but we're still us with our own ideas about the world. If I get an idea in the day, in the shower, for example, I look at it, I have a spark, but I don't have the finished product yet. Right? I still have to work with it. I still have to investigate it and play with it a little bit. Same goes with ideas you get in your sleep. Some people get fully fledged end products, but most people get the hint of an idea and then they have to work at it. If I may, I want to give you a tiny example of that. Is that okay for you?

Chris:
Yes, please and then I have a question to ask you afterwards.

Nicoline:
Fantastic. Now, this came from Barrett's research. She wrote a book about it, it's called, The Committee of Sleep. She had this metaphor of, there's a committee at work when you're asleep, just solving your problems. Her example is from an engineer at DuPont. DuPont makes Lycra, but they also make Kevlar for bulletproof vests. In the Gulf War, they were asked to amp up their production as much as they could. So, what they did is, they just made their machines go faster.
Now, I don't know if you know this. I didn't, but when producing Kevlar, that machine has a lot of water running through it. I don't know why, that's just how it's made. The machine kept jamming and it kept picking it apart and trying to figure it out. They just didn't know what was happening. So, two days in with all the engineers on it, losing millions of dollars every day and all the poor soldiers not being able to get their bulletproof vests, they were kind of desperate. But one of the engineers had a dream and he was one of those people who does pay attention.
The dream was very simple. He saw that he was inside the machine, there was water everywhere and he saw the hoses and he saw springs. Now, that makes no sense to a normal human, but he quickly wrote down water, hoses, springs inside the machine. That was an idea, but then he thought about it and he was like, "Wait a minute. The hoses that we pump that water through are rubber." What does rubber do if you get water through it with high speed? It closes itself down. It's like when you drink through a straw, but you put too much pressure on it, the straw closes up on itself. But the minute that you stop sucking, it opens up. Right? So, they couldn't find it because the minute that they stopped the machine, everything was fine again.
He ran to his team in the morning. He didn't say, "I had a dream about it," because he didn't want to be laughed at, but he did say, "We should maybe look at if the problem is solved if we put springs inside of the hoses to keep them open." Everybody laughed at him, that couldn't possibly be the problem. But at the end of that day, you know when you're in, okay, we'll try anything mode, because this cannot happen anymore, they tried it and it worked. Boom, problem solved.
That's what I mean with an idea isn't the finished product. Just as an idea in the day, we still have to work on it. This is not magic people. This is your brain doing awesome stuff. Back to you, Chris.

Chris:
Oh, I love that. Oh my God. That reminded me of a couple different things. Now, I remember something and sometimes when I tell people this, they give me that look of incredulity, which is, "No way. No way."
I remember one time, I was just really frustrated and I can't remember the exact object that was misplaced and I just looked everywhere for it. Everywhere that I knew about and everywhere my wife knew about, and I kept asking her, "Honey, did you see this..." Let's just say it's a book. "Did you see my book?" I'm like, "I feel like I'm losing my mind because I can't find it anywhere." She goes, "I have no idea what you're talking about." I'm like, "Honey, almost always when we lose something it's because you put something away for me and there's no way I could find it because you put it in some secret special spot in the house and of course, I can't find it."
And so, that night I was like, "Where is this book? Where is this thing?" It's just driving me insane. The reason why I bring this up is because one of the things that you mentioned was, we have to care enough about the problem for us to activate our dream brain to figure it out for us. I'll come back to that a little bit. So, of course, I'm going to sleep like, "Come on, dream, help me out here," and I go to sleep. In my dream, I'm flying, quite literally flying through the house, hovering like a superpowered human being and I'm going through, underneath things, around things.
Then, in my dream, I found it inside my wife's cabinet and I woke up thinking, "That's a fantasy. There's no way it could be there," and I forget about it. I'm having breakfast and I was thinking just on a whim like, "Could it be there of all the places? That doesn't even make sense." I walk over into my wife's office. I go to the cabinet, I open the side-

Chris:
Walk over into my wife's office, I go to the cabinet, I open the side drawer and lo and behold, there it is. And I pull it out I'm like, "Honey?" She's like, "Yes." "What is this doing in your cabinet? You said you've never seen this book." She goes, "I don't know your stuff." And it's like, "Whatever." So, it was like, you didn't actually use your subconscious brain to solve the very practical problems, not just creative problems, because it knows and sees everything. For some reason, it just thought, "I've looked everywhere. This is probably the place where I think my wife may have put it." But maybe I even witnessed her putting it there in my conscious brain at one point, and it was able to unlock that, and so I think that's really cool.
Okay, put that story aside. Here's the thing. If you're a creative person and you have a nine to five, you work for someone, it's almost expected on you that you can just turn on the creativity, like the faucet. Just creativity on tap, you just turn it, and there it is, and you turn it off. Anybody who's a creative's like, "That's not how it works." And we think the answer to all of our problems is just grind on it. There's the whole hustle grind culture, where we wear just this workaholic mentality where we work 16, 17 hour days as a badge of honor. And we brag about it in creative circles. I remember seeing creative people who you really look up to on stage talking about obsessing over minutia detail and how they're just sitting there until their eyes bleed, and that's where the magic happens. And so, in our culture, creative culture, we tend not to think that sleep is important or even necessary.
And so, how does a person who has a job like that, with certain expectations put upon us that some part of the day, we're like, "You know what? I need to take a nap. I need to go home early today. I know we have this great big pitch where we're going to work on, and I haven't cracked a problem, but I have to do this for my creativity." How do we have that conversation? And then, how do we make sure that if we're going to take time off work, that we actually have the results that you're talking about Nicoline.

Nicoline:
You just set me a goal for this year. I'm going to start going into companies and kicking bosses asses, because this is just the stupidest thing you can do with your time. I mean, yeah, you can do that. Absolutely. And, you know what's going to happen at the end of that grind, grind, grind, your brain's going to be so sleep drunk that the default mode network's going to kick in all by itself. You can't help it, and that's when the magic happens. You know you could have done that 14 hours ago. It's just people don't know about it. That's my problem, Chris. We don't get taught this in school.

Chris:
I love that. Sleep drunk. That's a new term. I'm writing that down. So you're saying we work ourselves to exhaustion, that sleep is going to happen regardless.

Nicoline:
Yep. REM sleep's going to kick in. You can't help it. You know how when you're driving and you're really, really tired, and suddenly you're just almost zoning out and you can't focus anymore, that's it, that's what happens. That is that the default mode network, that's like, "Okay. I'm done with you now. I'm going to do what I need to be doing to stay sane." And yeah, that happens. But I don't know why you would tire yourself out and wait for it, when you could just take a nap and do it right now. That makes no sense to me. But I do hear you. I mean, we do live in a culture... And this is where my activism comes in, we live in a culture where we sleep when we're dead and where it's a badge of honor, like you say, and dedication, that you go home last and are there the earliest, like that would amp up your productivity. Anyone measuring productivity will tell you it does not.
I'm going to quote you some research again. I can't help myself, Chris. Here's the thing, one research, this is again, proud of my country, Dutch sleep researchers and really fun people, by the way. I love these people. They just thought, "Okay, we're going to measure it. We're just going to measure it. We're going to do home measurements with a lot of people, thousands of people, so that we have a good baseline. We're going to make them log in, tell us, and we got to believe them somehow how much sleep they had that night, and make them do a little test where they just have to click yes or no, on a button with questions, right, on the computer. Easy to do from home." Now, obviously, the people who were sleep deprived were much, much slower at this. So very simple test. You can guess that.
But guess what happened when they had coffee? They felt better. They felt active. They were clicking, and then had to go back, and correct their answer, and had to go back and correct their answer, because coffee makes you fast, but not smarter. You're going to be as stupid as a sleep drunk person, just quicker about it. So, those were the slowest people. But we don't think about that. We're just loading ourselves up on caffeine and keep going, going, going. And here's the thing, Australian research puts truck drivers on a course where they just have to navigate their truck around and measure how well they're doing. Get a good night's sleep, you're doing great. Get no sleep, and you drive like you're completely drunk. But we get in the car like that every single day.
Now, if you would show up to work and if your employees would show up to work and your whole team comes in completely drunk, you're going to fire them all. But if they're going to be coming in sleep deprived, which gives you the same idea of thinking, the same slowness of thinking, the same stupidity, the same reaction, everybody's going to say, "Oh, you're so dedicated. And you brought your kids to school like this, really?" But, apart from the negative side effects, which most people start to hear about these days, I want to talk about how the positive effects of having a night's sleep on it. It's not stupid that Google has sleep pods in the office, and more and more people are doing it, because there is very few brainstorm sessions that can match up with the ideas that we're getting from a nap.
And this effect is so fast, this year, a French research came out, done in Paris, where they just thought... You know how there's these old stories where Salvador Dali had a heavy object in his hand, a key, and he would try to doze off. And then, if you doze off your muscles relax, so he dropped the key and that means he'd wake up again, and immediately write down what idea he had, or start working on it. They thought let's measure it.
So what they did was gave people a simple puzzle. It was math, and math is hard for most people, and they let them do it over and over again, it was different numbers, but the same math. See, there was a hidden shortcut. Every single time the second answer was also the final answer. People didn't know about it, of course. They let them doze off for 20 minutes with a heavy object in their hands to wake themselves up the minute they were falling asleep, getting that state right between sleep onset, right between sleep and waking up, just that. And then, they let them do the puzzle again. And guess what? After a few times of doing it, they didn't dream about it, they didn't know nothing about it. Sure enough, they found the shortcuts and the control group who didn't get to sleep found no shortcuts. It's that connectivity. And it was as short as 15 seconds of dozing off, that already gave that effect. Can you imagine if we would do that at work? You don't have to work yourself to death. That would be so smart.

Chris:
Oh my God. That story had some twists and turns in it, because I wasn't sure where the story was going. I thought that the way you were leading us on this story was that power napping is actually counterproductive. But actually there's many stories of some of the most creative, productive people doing this very exercise... And maybe for different reasons. I think Thomas Edison is one of the famous ones who slept with a heavy ball in his hand at his desk, because he just up hoard sleep, different thing, and he would drop the ball of course, because your muscle relax, and he would write down all his ideas, and it was the source for many of his ideas. So, I thought you were going to say, that's horrible that, that's bad, because you're pushing yourself beyond the brink, trying to stay up longer and getting that sleep drunk state. But your story had a little twist and turn, that people who didn't sleep at all, this is a huge advantage. That's what the point of your story was, right?

Nicoline:
No. Oh, maybe I said it... The people who didn't sleep at all had no clue about the hidden shortcut. They couldn't find it. The people who even got 15 seconds of sleep were the smart ones.

Chris:
Okay.

Nicoline:
Because they allowed their brain to go into that state.

Chris:
If there was a third group that just slept and forgot about this, not even power naps, would they perform even better than the second group who had little power naps in between?

Nicoline:
Fantastic question, because yes, there was a third group, and this is fascinating Chris, because in this research they had a third group who didn't wake up, because there were some people who didn't. And, slept for the whole 20 minutes that they were allowed to do this exercise. They didn't perform better. But, there's Harvard research from years back, where they did this exact same puzzle idea, this exact same experiments. But then they compared people who had eight hours to think about it, versus people who had eight hours to sleep about it. And the person who had a whole night's sleep, they were the smart ones again. So, I wonder what's going on there, more research is needed, because apparently I don't know what happens. There test group wasn't that big. But I do know from different research that a whole night's sleep is also going to make you the smart one in the group, instead of the people who can't figure out that there's a shortcut.

Chris:
Okay. Well, when we were talking about this idea that creativity's on tap in the work culture is that, if we can see you working, we think you're being productive and you're telling us, "I'm not always like that." You have to know enough to care about the problem, you have to do the research, and then you got to just do other things, not related to what it is that you're doing, including napping or just going home and going to sleep. And you said, you're going to use this opportunity to go in and talk to bosses.
And I think something that just tying it in with the sign of the times, is that, previously we thought that if we sent employees home to work from home, to do remote-based work, that productivity would go down and everything would get messed up. The pandemic forced bosses and companies to actually say, "Okay, we don't have a choice in this. We actually have to work from home." And so, this is one of the gifts of a very horrible thing that's happening. I'm not sure that, that opening is available for this idea that you need to sleep and nap. What do you think the conversation would be with a boss or a company where they're like, "Okay, we had one convention challenge and it turned out that people were way more productive working remotely. That people can be trusted." Take me through the argument that you would make.

Nicoline:
I like that you put the word trust in there, because I think that's the key one. There is no amount of science that I can throw at someone if they don't trust their people. That's just the end of it. If you want to see someone doing stuff in order to believe that they're doing stuff, then you got to control them. But, I don't think control is very good for productivity in general. I don't feel very productive if people are looking over my shoulder.
And I also think that the point of trust that you put in there also relies to ourself. I mean, no one said to me when I was younger, just trust the process, go to sleep, you'll wake up with a good idea, except for maybe my grandma, who said, "Sleep on it. It's going to be fine, honey, just sleep on it." If you don't trust yourself, if you don't trust your own brain to do work, when you're not in control, then how you ever going to do it? How you ever going to take it seriously when you wake up with an idea. So I think that touches on a real point that we have here.
It's very interesting, the other week, I had an interview with a younger psychology student and she said, "But how is it possible if I'm not thinking of something? How am I thinking?" And I'm like, okay, so then we have this idea that thinking is only, "I'm going to think of this now. There, I've made a list and now I've thought about it. The end." But of course, that's not how our brains work. It's all mental activity that's going on. And, Barrett that I mentioned just the other minutes, she says, "Well, the way I see it is that we have several levels of thinking and in sleep we're also thinking, just in a different biochemical state than we are in the day. So that means that you're going to use your brain in a different way, but you could just measure all the activity going on. It is as much and sometimes more as we have in the day, when we're being really productive. But in the day we're focused and it feels like productivity, because we are taught that, that's what productivity is."
So, what you're talking about now is the trust that your brain does things even if you're not in control, like letting go of the whole 19th century idea that you need a whip to get people going, and trust that we think on different levels except for, "Oh, I'm going to rationally do this now." That is a mind shift. I'm going to fight it. I'm going to go for it, Chris, because I think in the connection of all the unconscious ideology that we have, all that subconscious thinking that's going on all the time, and the production that we can do when we're focused on actually executing something, I think if you make the connection, we got gold. I think we can be much smarter than we're allowing ourselves to be right now.

Chris:
Okay. I would love to get into some practical things now. Okay, so you've had the conversation with the boss in the organization and they say, "Nicoline, we believe you. From here and out, we're going to have sleep pods, take naps whenever you want, go home early, go to sleep, figure out the problem, because we're doing highly creative, challenging work, and you need to do this." Okay? Now, what can a person who's in this position now, given this trust, and this responsibility, how can they make the most out of their sleep time and how can they activate this brain of theirs that's so powerful?

Nicoline:
Got you. Okay, here we go. Here we go.

Chris:
I'm buckled in. I'm ready to go.

Nicoline:
You already said, at least care about it a little bit. Like I said, in our sleep, especially we're very emotionally driven. So, if you're in a relationship crisis, there's no way you can steer your mind to go thinking about work that you don't care about in the day. So you got to at least be committed somehow. You also said saturate yourself in whatever you want to think on. That's a fantastic kickstart for your brain, not just because it gives you information, which you're going to need to do some processing, but also because it gets you in that vibe. A lot of people write things down and put it by their nightstand, a question that they want to ask yourself. Or like you said, you really think about, "Okay brain, let's do this." It's simple things like that. But, if I don't say, "Okay, I'm going to clean the house now." There's no way this house is going to get cleaned. That little kickstart really helps.
So, set yourself up for success, get the information, make sure that you think about it right before bed. The second thing, extremely important. Let yourself sleep. Now, this is harder than it sounds, because most people have a life where they have to wake up with an alarm clock. And I'll tell you why that's so important. REM sleep, which is the most creative sleep time is not equally divided over the night. Usually, we start, we have sleep cycles that keep going on every 90 minutes. And then, we are very close to waking up and a new one starts again. And, every sleep cycle, you have more REM sleep, versus deep sleep. So you start with a lot of deep sleep and almost no REM sleep. And then, it shifts.
And at the end of your sleep, if you wake up with no alarm clock, a lot of people have almost only REM sleep. Especially, if you've woken up and turned around and just sleep a little bit more, then your brain, because your body's completely rested, everything's rested, can go wild with being creative. That is the part that we usually cut off when we set an alarm clock, and not wake up just by ourselves. So, if you say, "Okay, I'm going to sleep one hour shorter than I really wanted to." You're not cutting off one hour of REM sleep. I don't know, 7, 10%, or something. You're going to cut off 50%. You're going to cut out the most productive process. So, sleeping in literally can make you smarter. And it's literally when you do work. This is something no one told me, but the minute I learned it, I did not feel lazy anymore, Chris. It changed my entire life, because I was like, "Oh no, I'm sleepy. This is me doing work. Everybody shut up. I don't care what you think about me."
So, that's the second part. Very important. Allow yourself time.

Chris:
Who are you telling you to shut up? I'm just curious.

Nicoline:
Oh, everyone in the world who ever called me lazy for wanting to sleep in, because I wake up with great ideas and they don't, so they could just suck it. Here's the thing. The third part is how to capture your great ideas. And, of course, they're not all going to be gold. I'm still me, I'm not suddenly a fantastic, enlightened person just because I sleep. But it's going to be the best version of me. I write down things in the morning. It could be, I'm thinking about a blog and I just wake up with a few sentences and I'm like, "Oh that's brilliant. Got to write that down real quick." If I don't, it just fleets away. I mean, I have a terrible memory, Chris. If I go to the grocery store, I can't even remember what I was going to buy if I don't write it down. I have to write things down.
But the second thing is, and that is a large part of when I work with people, like the guy from DuPont who was trying to fix the Kepler machine. A lot of these ideas come visually, emotionally charged, but not very concrete. They're not put in nice words that we can work with. I love waking up with a whole sentence in my head, but that's not always how it works. Sometimes it's metaphor, sometimes it's completely visualized, but you really don't get the visuals. That's when the unpacking of the dream starts. Just because on face value, it seems like nonsense, dreaming of hoses, springs, that doesn't meet anything to me, but the minute you start unpacking it, that could be that, "Wait a minute" moment. So, if we have time, I'd love to talk a little bit about that process of unpacking, because otherwise, if you're like, "Ah, that's just a weird dream." You might be turning down something really great.

Chris:
Time for a quick break, but we'll be right back.

Speaker 1:
Angi's list is now Angi, your home for everything home. With Angi, you could cross your next project off your to-do list before this ad is over. Just tell us what you need and we'll handle the rest. Sending a top professional to get it done, or browse reviews, compare quotes from pros, and connect instantly, all for free. For everything from routine maintenance to a dream remodel, because however you want your project done, we'll get it done. Download the app, or go to angi.com. That's A-N-G-I.com to get started.

Speaker 2:
This episode is brought to you by HP +. In a world full of smart devices, shouldn't your printer be smart too? It is with HP +. These printers know when they're running low. So you always get the ink you need delivered, right when you need it. Plus, you save up to 50% on ink, so you can print whatever you want, as much as you want, any time you want. Huh? That is pretty smart. Get six free months of instant ink when you choose HP +. Conditions apply. Visit hp.com/smart for details.

Speaker 3:
This episode is brought to you by Baked. Baked Lays, Cheetos, Ruffles, and Tostitos give you all the flavor, with less fat. So you could snack a little smarter this year, without giving up your favorite snacks. Reveal what else you're never going to give up in 2022 for a chance to win $1,000 official rules at nevergonnagiveitup.com. No purchase necessary. Enter by February 27th, 2022. 17 plus. 50 U.S., DC, and PR.

Chris:
Welcome back to our conversation. I do want to say something, in case you have a partner, somebody you live with, even children. I think you have to have some rules and boundaries, because my wife and I talk about this. That sometimes when I wake up, I'm thinking I'm just lying still in bed and she'll want to have a conversation with me, because she'll wake up like, "Oh you're awake." And I'll just wave at her, like, "I'm actually processing something, it's very important for me not to lose this moment." So she's now learned to look at me like, "Oh, he's really thinking." And, this is important. If you want to squeeze from this wonderful amount of your subconscious, you have to just wait, you have to give it time. And I think what you're going to talk about next is, how you start to process what you've dreamt about to see what you can learn from your dream. And so, I'd love to shift into that.

Nicoline:
Yeah. Oh, I like that though, that you point that out. It is that moment of, some people just... Even with their body stay in the same position that they wake up in, and even if there's no memory of nothing, just do a little mental check, like, "How am I feeling? What's living inside of me?" It's taking those five minutes to do that. That if you don't, well, how are you ever going to do it? Well, maybe later in the shower, when you again have those five minutes. But yeah, when people come to me... I love two ways. There's very many ways to work with dreams, and I'm not going to cover all of them, that'd be... I'm just going to go in the two ways that I like the most.
For myself, what I usually do is, either I write down and after a week or after two or three days, I read it back over, because then I have a little distance, especially if I have several things and I see a common theme popping up. Like the other day, I was in a fight with my husband and the common theme in dreams about completely different people, but about relationships was, "You know what? There's another side to that story. That man might be suffering in that fictional scenario with that fictional relationship that now that I think about it is really like my scenario." It took me two or three dreams, Chris and I was like, you know what? I can be mad at him, but honestly, I'm the asshole here, I got to apologize." It was not nice to see myself from that different perspective, but it was very helpful. So, write it down in a series, and then see if there's a common theme. It's the freest way to do it, because you don't have to do anything except for right now in some words, or doc it to your phone, I don't care.
The second thing that I have trained everyone who knows me in, because I love talking about my own dreams and I want to get help with this process. I like talking about with people. And I'll tell you why, because like we are doing here, talking forces you to put thoughts and feelings into work. And especially, if someone's a good listener, like you are, so you'd be great at this process. You know that a person isn't going to be like, "Oh, I've had that. And then start talking about themselves." Or, "Oh, you know what Yum said?" And then start about what yum thought, when you dream of a horse, what that would mean. Because that's not about you. You want someone who's going to help you verbalize what lives inside of you, because words are really great for a rational brain. Sometimes I'm like, words are the bridge between all of that subconscious ideas and how to explain it to yourself. If that makes sense.
I think it would help if I give an example here. You've heard me talk about the horse. I could do that one or I could do a different one, up to you.

Chris:
No, do the horse. I love the horse.

Nicoline:
Let's do the horse.

Chris:
Yes.

Nicoline:
And, the horse is nice and short. Okay. This was in a workshop. I do lots of workshops. And, there was a young girl, I don't even remember her name. It was a big thing. And, we did a whole dream thing. And, like what we're talking about now. And, she said, "Is it okay if I give a dream that we can use as an example?" "Hell yeah." So, we set some boundaries about, "If it gets too personal, I'm not going to go into it." And she was like, "No, this is fantastic." And she allowed me to use this dream as an example.
So, she dreamt of a horse and she told the group, she dreamed of a horse that was just standing there. And first, the skin fell off, the hair and the skin. And then, you saw the blood and the muscles, and then the blood and the muscles fell off, and you saw the skeleton. And in the middle, there was this beating red heart. And the whole group was like, "Ew." And she was like, "No, no, no, no. It was beautiful." That's step one. We got to find someone who's not going to go immediately, "Oh, that would be horrible for me. So therefore, it's horrible for you." No, no, no. Listen to the person. She was like, "No, no, it was beautiful." We talked about it for about 15 minutes, and she kept using words like, shedding skin, falling off. And whenever...

Nicoline:
Shedding skin, like falling off. And whenever she talked about it, she had this wonderful look on her face. That's thing two, look at the emotions of people that they have. For her, this was a beautiful experience, fantastic, I'll roll with it. Thing number three, I ask tons of questions, like where are other people, how did you interact? Just like if it's a real situation, you want to figure out what happens, you're just going to ask questions. And if there's information, those questions are going to prompt it. If there's not, they're just going to be like, I don't know. Okay, fine, I'm just helping here. By this time, no one knows what this is about, not even me. And that is crucial. That takes guts, because we are so trained to want a solution quickly that even as a listener, you got to be trained to not try and think, oh, I know what this is about.
You got to be really disciplined. And that seems to be the hardest part in this society, to not want the solution fast. But what we're trying to do is get all of your subconscious intelligence out to the forefront. We don't want to put ideas on top of it, right? Another question that I want to give you that is so helpful, and that I asked her and I got this from Cole Yung, I did not make this up. If you were to explain a horse to me like I've never seen it before, what would you say? Now, note that I didn't ask, what does a horse mean to you? Because that's a really rational question and people are going to give you a dictionary example. I just try to trick her brain and very casually ask, what would you say? Just imagine I've never seen it before.
What does it do? What is it for? And she said, I'll never forget this, she said, "Oh, a horse. That is the most beautiful majestic creature." And I noticed she didn't say animal. And then, I know nothing, except for the words that she said. And what is magical about this process, if you're a good listener and if you've paid attention, maybe even written down the words that someone said, all you have to do is recite them back to them. So I said, "Hey, I'm hearing you saying that a beautiful majestic creature shed it, skin after skin until nothing was left but the heart. If I say that, what does that make you think of?" They could do in the interpretation, not you, right? And she got so emotional and happy. She said, "That's it."
I don't know what is it, so I said, "Do you want to share it? You don't have to." She said, "Yeah, I do. This is what I'm struggling with right now. I am trying to find myself. I'm doing like workshop, even this one workshop after workshop just trying to figure out who I am and what I want with my life. But I'm trying way too hard. I just have to let all the skin layers fall off until the heart remains." It is so simple. For her, that was an eye opener, and she almost got there. She was trying to tell herself something, Chris, this is a process that I love.

Chris:
I'm just going to let that breathe for a minute. That was so cool that you were able to do that for her, with her. And because she's trying to have that inner dialogue and it's through this creating space for someone to tell you something. And this is something that's very difficult, especially for people that are creative, I think, is we want to project meaning and assign things to people or things that we hear and see all the time. It's because I think culturally, we're taught that if we can quickly identify a problem, we're the smart one. We deserve the credit. We deserve the respect. But the reason why, and when you shared the story last time with Harvey, it really hit me because this is what I try to teach people to do when they're having a conversation with a prospective client. The client comes to you with a problem and they're not even aware of their problem.
They're kind of, they know they have a problem and they try to articulate it to you just to kind of like this whole horse shedding its flesh and blood to reveal something. But we quickly say, oh, this is what this is about. Let's go and solve that problem right now. We're so quick to give people advice. We're so quick to jump on solutions because it's just, we're raised to think this way, we're socialized to want to solve problems really quickly. And I was like, what a wonderful unlock, if we can understand this in the dream state, perhaps it'll help us also with our interpersonal communication skills, especially when money's on the line. That in this moment, you gave this person a gift that they're probably going to remember for the rest of their life. And that connection that you made with that person is way stronger than someone who's like, oh, horses, that's gross. And they start projecting all this kind of meaning onto it. Wow.

Nicoline:
Can you imagine what would've happened, Chris, if she had went online to one of those dream dictionaries and looked up, oh, horse means this. Okay. The end, tells you nothing.

Chris:
So are you saying those things are not very helpful?

Nicoline:
Maybe for the person who wrote them.

Chris:
Okay. Ouch. All right. Shots fired. They hear you. Okay.

Nicoline:
Here's the thing, I love what you say because that is the process. I'm not here just to make myself look smart. You really feel very stupid in the middle of the process, but I treasure that. I want that, because I want to get to the smartness that's inside of you. I want to get you there. If she'd come to me with, okay, how do I find myself? I wouldn't have known what to say and I would've gone, given her some advice that would've helped for me, but that might not have helped for her. But this dream told her exactly what to do. She knew intuitively what to do. She thought about this. She'd work through this. She had her entire life's worth of information. That's what I want to tap into.

Chris:
Okay. I just want to highlight what you just said there, that you were okay not knowing where this was going to go. You were just surrendering and letting go of control, of being able to predict the outcome. And there could be this chance that you go somewhere and it doesn't mean anything where you can't figure it out. But I love that. And I have to ask you this question. What is it about you, you're training, your background, your upbringing that says to you that as a professional, it's okay for you not to know the outcome. Because I have a lot of friends who suffer with this or through this where they get on a live stream. They need to know how it's going to go. They talk to a client, they need to know the script, the framework. They need to know the outcome every single time. Tell me about what's going on in your magical brain.

Nicoline:
It's not magical at all. That's the one thing, I don't believe I'm nothing special. Now what I have to say is special, I fight for that. But me as a person, doesn't really matter if I say it or someone else, it's just no one else is doing it, so here I am. So I trained as a coach, and even though the training that I chose was based on doing as little as possible and facilitating your client rather than advising them what to do, people had a hard time with me. Even my trainers were like, I don't get it. You seem to just go blind and do things and there's no framework. And then you hit the spot, but how did you find it? I'm like, I don't know. I just create space for it. And I think that that was... I mean, I love my training, but that was lacking in a sense that you don't know the power of creating space for another person.
If you have the guts to really listen, not to yourself, but to the other person, I think that is way more powerful than we give a credit for. It's actually the same as listening to yourself in your sleep or whatever and not whizzing it away. Here's the thing, because of time, I won't give you another lengthy example, but I often encounter with clients that if we're halfway through the dream or even if they know what it's about, their rational brain kicks in again. And they come up with, oh, maybe I should stand up for myself better. Or maybe I should things that you've read somewhere, but that is so much easier to go to than the thing that's really trying to whisper inside of you. Now, I told you there's tons of ways of working with dreams. Not everyone does what I do.
And I'm a little bit of a rebel in that way in the field because I'm pretty radical about it. Because I think people are crazy smart. And I just want to tap into that so hard. Maybe that's why I am so fierce about it, because I don't feel like I could be smarter than the person who knows themselves their entire lives, and who's thought about this issue that they want to solve. So when I work with a client about a work problem, I usually talk, I introduce it, I get the thing going. And then they sleep on it a few nights. And then they say I had these crazy dreams that don't seem to be related at all. And then we talk about them. In the end, they're like, wow, that makes so much sense. I don't know how I didn't see it before. Well, because I got there. I could facilitate it, but it was them making the connections, not me. Does that make sense?

Chris:
Yes. What you're saying resonates so much with me in that when I'm working with a client, whether I'm coaching someone, I believe they understand their problem way better than I could ever learn in my entire lifetime, and that they have the answer within them. And I think just tying these two worlds together, the business world, sales and also dream interpretation, how you said, "You need to just write it down and look for themes." I mean, just, you guys just think about this. If we're not talking about dreaming, just think through this, through the lens of a client. So tell me what your problem is. So you write it down and you look for themes and you allow them to talk it over because they're going to translate thoughts and feelings into words. Your words, the words or the bridge between the subconscious dream or mind with rational thoughts. And then for you not to project meaning and interpret this more than what it is.
You just keep asking more questions. What does this mean to you? How else might you describe this problem? What's driving this right now. And then you get all this good stuff with the assumption that the person understands their business and their customers way better than you could ever hope to learn. That's just about respecting the intelligent human who's in front of you. And I hate to say this, so many people in my space, they do not feel and think this way. They think I'm the professional. I have the answers, you're hiring me as the consultant. And they almost go through this just as a formality. I'm going to ask you a few questions, but I'm not actually listening to you, I'm just going to tell you what I want to tell you anyways. Back over to you.

Nicoline:
How fun would it be if you were to ask your clients what they dreamt after speaking with you, to get that extra layer of information and being able to peel more out of it because it's a fantastic feedback loop. If they're not happy, it's going to show up. They might think they're happy, but if there's something nagging at them, like I said, emotional sensors fired up to a hundred. So if something's bothering you, oh, it's going to come up and it's going to probably come up pretty dramatic, because we're super drama queens in our dreams, which is extremely useful when I work with the clients, because I know I'm on the right track. And if I'm not, they're going to tell me, without even knowing that they're telling me. So I love it. Hey, can I give you another tip that is really fantastic if you want to sleep on a problem?

Chris:
Yes, of course. Yeah, yes.

Nicoline:
There's this a researcher and I thought he was so smart. What she tried to do, she worried about, okay, you know you're crazy smart if you heard me talk for an hour in your sleep, but here's a problem. You also know that dreams are emotionally steered and facilitated. So how do you make sure that you use all that smartness on exactly the problem that you want to be working on, especially when there's this really intense movie that you just saw or something else? Now what this researcher did was so smart. She had the test subjects. She presented a problem to them, just a 10-minute video. In this case, it was how do I get volunteers motivated? It's not easy to solve, right? It's not one and one is two. But while presenting it, she had a lovely scent in the room, just a nice air freshener.
And she gave that same scent with the people to put in their bedrooms and then sleep on it. Because what happens is now they've tied subconsciously that one scent to that one presentation. So the idea was if you put that in the bedroom and they don't smell it all day, right, just in that one presentation. You put it in the bedroom, maybe it would trigger your brain and sort of nudge it in the right direction. And sure enough, when they did the standard creativity test, how many solutions can you find in two minutes in the morning, you log on to the system, go, the people who had the scent association were 50% better at finding out of the box solutions.
And they were better at identifying the best solution. Isn't that smart? So what I do now, if I work on something and I really actually don't want to work on it or I don't like it, I put my work scent next to my computer. And then I put it away until I fall asleep and put it next to my bed. And it can be very subtle. It doesn't matter, scent is a really subtle thing. And it really tricks my brain into keep working on it when I sleep, just like an extra mind hack, I love that research.

Chris:
I'm going to have to try that. I love that. Okay. I have a question for you, but before I ask the question, I know that we're about a little over an hour into our conversation. There's a story, and then there's a question for you. The story is this. I'm not sure if it's the Radiolab podcast that I heard about this, but there's a gentleman, his name is Robert Lewis Stevenson. If you don't recognize the name, it's totally okay. And he was coming up in a time in which writers were paid money to write short stories. And he famously would go into his office and he would have this conversation with himself and he would say, "We need to write because we need to make money." He's talking to himself and he says, "I'm going to leave. We're going to go to sleep. And I need you to come up with these stories, these fantastical stories."
And then he would wake up and he would just write these crazy stories down and he could tell the story, and then he would make money. So he quite literally tapped into his dream subconscious state to be a creative partner in his endeavors. And in case you don't know who Robert Lewis Stevenson is, he famously wrote Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a person who's conflicted between two states of mind. And so that was even the metastory on top of that. You're getting really excited, so I want to turn it over to you.

Nicoline:
I know this story and I love him. By the way, Radiolab did also a fantastic episode with Dr. Robert Stickles from Harvard and Matthew Walker, I believe, who did research on mice, who are solving how to go through a maze in their sleep. Also, absolutely worth a listen, I have to put it on my website. The question though-

Chris:
The question is this. Here it comes.

Nicoline:
... is I get really... I love the story.

Chris:
Yes. The question is, in that story you shared about the horse, where the flash is melting off and then you see the muscle and that goes away, what a wild dream? That almost seemed like a drug induced, some hallucinogenic thing that's happening. And I've realized something about myself. I'm almost 50 years old. I'm a very logical in some ways, very controlling person who's now buried this emotional part of me. I don't have crazy dreams anymore. The ones that I used to have as a kid where I would fly on a piece of cardboard and be able to do crazy things, and also run away just terrible monsters and be stuck in the mud, all that kind of stuff. I have very rational dreams now. Is there a way? I don't know if there's a preferred dream, but I don't have those crazy horse melting flesh dreams anymore. Haven't had them for a really long time. Can I tap into that? Should I be thinking about that? What's going on?

Nicoline:
Wow. You make my mind race. I love your questions. First of all, a warning/disclaimer. People who've talked to me, with me for an hour, usually start to get more dreams just because I get them excited about it. So, that might happen to you. Second thing, this is another one, I'm almost 50. And I've noticed that my dreams are becoming more and more mundane, but really because I'm focused on this whole working in my sleep thing, my dreams are facilitating that. So I'm kind of feeling that the way that I am in the day, of course, that's not going to change the way I am at night. We're going to be the same people. And to everyone who says, but I don't ever dream, how does this even going to help me? Doesn't matter. Not everybody has these visual stories. I'm a visual thinker, you're a visual thinker, sure.
But a lot of people are doers. And I speak it to a lot of people who just wake up with an idea. I worked with this one client who was like, okay, how do I get myself motivated to do a workshop? And we worked on it and we talked about it and she didn't have any dreams, but she did wake up every day trying to get her website in order, trying to get her office in order, trying to make everything nice for herself. She was just energized, waking up and doing that. That is also an answer. How did she get herself motivated? Well, by laying the foundation first, that was her problem. And she was smart enough to realize that in her sleep. But were there dreams? Absolutely not. She just woke up and was like, okay, first things first, I'm going to clean up my office, with this strong desire.
That is also a way of communicating with yourself. Some people wake up with a song in their head, no dreams at all, but pay attention to the lyrics and it might be trying to tell yourself something. Even if you don't remember the lyrics and you have to look them up, like you said, that archival memory, it's there. It's going to be there. And the other thing that you got me thinking about is I'm talking about dreams now, like it's all about problem-solving, but that's just because I made that part my job. But of course we're going to be complete humans, that doesn't change when we fall asleep. We don't magically only become problem solvers. In the day, I can care about people. I can have inspiration. I can be worried about my family. I can have so many things going on in my mind. That only enhances when we fall asleep, it doesn't diminish.
So that everyone who says, yeah, but you're talking about it so rational. Is it just our brain? What about inspirational dreams? What about connection with other people? Yeah. I'm still going to feel connected to people when I fall asleep, I'm not becoming this selfish person, all of a sudden by the magic of sleep. But I'm talking here about this one thing that I love so much that I want to talk to you about it. Just like we can talk about brainstorming and it's not like our brain in the day can only brainstorm, but it could be that your focus is now shifted on something else in your life. And that you're just not doing the magical fantasy anymore right now. Does that make sense?

Chris:
Yes. Okay. I just remembered something. You're right. Probably after today, I'm going to have these crazy gnarly dreams and we'll have to talk again. But you just reminded me of something. I know it's kind of gross, trigger warning, everybody. The pee dream. We'll talk about the pee dream and I want to ask you about how we can be more in control and recognize when we're dreaming so that we can be the architect of our own dream. I think it's called lucid dreaming, but let me talk to you about the pee dream, okay. I have a rule with myself and sometimes when I violate my own rule, I pay the price for it, which is don't drink water after nine o'clock, because I'm going to want to go to the bathroom. And I enjoy my sleep so much, I do not want it interrupted. I want to get into the deep REM state.
And so my wife, she'll get up two, three times a night to go to the bathroom. But for me, it's like, I do not want to get up. And so what happens obviously is like, to prevent me from wetting my own bed. I'm like, I have to pee in my dream. I'm like, I got to pee. So I'm going to the bathroom somewhere. And I'm a little bit of a germ freak. And then all the sudden, I look down and I'm bare feet. I'm like, what? Now, I'm in kind of a school or somewhere where it's like bathroom stall. And I look down and there's water overflowing from the toilets. And this is super gross for me. I know it's gross for most people. I'm like, I can't step in this water what's going on? And then I'm racing through to find one clean bathroom somewhere.
I know what's happening. My archival, my dreaming brain is like, dude, if you go pee right now, you're going to wet the bed. So it's pre-creating all kinds of barriers in front of me. Or I'll open the stall and it'll be like, totally gross. There would just be a thousand barriers. And then finally, I'll wake up like, all right, I will go to the bathroom because I can't keep sleeping. Because even if I fall back asleep, I'm going to have the same or just even crazier dreams about the same thing. Tell me about the pee dream for a little bit.

Nicoline:
I love how you connected it to just the physical sensation that you have and your mind's being like, don't do it, don't do it buddy. Because I think that's exactly what's going on. Although, there's also people who have it and then we sort of dive into it a little bit more. Because there's this sense of, I bet there's more going on. And 20 minutes later, we know something about yourself that you may not have consciously known, but we're working through in your sleep. So we're not going to do that now obviously, takes too much time, but there is so many angles. Now, the one thing I'm not going to tell you is, well, usually when people dream of peeing, it means this. Because what use is usually to you personally, that makes no sense to me. So I love that you tied it back. I have it with the I'm walking barefoot dream.
That's only whenever when I've kicked my blankets off and my feet are out of the... And my feet are just cold. So that shows up in my dream. But sometimes, I'm walking somewhere barefoot and there's a storyline going on that ties into something that's really important for me to think about a little bit more in the day. Does that answer your question though?

Chris:
Yeah, it does. Well, so external stimuli can actually filter its way through into your dream state. And I remember too.

Nicoline:
Oh boy.

Chris:
Right? Sometimes I'd fall asleep watching Saturday morning cartoons, Justice League or something like that, or Super Friends. And then I would dream about being one of the characters in the Justice League and it was just so awesome. I love those dreams. And when you wake up you're like, oh, go back. And I can never go back to the dream again no matter how hard I want it.

Nicoline:
Yeah. That's tricky. Hence, the lucid dreaming because people want it. Now I want to say one thing about lucid dreaming. Do you know how we talked about the guts of not having control and not having the answer and really get all of that unconscious intelligence to light? For me, lucid dreaming is the other way around. Now, you're trying to control your dreams as well. This is why I never got good at it or maybe I think that because I'm not good at it. That could be two. But I used to, as a kid, I used to lucid dream a lot, but I noticed for myself that the more control I have, the less I know. So really good lucid dreamers would tell you that if you are a dream and you know that you're dreaming. And if you just look up lucid dreaming, there's so many techniques, I can't even relate them anymore.
They're all about how do I set up a mental habit for myself to figure out is this real or am I dreaming? And it could be with any kind of trigger. Like some people use their iPhone in the day. All the numbers are fine and you could just call. In a dream, usually that's harder. So then it's like, okay, if I look at my phone and everything is jumbled up, it's probably a dream. It could be looking at your hand. I don't care, it could be anything. The thing is to scent a mental habit for yourself to keep checking your reality, which one am I in right now, in any way? And then there's people say this food helps, people say this help helps. It's about figuring it out too much information. So many forums on it. I love it. Ryan Hart is a name that you can remember.
He's a super expert, but there's many more. One tip, if you have the ability to go into a dream that I think most lucid dreamers know, is it's much more interesting to ask your dream, hey, what do I need to learn right now? Then to start controlling it and doing awesome stuff. If you want to learn things, or to be like, hey, how can I solve this one problem? Or hey dream, what do you want to show me about myself? Or anything else, because it is a state of mind, where you're physically in that sort of both states. It's almost like meditation.
You know how he talked way in the beginning about the logical brain in the prefrontal cortex being, well, very much offline in a dream. If you put a lucid dreamer in a brain scanner, that logical part kicks in. So you have sort of this dual states of both being in the complete dream states, but also in this very aware day kind of thinking. So that connection that I was talking about of logical thinking and subconscious thinking, you have that as well in the dream. And people who are good at it, love it.

Chris:
Okay. You just gave me a little clue here, because oftentimes in my dreams, I can't remember things that I should already know. Combinations to a lock or a path back home. Something is like, what's wrong with me? Why can't I remember this? That's the trigger then. That's my totem inside the dream if we're referring to Inception.

Chris:
Then that's my totem inside the dream. If we're referring to inception, that's a totem that tells me I'm dreaming. And so now, theoretically, then I can say, okay, do whatever it is you want because you're in a dream state, you can't get hurt. And explore things. Be as creative as you want to be. Maybe I can get back to that state.

Nicoline:
Yep. A hundred percent. And it might happen in the next week now that we talked about it. We're setting you up for success here right now.

Chris:
I like this. Well, I was excited before talking to you about dreams and using my subconscious brain to do all kinds of things for me, with me. And now I'm even more excited, but does it make sense for us to maybe field a few questions before we wrap up here? I want to honor your time as well. On creativity and how we can do that. It's not going to be a dream interpretation thing, but perhaps you've tried this before. You're a creative person in however broadly you want to identify that, and you've been successful or not successful and you need some help. Is that okay for us to do now?

Nicoline:
Absolutely. Yeah. I'm game. I have a question in the back channel that's easy to answer. Okay. Ryan, who at the loosen dreaming. Ryan Hurd, H-U-R-D. Now, if you Google lucid dreaming, there's many more people. So he just has a really cool website about it. There's another name that I can give you, also a topnotch one. He's been on Clubhouse with me for a few times. Robert Wagonner, W-A-G-O-N-N-E-R, I believe. And he's lucid dream God. He has some online courses as well. And he's written some books. I really appreciate his work and his research.

Chris:
Okay. I'm going to bring up Jacob here. Jacob has a question. I could have easily asked the question, but since we have this opportunity to have an interactive conversation, Jacob, welcome to this stage. Go ahead and just ask your question to Nicoline and we'll see if we can get it answered.

Jacob:
Yeah. Hey Chris. So my biggest question was if you nap during the day, is it a bad thing to set a time limit and will this affect how much you're able to dream through a problem?

Nicoline:
Love this question. You are a smart man to ask this and I'll tell you why, because hormones, you got to fall asleep and there's a complete shift in hormones to be able to do that. But that complete shift usually doesn't happen if you nap, just because you're in your day rhythm and your hormones are not ready for sleep. So what happens is, usually when you nap, you go straight into REM sleep. You don't even go do the whole deep sleep thing. You don't make that entire body transition that we usually do right before sleep. You just take a nap. So that means that even a short nap can give you this benefit. I'm also going to be honest with you here, Jacob. I love this research and I choose to believe all of this because I love napping so much. And it's usually when I'm stuck on something, I take a nap. I feel better. I feel rested and probably wake up with an idea on how to proceed. Does that answer your question though?

Jacob:
Yeah, I think so. Thank you very much.

Chris:
Thank you, Jacob. All right. Well done. So next up, I'm going to move you down, Jacob. And the next up is Courtney. Courtney has a question. What do you do when you feel yourself about to wake up, but don't want to?

Nicoline:
I don't know. I never had that. I do know that lucid dreamers have all kinds of tricks to stay in that dream because the minute that you're like, "I know that I'm dreaming, this is a dream and I'm dreaming." It's so exciting that you wake yourself up.

Chris:
Yes.

Nicoline:
But I've never tried any of them.

Chris:
I've had that problem. Okay. So we'll have to figure it out.

Nicoline:
Yeah. This is a Googleable question though.

Chris:
Uh-huh (affirmative). That's true.

Nicoline:
A lot of people who are smarter than me have figured this out. Thanks for asking it.

Chris:
Yeah. So while I scan through some other questions, I want to ask you this question, just to make sure, was there something else that you wanted to talk about that you had in your mind during your heart, that for whatever reason hasn't come up? And maybe you can talk about that.

Nicoline:
Oh, you gave a lot of space. So I've talked about tons of things. I got a question about recurring dreams in the back channel.
What about them? That is an interesting one. Because I get that a lot. Here's the thing, I see personally, two ways of that happening. First of all, you're processing, you had something, an event, and it could be as simple as a movie or something happening to you that you want to process through. And that means, it's going to keep coming up. And people with PTSD know this more than anyone because that's when it just keeps coming up, usually as a nightmare. And it just won't go away. That is your brain trying to process. And usually, most therapies that work with PTSD and dreams are focused on facilitating the process, so you can get through it.
That's one way of recurring dreams. You're just trying to work through something. And the other way that I see it happening with people is, you're really trying to tell yourself something. Like this one guy had a dream where he was in a box and every time, it could be a crate or it could be something, but he was boxed in literally and trying to fight his way out. So much that he would slash around. And his wife was like, "You sleep on the couch. This is no good." But after working with one of my colleagues, he figured out that that recurring dream was portraying a feeling that he had at work all the time, which was being so boxed in that he couldn't figure a way out and he just couldn't be himself anymore. He literally couldn't stand up straight. For him, the solution was to find a different job because he was really trying to tell himself, you can say, okay, but the money is good as much as you want during the day, but you're going to get real with yourself at night.
And maybe there's something, that a lot of people have. I'm back in school and I have to do my exams again, dream. And usually that's also coming up in a period where something about that dream is triggered by something that happened during the day. And I usually tip here. This is a pro tip. You find what it is by looking at the details.
Okay. Exams, pivotal time in most of our lives. So if you have that dream, sure, you're going to think back. It's probably something that was stressful because for who exams weren't stressful.? I don't know. But what was it? Did you lose your pencil or any of your utilities and you couldn't write, you knew, but you had no way of making it happen? Or where you're running around. Trying to find where you needed to go and you didn't know where to go or were you late, constantly late, unprepared? I know a journalist who keeps having this dream. And she says, every time I have it, I dream that I'm unprepared because a deadline is moved up and I didn't know about it. So stressful. But when I have that dream, I look at my deadlines and I tell myself, is there one that I'm going to miss if I keep up this pace? Do I need to move a deadline? Nine out 10 times, I'm trying to tell myself, "Look closely. You're going to run into trouble." I love recurring dreams because of that.

Chris:
Okay. I have one more question coming in from Sherry Lee Francis, who said this via the back channel. I'm going to ask it to you first, but then as we're winding down here and wrapping up, I would love for you to tell a story about one of your dreams and what it meant and what you did about it. And then I'm going to tell a horrible story about the same situation. So I want to give you some time, I want to prime you about whatever dream you feel comfortable sharing with us, what it meant and what you did about it. And I'm going to do the same. So stick around for that. But here's the question from Sherry Lee Francis. After listening today, what steps can we do tonight before we go to bed to see or practice for results? I love that. That's very actionable.

Nicoline:
I like it. I really like it. Okay. This is the step that everyone on the internet tells you, but that's just because it works. Right? Okay. You put some pen and paper next to your bed. You write down what you want to dream about, because then it's going to be the last thing you thought about, right? And then you just drift off to sleep. If your brain starts imagining things about it, let it. That's you priming yourself. But if you start thinking about other things, let your brain do its thing. Trust the process. And then in the morning, before doing anything else, before going on your phone, before talking to someone. Like you said, Chris, no one talked to you. Just write down. I like pen and paper, but I don't care if it's your phone, just don't get distracted. Write down whatever lives inside of you.
I don't care if it's a dream. I don't care if it's a song. I don't care. If it's a thinking back to a movie you once saw. Doesn't matter. Write it down like the morning pages creativity thing, stream of consciousness, write down whatever is there. It doesn't matter. Because what you're doing, now whatever lives inside of you, the memory of that, you're putting into words. I always sometimes see it as little posted notes of a really long brainstorm meeting that I had. First you got to catch it. So you write it down. And then you're going to go have coffee, brush your teeth. I don't care. Do whatever. Later, when you feel calm and rested, you're like, "Okay, I'm ready." That's when you read over it. Only then is when you decide if there's anything good there, not before. Why? Because if you start judging it before, you're going to stop your stream of consciousness and you cut off the process before you're even done. So put it away. You can put it away for days. I don't care. And then you go back to it. Does that make sense?

Chris:
Yes. I think that sums it up really well. I love that. So we might not think of it as a dream, but there's some kind of memory, something happened. Just to record that down. I think that's the first step. Right?

Nicoline:
Uh-huh (affirmative).

Chris:
Okay. All right. Are you ready Nicoline?

Nicoline:
Yeah. All right. A dream that I had?

Chris:
Yes.

Nicoline:
So now I'm going to give you the one that I think of the first, which isn't the most impactful or anything. Ooh, another one. This is a funny one. When I was younger and I learned about all of these processes and I started reading all this research and I thought, this is amazing. I'm going to figure out everything about myself. I was in my late twenties. I asked myself before going to sleep, what is the purpose of life? Because of course I wanted to know what to do with my life, Chris. So I got this beautiful dream of me floating in the universe and a voice saying, "Love is everything. And I woke up thinking that's not helping much, is it?" Because with dreams, as with everything, it's garbage in, garbage out.
I had this really broad question. So I got this really broad answer that didn't tell me anything. So I had to try over and over again until I got it right. To ask the specific question. And this specific question that worked for me at that moment was, what is the next that I can take in finding my dream job. Now, that was an actionable question. That was a question that I could work with at nights. And I got a few ideas in the morning. And I honestly can't remember which one worked and which one doesn't, but it got me moving again.
Funny story. Now, a thing that I also did, when people ask me to work with them and luckily I get that a lot this year. I love Clubhouse. I always sleep on it, because I want to know if there's anything in how I feel about or that I picked up in the interaction with someone that I should take into consideration. Now, if I wake up happy, doesn't matter what kind of dream. But if I wake up happy and content, I'm like, this is a yes for me.
But this one time, someone asked me and I hadn't really had time to look into her much more. And she was like, "Oh, and I'm doing this really big summit and you have to come because you're so amazing and..." Blah, blah, blah, blah. And it's a great opportunity. She kept talking about what an amazing opportunity it was for me to speak at her summit.
And I had this dream about a completely different person who would only talk about her self and would only talk with me as long as it related to herself and would only allow me to talk to other people as long as it related to her. And when she was done talking and wanted to go, other people still had questions and she was like, "Uh, it doesn't matter." I was like, "It seems to matter to them though." I woke up and that's when I looked up this woman a little bit more closely. And when I figured out that she got paid for that summit, but none of her speakers were, I was like, "Hmm, are you saying amazing opportunity for me or for you to make a lot of money? I don't think I like you anymore." So that was my hint to look a little bit closer, Chris.

Chris:
Okay, I'm going to tell the story, and my friend Amy has also messaged me in the back channel. So maybe we can sneak in one more question before you say goodbye. Okay. So when I was younger, I was a hopeless romantic. I really was. And you're like, "Are you sure about that?" Well, I was 15 years old, I fell in love with this girl. And I fell in love with her before I even met her in real life. It was one of these strange encounters where I met her on the telephone with a bunch of other people and we chatted and we kept talking. So I fell in love with who she is or at least in my mind who she was. And I had committed myself, my heart, my soul to this person. And we dated for a couple of years, but like all relation, things start out great I think, and then they start to descend into hell. Sorry.
That honeymoon phase lasted for a brief period of time. And then we went into this really weird place where, because I think I was emotionally less mature than she was, even though we were at the same age, I was just really needy in this relationship. And I think she felt that about me. And I started to suspect, I don't know if she's seeing other guys. And when we were actually dating in real life, we met each other. It was always funny little things that would happen, phrases and just different things that would just... My jealous heart was like, "Oh, why would you treat me this way?" I was hurting inside. And I remember oftentimes when I would think about our interactions together, my stomach would get into knots, and I would feel really tightly wound up and I'll give you one incident that it happened.
She worked at Macy's at the cosmetic counter at Landcom or something like that. And I convinced my cousin like, "Hey, I got to go see her." And he's like, "Oh dude, come on." So he agrees to go with me and I go and do a surprise visit. And lo and behold, she's talking to some guy and I'm like, "I don't think the guys at the cosmetic counter are looking for cosmetics. This makes no sense whatsoever." I confronted her about it. She dismissed it. Whatever. And so after having experience this for a while, I was tortured in my dreams, just horribly tortured. The relationship was so bad.
And every time I would bring up something to her in real life about like, "Hey, are you dating someone else? There's something going on here." She's like, "Are you jealous? What's wrong with you?" In my dream, like what you would see in a crime detective movie. I had these crazy flashbacks when it was... A scene would open up and another scene would open up. I'm like "What is going on? And all of a sudden, in my dream, I could connect the dots. And the evidence was actually really overwhelming.
In my conscious brain. I wanted the relationship to work so badly that I was just ignoring all the signs. Every little thing goes so obvious to me in the dream. And then finally I asked her like, "I had this dream about you last night, and this and this happened and it's kind of inexplicable. Are you seeing other people?" And she kept denying it. But that's one of those things where your archival brain can put together things that obviously my conscious brain was very concerned about. And it turns out she was cheating on me. We eventually broke up. Thank God. But it was one of those things where, damn it, I should have just listened to my subconscious brain. I shouldn't have suppressed that. And even though it was overwhelming. I just kept denying that. And that's my dream. And that's what I did with it.

Nicoline:
Wow. I love that story, Chris. Let me tell you why I love it so much. Because you illustrated something that I think I haven't said enough, but it can't be said enough about how our brain works when we're asleep. Is that your feelings and your emotions, the thing that you subconsciously pick up and everything that's really going on, can't be reasoned away anymore. And I love your story really illustrates. You can want the relationship so much in the day, but that I want this to work, which is an irrational way of looking at it, that's turned off. And your emotions and your feelings, this is where they shine. This is where you can really show yourself, oh no, this is how I really feel about it.
And I got to be honest with you. For me, working with clients, dream are fantastic tool to figure out, okay, but how are you really feeling about it? And that could also be discovering, this is really holding me back, but I try not to admit it or I didn't know about it, or I didn't think about it. But what is holding you back emotionally? I think a lot of people use dreams that way, to really check in with themselves. And be like, "It might be in a metaphor. It might be in a story, but it's going to portray this is what I'm really feeling inside." And now things are getting real.
Now the question is, are you going to wake up and dismiss it as a weird dream? Or are you going to be smart about it? Like you were. And investigate it a little bit further. And what I also really like about your story, Chris, is that you didn't just wake up and be like, "Okay, I had a weird dream about it. That's the end of the relationship. Bye." It's an idea. It's a thought, it's a feeling. It's an emotion. It's a portrayment. It might be a metaphor for something else. So you really went to work and investigate the story behind it and then connected the dots in real life. I think this is one of the best illustrations of how people can use dreams in everyday life. Thank you for that.

Chris:
Thank you. I wish I listened to my dream a little bit more back then, but I was just so wound up in this relationship. It did take months, if not years after those dreams that ultimately that relationship did end and it was proven that that was actually what was happening.
Okay. Sweeping that aside. Amy Lynn has this question and I don't want to end before I ask this question, which is, she says, "Why is it that I can still remember some dreams from when I was a child? But I can't remember my dreams now? Is that significant?" So you have this dream that just created an impression on your brain and you can remember that, but now we can't remember our new dreams. What's going on there, Nicoline?

Nicoline:
I don't know Amy. So of course, I can only talk in vague generalities. I hope you'll forgive me. People say this to me a lot though. And usually when we dig a little deeper, there's one of two reasons. First of all, it could be that we live in a society when our dreams are not valued so much, if you think something's, you're not going to pay attention to it. That's as simple as that. If we live in a society where we thought math was just stupid and no one should do it, do you think you'd be any good at it? Come on, do you think you'd even think about numbers ever in the day? Of course not. And we've had that with feelings, like in the generation of my grandparents. They were just not something that we talked about. So we also didn't have the vocabulary to even know that we had feelings about things. And even express it to ourselves.
My friend always says, it's a practice. It's a practice. And you have to practice to get good at it. This is not like, "Oh, I have this life changing dream. The end. Everything's fantastic." This is something you do on a regular basis, like meditation or any other kind of thing that you do with your mind. Do it. It's usually not going to happen.
Now. I was lucky. My mom always asks, "Oh, what did you dream last night?" And she would just let me talk or say, "Hey, why didn't you make a drawing about it?" And if I had a nightmare, she'd be like, "Why don't you make a drawing?" And then she looked at the drawing, because I had a little distance, like words. It was this little bridge. And she was like, "Oh yeah, that does look scary. What would help? Could you maybe draw something that would make it better? Could you maybe draw the dog next to you or something?" I was like, "Oh yeah, that's a great idea." I feel immediately better. That is a way of making me realize that I'm allowed to put my dreams into words, that I'm allowed to play with them in the day. And that I'm allowed to find solutions in them. Even if it's just the dream and fun.
But that's not something every child gets, right? So as an adult, a lot of people think, okay, this makes no sense. Let's just focus on the day. The other thing is, alarm clocks. You know how we said in the beginning that the last part of our sleep has the most REM sleep. If you cut it off, you're going to have less dreams.
It just takes time. So that's another thing, if you're not allowing yourself to dream, then when would you do it? If you don't allow yourself to exercise, how is your body going to get fit? It's not happening. And then the other thing that I notice, as a lot of people have this idea of, it has to be as visually and as all encompassing as I was a child. But maybe your way of thinking shifted. Maybe you're more focused on execution now. Maybe you're in a practical phase in your life. Maybe you're just not in that introspective mode right now. Doesn't mean it can't change again.

Chris:
Wonderful. Wow. It sounds like you had a, an amazing mom.

Nicoline:
Oh, she's the best.

Chris:
A mom that we all should have, right? That listened to you, that gave you space to explore and gave you some tools to work with. You've been very generous with your time. I'm getting a ton of back channel messages now. And unfortunately I think we do need to call this. And so if there's interest, just message me and we'll see if Nicoline wants to do this one more time and we can really dive into your questions. But based on your generosity so far and giving so much and helping many of us look at dreams differently, I'm going to ask our audience now to go and follow you right now on Clubhouse. And for people who want to find more about you, where is the best place for them to go?

Nicoline:
Well, I made a website. Finally, an English language website, Chris, I'm just starting to connect with people who speak English. I've only been doing this for 15 years in Holland. But the website is thinkinginyoursleep.com because I love this idea that we keep thinking in our sleep. And that I can think in our sleep is fantastic. So I made it thinkinginyoursleep.com and I have my latest blog is about most of the things that I've talked about. Just a fact sheet, so that if you're like, "Wait, what was that name?" You can look it up again.

Chris:
Wonderful. I've pined the links to your website up here, at the top of the room. So anybody that's interested can click on that. I love that title, thinking in your sleep. And that's probably the beginning of a book maybe in the future. Who knows?

Nicoline:
Oh, that's a good idea.

Chris:
Right? I mean, it's self explanatory and I just love the idea. And for a lot of people, it's going to be radical. And for those of us that have been thinking in their sleep this whole time, it'll be like, "Yeah, it's about time. It is about time."
Okay. I want to thank you again for doing this. And also for [Avi 01:37:59] who initially had this conversation with you several weeks ago, that introduced me to this idea of dreaming and creativity and sleep and the science behind all of that. So thank you very much. Thank you for all of you who tuned in. And I hope you're having an amazing beginning of your new year and that hopefully tonight you'll be slipping into your dream state, prepared to write down your dreams and see what they mean. Have a great day.

Nicoline:
Thanks so much. I'm Nicoline Douwes Isema, and you're listening to The Future.

Greg:
Thanks for joining us this time. If you haven't already, subscribed to our show on your favorite podcasting app and get a new insightful episode from us every week, the future podcast is hosted by Chris Do and produced by me, Greg Gunn. Thank you to [Anthony Barrow 01:38:51] for editing and mixing this episode. And thank you to [Adam Sandborn 01:38:54] for our intro music.
If you enjoyed this episode, then do us a favor by rating and reviewing our show on Apple Podcasts. It'll help us grow the show and make future episodes that much better. Have a question for Chris or me? Head over to thefuture.com/heychris, and ask away. We read every submission and we just might answer yours in a later episode. If you'd like to support the show and invest in yourself while you're at it, visit thefuture.com. You'll find video courses, digital products, and a bunch of helpful resources about design and creative business. Thanks again for listening. And we'll see you next time.

More episodes like this