Working the Night Shift: Problem Solving via Dreams

Standing over my kitchen counter, contemplating chemical interactions between ingredients, sifting lumps from cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar, and stirring. Whisking, pouring, and baking. Taste-testing, note-taking and repeating, to get things just so. A typical day in the life of a recipe developer.

It’s all fairly unremarkable, unless you consider this all occurs while I sleep.

Before you think I’m fortunate enough to snooze while an assistant does my work for me, think again. All those steps – including (perhaps, especially) the troubleshooting – take place in my dreams before they become a daytime reality in my kitchen. There, my former dreams are baked to perfection into recipes for my gluten-free food blog and for companies I do freelance recipe development for.

I call it “dreamscaping” and it’s been happening with my recipe development for about six years and even longer than that for other aspects of my work like writing science-based nutrition and wellness articles.

As far back as graduate school, I used dreams to guide my work. For example, 25 pages into my master’s thesis, I was not happy with the flow of the work. The transitions were off, unclear. I knew I had better writing in me, it only needed to surface. For me, that meant a good night’s sleep and dreamscaping to get those golden nuggets to the surface of my mind.

The result? I woke the next day, pulled up that thesis file on my laptop and hit “delete”. It was gone, no more. A bold move by some standards, discarding a paper I’d spent months writing. But for me, because I had been doing this for some time – discarding written work, only to replace it with something far superior – I knew I not only had a clean slate on —> Read More