One of the ways I’ve been cultivating my creativity has involved using lucid dreams to discover what I should write about, both for fiction and nonfiction. In order to have lucid dreams I’ve found it helpful to change some of my sleep patterns, just enough so I can remember my dreams and still get enough sleep for my health.
If I get a full night of sleep I usually need 7 hours. When I’m doing dream work, I aim for getting around 6 hours of sleep. I find that if I only sleep 6 hours, I wake up around the time that I’m having vivid dreams and can remember those dreams. If I have a journal on hand, then I can write the dream down.
This type of dream/sleep practice has been around for a long time. The particular methodology I use is based around the Tibetan methods which are described in the Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep, but if you do some research you can find some type of sleep practice that works for you.
I currently do this sleep practice 5 days out of the week because of my work schedule, but when I started on this particular schedule I recognized that I still needed to get enough sleep to be healthy and functional for work. I determined that I need around 6 hours a night at least, and I also make sure on the weekends that I sleep in. Additionally, when I get home from work I meditate, which while not exactly sleep, does help address any sleep deficit that might otherwise occur.
Each night when I get ready for bed, I meditate for a bit to quiet my mind, connect with my body and set my intention to remember my dreams. Then I go to sleep. When I wake up to the alarm, its usually around the time I’ve been vividly dreaming. I have a whiteboard nearby, where I’ll write down initial impressions, enough to lock down my memory of the dream. When I drive to work I’ll talk about the dream to myself, just to think aloud and capture further impressions. And at work itself, I have a note book I open up where I jot down notes between work activities. This helps me start fleshing out the dream and allows me to begin turning it into a story or magical working.
Depending on what your circumstances are, you can do something similar. I recommend at the very least keeping a journal nearby so you can jot ideas down, because one you put ink to paper you’ve managed to take the impression of reality and provide it substance and form. And make time to review your notes, both to see if you have anything to add and to discover whether you want to turn your dream into a story or magical working. By doing this you’ll begin to discover themes as well, which you can use for further exploration in your dreaming and waking life.