“Scientists at the U.K.’s Liverpool John Moores University explored the potential link between dreams and problem solving by examining a specific type of dream: the lucid dream. In a lucid dream, the dreamer is aware that he or she is in the midst of a dream, and can take control and direct aspects of the dream. Lucid dreaming is a skill that can be developed, according to some research.
In the current study, researchers worked with 9 experienced lucid dreamers, male and female, between the ages of 18 and 41. Researchers created a control group of 9 participants with similar demographic characteristics who were not lucid dreamers but who did have strong dream recall abilities. Over a 10-day period, all participants were given a nightly “task” to solve. Researchers delivered tasks via email each night at 9 p.m. Both the lucid dreamers and the control group were instructed to read over the task several times before going to bed, and to try to memorize it without actually solving the problem it contained. The tasks were of two types—logical and creative. The logical tasks involved providing factual information in response to a question, while the creative tasks involved creating metaphors.
Researchers asked lucid dreamers to use their dream skills to complete each task. Lucid dreamers were given specific instructions about how to do this, including initiating a dream and seeking out within that dream a guide who could help the dreamer solve the problem. Once the task had been resolved, lucid dreamers were instructed to wake themselves up and write down the answer they received.
Non-lucid dreamers were asked to recall their dreams immediately after waking, to record their most vivid dream of the night, and to solve the task with the first answer that came to their minds. This was also the procedure that lucid dreamers followed—if they weren’t able to successfully find an answer through a guide within their dream. Research analyzed 160 individual dream reports of both lucid and non-lucid dreamers, examining the responses to both logical and creative tasks. They found no significant differences between lucid and non-lucid dreamers in terms of the logical problem solving. When it came to solving creative problems, however, researchers’ analysis determined that lucid dreamers had an edge over non-lucid dreamers. Lucid dreamers were more successful in creating metaphors than non-lucid dreamers.”
According to dream researcher Domhoff, high dream recallers have strong visual imaginations. Images are visual metaphors and may explain why dreaming and particularly lucid dreaming can support problem solving. If that is the case, then it seems a core skill for both remembering dreams and making use of them is the development of your visual imagination. Lateral thinking skills, pioneered by Edward Bono, help develop visual imagination: https://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/lateral.htm
The research study quoted here was found at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleep-newzzz/201412/how-our-dreams-influence-our-days