Dream Incubation: Dreaming With a Purpose

Sleep is essential to recharge the energy of your body and mind. However, what if, in addition, you could use your night's sleep to find solutions to certain problems?
Dream Incubation: Dreaming With a Purpose

Last update: 23 February, 2022

You spend about a third of your life sleeping. During this time, your body and brain get the rest they need to continue to function normally. You don’t consciously intervene in anything that happens during these eight hours a day. However, what if you could deliberately influence your dreams and use the night to achieve various goals? This is the opportunity offered by dream incubation.

Some people rarely remember their dreams when they wake up, while others tend to retain vivid images of them. Furthermore, the contents of dreams can be so symbolic and implausible that you don’t know how to interpret them. In fact, in the worst cases, they become scary and distressing (as with nightmares). The technique of dream incubation proposes that you dream with a purpose, not only to enjoy your dreams but also to obtain benefits from them.

Dream incubation

Dream incubation is a strategy that allows you to consciously influence the content of your dreams. It involves ‘planting a seed’ in your mind when you’re awake so that the dream develops based on your intentions. Therefore, you can choose the setting, the characters, and even the plot of your dream.

Would you like to dream of Paris? Of your partner? Of your old childhood home? With practice and perseverance, it’s possible, when you use dream incubation.

The purposes of sleep incubation

woman dreaming

Pleasant experiences

If you have nightmares, this technique can be an important step toward experiencing more pleasant dreams. Not only will you be able to avoid the scary content, but you’ll also be able to choose which dreams you want to recreate each night. This means you’ll perceive your sleep as more peaceful and restful and you’ll wake up immersed in more positive emotions.

If you have lucid dreams, dream incubation can be extremely helpful. By putting it into practice you’ll be able to determine in advance where and how your dream will unfold. You’ll then live through them, being completely aware of what’s happening.

To solve problems

Beyond enjoying your hours of rest at night, dream incubation offers you the possibility of taking advantage of your dreams to solve problems. In other words, to find solutions to those questions that torment you during the day and you don’t know how to deal with.

Some studies have shown that, during dreams, people are able to find solutions to both academic problems (crossword puzzles or word association tests) and personal situations (choosing what to study or where to place furniture in a room). Indeed, the answer seems to come to them through a dream related to the dilemma.

How to practice sleep incubation

Here are some guidelines to help you implement dream incubation :

  • Decide what you want to dream about. Is it a person? A place? A personal problem for which you can’t find an answer? Whatever you choose, keep this idea in your mind throughout the day.
  • Prepare the environment. Place one or more elements on your bedside table that remind you of what you want to dream of. For example, a photograph or a personal item.
  • Set your intention. At bedtime, clearly state what you want to dream about. You can even write it down. Also, make sure to keep the image you want to dream about in your mind until you fall asleep.
  • In the morning, when you wake up, take some time to remember what you dreamed about. Don’t rush to get up. Try to identify how you feel and recover the ideas or images of the dream that you still have. A dream journal can be useful.
Woman turning off the wake up

A matter of practice

It may take a while to achieve. However, with practice and repetition, you’ll be able to begin to choose your dreams and find solutions to problems and decisions.

It isn’t yet clear if these solutions are generated in your mind during sleep or if they’re created when you’re awake and it’s only at night that you perceive them. Whatever the case may be, it certainly seems that it’s possible for you to consciously influence your dreams.

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The Meaning of Dreams Throughout History
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The Meaning of Dreams Throughout History

The meaning of dreams has long been studied throughout history and is still very much studied today. This was done by the early Egyptians,



  • Barrett, D. (1993). The” committee of sleep”: A study of dream incubation for problem solving. Dreaming3(2), 115.
  • Harary, K., & Weintraub, P. (1990). Sueños lúcidos en 30 días. Edaf, España.