Productivity Hacks That Work In Your Sleep!

Yes! There are productivity hacks that work while you’re sleeping.

Have you ever been on the cusp of a major decision and found yourself saying, “I need to sleep on it?”  That’s because some of the greatest psychologists, writers and scientists have provided research to back up this claim.

The phenomenon is nicknamed  The Incubation Effect. It is one of the best productivity hacks I’ve come across! It was originally established by a social psychologist named Graham Wallas in 1926 as a part of The Four Stages of Productivity.

We’re all wired naturally to do this, but there’s a way to approach this method and massively intensify its effects.  In doing so, you will have two productivity hacks that literally work in your sleep!

Basically The Incubation Effect is a mental skill that’s used for generating ideas, solutions or benefits from the subconscious after taking a break from working on the subject matter.

You intentionally shut down the conscious part of your brain from focusing on the topic and allow your subconscious to go to work.

There are two types of incubation:productivity hacks, mental skills, incubation effect, 4 stages of productivity

Short term:  This is over a period of anywhere between a few hours to over night.  Thus the term, ‘sleep on it.’

There’s something about the subconscious thought processes that occur during sleep that can often foster more clarity and insight that wasn’t present the day before.

Long term:  This is over a period of a few days or even weeks.

When the conscious mind shuts down and stops focusing on a particular idea, often solutions or stronger ideas are formed simply because the conscious mind isn’t ‘tunnel visioned’ on providing the solution, or finishing up the project.

Have you ever worked so hard on something that you feel like you’re ‘racking your brain’ trying to come up with ideas?  This is the perfect time to put your ideas onto the back burner.

From now on, try to look at this state as a signal that your conscious mind needs a break and allow the unconscious mind to take over.

The most important part of the Incubation Effect is the unconscious processing that goes on. When you take a break and consciously decide to come back later, the conscious mind shuts down.

Since you decided before taking the break that you’re going to come back to it later, this somehow awakens your subconscious.  So while you move on to other tasks, your subconscious is tossing around ideas in the back of your mind.


Have you ever been doing some mundane daily task and you get an idea for something you’ve been deliberating on for a while?

These are the times where you want to grab a piece of paper and jot down your idea before it leaves.

This is just a small example of how the Incubation Effect works.

Is It Really That Simple?

Well, yes and no.  These are the two hacks, as promised in this article’s headline:

  1. Brainstorm
  2. Sleep on it.


The trick is to know how to shut down one part of your brain and awaken the other part when you need to. This is where your practice of mental skills will come in handy.

In a way, we all do this ‘sleep on it’ thing naturally.  So how can we really take this concept and make it work for us in an incredible way?

The main point of this is to awaken our subconscious mind.


You want to do this step in your conscious mind.

This includes researching, taking notes, outlining, mind mapping, gathering statistical data, finding supporting arguments and anything else you can do to develop a basic framework for the project, piece of writing or problem. 

Take your time on this and make sure you do a thorough brainstorm.

The most important step is to thoroughly explore different approaches.

Consider every single angle, perspective, possibility and view you possibly can. You will know this step is complete when you are completely exhausted of all ideas.

This is the point when you begin ‘racking your brain.’ Remember, this is the sign to take a break.

So walk away, sleep on it…move on for now. 

Just make sure that you have a notebook, Evernote, or an app on your phone handy at all times so that when your subconscious starts spitting out ideas, you can quickly record them, intentionally NOT dwell on them, and go about your routine. 

THIS is the Incubation Effect at work.  The more you practice it, the more productive and the more powerful this technique becomes.

Sleep On It

This is when you want your subconscious mind to take over.

Depending upon time constraints, ‘sleeping on it’ can mean a few hours, overnight, a few days or a few weeks.

Have you ever heard the term ‘in the back of my mind?’ This is what goes on during the Incubation Effect. 

The subject matter is literally in the back of your mind.  The ‘back of your mind’ could be considered your subconscious. 

While you’re sleeping your subconscious takes the information that you brainstormed  and puts it into varied thought patterns, uses different perspectives, and combines facts in varied ways.

The reason The Incubation Effect is so powerful is because when your subconscious is at work, you’re not inhibited by dismissive thoughts or negative core beliefs that often shut down the creativity process.

How to SUPER CHARGE the Incubation Process

Establish at least one good solid core belief or statement to repeat continuously when you find yourself thinking that you didn’t brainstorm or research enough. 

Without positive thinking at all times, these productivity hacks will not be able to manifest in your subconscious mind.


It’ll all come together.  I’ll let it marinate in the back of my mind and come back to it later.

Productive Distractions 

Your mind is going to want to revert back to moments of brainstorming, so it’s important to arm yourself for when this happens. 

Productive distractions can include everyday tasks such as social media marketing, profit and loss, newsletters, returning emails, searching for new clients etc.

Keep your work schedule detailed and full so there’s no significant amounts of time available that will tempt you to return to conscious brainstorming.

Back up Tasks

Back up tasks are tasks you need to have ready to switch to when your everyday tasks just can’t seem to keep your mind off of your ‘incubating’ project. 

These may include reading, catching up on the podcasts you’ve been meaning to watch, filing, cleaning out your email inbox, doing some spring cleaning, working on a craft project, playing with your family, etc.

In a nutshell you are ‘suppressing’ your conscious mind from dwelling on the subject matter. Suppressing emotions is NOT healthy, and that’s not what this is suggesting. 

The word suppress means:

“to put an end to the activities of (a person, body of persons, etc.)”

In this context, it’s referring to putting your brainstorming to bed.  ‘Sleep on it.’ 

When you consciously walk away, you’re opening up the subconscious part of your brain to take over.  THIS is incubation. 

Productivity hacks, in all respects are actions that you take in an effort to save time and to grow your business. 

Using these two very simple methods is the most powerful, effortless hack available. 

The more you incorporate it, the more success you will attain.  Try the Incubation Effect for a while. 

Once you truly learn to tap into your subconscious, you will be amazed at the increase in your creativity as well as your productivity. 

Yes!  There really are productivity hacks that work in  your sleep! Now go out there and be productive!

Please help share the advantage of productivity hacks that work in your sleep by sharing this article. : )

Begin Building YOUR Success Mindset Today!

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41 Responses to Productivity Hacks That Work In Your Sleep!

  1. Joy April 15, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    When I can’t figure out things and I feel like I’m going to tear myself apart for even trying, I take a nap. I called it power nap. 🙂 Like Kylie, I didn’t know there was a name for it. 🙂

    • Lynn Silva April 28, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

      Hi Joy! 🙂

      I now keep a notebook on my nightstand for these ideas that pop up. When I really tune into my subconscious, they come up even in the middle of the night. At first, I hated it, but now, I really like it. Sometimes I go to bed without any inspiration and I wake up and can just spit the words or ideas right out. I love it! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

  2. Kelly Boyer Sagert April 15, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    Hey, Lynn! I love this technique and have used it many times to come up with solutions to my writing dilemmas. I also admit that I occasionally use it as an excuse to take a nap . . .

    • Lynn Silva April 15, 2014 at 10:38 am #

      Hey Kelly! 🙂

      So I guess that means that you could call it a ‘productive nap?’ lol.

      At first, I dismissed this technique saying, “I already do that!” But when I started really tuning into the subconscious…WOW…it takes it to a whole different level. I plan on continuing to develop this and using my subconscious a LOT more in the future.

  3. Kylie Dunn April 15, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    Fantastic article Lynn. I often try to put things to the back oft mind but hadn’t realised there was a name for it. The subconscious is an amazing thing and I love the idea of intentionally handing problems over to it. I might give the brainstorm and hand it on hack a try next time I have a problem that my conscious cannot deal with.
    As always, I learned something new 🙂

    • Lynn Silva April 15, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

      Thank you Kylie! : )
      We all do it naturally. It’s just one more sign of how much potential the mind carries. The hard part, at least for me, is tuning out your conscious mind, while tuning IN to your unconscious mind. But the more I practice, the more powerful the results.

    • Lynn Silva April 28, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

      Hi Kylie! 🙂

      Coming from someone I admire and look up to, the fact that you learned something from me is an honor and a privilege! Thanks so much for commenting!

      • Jeana July 19, 2016 at 8:19 am #

        Deep thinking – adds a new dimension to it all.

  4. Neil Eldred April 16, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    Lynn, thanks for the great article. I learned what I’m always doing wrong with my ideation. I do the brainstorming and stop there. I don’t put my subconscious to work to generate more ideas. Thanks so much for the hacks. Now I know how to get more ideas.

    • Lynn Silva April 28, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

      Hi Neil! 🙂

      Oooooh boy do you have some major ‘epiphanies’ in store for you! Keep using this and you’ll become better and better and the ideas will come faster. Sometimes I can completely outline an article in my head now and whip it out using the ‘Incubation Effect.’ It’s amazing, and we don’t even really use this part of our subconscious brains half the time! Have fun!

  5. Megan April 17, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    Very interesting information here, Lynn! Nice to have a name for those annoyingly timed moments of inspiration!

    I’ve never thought about actually TRYING to encourage those little lightning strikes, however – there are a couple of niggling little projects I might just apply this to. 🙂

    Great post!

    • Lynn Silva April 28, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

      Hi Megan! 🙂

      I’ve always wanted to know how your mind works so I can’t wait to see what you come up with! PLEASE keep me posted! Thanks so much for commenting! 🙂

  6. Rob McNelis May 3, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    ughh productivity, I have such a love/hate relationship with it. 🙂

    Nice post!

    Random side note… Right now, I’m focused on generating traffic. Do you use any strategies other than content marketing? Curious to hear your answer.


    • Lynn Silva May 3, 2014 at 9:58 am #

      Hi Rob! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. The answer to your question is YES and NO. To clarify, I mean what has helped me the most is taking a combination of the mental skills I chose to focus on for me personally and a content marketing program that Tommy Walker taught me called SocialFilter. It was powerful without the tweaks I used, but when I started tweaking it to fit me, it made all the difference in the world and it’s very simple. The only thing you have to do is make a solid commitment to be consistent in what you do every single day. If you wish to take my mental skills assessment and make an appointment I’ll give you a free consult with enough information to give you a really great start. Email me at and use the title ‘Free Consult.’ And YES, anyone else who reads this may do the same. 🙂 Take care and go make it a productive day!

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      Thank you for reading! You may email me at and subscribe to my email list. I notify you each time there’s a new article. Don’t worry, NO spam ever. 🙂

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      If you’d like, you can sign up for alerts each time a new post is published. Fill out the form on the site or email me at and leave your email address. Thanks so much for reading! 🙂

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      Thank you so much! What an honor! Please come back and feel free to participate in the comments or email me with any questions you ever have. You make all the hours of research and writing worth it!

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      WOW! Thank you SO MUCH for the compliment and I hope you keep coming back! Much love, much respect. 🙂

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