6 Famous People Inspired By Dreams

One of the most fascinating things about dreaming, which has a lot of psychology experts scratching their heads, is how brilliant dreams can be. In fact, in a very real way, the world we live in has been shaped by the brilliant dreams of people you have undoubtedly heard of.

Here are just 6 famous people inspired by dreams (trust me there are many more) in incredible ways. Through the inspiration of dreams some of the greatest contributions to science, technology, and art have been produced.

Thomas Edison

Edison would intentionally do his brainstorming while on the brink of sleep because he recognized that his dreams were often the precursor to brilliant ideas. In fact, he would sometimes place a metal tin on the floor between his feet and hold a rock in his hands while he would brainstorm so that when he'd drift into sleep, the rock would fall out of his hand into the tin and wake him up. This of course is an outdated strategy for lucid dreaming today (some would refer to this as WBTB – Wake Back to Bed). Interestingly, many people actually believe that Thomas Edison was an avid lucid dreamer. Edison appears to have had great faith that by accessing a dream state he could greatly enhance the creative thinking process. Who knows, maybe this belief is what led him to be the greatest inventor in history?

Robert Louis Stevenson

We have all heard of The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde right? But did you know that this classic novel was actually inspired by a dream that Stevenson had? If you have ever read this story it is actually quite easy to see some of the relationships depicted between “the two parts of the self” - the unconscious and conscious mind. Interestingly, Stevenson sought out inspiration through his dreams regularly. In fact, he had some pretty strange bed-time strategies, which he believed helped him access a theatrical dream experience, which apparently inspired many of his writings.

Christopher Nolan


One of the greatest movies about lucid dreaming -Inception was actually inspired by Christopher Nolan's personal experiences with lucid dreaming. Yes, as it turns out, he is an avid lucid dreamer. Although the movie follows a dramatic exaggeration of certain aspects of the dreamscape and lucid dreaming in particular, it’s a surprisingly accurate representation of the principles involved in lucid dreaming.  (Begin lucid dreaming here.)

Paul McCartney


Paul woke up during a dream with the tune "Yesterday" in his head one morning. This later became one of the greatest hits The Beatles ever produced. He almost called it - “Last Night”


JK. That would have been cool though, right?

Mary Shelley


Have you ever read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley? Talk about a nightmare! This world renowned novel was actually inspired by a dream that Mary Shelley had one night. She said of this experience:

"When I placed my head upon my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think... I saw -- with shut eyes, but acute mental vision -- I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous Creator of the world.

...I opened mine in terror. The idea so possessed my mind, that a thrill of fear ran through me, and I wished to exchange the ghastly image of my fancy for the realities around. ...I could not so easily get rid of my hideous phantom; still it haunted me. I must try to think of something else. I recurred to my ghost story -- my tiresome, unlucky ghost story! O! if I could only contrive one which would frighten my reader as I myself had been frightened that night!

Swift as light and as cheering was the idea that broke upon me. 'I have found it! What terrified me will terrify others; and I need only describe the spectre which had haunted me my midnight pillow.' On the morrow I announced that I had thought of a story. I began that day with the words, 'It was on a dreary night of November', making only a transcript of the grim terrors of my waking dream."

Elias Howe


It is no doubt that when the sewing machine came out that at least one person referred to it as a "dream machine"; well guess what? It was.

Elias Howe had the idea of creating a device that could successfully sew through cloth, but for a very long time he couldn't figure out exactly to make this work. He first tried using a needle that was pointed at both ends, with an eye in the middle, but it was a terrible failure. He thought on this problem in his head constantly.

One night he dreamt that he was taken prisoner by a group of Indians. They were dancing around him with spears in their hands and he was terrified, as you might imagine. But, as he saw these Indians circle around him, he noticed that their spears all had holes by their tips. He thought, Man! Why didn’t I think of that.

When he woke up he realized that the dream had provided an inspired solution to his sewing machine problem. By locating a hole at the tip of the needle, the thread could then be caught after it went through cloth thus making his dream machine operable.

Abraham Lincoln


This isn't an invention, but a very interesting note to end on. Did you know that Abraham Lincoln actually witnessed his assassination in a dream he had before he was killed? Apparently the dream really troubled Lincoln shortly before he was killed.

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