You know that space between being awake and falling asleep? Those few minutes when you aren’t really in either place but somewhere in between? It’s a crazy time. We’re starting to dream but we’re still alert enough to know it, which makes strange things happen in our brains and lets our brains take advantage of those things in a way we can’t when we’re sleeping.
Turns out there’s a name for this. They call this mental state “hypnagogia.” (No, I don’t know how to pronounce it!) And it’s a key to creativity.
All kinds of people have used hypnagogia to boost their inspiration. Mary Shelley, for one, thought up Frankenstein hovering between sleep and waking. And lots of other artists and writers have said they’ve had great ideas in this state of mind.
I was curious about this because I took a nap last weekend that didn’t work out. I couldn’t fall all the way asleep, but even though I was half-awake the whole time it also seemed like I’d been dreaming. It was strange. So I Googled.
I guess the idea is that hypnagogia is the shortest path between our subconscious minds and our wakeful selves. The brain is slowly switching over to sleep mode, but it hasn’t switched all the switches yet, so we get this weird in-between thing. It’s basically a shortcut to our subconscious, and if we take it, we can find all kinds of useful thoughts and ideas waiting there that we can’t access when we’re wide awake. We might find a new way to solve an old problem. Or get an idea for a project. Or have a vision that inspires us to do something amazing. Almost anything can happen.
I’m going to try to be more intentional about hypnagogia and keep a notebook by my bed. I want to write down whatever comes to me between wakefulness and sleep and see what it holds. Maybe my next big step in life is waiting for me! It seems worth trying. What about you guys? Has anyone ever had anything cool happen during hypnagogia?