Everything You Need To Know About Hypnagogia

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Hypnagogia connects wakefulness and sleep. Like REM, it's a state of vivid dreaming, but you're aware enough of what is going on. This can be an excellent source of inspiration! During hypnagogia, you may experience visions, flashes of color, subconscious insights, sounds, and a period of open-mindedness. Many creative minds get their best ideas from this dreamy, trance-like state of mind.

Consciousness seems simple enough. You’re either awake or asleep, right? Not necessarily. There’s something in between, a state of mind you probably didn’t even know existed. Meet hypnagogia, the “middle child” of consciousness. It sounds like something out of a Christopher Nolan movie, but the concept is real. This psychological phenomenon connects wakefulness to sleep.

But why does it matter? For a creative mind, hypnagogia is a rich source of inspiration. It basically lets you dream while you’re awake. Here’s the low-down on this trippy state of mind.1

What Is Hypnagogia?

All you need to know about hypnagogia

The word “hypnagogia” means “sleep” and “guide,” suggesting how it leads you into a slumber. No wonder it goes unnoticed!

Hypnagogia is actually similar to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. During this state of deep sleep, dreams are in full force. The brain’s thalamus does this by taking information from our senses and sending it to the cerebral cortex. That information – images, sounds, and other sensations – makes up our dreams. But unlike REM sleep, we’re still conscious during hypnagogia.2 3

Signs Of Hypnagogia

Signs of this condition that you need to be looking for

1. Visions

Hypnagogic imagery is often creative and vivid but might also show up faintly. Many people report the images as dreamy, whimsical, and colorful. It also explains why so many artists draw inspiration from hypnagogia.4

2. Flashes Of Color

Aside from vivid visions, splashes of color are also common. These don’t necessarily look like a thing or a person. You might even see lights in the form of spots, kaleidoscopic patterns, or shapes.5

3. Insights

Are you struggling with a creative roadblock? During hypnagogia, you can gain some insight into your subconscious. It’s the place where “pieces” of a solution are stored and where creativity is born.

4. Sounds

Hypnagogia is often auditory. The sounds can vary, ranging from faint noises to loud bangs. Parts of conversations might also show up. The sounds are usually fragmented, yet related to something that the person was thinking about.

5. Open-Mindedness

Interestingly, hypnagogic cognition makes us more receptive. There’s a heightened sense of letting go of boundaries, especially of the ego. For the creative process to take place, this is the key.6

Hypnagogic Hallucinations

This condition can lead to chronic sleep disorders

Hypnagogia sounds cool, but for some, it can be troublesome. A sleep disorder called hypnagogic hallucinations develops when everything is too vivid. Plus, the highly realistic images and sounds are usually distressing. The thought of falling asleep may be a nightmare. In fact, this is a common trait of narcolepsy, a chronic sleep disorder.7

Hypnagogia And Creativity

Hypnagogia breeds creativity

If you don’t have sleep disorders, hypnagogia is a creative goldmine. For instance, Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb and the motion picture camera, loved to use hypnagogia. He’d sit in a chair to take a nap while holding steel balls. After drifting off, his arms would drop. The balls would fall, make noise, and wake him up. By then, he’d have an idea for his next project.8

Take a tip from Edison and embrace hypnagogia. Think of it as a chance to meet your subconscious halfway. Eventually, it might help the imagination dig up a few answers.

References   [ + ]

1, 3.Schwenger, Peter. “Writing hypnagogia.” Critical Inquiry 34, no. 3 (2008): 423-439.
2.Brain Basics – Understanding Sleep. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
4, 5, 8.Mavromatis, Andreas, ed. Hypnagogia: The unique state of consciousness between wakefulness and sleep. Routledge, 1987.
6.Spencer, Laci. Flotation: A Guide for Sensory Deprivation, Relaxation, & Isolation Tanks. Lulu. com, 2015.
7.Narcolepsy. U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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