Hypnagogia - The threshold of your subconsciousness leading to creative thought

Hypnagogia – The threshold of your subconsciousness leading to creative thought


Have you ever been in a dreamlike state even while you were awake? Have you ever experienced an intermediate limbo between sleep and wakefulness? Just after your sleep breaks every morning, it’s most likely that you may keep drifting back into light sleep, its then when you might have experienced being conscious of yourself dreaming. At times, you may end up uttering gibberish in your mind or reciting poetry or initiate a creative thought process. The experience is surreal and visionary with a very fine border demarcating your conscious and subconsciousness. Ever wondered what it meant? It’s Hypnagogia!!!

1 Hypnagogia – The State of Semi-Slumber

Psychologists have termed the dream like condition of semi-slumber as hypnagogia, where though you are almost asleep and possibly dreaming, you are also semi-conscious of your actions and thoughts. The weird state of hypnagogia is that, not always do you have control over your thought process and that’s why you may feel like you’re talking gibberish, much like delirium when having a high fever.

The State of Semi-Slumber

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2 ‘Sleep without Sleeping’ – Salvador Dali Attributed His Surreal Art to Hypnagogia

Most creative minds in history have attributed hypnagogia to their most famous of creations. The great surrealist painter Salvador Dali proclaimed hypnagogia as “slumber with a key” and used the hallucinative state to create some of his most vivid of paintings. Dali also termed the state “sleeping without sleeping”, when he wrote his book ‘50 Secrets of Craftsmanship’. No wonder Dali’s paintings feature the most surreal art, very much as if in dream.

Hypnagogia is very much like being in a conscious state of REM or rapid eye movement, which is the state of dreaming during sleep. It is during REMs that the mind starts its recycling process, where your thoughts and intense emotions of the day could serve as the basis of dreams. The big difference in hypnagogia is that you’re partially or totally conscious of your dreaming. To elaborate on the state of hypnagogia, neurologist, Dr Milena Pavlova aptly describes the state as a fragmented REM in partial or semi sleep.

Sleep without Sleeping

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3 You Have Definitely Experienced Hypnagogia without Being Aware of It

Hypnagogia isn’t a large subject of research; however it could unlock the creative aspect of your mind. Mary Shelly declared that the inspiration behind Frankenstein was achieved while in a state of hypnagogia. She said, “I saw with Eyes shut but acute mental vision.”

According to dream researcher Michelle Carr, the human mind – when experiencing hypnagogia – acquires fluidity and becomes hyper-associative. This results in a series of random images as expressions of memories and sensations that have accumulated in the brain.

You Have Definitely Experienced Hypnagogia without Being Aware of It

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4 Hypnagogia Is Your Guide to Your Subconciousness

Hypnagogia is a Greek term meaning ‘sleep’ and ‘Guide’ seeking to explain the state of being conscious while drifting to sleep. There are two types of brain waves. One is Alpha brainwaves which keep us conscious despite of daydreaming or during meditation. The other is theta brainwaves, which are linked to healthy sleep. According to scientific research, hypnagogia is an experience of both brain waves being present. The combination of both is what produces the hallucinative and dreaming effect or visionary sensation.

During hypnagogia, activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain is reduced. This is the area responsible for social behavior and making routine daily decisions. This is why artists feel Hypnagogia is a perfect state to experience the uninterrupted and free flow of ideas and thought patterns while being awake.

Hypnagogia Is Your Guide to Your Subconciousness

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5 Hypnagogia Is Like Tripping Without the Harmful Effects

Like tripping, hypnagogia can produce absurd visions and surreal hallucinations. There can also be a lot of bizarre visual imagery mixed with psychedelic color, creative insight or broken up thought patterns. Perhaps this is what Salvador Dali experienced and interpreted it in his paintings.

However, extreme states of Hypnagogia where hallucinations take on the guise of lifelike visions are termed hypnagogic hallucinations. It is considered a sleep disorder like narcolepsy.

Hypnagogia Is Like Tripping Without the Harmful Effects

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6 Hypnagogia Can Produce a State Of Creativity

Hypnagogia can well induce creative thought. It is a conscious link to your intuition and your subconsciousness which can well give you a sudden idea or deep insight into unexplained problems. As a direct road to your subconsciousness, hypnagogia is like tuning into your higher self for solutions through a variety of different patterns and sensations.

Hypnagogia Can Produce a State Of Creativity

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About the author / 

Richa Dwivedi Sharma