Can I talk to you about some weird shit for a minute?
(This post is probably of more interest to the creative types, but hey, we’re all creative in some way. So, keep reading.)
I’ve spent a lot of my life sleep deprived.
It started with insomnia when I was about 10 years old. For the next 14 years or so, I never slept any way that one might consider regularly.
Some of it is depression and anxiety. Some of it was due to hyperthyroidism that went undiagnosed for more than half my life.
I sleep much better, and more regularly now. Thanks for asking.
Anyways, being an insomniac one tends to become obsessed with sleep. At least, I did.
Ways to get to sleep. Methods for staying asleep. Little tricks and tips to lure the Sandman into my twitchy trap.
I even learned to lucid dream. I was 11.
When you’re obsessed with something, you tend to notice it, in all its detail and variance; to notice even the smallest thing about it.
Which brings me to the title of this post.
Hypnagogia is that state between wakefulness and sleep.
You’ll feel it most either when you’re dozing off, or between vicious slaps af the snooze bar.
I used to call it the body buzz.
It’s amazingly relaxing, mainly because one is in an almost completely relaxed state when one experiences it.
(One might also experience atonia, which is where one’s muscles go slack. This is natural. Keeps us from acting out our dreams. Also leads to what is sometimes referred to as Night Terrors, that feeling of being frozen with something in the room, maybe sitting on your chest. The old, old term for that is Nightmare. Mare being an old word meaning Goblin, and night, well, you can figure that one out yourself.)
But I digress,
Hypnagogia is a feeling in the body. But it can have other effects.
There is something called Hypnagogic Hallucinations.
One version of this manifests as the previously mentioned night terrors. It’s when your brain starts the process of dreaming, even though you’re not quite fully asleep.
And it’s seriously fucking cool.
Besides anxiety-inducing visions of some dark creature come to suck out your soul, you can also get some really trippy consciousness effects.
Out of body experiences.
Having whole conversations with the dead, or people you haven’t seen in years.
It’s all perfectly normal. That is to say, it’s not paranormal in origin. It’s just something your brain does, that you happen to be aware enough to notice at the time.
And here’s where it gets interesting for creative types:
Because you’re in a state of near perfect relaxation, and because you feel slightly euphoric, and because your subconscious can float to the surface and interact with your conscious mind on a visible level, you can, if you were so inclined, use this state to solve problems, to spool through various options, or to come up with something you’ve never thought of before.
If that doesn’t get your attention, I’ll say it again, because it seriously fucking should:
To come up with an idea you’ve never thought of before.
That’s like the Holy Grail filled to the brim with pure Peruvian flake cocaine, for us creative types.
An idea we’ve never had before?
Or an idea seen from an entirely different angle.
Shit. That’s Mardi Gras laced with Absinthe.
(not that I know anything about Absinthe, or pure Peruvian flake cocaine for that matter. Not me. I would never. Why are you looking at me like that?)
I’ll not get into arcane descriptions of my own experience with the phenomenon, because generally it’s difficult to put those experiences into words. They leave an impression, and you can milk that impression for inspiration, for generation, for cogitation, if you like.
I just wanted to tell you about it.
Maybe you’ll investigate on your own.
I hope you do.
It can be a marvelous experience.
One caveat: it can also be terrifying.
It’s much like a psychedelic experience that way. Your experience depends largely on set and setting.
That is to say: you need to be in a setting where you feel safe and comforted. And you need to go into it with a mindset that is open to whatever happens.
Seriously. Whatever. Happens.
If you meet a monster, recognize that it comes from inside you. Ask it to tell you its story. But don’t run from it. It’s like trying to run from your own shadow. It has something to tell you. Let it.
Don’t be afraid. And don’t worry if it doesn’t come easily to you at first. It might take a while of trying, but you’ll get there.
(There is some suggestion that bumping up your acetylcholine levels will aid in achieving the state, as well as lucid dreaming. If you have pills available, good for you – they’re usually not distributed outside of medical testing. If not, eat a dinner with lots of eggs. Eggs contain a ton of choline, which is an acetylcholine precursor. Tree nuts as well. If you’re a cigarette smoker, smoke one before bed. Like you don’t anyways? Nicotine binds to the same receptors as acetylcholine in the brain, which will leave more of it floating around inside your noggin. Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. You knew that, right?)
So, there’s your introduction to Hypnagogia, if you hadn’t heard of it before.
And sweet almost-dreams.
Until next time…