Imagine if you could solve all your problems with the same creative sagacity and astuteness as the likes of Thomas Edison, Isaac Newton, Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, Salvador Dali, Ludwig van Beethoven, Mark Twain and Aristotle. It turns out you can, and it’s really quite simple: all these historically brilliant thinkers attributed many of their creative insights to, believe it or not, napping.
The hypnagogia nap, in particular, may unveil the sources of our super-subconscious for creative insight in solving our day-to-day challenges. (Going forward, I will refer to hypnagogia as sleep onset, as it is much easier to say and read). As you may have remembered from early Psychology classes, sleep is broken down into different stages that have different physiological functions at each stage. Sleep onset is the transitional state between wakefulness and sleep.
The progression from wakefulness to sleep is accommodated by a wide variety of chromatic sensory experiences. One can expect a manifestation of seemingly incoherent geometrical patterns, lines, spots, and waves. Flashes of light, and humming, buzzing, drumming sounds are frequent cognitions (although, typically it is more visual). Many scientists describe this state as a loosening of ego boundaries – a flourishing of openness, sensitivity, and a cascade of fluid, illogical ideas.
The most well documented case of individuals using this heighted state to their advantage are that of Thomas Edison and Salvador Dali. Thomas Edison, a well-reknown famous napper, would fall asleep with his elbows by his ears and his hands on the edge of his bed. He would have two hand-fulls of ball-bearings that would drop to a carefully placed plate below the bed. The moment he dozed off, his grip would loosen and the striking of the ball-bearings would cause him to wake, resulting in a 1 second nap. Similar to those a-ha! moments in the shower, Edison would awake to some new profound insight and understanding to his latest invention. His work speaks for itself: with roughly 1,903 patents, he is regarded by many to be our nation’s most famous inventor.
The highly retorted physiological benefits of napping speaks for itself. With heightened sensitivity, clearer mental cognition, and myriad creativity, who wouldn’t want to solve their day-to-day problems as these illustrious men have done throughout history with a one-second nap?