1.04.2008

Hypnogogic & Hypnopompic

I was listening to a podcast of James Lipton playing "Not My Job" on NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me (12/2/07). He said some of his best writing inspirations come during the hypnogogic and hypnopompic states.  The huh? I'm a physiological psych major and amateur neuro-geek and had never heard these terms, which he said referred to the zones between waking and falling asleep and sleeping and waking up, respectively.  But, I immediately related to what he said.  I often get my best creative ideas and experience a vivid feeling of mental clarity regarding problems I am trying to solve during these times.  Being a congenital Type A, my mind also tends to spontaneously create well-ordered to do lists and new project self-assignments.  I often am jumping out of bed just as I got in or before I'd really like to get up in order to run into the office and write these fleeting thoughts on a post-it before I lose them.  (Yes, I know I could keep post-its by the bed.) 
This morning I jumped out of bed to write a reminder to look up these two words and learn more about them and write this post.  But upon researching the terms in depth (Okay, upon a quick glance at Wikipedia and a few other sites), I found that the terms are specifically used to describe a series of physiological and psychological phenomena that certain individuals experience during this transitional time between sleep and wakefulness, such as temporary paralysis and sensory hallucinations.  (Lipton wasn't describing any such phenomena, so I'm not sure if his use of the terms is strictly correct, but it would take research I don't have time for right now to answer that.)  This led me to websites devoted to "sleep inertia" -the technical term for morning grogginess, which is scientifically verified to possibly last up to 4 hrs, which explains some people I know.  And to lucid dreaming, a concept I first learned about from the movie Waking Life.  Which, by the way, is a beautifully uniquely animated film that is great eye- and mind-candy.  I loved it so much I had to buy it, and I own less than 10 DVDs.  I also loved enough to own Spirited Away.  Check them out next time you're renting.  

So, here's to the transitions between sleeping and waking and to hoping that I've benefitted even more from hypnogogic and hypnopompic creativity than normal in the past 21 months as I've had to wake up and fall back asleep with a much higher frequency since becoming a mom!  

What kinds of hynogogic/hypnopompic weirdness have you experienced?  When and how does inspiration strike you?  Have you seen these movies and what did you think of them?  Do you podcast?  Podcasting NPR shows is awesome, because otherwise I would never hear them!  

4 comments:

KCB said...

Spirited Away is such an awesome movie. I've seen it about four times now. It's such a beautiful story. It also passes the Mo Movie Measure so it gets feminist cred without even trying.

I've had temporary paralysis on waking a couple of times -- scared the crap out of me before I learned what it is. I've had lucid dreams since I was a kid and was surprised to learn as an adult that not everyone does.

I tend to think of things while I'm on walks and runs or at the computer. I fall asleep pdq at night and in the morning I don't think or talk until after half-caff.

I can't relate to this "jumping out of bed" business. What's that about? Was there a fire alarm?

APChem said...

Well, frankly this is how I regularly function. Sometimes I wonder if I sleep at all as evidently I am solving the worlds problems and inventing all kinds of things in that transitonal period and remains upon waking. Okay, it's true... I AM EXHAUSTED! Interestingly, the timing on this topic is really incredible as I am following through right now (I have an appointment Tuesday with a biochemist followed by that with a patent attorney) on an idea I had in JUST THIS STATE! How weird is THAT?
On the flip side, sometimes I wonder if I can THINK when I'm awake... hmmm.... Perhaps I'm an Einstein only when in a coma?

Chelsea said...

I like the Mo Movie Measure. Gonna have to test that myself the next few movies I watch.

I don't think I've had many truly lucid dreams. But, I distinctly remember extremely vivid dreams of flying that I had in childhood. I just stood on a chair in the backyard and leaned over and then would start flying, hovering a few feet above the ground and controlling where I went. I was always sad to wake up and lose the ability.

When I was pregnant, I woke in the middle of the night with temporary paralysis a few times. Freaky.

Other inspirational times for me are showering, driving, and walks/hikes.

Chelsea said...

I applaud you for following through on a big idea. So many of my big ideas come to me, but I never have the wherewithal to follow through on them...