Humans have a natural need to sleep but as we become more and more aware of the importance of rest, studies show that naps can improve your cognitive performance. The power nap is an excellent way to recharge your brain while also rejuvenating yourself post-workout or in between meetings.

Micro naps are a great way to recharge your battery and get the most out of your day. They can be done at any time, but it’s best to do them in the morning or afternoon. Read more in detail here: power nap time of day.

One of the keys to becoming a great painter, according to eccentric artist Salvador Dali, was “slumber with a key.” “Slumber with a key” was an afternoon nap that lasted just a fraction of a second.

Dali would sit in a chair with his arms resting on the armrests and his wrists hanging over them to achieve this micro sleep. He had a large metal key in his left hand between his thumb and fingers, and an upside-down plate on the floor right underneath the key. The key would slip through Dali’s fingers, bang on the plate, and jolt him awake from his fledgling sleep. “One walks in balance on the tight and invisible wire that divides sleep from awake,” Dali noted at the time. The artist suggested this technique to everyone who worked with their mind, saying that taking a little sleep “revived” one’s whole “physical and mental being” and left you feeling energized and inspired for an afternoon of creative work.

Dali said that he learnt the “slumber with a key” tactic from Capuchin monks and that it was also utilized by other painters he knew.

Entering a condition known as hypnagogia is the secret Dali had found. Today, we’ll look at what’s causing it, as well as how you might get fresh perspectives and dimensions along the line between awake and sleep.

The Hypnagogic Nap and Hypnagogia

There are four phases to a normal sleep cycle. We’re not officially sleeping in the first, but we’re on our way. Stage 1 sleep lasts around 5 minutes, although it might usually longer. The brain slows down, the body temperature drops, muscles relax, and the eyes move slowly from side to side. We lose awareness of our surroundings yet are quickly startled back to consciousness. You were most likely awakened during Stage 1 sleep if you were woken just as you were nodding off and claimed you were merely “resting your eyes.”

Hypnagogia is the term for this condition of transition between awake and sleep. Your mind is slipping into sleep, yet there are still strands of awareness hanging in the universe, and you’re hovering at the very edge of consciousness. You really are “half-asleep.”

You may see visions and hallucinations (typically of forms, patterns, and symbolic images), hear sounds (including your own name or imagined speech), and experience nearly bodily sensations related to what you did throughout the day while in this condition (like swimming in waves or riding in a boat). You may have sensations of bobbing, floating, or falling (which is why you sometimes wake up from Stage 1 sleep with a jerk). “Dreaming when waking” is the best way to explain the sensation.

Hypnagogia may occur while you’re on the verge of falling asleep, as well as when you’re going through Stage 1 on your approach to waking up (it is then called hypnopompia). In fact, because you go through the sleep cycle repeatedly throughout the night, and even have a few brief awakenings, you’re likely to experience hypnagogia at those times as well; Kate has reported receiving revelatory-like answers to questions in the middle of the night while in one of these half-asleep/half-awake states.

 

However, grogginess and forgetfulness haunt one’s recollections of hypnagogic states experienced throughout the night and when one wakes up in the morning. Furthermore, the hypnagogic condition you experience after going asleep for the night will most likely be gone by the time you wake up. Dali and many other creative types experimented with purposely generating hypnagogia as part of a daytime micro-nap for this reason. By doing so, they could wake themselves up just as they were about to enter Stage 2 sleep and instantly jot down the insights that had come to them during their short nap. They discovered that taking these “hypnagogic naps” increased their creativity and opened their thoughts to fresh ideas and solutions.

Why does a hypnagogic slumber have such a powerful effect? Because Stage 1 sleep in general, and hypnagogia in particular, has not been widely investigated, the answer is mostly unknown. The theory is that the condition allows for a seamless blending of day-to-day tasks and dreamy ideas — a collision of the conscious and unconscious. Professor Andreas Mavromatis claims that during hypnagogia, the logical regions of the brain are blocked while the “older,” more primitive parts (which think in imagery and symbols rather than words and well-defined ideas) have greater freedom. The prefrontal cortex’s traditional dominance and logic principles are challenged, and the customary restrictions on what is feasible are relaxed. As a result, the mind is free to experiment, form linkages between disparate concepts, and devise inventive solutions to difficulties.

Famous People Who Have Taken Hypnagogic Naps

Regardless of how it works, many brilliant individuals throughout history have sworn by the hypnagogic nap’s potential to generate remarkable advancements in science, arithmetic, music, art, and literature. The technique dates back at least to Aristotle’s time, and it was most popular during the Romantic period, when the search and discovery of intuitive insights were revered.

William Blake and John Keats were inspired to write poetry by sights they encountered while awake. The hypnagogic condition is described in Keats’ “Epistle to John Hamilton Reynolds”:

Greetings, Reynolds! As I lay in bed last night, that same thread of forms, shadows, and recollections appeared before my eyes, vexing and pleasing me every other minute: Things arrive from both north and south, – two Witch’s eyes above a Cherub’s lips…

Few people are spared these visits, – perhaps one or two whose lives have patent wings, and through whose curtains peeps no hellish nose, no wild-boar tushes, and no Mermaid’s toes; but flowers bursting out with lusty pride, and young olian harps personified; some Titian colors touched into real life”

Beethoven is claimed to have gotten ideas for his works while riding in a carriage to Vienna. Richard Wagner, another great composer, wrote an entire opera based on a dream he experienced while taking a little sleep.

“When I got over any knotty obstacle in a narrative, or have had in previous times, to fill out a section in a poem, it was always when I first opened my eyes that the needed thoughts thronged upon me,” wrote Sir Walter Scott.

 

Robert Louis Stevenson attributed most of his writing to the “Brownies” who came to visit him as he slept, weaving the threads of his tales in his mind, and stated he couldn’t tell what part of his work was “done sleeping” and what part was “done waking.” In reality, Stevenson got the idea for The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde after his wife jolted him up from a dream; he spent the next three days imprisoned inside his chamber, bringing what he’d seen to life.

Except when it came to explaining the “fancies” he encountered during his frequent, purposefully caused descents into hypnagogia, Edgar Allan Poe stated he had problems putting his ideas into words:

“I choose the word ‘fancies’ at random, and only because I need a word; yet, the concept generally associated with the term is not even close to being relevant to the shadows of shadows in issue.” They seem to me to be more psychiatric than intellectual. They appear in the soul (alas, how seldom!) only during times of extreme tranquillity — when physical and mental health are at their peak — and at those brief moments when the boundaries of the waking world merge with those of the dream world. These ‘fancies’ only occur to me when I am on the verge of falling asleep, with the awareness that I am…

These ‘fancies’ include a joyful ecstasy that is as far apart from the most delightful aspects of the world of awake or dreams as the Northman theology’s paradise is from its hell. I regard the visions with awe that, in some measure, moderates or tranquilizes the ecstasy — I regard them in this way because of a conviction (which appears to be a part of the ecstasy itself) that this ecstasy, in and of itself, is of a character supernal to human nature, is a glimpse of the spirit’s outer world.”

Not just esoteric artists, but even reasonable scientific types, have attributed hypnagogic naps with their inventiveness. While lost in a half-awake reverie, Isaac Newton, Descartes, and Albert Einstein are thought to have acquired insights into their ideas and achievements.

Thomas Edison, like Dali, was extremely deliberate about his hypnagogic sleeps. He’d sit on a chair, ball bearings clutched in his fists. He would set metal pie plates on the floor, immediately under his fists. The ball bearings would fall on the plates as soon as he fell asleep, causing a loud clatter that would wake him up. Before returning to full awareness, Edison would capture the visuals and thoughts that were churning in his brain. These one-of-a-kind sleeps helped him get over the dead ends he’d hit in his research.

August Kekule, a chemist, used the hypnagogic slumber to make some of his most significant discoveries. He “fell into a reverie” while riding a streetcar one night, in which atoms danced before his eyes, showing to him the way they connected together to create a chain. When the conductor announced his stop, Kekule sprang awake, but the visual lingered. He spent the remainder of the night scribbling notes on what he’d observed, notes that would eventually form the chemical structure’s core principle. Later in life, when half-asleep in front of a fire, he discovered the ring form of the benzene molecule. He experienced a brief dream in which he witnessed molecules morph into snakes and one of those snakes bite its own tail, making a closed ring, while he floated between awake and sleep. He was startled awake “as if by a bolt of lightning” and “spent the rest of the night trying to figure out the implications of this idea.”

 

Henri Poincare, a renowned mathematician and theoretical physicist, had spontaneous insights into the theorems he was working on while out and about, as well as “in the morning or evening when in a semi-hypnagogic condition.” Poincare argued that “the subconscious self plays an essential part in mathematical creativity,” since it was able to identify which of the mind’s numerous hypotheses were “harmonious…useful and beautiful,” and hence worth pursuing. According to Poincare, the unconscious operates as a “delicate sieve,” sifting away worthless thoughts and bringing the excellent ones to the conscious mind’s notice. “A guy who does not cultivate this talent of intuitive judgment can never be a true creative,” he asserted.

How to Take a Hypnagogic Nap on Your Own

I’ve tried the hypnagogic nap and found it to be very effective. While exploring the very edge of sleep, I came up with many blog post ideas and noticed an overall surge in creativity.

If you want to attempt hypnagogic sleeping for yourself, I’ve included some recommendations from both my personal experience and from notable men in history who have mastered the technique.

Examine the subject or problem you’d want to learn more about in depth. The mix of knowledge you’ve consciously studied with concepts that have been festering in your unconscious makes the hypnagogic state such a rich petri dish of insight. You can’t expect to get insight into something you don’t fully comprehend; you have to feed your unconscious with true facts and allow them to germinate first. When the moment is appropriate, and you’ve gone as far as you can with your conscious effort, it’s time to persuade your subconscious self to disclose a fresh perspective on the situation. Poincare goes on to explain why this foundation is so important:

“Sudden inspirations…never arise except after a few days of voluntary effort that seems to have been completely unproductive and from which nothing good appears to have emerged, and where the path followed appears to be completely wrong.” These efforts, however, have not been as ineffective as one would believe; they have awakened the unconscious machine, which would not have moved and generated nothing if it had not been for them.”

Stevenson’s inspiration for The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde didn’t appear in his dream out of nowhere; rather, he “had long been attempting to compose a narrative on this theme, to find a body, a vehicle, for that deep feeling of man’s twofold existence.” He simply couldn’t figure out how to put his plan into action. Then, when some debts were due and the need to write something, anything, “I set about racking my brains for a story of any type for two days.” Parts of the Jekyll and Hyde tale ultimately appeared in his sleep at that point.

Prepare a piece of paper and a pencil. When you wake up from your slumber, you’ll want to write down any thoughts or ideas that come to mind straight away. So have a pen and paper at your side. I always have a pocket notepad and a pen with me.

 

To hold, choose a tiny, weighty, and metallic item. It may be a key, as Dali suggested, or ball bearings, as Edison suggested. Another frequent option is a spoon. Me? Because I’m a Romantic, I utilize my lucky talisman coin for additional mystical, woo-woo impact. Don’t give your thing a G.I. Joe Kung Fu Grip. You’ll never sleep like that again. Simply hold it in your hand freely.

Drape your arm over the arm of the chair or the bed. This may be done sitting or laying down. Both have worked well for me. In any case, make sure the hand carrying the heavy, metallic item is positioned above the ground. So, if you’re seated in a chair, put your hand on the armrest. Allow your arm to dangle over the edge of your bed if you’re laying down.

Directly under your hand, place a hard plate or pan. When you fall asleep and the thing you’re holding falls to the ground, you want it to rest on a pan or dish exactly under your hand and create a loud noise. Aluminum pie plates, a la Edison, work well. If you don’t have any, a Pyrex dish or metal pan can do (just make sure your metallic item isn’t too heavy/large to shatter the receptacle when it hits it).

Nap. Simply shut your eyes and let yourself to drift off to sleep. Your mind will start hallucinating just as you’re ready to fall asleep, and a flurry of images/colors/noises/sensations will flood your consciousness. Your body will relax at the same moment, and you will drop the thing from your grip.

CLANG!

Make a list of your ideas. Wake up and jot down (or sketch) any thoughts that occurred to you just before you awoke. Expect some of them to be really insane and ridiculous. But, more often than not, this sleeping strategy will lead to some fantastic discoveries.

Verify and expand on your inspiration. Even when an insight seems completely correct and accurate, as it generally does, your unconscious mind may sometimes fool you and spew forth a notion that appears to be valuable but isn’t. As a result, it’s critical to check the validity of your thoughts after you’ve had a sleep. “It is required to form the outcomes of this inspiration, to draw from them the immediate implications, to organize them, to express the demonstrations, but above all, it is necessary to verify,” Poincare adds.

“It seldom occurs that the unconscious activity provides us the result of a relatively protracted calculation all done…,” Poincare adds. All one can expect for from these inspirations, which are the result of unconscious labor, is a starting point for such computations.” To put it another way, your unconscious will not spew forth a whole concept; rather, it will provide inspired suggestions that must be filled out and built on by conscious study and labor.

 

Stevenson’s dream only gave him a few scenes from the Jekyll and Hyde plot; he had to labor like a madman to fill in the rest. Kekule spent the rest of the night translating images of dancing atoms and circling snakes into genuine theorems each times he had a hypnagogic epiphany.

Practice! The more you practice hypnagogic napping, the better at it you will get. That has been my experience as well. The more I do it, the more ideas I get out of my sessions that I can truly utilize.

Kekule discovered that his “mental sight” was “made more keen by repeated experiences of the sort” over time, allowing him to more easily detect structures and details within the swirl of pictures in his mind.

Poe’s ability to continuously attain this dreaming state was intermittent when he initially started his trials with hypnagogic napping. He “acquired the ability of generating or persuading” hypnagogia anytime he desired through practice. He was even able to rouse himself up without the aid of the object-drop method just before slipping into Stage 2 sleep:

“I’ve gone so far…as to prevent the slip from the point of which I speak — the point of merging awareness and sleep — as to prevent the lapse from this borderground into the reign of sleep at will, I say.” I may jolt myself from the point into alertness, and thereby move the point itself into the domain of Memory; carry its feelings, or more accurately their memories, to a setting where (although for a very little duration) I can examine them with the eye of analysis.”

Poe is quick to point out that even his finely honed ability to induce and regulate hypnosis was contingent on the availability of “favorable circumstances” – strong physical and mental health, as well as a usually calm disposition. So don’t anticipate an enlightening, mind-bending excursion into hypnagogia every time you do it, even with experience. But, if you do have a chance to investigate the line between awareness and sleep, here’s hope you discover the germs of a bright new math theorem or the beginning of the Great American Novel.

Happy napping while hallucinating!

More on the Importance of Sleep

What Every Man Should Be Aware Of When It Comes To Sleep Unleash the Power of the Nap in 22 Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep 8 Famous Men’s Napping Habits How to Stay Up All Night How to Become an Early Riser and Why

 

 

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The “micro nap benefits” is the idea that taking a short, quick nap can have a positive impact on your health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is micro napping healthy?

A: No. Micro napping is harmful to your sleep schedules and health in general because it disrupts the natural cycles of sleep multiple times a day that are necessary for your body to function properly.

How long do micro naps last?

A: Micro naps typically last anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Are micro naps a real thing?

A: Yes, they are a real thing. People often refer to them as micro naps when they last only five or ten minutes long, but some people can get the rest of their sleep while in bed before waking up and still be refreshed.

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