Salvador Dalí & Thomas Edison Used This Technique To Boost Creativity — Could It Work For You?

Photo: getty 
woman lying in bed

In our quest to be more creative, there is one area we often fail to explore: our sleep. This is a serious oversight, however, as our minds are relaxed and ready to enter a dream state. 

So why not tap into that?

We're all abreast with the two basic states of consciousness: sleep and wakefulness. But have you wondered, what happens in between them?

The in-between is a fascinating state of consciousness characterized by dream-like visions, sensory occurrences, and for some, tactile sensations often referred to as Hypnogogia.

RELATED: 10 Extreme (& Sometimes Dangerous) Habits That Make You More Creative — And What Actually Works

How to use hypnagogia to be more creative, like Edison and Dalí did. 

"Hypnagogia is a state of consciousness that occurs in the transition from wakefulness to sleep," according to Healthline. It's characterized by a lack of coherent thought and can be described as a state of mind that is half-asleep, half-awake.

Some of the world’s smartest minds, like Surreal artist Salvador Dali and inventor Thomas Edison, used hypnagogia to tap into their creative minds and enhance their problem-solving capacities. 

Dali called hypnagogia "the slumber with a key" and used it as creative inspiration for many of his fancy imaginative paintings.

Edison was an amazingly spurred inventor and believed that sleep was a waste of time. It's well-known that he's a fan of naps.

What exactly did these smart people do? 

The Hypnagogia Technique

To use this technique, hold an object in your hand, such as a steel ball or a spoon. Lay on a chair and relax. As you drift off to sleep, the object will fall, make a noise, and wake you up.

This short nap creates a state of heightened creativity and you're now ready to work. 

Those who use this technique believed if they woke up just moments before they entered a certain sleep stage, they think better.

This early sleep stage, known as the hypnagogic state or N1, lasts only for a couple of minutes before you drift to a night of deeper sleep.

In N1, you can envision shapes, colors, or even parts of dreams before your closed eyes, yet still, hear stuff in your room.

The pattern can be altogether different depending upon the individual. It still remains unclear why the N1 sleep stage boosts creativity.

It's a semi-lucid state in which control of certain thoughts is lost, yet some thoughts you're still aware of. Maybe this creates an ideal state where one has loose cognition and weird associations. 

It's also well-established that the hypnagogic state is useful for problem-solving and creative work.

RELATED: 11 Things All Highly Creative People Have In Common

Tetris Effect

The Tetris effect and cognitive processes have been discussed in-depth in the literature.

The Tetris effect is an occurrence where invasive images or thoughts enter your head after you perform a repetitive activity.

It has been derived from the video game, Tetris, which is thought to activate the visuomotor process in the brain in charge of muscle activity and visuals. Hence, people may experience visual and tactile hallucinations.

Cognitive Processes

In addition to the sensory curiosities of hypnagogic dreams, there are some very interesting cognitive processes occurring.

Throughout history, visions prophesy, premonitions, and apparitions have all been the likely result of hypnagogic phenomena.

Researchers have described hypnagogia as involving a loosening of ego boundaries, openness, sensitivity, heightened suggestibility, and a fluid association of ideas.

In laymen’s terms, this state is associated with more random associations of ideas than is normal, resulting in a state of amplified creativity.

If you're convinced that you want to know how to be more creative so you can achieve your dreams, here are 3 tips to try. 

1. Sow your idea.

Saturating your brain with facts related to the subject that you wish to dream about before taking a nap. There's an increased likelihood that you will dream about it.

2. Get the timing right.

In order to benefit from your hypnagogic dreams, you need to nap at the right time.

If you’re too sleepy when you lay down, you might fall into a deeper sleep or simply ignore your hint to wake up.

4. Take immediate notes.

It's possible for any inspiration you gather from the hypnagogic state will fade rapidly as time passes. So you should have a notebook and a pen or voice recorder ready before your ideas vanish.

In the book, "50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship," Dali said, "You must resolve the problem of ‘sleeping without sleeping,’ which is the essence of the dialectics of the dream since it is a repose which walks in equilibrium on the taut and invisible wire which separates sleeping from waking."

If you're curious about the technique and want to make the most of this life, try it for yourself! You could be the next Edison or Dali! 

RELATED: 7 Strategies For Busting Through Creative Blocks & Increasing Sterling Productivity

Sidhharrth S. Kumaar is the Founder of NumroVani and a registered pharmacist turned Astro Numerologist. For more information, visit his website.