Quick catnaps may spark creativity

By Vicki Contie

Poets, artists, and other creative thinkers have long suspected a link between dreams and creativity. Many scientific studies have looked into the details of REM sleep, when deep dreaming occurs. But less is known about the twilight period between wakefulness and sleep. This is sometimes called sleep onset, hypnagogia, or N1 sleep. It’s a semi-lucid state when you’re partly aware of your surroundings as vivid dreams begin. These early N1 dreams are often forgotten if you continue on into later stages of sleep.

Although scientific details have been lacking, creative luminaries like Thomas Edison and Salvador Dali were reportedly among those who recognized the importance of N1 sleep. To get a jolt of creativity, they sometimes napped while holding a heavy object that would drop and wake them as they drifted off to sleep. Then they could draw on any novel ideas or solutions gained from their early-stage dreams.

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