a term for the transitional state between wakefulness and sleep, characterized by dreamlike auditory, visual, or tactile sensations when half-awake.
For your enjoyment, I present to you a collection of stupidly random phrases that come to me in the midst of the night as I’m mostly asleep but very slightly awake. Otherwise known as hypnagogia.
One morning many years ago I woke up early and went to check the time on my phone, but I was instead surprised & intrigued to see six strange words on the screen: “I need to talk to Gentor.”
What on earth? It made no sense at all. I didn’t know anyone or anything called Gentor and I certainly didn’t want to speak to him/her/it. Eventually I summoned a vague memory of mentally procuring this random sentence out of nowhere as I was trying to fall asleep the previous night. In a semi-slumberous frame of mind, I must have woken and keyed the words onto my phone as a note.
Over the following few weeks I did some research and found this was caused by a phenomenon known as the hypnagogic state. This is the watery, dreamlike state of consciousness your mind turns to as you are in the process of falling asleep or waking up. If the conditions are just right during this transitional phase between wakefulness and slumber, you may experience brief hallucinations in the form of images, shapes, colours, sounds, physical sensations, or in my case, random words & phrases. From personal experience, these sensory perceptions are not usually as poignant or lifelike as those experienced during an actual dream; instead I find they present themselves in very short bursts and are often more easily memorable.
The more aware I became of the hypnagogic state, the more I noticed these crazy phrases appear in my mind as I drifted off to sleep. They were occurring a few times a week so I formed a habit of waking up and transcribing them onto my phone as soon as I ‘heard’ one. I’ve been keeping this up for a number of years now and I find it absolutely fascinating. Most nights as I go to bed, I close my eyes, begin to drift off, and then all of a sudden out of nowhere I’ll be hit by this short, ludicrous, extremely random statement or question that makes barely any sense at all, sometimes even including completely made-up words that have no meaning whatsoever. I wake up and write it down as soon as this happens.
I posted my first few “Tales from Hypnagogia” at my personal blog in February 2010. A few months later I started tweeting the phrases, which I still do at @HypnagogicTales whenever they occur. And now I’ve compiled them all onto this website where you can scroll through each one in a random fashion. There are currently over 700 hypnagogic quotes featured here, and I will continue to add more as long as they occur.
So go forth and explore this unpredictably peculiar insight into my subconscious night-time mentality! You can also follow @HypnagogicTales on Twitter to keep up-to-date with the latest hypnagogic tales as they occur.
Have you ever had any hypnagogic experiences?
What are they like for you? Feel free to leave a comment below if so.
If you enjoy these hypnagogic tales, I’d love for you to check out some of my other projects:
schaumann.com.au – songs, stories & snapshots: my personal space on the web
Australia By Song – a growing list of Australian towns and locations that have been immortalised by song
Toilography – appreciation of the restroom through the viewfinder