November 5, 2011

The Night Ocean

H.P. Lovecraft "The Night Ocean" 
Now that I am trying to tell what I saw I am conscious of a thousand maddening limitations. Things seen by the inward sight, like those flashing visions which come as we drift into the blankness of sleep, are more vivid and meaningful to us in that form than when we have sought to weld them with reality. Set a pen to a dream, and the colour drains from it. The ink with which we write seems diluted with something holding too much of reality, and we find that after all we cannot delineate the incredible memory. It is as if our inward selves, released from the bonds of daytime and objectivity, revelled in prisoned emotions which are hastily stifled when we translate them. In dreams and visions lie the greatest creations of man, for on them rests no yoke of line or hue. Forgotten scenes, and lands more obscure than the golden world of childhood, spring into the sleeping mind to reign until awakening puts them to rout. Amid these may be attained something of the glory and contentment for which we yearn; some image of sharp beauties suspected but not before revealed, which are to us as the Grail to holy spirits of the medieval world. To shape these things on the wheel of art, to seek to bring some faded trophy from that intangible realm of shadow and gossamer, requires equal skill and memory. For although dreams are in all of us, few hands may grasp their moth-wings without tearing them.    
Did you know:
Yawning is an unacceptable behavior for Muslims, especially in public places. If yawning occurs, the yawner is instructed to cover his mouth with his hand. The Prophet said, "Yawning is from Satan. If you are about to yawn, you should try to stop it as much as possible. If you yawn, Satan will laugh

Does Reason Sleep Tonight?

Frequently I have pondered the phenomena of hypnagogia.  What is that?  This is what Wikipedia says.  

Hypnagogia (from Greek hypn "sleep" + agōgos "leading, inducing") is the transitional state between wakefulness and sleep (i.e., the onset of sleep), originally coined in adjectival form as "hypnagogic" by Alfred Maury.[1][2]

The equivalent transition to wakefulness is termed the hypnopompic state. Mental phenomena that occur during this "threshold consciousness" phase include lucid dreaming, hallucinations, out of body experiences and sleep paralysis.

Sometimes the word hypnagogia is used in a restricted sense to refer to the onset of sleep, and contrasted with hypnopompiaFrederic Myers's term for waking up.[4] However, hypnagogia is also regularly employed in a more general sense that covers both falling asleep and waking up, and Havelock Ellis questioned the need for separate terms.[5] Like I question the need for separate terms for Liberal or Conservative, or Democrat or Republican.  Indeed, it is not always possible in practice to assign a particular episode of any given phenomenon to one or the other, given that the same kinds of experience occur in both, and that people may drift in and out of sleep.  In the words of Bart Simpson, I always dreamed of becoming a drifter.

Other terms for hypnagogia, in one or both senses, that have been proposed include  "visions of half-sleep", "the borderland of sleep",  the "borderland state", "half-dream state",  and dreamlets.

Romanticism brought a renewed interest in the subjective experience of the edges of sleep.[13] And what is more romantic than the ''edges of sleep"?  

 I am reminded of the lyrics to the song Detour Ahead:
The farther you travel
The harder to unravel the web he spins around you
Turn back while there's time
Can't you see the danger sign?
Soft shoulders surround you

[edit]Tetris effect

People who have spent a long time at some repetitive activity before sleep, in particular one that is new to them, may find that it dominates their imagery as they grow drowsy, a tendency dubbed the Tetris effect.

This effect has even been observed in amnesiacs who otherwise have no memory of the original activity.[28] When the activity involves moving objects, as in the video game Tetris, the corresponding hypnagogic images tend to be perceived as moving. The Tetris effect is not confined to visual imagery, but can manifest in other modalities also. 


Hypnagogic imagery is often auditory or has an auditory component. Like the visuals, hypnagogic sounds vary in intensity from faint impressions to loud noises, such as crashes and bangs (exploding head syndrome). People may imagine their own name called or a doorbell ringing. Snatches of imagined speech are common. While typically nonsensical and fragmented, these speech events can occasionally strike the individual as apt comments on—or summations of—their thoughts at the time. They often contain word playneologisms and made-up names. Hypnagogic speech may manifest as the subject's own "inner voice", or as the voices of others: familiar people or strangers. More rarely, poetry or music is heard.[29]  

Now that is sad that poetry and music are not often heard.   Do you think a support group would be helpful?

[edit]Sleep paralysis

Humming, roaring, hissing, rushing, zapping, and buzzing noises are frequent in conjunction with sleep paralysis (SP). This happens when the REM atonia sets in sooner than usual, before the person is fully asleep, or persists longer than usual, after the person has (in other respects) fully awoken.[18] Sleep paralysis is reportedly very frequent among narcoleptics. It occurs frequently in about 6% of the rest of the population, and occurs occasionally in 60%.[30] In surveys from Canada, China, England, Japan and Nigeria, 20 to 60% of individuals reported having experienced SP at least once in their lifetime.[31][32] The paralysis itself is frequently accompanied by additional phenomena. Typical examples include a feeling of being crushed or suffocated, electric "tingles" or "vibrations", imagined speech and other noises, the imagined presence of a visible or invisible entity, and sometimes intense emotionfear or euphoria and orgasmic feelings.[31][33] SP has been proposed as an explanation for at least some alien abduction experiences and shadow people hauntings.  Shadow people hauntings?  Orgasmic feelings?

[edit]Other sensations

Gustatoryolfactory and thermal sensations in hypnagogia have all been reported, as well as tactile sensations (including those kinds classed as paresthesia or formication). Sometimes there is synesthesia; many people report seeing a flash of light or some other visual image in response to a real sound. Proprioceptive effects may be noticed, with numbness and changes in perceived body size and proportions,[35] feelings of floating or bobbing, and out-of-body experiences.[36] Perhaps the most common experience of this kind is the falling sensation, and associated hypnic jerk, encountered by many people, at least occasionally, while drifting off to sleep.[37]How is that for a slag?  You hypnic jerk!!!

[edit]Subjective interpretation

Hypnagogic phenomena may be interpreted as visionspropheciespremonitionsapparitions and inspiration (artistic or divine), depending on the experiencers' beliefs and those of their culture. Could this explain the Bible? 

[edit]Cognitive and affective phenomena

[edit]Receptivity and suggestibility

Thought processes on the edge of sleep tend to differ radically from those of ordinary wakefulness. Hypnagogia may involve a "loosening of ego boundaries ... openness, sensitivity, internalization-subjectification of the physical and mental environment (empathy) and diffuse-absorbed attention."[38] Sorry dear, its my loosening of ego boundaries.  Let me just loosen my ego boundary and slip into something more comfortable.   Hypnagogic cognition, in comparison with that of normal, alert wakefulness, is characterized by heightened suggestibility,[39] illogic and a fluid association of ideas. Such as writing a blog?  Subjects are more receptive in the hypnagogic state to suggestion from an experimenter than at other times, and readily incorporate external stimuli into hypnagogic trains of thought and subsequent dreams. This receptivity has a physiological parallel; EEG readings show elevated responsiveness to sound around the onset of sleep.[40]


Herbert Silberer described a process he called autosymbolism, whereby hypnagogic hallucinations seem to represent, without repression or censorship, whatever one is thinking at the time, turning abstract ideas into a concrete image, which may be perceived as an apt and succinct representation thereof.[41]


The hypnagogic state can provide insight into a problem, the best known example being August Kekulé’s realization that the structure of benzene was a closed ring after dozing in front of a fire and seeing molecules forming into snakes, one of which grabbed its tail in its mouth.[42]

Many other artistswritersscientists and inventors—including BeethovenRichard WagnerWalter ScottSalvador DalíThomas Edison and Isaac Newton—have credited hypnagogia and related states with enhancing their creativity.[43] 

A 2001 study by Harvard psychologist Deirdre Barrett found that, while problems can also be solved in full-blown dreams from later stages of sleep, hypnagogia was especially likely to solve problems which benefit from hallucinatory images being critically examined while still before the eyes.[44]  
Now that is what I call 'problem solving.'


A feature that hypnagogia shares with other stages of sleep is amnesia. But this is a selective forgetfulness, affecting the hippocampalmemory system, which is responsible for episodic or autobiographical memory, rather than the neocortical memory system, responsible for semantic memory.[9]   It has been suggested that hypnagogia and REM sleep help in the consolidation of semantic memory,[45] but the evidence for this has been disputed.[46] For example, suppression of REM sleep due to antidepressants and lesions to the brainstem has not been found to produce detrimental effects on cognition.[47]  Could this be the real reason behind the REM breakup?   Lesions to the brainstem?  Enquiring minds need to know!

[edit]Daydreaming and waking reveries

Microsleep (short episodes of immediate sleep onset) may intrude into wakefulness at any time in the wakefulness-sleep cycle, due to sleep deprivation and other conditions,[57] resulting in impaired cognition, amnesia.[17] Why waste hours 'sleeping' when you could be microsleeping?  How much more work could we get done, if we were only allowed to microsleep?   I often wonder that after working a typical 14 hour day.
Gurstelle and Oliveira distinguish a state which they call daytime parahypnagogia (DPH), the spontaneous intrusion of a flash image or dreamlike thought or insight into one's waking consciousness. DPH is typically encountered when one is "tiredbored, suffering from attention fatigue, and/or engaged in a passive activity." Such as driving, or operating heavy machinery??? The exact nature of the episode may be forgotten even though the individual remembers having had such an experience.8] 

I remember getting married, and having children, and then....well it all is a big blur.

1 comment:

  1. Please e-mail me your last name and first initial- I am using this post as a reference for a presentation I'm giving on hypnagogia and I need that information for the citation, If you don't mind. My e-mail address is Thanks!