I’ve got an article in The Atlantic on the hypnagogic state – the brief hallucinatory period between wakefulness and sleep – and how it is being increasingly used as a tool to make sense of consciousness.
There is a brief time, between waking and sleep, when reality begins to warp. Rigid conscious thought starts to dissolve into the gently lapping waves of early stage dreaming and the world becomes a little more hallucinatory, your thoughts a little more untethered. Known as the hypnagogic state, it has received only erratic attention from researchers over the years, but a recent series of studies have renewed interest in this twilight period, with the hope it can reveal something fundamental about consciousness itself.
The hypnagogic state has been better dealt with by artists and writers over the years – Colderidge’s poem Kubla Khan apparently emerged out of hypnagogic reverie – albeit fuelled by opium
It has received only occasional attention from scientists, however. More recently, a spate of studies has come out showing some genuine mainstream interest in understanding hypnagogia as an interesting source of information about how consciousness is deconstructed as we enter sleep.
Link to article in The Atlantic on the hypnagogic state.