After all these years I still kringe when I hear the term “spelling bee.” Those occasions are among my few paynful memories of skool. A word like “hypnagogia” would have put me in my seat faster than you could say, “Jesus wepped.”

I’ve had the privilege of helping two relatives go through short-term memory loss. With both, I’ve seen the phenomenon of hypnagogia, a twilight zone moment (literally) that tends to occur in late afternoon or early evening, particularly following a nap. Here’s a definition:

Hypnagogia is the experience of the transitional state between wakefulness and sleep in humans: the hypnagogic state of consciousness, during the onset of sleep. Mental phenomena that occur during this “threshold consciousness” phase include lucid thought, lucid dreaming, hallucinations, and sleep paralysis.

Both times I was a house guest. Both times, my relative woke up after drifting off to sleep for the evening, knocked on my door and asked if I had seen a deceased sibling. We had insightful conversations about the “thin veil” between earth and heaven. In each case, my relative went back to bed, convinced it was a dream, a very lucid dream.

I’m convinced we live more of our lives than we realize in a state of semi-consciousness–“going through the motions.” Now that I’ve seen it in others, I’m more aware of it in myself. I’m trying to enjoy, and learn from those twilight moments of great clarity. And, I’m trying to be more fully awake during my waking hours–paying attention, practicing consciousness.

The Trippy State Between Wakefulness and Sleep,” by Vaughan Bell, April 20, 2016

3 thoughts on “Hypnagogia”

  1. You tricked me good. I was getting ready to write you an email correcting your spelling of cringe. I have been aware of that transitional state right before sleep. It’s startles me sometimes with the thoughts or images that come during that time.


  2. Dear Ted,As mom hopefully indicated when she asked you to add her email address to your subscription list, we are trying to close out dad’s email address. I think I may have been able to unsubscribe dad’s email myself, but in case I have not been able to, please unsubscribe luvnpop2@bellsouth.net from your post subscription list.  Also, please double check that mom IS subscribed at luvnpop@bellsouth.net

    Much appreciated, Andrew Hayes


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