“You must before anything else begin by sleeping.” -Salvador Dali

Dali, Einstein, Edison, and many other highly creative people have employed a technique that Dali called “sleeping without sleeping”.

When Edison was stuck on a problem he would recline in a comfortable chair with a ball-bearing in his hand and nap for a few minutes. As soon as he drifted from phase 1 to phase 2 sleep the ball would fall to the floor and wake him up. Dali did the same thing with a key.

Importantly, phase 1 sleep is characterized by the transition from beta and gamma brain activity to an alpha wave pattern. Research has revealed that alpha brain waves are linked to high levels of creativity.

These great thinkers stumbled on what is now known as “hypnogogic sleep“. By waking themselves up before they fell into theta brain activity (phase 2, or full sleep) they were essentially hacking their brain to maximize their ability to think abstractly and draw important connections. Meditation and nature also promote an alpha pattern.

Could you employ any of these strategies to boost your own creativity?


2 thoughts on ““You must before anything else begin by sleeping.” -Salvador Dali

  1. Very interesting technique! I noticed that some of my good ideas come when I am supposed to be doing something else– it’s much more fun to daydream when you think you shouldn’t, isn’t it? Sometimes I go to a seminar that is a bit out of my area just to give myself the delicious opportunity to not pay attention.


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