What is hypnagogia? Hypnagogia is what you experience when you close your eyes to go to sleep up to the point where you actually are asleep. It is the psychic experience. If you are good at getting to sleep, it probably lasts about five minutes. If you are not so good about getting to sleep, it can last indefinitely. Hypnagogia is where everything goes wrong when you have insomnia.

Scientists who study the initial stages of sleep tend to speak of “sleep onset,” which is primarily the observable external aspect of going to sleep. They study brain structure, mechanical function and chemistry. They also rely heavily on the interpretation of electroencephalogram (EEG) waveforms of brain activity as measured from outside the skull. The internal, subjective experience is quite different.

When someone focuses on and  becomes aware of what is happening inside their own mind just before sleep, the hypnagogic experience is shown to be quite remarkable. Here are the lyrics of a song by Carly Simon that describe the experience:

When You Close Your Eyes
by Carly Simon

When you close your eyes do you see
White Lorelei, she’s a dream
She’s not half as magic as she seems
But she’s so much fun to be with

When you close your eyes do you see
Places that you’ve never seen
Yet you’ve been there
You’ve been walking on the edges of a dream
And you’re so much fun to be with

Big surprise, you’ve been informed you’re not asleep
Hard as you try you were never really meant to weep

When you close your door with a sign
Do not disturb, are you disturbed to find
That it’s just as magic as it feels
And you’re so much fun to be with

“In Pursuit of Sleep” is now available in both digital and paperback just about anywhere on the Internet. It has much more information about hypnagogia and what can go wrong there to keep you from getting to sleep.