Nap Like Salvador Dali

Nap for Creativity

I’m doing double duty this month during the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Here at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, I will share ways to increase your creativity. I’ll also be doing the challenge at Facing Cancer with Grace, where I will share posts that focus on caregiving. I hope you’ll visit me at both sites. While you’re here, sign up for my email list. Today’s post is N is for Nap Like Salvador Dali.

Take a Nap to Wake Up your Creativity

If you think that Dali’s famous melting clocks look like something out of a strange dream, you might be right. Dali had a unique method of inspiring his creative endeavors. In his book, 50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship , Dali assures his readers who are working on a project that a good heavy sleep is when “you will secretly, in the very depths of your spirit, solve most of its subtle and complicated, technical problems, which in your state of waking consciousness you would never be humanly capable of solving.” Dali recommends waking very early, in order to take advantage of maximum daylight. He then goes on to describe an afternoon nap of less than a minute long—“less than a quarter of a second,” in fact.

A nap could be the key to your creativityUnlocking Your Creativity

He called it “slumber with a key.” He would sit in an armchair (preferably a bony armchair, Spanish style), head tilted back, resting his arms comfortably on the those of the chair. He applied oil of aspic to his wrists in order to numb his hands causing them to tingle. They would hang beyond the arms of the chair, dangling freely. He held a key between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand. Directly beneath the dangling key was an overturned plate. He allowed himself to relax until the moment he fell asleep.


At that point, the key would drop onto the plate and wake him from his slumbering state. This in-between state is called the hypnagogic state (or hypnagogia). defines hypnagogic as “the drowsy period between wakefulness and sleep, during which fantasies and hallucinations often occur.”(1) It happens as you are just beginning to fall asleep. You may have had the experience almost falling asleep. Suddenly you felt like you were falling or you saw something that wasn’t there and you jerked awake. This is one manifestation of hypnagogia. It’s easy to see by this definition alone why capturing the essence of this state would be valuable to an artist like Salvador Dali.

Nap like Van Winkle

There is a similar state called hypnopompia.(2) This (almost) mirrors hypnagogia. It happens after you’ve fallen asleep—just as you are waking up. Hypnopompic more vivid and immersive than the simpler visual “hallucinations” of hypnagogia. They are often a continuation of a dream experience. Another interesting phenomenon that occurs in a hypnopompic state is the feeling of “sleep paralysis.” It’s exactly what it sounds like. You feel like you can’t move upon waking up. It can actually be pretty frightening.

Salvador Dali isn’t the only one to take advantage of the micro nap. Many artists, writers, composers, and geniuses from other realms of thought have attributed their inspiration to a sleep practice similar to Dali’s. The next time you are struggling with a creative endeavor, try experimenting with your sleep habits. It may take a little while to make headway, but give it a shot. Everyone has to sleep sometime, right? How does taking a nap help your creativity?

Before you leave to take that nap, sign up for my email list to get a periodic email newsletter to encourage your creativity.

What are YOUR thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My books The Memory Maker’s Journal and Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, are available at

I also blog about living with cancer at, Facing Cancer with Grace.


  1., hypnagogic,
  2. Van Winkle’s, Exploring Hypnopompia, the Trippy Transition Between Sleep and Wakefulness, July 28, 2016,

Have any questions or comments? I would love to hear from you! By commenting, you agree to the terms of my privacy policy.

14 comments on “Nap Like Salvador Dali

You and Cindy Ricksgers are both writing about napping today, which gives me two opportunities to sing the praises of a great afternoon nap. A good nap refreshes which can’t help but aid creativity. I don’t think I’d find Salvador Dali’s form of napping very conducive to creativity, though. The key dropping in the pan would scare the wits out of me!

Hi Karen, I will have to hunt Cindy’s blog down. Do you know the name of her blog? feel free to post a link here. My husband and I nap every day. We really needed it today, too, after a long sleepless night. There’s no being creative without rest. Have a great nap and a wonderful day. 🙂

I often wake up and have small snippets of dreams floating around in my memory – they disappear so quickly and I always think I should be jotting them down. The trouble is, by the time I’m compus mentus enough to do that, they have drifted off – maybe I’ll try his key thing?

Leanne |
N for Never lie

Hi Leanne, I love a great dream and that dreamy state you sometimes find yourself in upon waking. Sometimes it can affect your whole mood for the rest of the day.

I feel like I do this naturally whenever I am tired… I close my eyes and immediately see dreams. Fun 🙂

The Multicolored Diary: Weird Things in Hungarian Folktales

Hi Tarkabarka, You are fortunate! It must be from the vivid folktales you read and think about. They would make wonderful dreams!

That was interesting. The man was brilliant–but a tad quirky!

Hi Jacqui, He was SO quirky! I had no idea how odd he was until I read the book. There were great ideas in it, though, and he was definitely brilliant. He would be an interesting person to hang around with for a week.

I’ve found sleeping on a problem doesn’t help me. I come up with solutions, sure. But they rarely actually work in the real world.

It sounds almost like Dali did some sort of meditation.

Hi Heather,
I hope you enjoyed your nap today as much as I enjoyed mine. Here’s a link to Cindy’s blog, and specifically to her napping post.

What a fascinating fact about Dali! I’m very familiar with the incredibly surreal possibilities the hypnagogic state can induce, and it delights me to know now that Dali was actively pursuing this. I’ll certainly be adding the Dali book to my reading list, which thanks to A-to-Z is growing exponentially larger than I think I might be able to tackle in 2018. 🙂

Napping is such a lovely treat I don’t know why I don’t figure out a way to make it a regular practice.

Hi Deborah. I never used to be a napper. Then I met my husband who took a nap every day. I obliged him by laying down and reading while he had a short snooze. As I got older I began appreciating the sleeping part of the experience as much as getting in a few pages of a book. And yes, my book wish list has grown, as well, during A to Z. Have a great day!

I knew all these naps I took were good for me in more ways than just my fatigue. 😉

~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
My A to Z’s of Dining with IC
Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

Hi Patricia. It’s just too bad that Dali’s naps aren’t more restful. Have a great day!

Comments are closed for this post !!