Eccentric artist Salvador Dali revealed that one of the secrets to becoming a great painter was this same practice, which he called “slumber with a key,” an afternoon siesta designed to last less than a single second.
Dali would sit upright in a chair with his arms resting on the armrests, wrists dangling over the edge.
He held a heavy metal key between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand, placing an upside-down plate on the floor directly below the key. The instant Dali dozed off, the key would slip through his fingers, clang the plate, and awaken him from his micro nap.
In that moment, Dali observed, one walked “in equilibrium on the taut and invisible wire that separates sleep from waking.”
The artist recommended this practice to anyone who worked with their mind, believing that the tiny nap revived one’s whole being, leaving you invigorated and inspired for an afternoon of creative labor.
The phenomenon is referred to as hypnagogia, considered a variation of lucid dreaming.
Going now to look for my car keys…wish me luck !