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Brief Published: 14 May 2018

Sleep Tech Boosts Creativity

Dormio helps users augment their creativity while they sleep

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have invented a glove-like device called Dormio that helps users augment their creativity while they sleep.

Before falling asleep completely, humans go through an intermediate state between wakefulness and sleep called hypnagogia. While in this hypnagogic state, people lose the frontal function of their brains, which means they lose their sense of time and space and their thoughts become intuitive and hyper-associative. During this state, human creativity is unleashed, as it's not constrained by the logic and rules of waking life.

According to Dormio's website, artists and scientists such as Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and Salvador Dali have taken advantage of the creativity offered during hypnagogia by holding a steel ball that would fall when they fell asleep – waking them up and allowing them to write down the ideas generated during this semi-lucid state.

Dormio modernises this technique, but instead of waking up the user, it simply prevents them from falling asleep completely. Sensors in the glove-like device track the user's hypnagogic state by measuring heart rate and muscle tone. When Dormio senses the user is transitioning into the deeper stages of sleep, its accompanying app emits sounds via the user's smartphone. This way, it suspends the user in an extended hypnagogic state, allowing them to access their subconscious for longer.

The device's creators plan to upgrade the device so that it can influence the content of the user's dreams and extract information from them, potentially enabling people to interact with their subconscious. See also Shadow Selves: Tapping Consumers' Dark Sides.