I feel that I run at full speed or I want a nap. I fear that I sleep too many hours a week.
So the possibility of using sleep to find creative insight was encouraging to me. Do something I am nearly addicted to and get a benefit from sounded too good to be true. ... And it is.
That link is to a Scientific American review and interview with the researchers. Their actual work is here (the quotes in my post are from Scientific American).
“You must seat yourself in a bony armchair, preferably of Spanish style,” he wrote. In your left hand, you were to clench a heavy key, suspended above a plate. Then, he continued, “you will have merely to let yourself be progressively invaded by a serene afternoon sleep, like the spiritual drop of anisette of your soul rising in the cube of sugar of your body.”
As you drifted off, the key would slip from your fingers and clang on the plate, awakening you. He claimed the brief moment spent between wake and sleep would revive your physical and psychic being. And he cautioned that “a mere second is infinitely too long.”
So an important point here is that it is not sleep nor dreams exactly that Dali was trying to access but the unfocused thoughts of a person nearly asleep.
I want to try this technique but also trying to put yourself to sleep and then not sleeping sounds like taking sex almost to orgasm and then stopping to get back to some more mundane activity. Yes, I may have a problem if my analogy for sex is sleep.
Anyway, if there is a way to strongly encourage creative thought, this seems to be it. It is not magic and in the experiment described at the link, it only made the participants more likely to solve the problem; not certain to do it.
From the article:
Those who slept for longer periods actually did worse than both those who briefly slept and those who stayed awake.