I've long been aware that, for me, those dreamy half-waking, half-sleeping moments that bookend a good night's sleep are amazingly fertile ground for creativity. These are the moments for waking dreams, when my subconscious pulls together any number of scenes and experiences from my waking life and turns them into something strange and wonderful and full of amazing, if incomprehensible, detail.
Thanks to Michael Quinion and World Wide Words, I now know the proper terms for these dream states: Hypnopompic is the morning dozy dreaming -- those moments when you know you should get up but just aren't quite ready. Hypnagogic, on the other hand, is the not-quite asleep moment, when you're just "resting your eyes,"( Zen reading, as we call it around here) nodding over an open book with closed eyes.
Both of these states can be useful to a writer -- if said writer has a bedside notepad and pen -- and the strength of will to use them. I often use the moments when I've turned off the light to lie there and think about the point at which I left my work in progress and try to imagine what the characters will do next. Sometimes -- if I don't fall asleep and if I can turn the light back on and write down my thoughts -- that hypnagogic trance has solved a knotty problem for me.
I may remember the ideas in the morning -- but not reliably, alas. Undoubtedly some of my best ideas disappeared never to return, because I decided to trust my memory rather than turn the light on.
The morning hynopompic minutes are equally useful -- and easier to remember, as long as not too much comes between getting out of bed and getting back to the WIP.
Before I had these marvelous words, I always called these moments "juicy" states of mind." Whatever they are, I really enjoy them.