How To Do Life

Fresh ideas about career and personal issues

Waking Reverie; Our Day's Most Underappreciated Minute

The minute between sleep and awaking is underrated

Ah, those moments of transition between sleep and wakefulness. The fancy term for it is threshold consciousness and the even fancier term is hynompopia, but I prefer waking reverie.

Relaxed, undistracted, thoughts, feelings, rational, irrational, less censored, sail in and out of your mind—yesterday, in dreams, the coming day, nothingness, sex, an idea, work, play, nothingness, work, a plan, nothingness, play, a dreamlet, a tune, an idea, sex, nothingness, an idea. Indeed the idea to write this article emerged in yesterday’s waking reverie.

Waking reverie is an easy pleasure and a source of less censored ideas. Once our day rolls in earnest, we’re more affected by externals: family members, email, phone calls, to-do lists, work, workers, boss, deadlines, shoulds, norms.

Many artists, writers, scientists and inventors—including Beethoven, Richard Wagner, Walter Scott, Salvador Dalí, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and Isaac Newton—credited waking reveries as a source of their creativity.

Our minute of waking reverie may be among our most underappreciated. So might you want to allow yourself an extra minute or five each morning?

Too, it seems a shame to allow the unique free mind’s musings of waking reverie to slip down the drain of forgotten demi-dreams. If you agree, might you even want to keep a memo pad next to your bed so worthwhile wisps don’t evanesce? 

In any event, pleasant near-dreams, or should I say hynompopia?

Marty Nemko was named “The Bay Area’s Best Career Coach” by the San Francisco Bay Guardian and he enjoys a 96 percent client-satisfaction rate. In addition to his articles here on, many more of Marty Nemko's writings are archived on Of Nemko's seven books, the most relevant to readers of this blog is How to Do Life: What They Didn’t Teach You in School. His bio is on Wikipedia.

Marty Nemko is a career and personal coach based in Oakland, Ca. and the author of 7 books. 

Subscribe to How To Do Life

Current Issue

Let It Go!

It can take a radical reboot to get past old hurts and injustices.