Hypnopompic: Of or relating to the process of awakening from sleep. From Greek hypno- (sleep) and pompē (a sending forth or escorting).
“Hypnopompic” was coined by the British poet and psychical researcher F.W.H. Myers (1843–1901). The word first appeared in print in Myers’s posthumously published Human Personality and Its Survival of Physical Death (1903):
To similar illusions accompanying the departure of sleep, as when a dream-figure persists for a few moments into waking life, I have given the name hypnopompic.
The counterpart of “hypnopompic” is “hypnogogic”: of or relating to the period just before one is fully asleep.
I encountered “hypnopompic” after a colleague sent me a link to the website for Shadow, “an innovative alarm clock that helps you record and remember your dreams.” The site is lovely but minimal—the tagline is “Community of Dreamers”—so I hunted around until I found a more explicit description on Crunchbase:
SHADOW is a mobile application that helps you remember and record your dreams. Modern alarm-clocks rip you through your hypnopompic sleep state so rapidly, it’s nearly impossible to remember your dream.
SHADOW uses an escalating alarm that gradually traditions [sic] you through your hypnopompic state and is ready to record when you turn off the alarm. 95% of all dreams are forgotten if not recorded in the first 5 minutes of waking up. We believe this is a huge data set that is literally being forgotten.
The value of this data set isn’t clear, at least to me*, but the Shadow site design is, well, dreamy. I like the Shadow name, too: it’s a good example of a suggestive (i.e., non-descriptive) mark, and the URL (discovershadow.com) proves that you don’t need a “pure” domain to effectively claim your territory. In May 2013 the blog Startup Plays included Shadow in its list of “the top 35 startups in tech that TechCrunch missed out on.”
* “But what about the benzene-ring dream?” you ask. It may never have happened.