Lucid dreaming is the term given to those beautiful moments when you realise that you're dreaming, when you're engaged in a a conscious walkthrough of an otherwise dormant subconscious. Some believe that it can be mastered, while others believe it might even help us live forever. Now, scientists believe that they can deliberately induce lucid dreams.
A study conducted on 27 people by the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University in Germany found that applying electrical currents to your scalp can induce lucid dreaming. The team waited until the volunteers were experiencing uninterrupted REM sleep – the phase of sleep during which we dream – and then applied mild electrical currents ranging from frequencies of 2 and 100 Hz. The results showed that the stimulation often increased the amount of lucidity in the patients' dreaming.
The paper suggests that lucid dreaming could be used to help control nightmares in patients with psychiatric diseases such as post-traumatic stress disorder, although medical applications could be a long way off.
"I would be cautious about interpreting the results as of direct relevance to the treatment of medical illnesses, but it's certainly a step in the direction of understanding how the brain manages to hallucinate and be deluded," Dr Allan Hobson, who co-authored the paper, told the Guardian.
An American tech start-up is already trying to launch a piece of hardware that can enhance lucid dreaming and encourage the mastery of the dark art.
Earlier this year, iWinks introduced their Aurora headband and began raising funds on Kickstarter to manufacture the tech. It's since raised over a quarter of a million dollars for its "dream enhancing headband", which is essentially a Bluetooth-enabled electroencephalogram (EEG) band that allows you to programme specific LEDs to send out the colours you want to "see" while asleep.
You can watch their Kickstarter video below:
In the words of its creator: “The Aurora is a headband that plays special lights and sounds during REM to help you become aware that you are dreaming as you stay asleep – allowing you to take control of your dreams! In this state, anything is possible: zoom through space, fight fire-breathing dragons or become president, all from the comfort and safety of your own bed!”
Their official tagline is: "What if you could dream without limits?" Well, let's be real – if you could control your dreams, people would probably never want to wake up.
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