Small electric shocks can let you control your dreams

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Lucid dreaming is a state where the dreamer is aware that they are, in fact, dreaming, and it often gives the dreamer full control over their dreams’ plots. It’s a state of sleep that exists somewhere between rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and wakefulness. Now, scientists believe they've found the secret to creating lucid dreaming by applying small electric shocks to dreamers while they’re asleep.

Researchers at the J.W. Goethe University in Frankfurt gathered about 30 people together in a sleep lab for the study, which lasted four days. These volunteers included 15 women and 12 men, all aged between 18 and 26. The researchers used electrodes placed on the volunteers’ skulls to perform transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS). This electric stimulation is a harmless, weak electric shock that flows into the brain’s frontal and temporal areas. Researchers stimulated the subjects’ brains while they were sleeping (just a few minutes after REM sleep began) by using a shock low enough not to wake them up.

With just 30 seconds of exposure to the electrical stimulation, researchers wakened the volunteers. Those with electrical stimulation all experienced a form of lucid dreaming. Not only did they report that they had seen themselves "from the outside," but they also stated that they knew they were dreaming while asleep. The sweet spot for the creation of lucid dreaming was around 25 and 40 Hz, the lowest of the frequencies tested on research subjects. In fact, at exactly 25 Hz, the dreamers reported being able to change their dreams at will.

The tACS device is already approved for research purposes, but we're hoping that it'll be on the commercial market for us all soon, allowing us full control of our dreaming. However, both tACS and this study have other potential applications that are more useful from a medical perspective: this technique could also be used for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, which is often beset with ongoing nightmares.

Via Medical Xpress

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