News

Sleeping to Dream

by Laura C. Mallonee on May 13, 2014

"Dream caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second before Waking up" by Salvador Dali (Image via Museo Thyssen Bornemisza)

Salvador Dali, “Dream caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second before Waking up” (1944) (image via Museo Thyssen Bornemisza)

Lucid dreaming — in which the dreamer becomes aware she is dreaming and can actively participate in and alter the narrative — has long been a source of fantastical imagery for artists, Salvador Dali being the most famous. Dali actively enaged in the practice, and his painting “Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening” (1944) even depicts a woman half-consciously dreaming.

But while you can try meditating or keeping a dream journal as a way of inducing lucid dreams, there has never really been a fool-proof way to trigger one — until now. According to National Geographic, German researchers have finally figured out how to make people aware of themselves while dreaming. Their study, published in Nature Neuroscience, details how sending a mild electrical shock of 40 Hertz exactly two minutes after the subject has entered the REM sleep stage provokes lucidity 77 percent of the time.

Though the technique is currently confined to the laboratory, one dream researcher at the University of Montreal predicted that might soon change: “People are going to be scrambling to put together home lucid dreaming induction devices based on this 40-Hertz stimulation procedure … I wouldn’t be surprised if we see products fairly quickly.”

While it’s not recommended that you start shocking yourself at home, it’s exciting to think of what the discovery could mean for art should a safe, at-home way to prompt lucid dreaming be found. As one study published in 2010 suggests, not only are lucid dreamers more likely to remember their dreams, but they can also actively solve creative problems while sleeping.

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  • Nathan Frank

    Here’s a great Radiolab episode on lucid dreaming: http://www.radiolab.org/story/218954-haunted-dreams/

  • Jeffrey Turner

    I have always come upon my creative while dreaming and have also solved any problems I’ve encountered.
    Dreaming as well as DAY dreaming are the realm of the artist.

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