A team of scientists have managed to communicate with people while they are lucid dreaming, in a world first.
The researchers published a study inCurrent Biology explaining how they were able to communicate in real time with participants in a study. Participants were asked to fall asleep, and then while they were sleeping, were asked to respond to questions from the researchers.
“There are studies of lucid dreamers communicating out of dreams, and also remembering to do tasks,” said Karen Konkoly, a PhD student at Northwestern University and first author of the paper, in a call with VICE. “But there’s a fairly limited amount of research on the stimuli going into lucid dreams.”
There were 36 participants in the study from various countries – the US, Canada, France and Germany. They were recruited to fall asleep with the aim of entering a state of lucid dreaming, where people are asleep and dreaming, but aware that they are dreaming.
The researchers verified that people were in REM sleep through using electrodes and monitoring brainwave activity, and then were asked to confirm that they were asleep through moving their eyes, a response which had been determined and arranged beforehand.
Almost 20 per cent (18 per cent) of the trials resulted in clear and accurate communication from the participants.
The participants in the study would move their eyes in order to respond to questions – for example, one of the participants was asked what four minus zero was and correctly answered four, moving their eyes from left to right four times in the signal which had been arranged beforehand. They were asked the question again and repeated their answer. Other participants answered questions through contorting their facial muscles.
This doesn’t mean we’ll all be able to communicate with each other even when people are sleeping. This study was carried out in a carefully controlled environment, and even the researchers admit that there are some limitations which they want to work around and change for future trials.
Even if 18 per cent of the trials resulting in accurate communication might not seem like a lot, this study is the first of its kind and could potentially change the way that we understand dreams and how we sleep.