An electrifying experiment led by Ursula Voss of Frankfurt University has revealed a way to artificially induce what appear to be lucid (or perhaps semi-lucid) dreams as much as 77% of the time.
The method involved "zapping" the brains of non-lucid dreamers while they were asleep and dreaming. Transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) was applied via electrodes to the frontal cortex for 30-second periods.
The 27 subjects were awoken shortly after to provide their dream reports and rate them on a lucidity scale.
"They were really excited," said Voss. "The dream reports were short, but long enough for them to report 'Wow, all of the sudden I knew this was a dream, while I was dreaming'."
Having tested a variety of frequencies, Voss and her team soon zoned in on the magic 40 Hz frequency (and to a lesser extent, 25 Hz) as the best trigger for inducing apparently lucid dreams.
This Gamma band sweet spot coincides with earlier research by Voss in which she detected 30-40 Hz brainwaves via EEG in experienced lucid dreamers.
The new claim is that Gamma frequencies associated with heightened awareness are fundamental to lucidity, rather than a by-product of it.
This is the first time scientists have identified a reliable way to artificially trigger heightened self awareness in dreams. Does this mean we could all tap into instant lucid dreams with a portable "brain zapper" in future?
Christian Jarrett, writing for Wired, pointed out that while the participants reported realizing they were dreaming, they were still inexperienced in handling that lucidity, as demonstrated by their average lucidity scores.
The dream subjects were asked to rate their dreams on a measurable lucidity scale, from 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) for the following features:
Even at the most effective Gamma stimulation, average scores were relatively low: 0.6 for insight, 1.3 for dissociation, and 0.5 for dream control:
So although the success rate of tACS is vastly improved compared to old school lucid dream masks like the REM Dreamer and NovaDreamer, both technologies rely on the dreamer to actively sustain their lucidity.
If you decide to invest in a tACS electrical stimulation product, it's also important to invest the time in developing sufficient mindfulness to apprehend, sustain and control your technology-induced lucid dreams.
Even so, Voss' results are truly remarkable. It's an important discovery that Gamma waves are a causal factor in lucid dreaming. What's more, with such a good success rate, tACS stimulation could become a popular lucidity inducer in future, making this brain state more accessible to the wider population.
If we're completely honest, lucid dreaming isn't really known for being the most social of interests. In fact, often it's a lone pursuit - just you, your dream journal and the landscape of your mind. But this technique called PAL (or Partner Assisted Lucidity) breaks down that wall and turns lucid dream exploration into a social event.
Members of our lucid dream forum have been asking how to create dream characters in lucid dreams. The most common problem is having characters who look nothing like they should. Or they seem disinterested in your company. Or they fail to show up on command altogether. So, how to combat this? It's a matter of finding creative solutions that bypass logical expectations.
To lucid dream, I recommend being able to remember at least one vivid dream per night. That will boost your self awareness in dreams (making lucidity more likely) and also means you can actually remember your lucid dreams. Which is nice. Here are four detailed tips on how to remember your dreams more frequently. And if you don't think you dream at all - trust me, you almost certainly do. It takes an extraordinarily rare sleep disorder to deprive someone of dream sleep.
It is estimated that these wise and wily Indians have been using mugwort in their healing and ritual practices for 13,000 years, where it is known as the ‘dream sage’. They use the herb to promote good dreams, which they consider an essential aspect of normal human functioning! But that’s not all...
Silene Capensis has been used for millennia by the Xhosa shaman of the river valleys in the eastern cape of South Africa, where it is known as Undela Ziimhlophe or 'white paths'. It's fragrant white flowers open only at night, when they emit a fragrant and almost hypnotising aroma. Also known as African Dream Herb or Ubulawu, Silene Capensis induces spectacularly vivid dreams - yet has never entered the mainstream and remains a fringe taste within western culture.
Experts agree that everyone is capable of having lucid dreams. Dreaming itself is a normal function of the mind. We all dream every night, even if we don't remember. And we all achieve conscious awareness while awake every single day. So what does it mean to combine these states? Why, the amazing ability to have conscious - or lucid - dreams. Sounds simple, doesn't it? So why do I keep hearing from people who say they can't achieve their first lucid dream?