The veil between the world of the living and the world of dreams seems to be thinner than we thought as scientists prove you can communicate with people while lucid dreaming.
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Let’s first stop for a second with lucid dreaming. This very specific state of dreaming means that the sleeping person realizes he is dreaming. And in certain cases, they can even exercise some control over his/her dream. Only some people are capable of achieving this dream state as most don’t even realize they are sleeping.
The author of the study that proves sleeping people can be communicated with is a neuroscientist named Ken Paller who with his colleagues from the Northwestern University in Chicago is studying the relationship between sleep and memory for a few years already. The research he has done so far suggests that sleep is the key to securely store memories created during the day. But we still know next to nothing about the process itself and the role of dreams in the process.
One of the reasons why it is so hard to understand dreams is the fact that the majority of people have problems fully remembering dreams after they wake up. That’s why Paller and his team have experimented with communication with sleeping people for some time already and previous research shows that sleeping people can be affected by sounds from the real world.
This study included 36 volunteers and several different techniques were used to try to communicate with the sleeping participants in four separate experiments. These included beeping, knocking, flashing lights, and questions. To gather information about the sleepers' reactions the scientists used electrodes for the eye and facial muscle movement and an EEG to scan brain activity.
During 57 sleeping periods, 26 % of the sleepers showed they have entered a lucid dream by their eye movement. Of the 36 volunteers, only 6 were capable of achieving this. The scientists then tried to communicate with these sleepers by asking them various questions. From a total of 158 tries, they got a correct answer to at least one question in 18 % of cases. Some of the participants were capable of remembering the questions after waking up and some have forgotten them.
The scientists were examining dreaming to know more about why we dream and how useful dreams can be for our lucid mental states as they presume sleep is useful for the function of our memory. While the results are certainly interesting we have to remember that the sample size was quite a small size. Also, the fact that in 60 % of the cases the sleepers did not react to the questions at all.
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