You might say that this new wearable is the stuff of dreams. The Lucid Dreamer, developed by Dutch neuroscientists Dr. Derk Mulder and Dr. André Keizer, allows you to play out your wildest fantasies, such as flying through the sky, hanging out with the Kardashians or winning the World Cup — nothing is out of bounds. The box-like device, which is worn on the forehead with electrodes attached to the sleeper’s temples, uses mild electrical stimulation and a host of tried and tested techniques to induce — and control — lucid dreams. There’s an app too, which lets you connect to a so-called dream friend and try to share dreams. Dr André Keizer, co-founder of Lucid Dreamer, explains how you can be the master of your own dreams.
What exactly is Lucid Dreamer?
The Lucid Dreamer is a wearable device that induces lucid dreams by applying mild electrical stimulation to the head after it detects the onset of a regular dream. Lucid dreams are dreams in which you realize that you are dreaming. Being aware of the fact that you are dreaming also gives you the opportunity to control the content of your dream. It takes a little practice, but in lucid dreams your imagination is your only limitation: You can choose to fly around like a bird, have superhuman powers or talk to famous people or long-lost friends. You can even practice sports, musical instruments or important presentations. Lucid dreaming is a natural phenomenon that occurs regularly in about 20 percent of the population. People have tried to increase the chance of lucid dreams by practicing certain cognitive or meditation techniques. The Lucid Dreamer is the first device that can effectively induce lucid dreams in a reliable and safe way. In 2014, a seminal paper was published in Nature Neuroscience that showed that you could induce lucid dreams directly by applying a form of mild electrical stimulation known as tACS (transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation) during a regular dream. We immediately realized that this technology had the potential to revolutionize the way people dream.
Wow! How does Lucid Dreamer work?
The Lucid Dreamer uses EEG (electroencephalogram) to detect the onset of REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement sleep). EEG measures the electrical activity of the brain using electrodes that are attached to the head. When the onset of REM sleep is detected, a predetermined stimulation protocol starts. The stimulation protocol implements tACS (transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation), which is a safe form of mild electrical stimulation. Research has shown that low-ampere alternating currents that are applied to the head can influence brain activity in a frequency-specific manner. In other words, tACS can specifically influence brain function. It has been shown that 40 Hz neuronal oscillations are correlated with consciousness, which may explain why applying 40 Hz tACS during REM sleep induces lucid dreams.
Is it really possible to control our dreams?
Yes, it is really possible to control your dreams. The Lucid Dreamer wakes you up inside your dream, which gives you the opportunity to start controlling your dream. Controlling the content of your dreams should be seen as a skill that can be perfected with practice. At first, being aware of the fact that you are dreaming may feel very strange and exciting and controlling the dream may be tricky. However, if you get more and more used to being awake inside a dream, you will increasingly be able to control the content of your dream.
What is the point of controlling our dreams?
Being awake inside your dream is a magical experience and being able to control your dreams enables you to create experiences that cannot be realized in waking life. Controlling your dreams can be a lot of fun, but it can also be useful for exploring your subconscious mind and for practicing skills that can be used in waking life.
Are there any side effects of using this device?
There are no known side effects of using the Lucid Dreamer. The technique that the Lucid Dreamer uses to induce lucid dreams, tACS, has been used countless times in scientific experiments and is very safe. In comparison: The after-effects of a typical tACS session on brain activity are smaller than the after-effect of a long mobile phone call.
What happens if a user has a nightmare while using the Lucid Dreamer?
Actually, research has shown that lucid dreaming can be used to treat people who have recurrent nightmares. When you have a nightmare that turns into a lucid dream through the Lucid Dreamer, you will have the opportunity to change the content of that nightmare, turning it into a learning experience.