For years, scientists have continued to study everything they can about sleep and how it affects the human body and mind. Perhaps one of the biggest enigmas that remain to this day pertains to dreams. As such, a team of experts claim that they have created a system that can somehow influence what a person dreams about. The process reportedly involves similarities to what people call lucid dreaming, wherein there is some measure of control over what is experienced.
As described by researchers at Fluid Interfaces of MIT Media Lab, the method is referred to as targeted dream incubation (TDI). It is supposedly most effective when the subject is at an early sleep stage called hypnagogia, wherein the persons can easily be influenced to focus on certain things. As pointed out by a report from Science Direct, the group behind this project is experienced in the development of "wearable systems and interfaces to enhance cognitive skills."
The team claims hypnagogia shares some similarities to a sleep stage identified as REM (Rapid Eye Movement) wherein dreams are supposedly more vivid and could invoke intense feelings. Interestingly, people can still hear and somehow process audio at this point of their inactivity. In experiments, the sound subjects hear is a recording of their voice. Statements such as "remember your to observe your thoughts" and "remember to think of a tree" are just some of the suggestions used.
To detect if the volunteers have entered hypnagogia, they are fitted with a customised sleep tracker that is worn on the hands. It monitors data such as electrical charges, heart rate, and finger movements among others. The data is then analysed to confirm their sleep state and that's when the audio playback begins. So far, more than 60 percent of study participants claim that their dreams were somewhat related to what the audio suggested.
While the dreams differ for everyone, the theme remains consistent throughout the experiments. As with any emerging technology or scientific process, there are still factors and processes that need to be refined. Nevertheless, in the field of sleep science, being able to control certain aspects of an individual's dream can be considered groundbreaking.