Alzheimer’s Drug Drastically Improves Chance of Lucid Dreaming
If you’ve ever tried lucid dreaming you know it can be difficult to train yourself to “wake up” in a dream. The practice can take a lot of trial and error, especially when you wake up inside a dream and get so excited that you snap back to reality. But now, scientists believe they’ve pinpointed a chemical compound that improves one’s ability to lucid dream by up to 42 percent.
A group of scientists studying the Alzheimer’s medication Galantamine, found it had the ability to increase the likelihood that a subject would have a lucid dream as larger doses were administered in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
“On 3 consecutive nights, they awoke approximately 4.5 hours after lights out, recalled a dream, ingested the capsules and stayed out of bed for at least 30 minutes. Participants then returned to bed and practiced the Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams technique while returning to sleep.”
Their results showed that the percentage of subjects who subsequently reported lucid dreams increased with dosage between 4mg and 8mg from 27 percent to 42 percent. They also found the drug increased dream recall, sensory vividness, and complexity.
So, not only are you more likely to wake up in your dreams, but they’re likely to be more intense and easier to remember when you truly awake. Who needs an Oculus Rift, when you have infinite dream worlds to explore?
As it turns out, the active ingredient in Galantamine is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (AChEls), a drug that blocks the neurotransmitter acetylcholinesterase, which in turn leads to a buildup of acetylcholine, believed to regulate deep REM sleep associated with dreaming. However, the researchers involved in the study admit they still aren’t sure how this mechanism works.
In addition to AChEls, the drug influences cholinergic neurons in the brainstem that lead to improved memory. Essentially, what scientists believe is happening is that the improved memory induced by the drug increases one’s ability to remember and recognize that one is dreaming. Imagine that – your memory becomes so good that it even improves during your dream state to remind you you’re dreaming.
They also believe the drug induces a top-down goal directed response, rather than a bottom-up directed response that is associated with habitual responses. Those habitual responses are what makes dreams non-lucid – your mind is used to dreaming when the body goes into this state, but if you change its goal to being aware during this state, it can become cognizant while you dream.
Practiced lucid dreamers cna travel to fantastic places during dreams, having the ability to fly, swim and travel to distant galaxies when they develop dream state awareness. The landscapes contained within our mind are essentially infinite and being able to access them on a whim could lead to a renaissance in human consciousness.
With more tests verifying the safety of this drug on the brains of healthy adults, one day we may all be able to experience lucid dreaming on a regular basis.
For more information on Lucid Dreaming, watch Regina Meredith interview neuroscience and consciousness researcher David Jay Brown in this episode of Open Minds: