Researchers Develop Device to Influence Direction of Your Dreams

double exposure portrait of a dark skinned woman and a striking sunset

Sleep is strange; at the end of the day we fall unconscious, our bodies become paralyzed, and we hallucinate vividly, before quickly forgetting what was just experienced. But now researchers at MIT are engineering an interface to influence this bizarre state, believing it may hold the key to our creative genius.

There is a period between wakefulness and that deep, restorative slumber, known as hypnogogia. These fleeting moments have long been considered a place where creative brilliance can be accessed.

Innovators including Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and Salvador Dali all intentionally tapped into this state for inspiration, attributing much of their inventions and masterpieces to it.

Holding a pair of steel balls as they fell asleep, they would drift into the hypnagogic state for a few seconds, before their muscles would relax, the balls would fall to the floor, and they would be jolted back awake. This brief entry into the dream state would allow them to remember the bizarre hallucinations and ingenious thoughts floating in the creative ether.

This was part and parcel to Dali’s famous paranoiac-critical method that produced his most trippy and iconic work. But instead of steel balls, Dali used a metal key and an upside-down plate for it to land on, producing a loud clang.

Dali found that not only did these micro-naps spark creativity, but they also provided a refreshed mental state, without the grogginess of a longer rest.

Taking note from these innovators, MIT researchers are developing a modernized version of the steel ball technique through a worn computer interface called Dormio. But instead of waking them, the interface influences sleepers in hypnagogia, attempting to control the direction of their semi-coherent state, and they’ve had some preliminary success.

 

dormio

Dormio interface via media.mit.edu

 

Using a glove fitted with a series of wires and biosensors, the interface tracks users’ slow descent into sleep, measuring the subtle muscle relaxations of the hand. From there, an app provides an audio cue that prevents users from going into a deeper sleep, suspending them in the hypnagogic state with a prompted word or concept to focus on.

Thus far, the words ‘fork’ and ‘rabbit’ have been used successfully as a theme for “dream content.” Users are then asked questions to capture ideas floating through their mind, without fully waking them, before they are then allowed to fall asleep.

We spend close to a third of our lives sleeping, where our minds exist in creative, fantastic hallucinatory states. Researchers on the team want to figure out how to tap into that world and potentially take advantage of it.

The unconscious mind has been the subject of study by scientists for centuries, yet we still know so little about it. It’s also been proven that we are all born creative geniuses, but through the constructs and demands of our society, our originality is constantly suppressed. Could that creativity be resurrected with hypnogogic enhancement?

Searching Dreams


New Research Examines the Causes & Consequences of Poor Sleep

Woman With Insomnia Lying In Bed With Open Eyes. Girl In Bed Suffering Insomnia And Sleep Disorder Thinking About His Problem At Night

An influx of new research has been shedding light on the importance of sleep and showing the great promise of natural approaches to treating dysfunction.

According to recent statistics, at least one-third of Americans don’t get the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. And over the last few years, sleep problems have been reported in 40% of Americans. Alarmed by these numbers, researchers have doubled their efforts at studying the causes, effects, and possible treatments.

Dr. Donese Worden is a naturopathic doctor who has worked with multiple patients with sleep issues and has lectured extensively on the topic.

“The importance of sleep cannot be overstated. It detoxes our body, not only the brain in its detoxification process but the entire body. It allows us to regenerate our body — that’s called ATP,” Dr. Worden said. 

“The cells also need to rest at a certain point to re-energize themselves to do all of the processes they do. It allows us to tell our bodies we need to burn more fat. It allows our body to say it is time to regulate blood sugar (and) help the cardiovascular system repair. If we’re not sleeping well, we’re more at risk for atherosclerosis and other metabolic diseases.”

One significant area of recent research has been around the causes of sleep problems. Multiple factors have been implicated, including stress responses, nutritional deficits and excesses, and nighttime routines.

“Your nighttime routine is called sleep hygiene. Is the room dark? Blackout curtains are important here. Is the room cold enough? That affects your sleep. So looking at the basics of cold room, dark room, and blue light. Is the computer on? Are you looking at your cell phone? Blue light has been linked with a very recent study, into affecting our quality of sleep and ability to go to sleep,” Dr. Worden said.

Studies suggest that blue light decreases the production of melatonin, which is necessary for the induction of sleep. Another focus of recent study is the connection between nutrition, inflammation, and sleep.

Read Article

More In Personal Development

Our unique blend of yoga, meditation, personal transformation, and alternative healing content is designed for those seeking to not just enhance their physical, spiritual, and intellectual capabilities, but to fuse them in the knowledge that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.


Use the same account and membership for TV, desktop, and all mobile devices. Plus you can download videos to your device to watch offline later.

Desktop, laptop, tablet, phone devices with Gaia content on screens

Discover what Gaia has to offer.

Testing message will be here