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MIT Researchers Have Developed a ‘System for Dream Control’ (vice.com)
547 points by dsr12 12 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 133 comments

I was introduced to this phenomenon through Kurzweil's book "How to create a mind". He claims that the brain is massively parallelized pattern recognition machine, with consciousness being a censor that filters results. While in hypnagogia, this censoring function is suppressed and you are able to make "unthinkable" connections between ideas you normally think are unrelated. Of course, you should just take notes of these connections and later evaluate them rationally to see if they have any merit. It's very exciting that technology might be able to prolong and enhance this creative state of mind.

Until now I never knew that there was a name for "hypnagogia". For most of my life, I was never able to remember this period of sleep, but over the last few years that has changed (not intentionally, so I don't know what changed in my body to cause the difference). I've developed some level of awareness during it and can wake myself up from it, then remember at least some of it. If you've never experienced it, it's like every part of your brain is talking to every other part of your brain, and you have many bizarre connections of thoughts happening in parallel. It's different than a normal dream, where it seems there is only one "thread" running at a time.

These have happened intermittently through my life when my stress is high. This is only personal clue I can give to you "why" otherwise maybe you're just getting good at it.

In my last episode, I was floating toward a wall and all these thoughts were firing, "you're in a dream", "you'll go through the wall", "don't be afraid" but the rational side that felt like I was going to slam into a wall freaked out just at the wall & I woke. I still wish I just let myself slip through the wall..

Generally in a dream state like that, I find that what you believe & intend will happen will happen whether it makes sense or not. You knew you were dreaming and that the wall was immaterial, but you didn’t accept it in time. That’s one of the basic skills involved in lucid dreaming, really, influencing the dream by thinking “Oh, of course this is what will happen next” without pushing it too hard and waking yourself up (or getting stuck in sleep paralysis, in my case).

If you have nightmares, lucid dreaming techniques can be helpful for overcoming them. People often make stressful dreams worse on themselves by worrying “What if the monster catches up to me?” or “What if my weapon doesn’t do anything to it?”—you’ve got to follow it up with “Nah, I think it’s friendly and I can ride it” or “Of course my attack will work”.

I reliably have dreams that involve flooding when I am stressed or frustrated. I'm not particularly good at remembering dreams, don't try, but after one dream that seemed particularly 'symbolic,' I read some Jung and now I recognize that, in almost every dream I do remember, there are archetypes and symbols that he mentions. Jung wasn't really 'systematic,' but there are on order of 10-100 sub/objects in dreams that he emphasizes quite a bit and I see these in mine. Also, I tend to only remember a dream at times when my 'subconscious is [probably] trying to tell me something'

Yep, I see dreams same way and enjoyed reading Jung a lot in college. It makes sense that stress would induce more dreams if you saw dreams as mechanisms to heal your own mind, or at very least, point out the problem. I have read in other texts that we live out our ego fantasies in dreams (both scary & exhilarating) because otherwise it's a "pain" we can't handle until we get a taste for it.

You might find the dream dictionary[1] interesting.

[1] - http://www.dreammoods.com/dreamdictionary/

>"I don't know what changed in my body to cause the difference"

For me it was gaining a better understanding of basic physics. Something I was never taught at an early age due to a cult like upbringing. Now questioning all I have ever been taught is second nature in my waking life. Even basic things like was that shadow normal? "Oh right, nothing divine there." So now that has leaked into my dream state, whenever physics goes weird (mostly water not flowing right or objects that don't respond in a proper manner) I instantly question it and then become aware of my dream state.

Did you have a kid or start traveling more? I noticed that when I am on a plane (usually very sleepy b/c I can only afford red eyes), I drift off a lot, but get woken up a lot too (PA announcement, food cart to the knee, etc.)

I had something like what you're describing as I was developing mild sleep apnea. Starting using those nasal separator strips religiously and got back to having consistently deep "dreamless" sleep ... but no lucid dreams.

How have you developed that faculty?

I read somewhere that Thomas Edison used to take naps with ball bearings in his hands. At the instant he fell asleep, the bearings rolled out of his hands and hit the floor and woke him up during this transition state.

My farmer friends call it a "spoon nap" sit in a chair holding a spoon, as soon as you fall asleep the spoon drops and you can get back to work. Typically taken directly after a big lunch.

This is in the article...

I believe Dali did it too: sat in a chair, holding a key above a metal plate.

I also read that somewhere

My favorite use of Hypnagogia is to find things that I have lost around the house. It's able to pull memories out of your brain that you can't usually access (analogous to backup tapes in your garage I guess).

When I was younger I was able to make music by counting beats in my head with a hi-hat just before I hit a hypnagogia state. I knew I was there when the hi hat would keep counting even after I stopped consciously doing counting, then an entire analog and digital orchestra in my brain would start playing wonderful tunes. Of course I could never remember them after, but it doesn't matter.

> He claims that the brain is massively parallelized pattern recognition machine, with consciousness being a censor that filters results. While in hypnagogia, this censoring function is suppressed and you are able to make "unthinkable" connections between ideas you normally think are unrelated.

"If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern."

William Blake: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790)

If you’re interested in additional reading along these lines, Robert Anton Wilson (of Illuminatus Trilogy fame) has a lot of interesting material.

Hypnagogia.. Didn't hear that word before. I get that a lot and tried to explain it to other people, but nobody seem to understand what I am talking about.

It feels like I am dreaming while I am still awake in some kind of transitional state, where I am not conscious and also not asleep. It is not the same as lucid dreaming, which I had a couple of times also.

That moment when your brain falls asleep in class and tells you it unveiled the deep connection between carnival blister peanut texture and the quantum variational bound. And then you wake up suddenly and get scared because you think you might have yelled out something stupid.

Or maybe I’m just the only one.

> Or maybe I’m just the only one

not just you - I didn't have a name for it, but my brain pretty much does free-association in that phase. On more than one occasion I've jolted awake because I've had a earth-shattering revelation, only to realise my idea was already invented (hot air balloon) or pretty ridiculous (like having your toaster burn the day's agenda on your toast).

I can't help but wonder: how many multi-million dollar ideas have I had and then promptly forgot as I got into deeper sleep?

> having your toaster burn the day's agenda on your toast

Shut up and take my money!

a laser and a galvo should do it

> pretty ridiculous (like having your toaster burn the day's agenda on your toast).


Hmmm, you're onto something. If I could lower my morals just a bit, I could parlay these crazy ideas into fanciful crowd-funded cash-grabs. I'll be the visionary - I'll need a technical "co-founder" (to handle the photoshops and cheery promo videos)

I have this too. Suddenly I realise that each line of code I am writing is a doorway to a different parallel universe.

Or maybe that the numbers on the clock indicate the distance I have to run in the track meet.

My girlfriend has told me that sometimes when we drift off to sleep talking, I'll start making less and less sense. She occasionally interviews me and can keep me going in this free-association state for a couple of minutes. I'll have to get to her take notes. :)

The worst instance of this for me was when I was younger and would get a high fever. My brain would just constantly go over the same concepts, try to reconcile them, fail, retry etc.

Usually it would attempt something similar to yours, like reconciling the concept of orange with a physical shape, which just immediately fails.

My brain fell asleep in class once, and my head slipped off my hand. The noise of it hitting the desk woke me up again.

Everyone heard that one for sure!

>It feels like I am dreaming while I am still awake in some kind of transitional state, where I am not conscious and also not asleep

I've had this start happening to me in the past year. When I was a kid I would have horrible, recurring nightmares for months on end that were difficult to remember. At some point in middle/highschool I stopped having dreams altogether (or at least stopped remembering them entirely). It was great as I would no longer wake up in a panic or stay up incredibly late in order to get to sleep. Recently however, I've started having dreams like you describe. My sleep schedule has changed as well. I get up at 5AM, but recently I've found that I'll naturally wake up between 2-4AM at which point I'll drift in and out of consciousness having negative, vivid dreams that I partially remember in the morning.

I get this a lot too and had to look up the term. The first time I tried acupuncture I went into this state right away.

For a long time now, I've been kinda self-experimenting on inducing these kinds of states in myself, without resorting to hardware or hard/scary drugs.

It all started with my realization that sleep brought me answers in general; i.e. a realization that my general pattern was to work on hard problems all day until I hit various brick walls, then step away and do Real Life and then later at night I'd Sleep, and then often if I'm lucky I wake up the next morning with important realizations that get me past the previous day's brick walls, and then the cycle repeats.

Once I realized this pattern, I started optimizing for more sleep cycles per day and a more-immediate transition from BrickWalls->Sleep, basically by injecting a daytime nap in the midst of my workday if/when I can (working from home has its privileges!), aiming for ~1.5h or ~3h nap increments when I can, since that seems to match well with my sleep cycles for reaching REM in the middle and then waking back out of it on a natural cycle boundary.

I'm also a heavy coffee drinker for the stimulant effects on my thinking, and at one point heard about the "Coffee Nap" idea (TL;DR - it takes ~30m for caffeine to really kick in, so when you get tired you chug a coffee and lay down, and let yourself wake later as it kicks in).

Somehow over time all my random experimentation on these various inter-related things settled into a new pattern that works well when I can achieve it: I try to hit the brick wall while still fairly amped on caffeine (have a last cup as I'm moving away from the laptop if I'm behind on my caffeine intake), then switch over to a nap state.

As I'm laying in bed falling asleep, I initially force my thoughts on whatever my Brick Walls are, and my body's still a bit uncomfortably caffeine amped/buzzed for laying down and trying to sleep, but between the coffee buzzing and the descent into sleep, I now usually end up having a very odd transitional but semi-conscious mental state for a solid 10-15 minutes (sometimes longer) on my way to sleep. During this time, free associations and strange dreamy unrelated things start springboarding out from my initial more-directed thoughts, and it's clear this is basically an open channel to get those lateral-thinking associations going while still barely conscious. It's like a psychedelic-drug-free version of a short acid trip or useful lucid dreaming state. Eventually I succumb to sleep, but I have had a very good success rate (relatively - it's still not necessarily high in the absolute!) at getting good intuitive answers to my problems on waking.

Over time I've gotten better and better at achieving these states with practice, but it still requires a lot of these triggering conditions/patterns above. I think/hope eventually I may reach a point where I can induce these mental states at will without actually going to sleep afterwards or relying on caffeine buzz to kick it off.

I recently read "A mind for numbers" which leans on this concept of working hard on a problem (focus mode) and then stepping away from it for some time (diffuse mode) very heavily. I also realized that this works really well for me and i guess for most people.

I've relied on this for decades for complex development tasks. Now when a manager asks me to propose some design solution, I just say flat out that I'll probably know what to do after a couple of sleeps.

I’ve experienced some of these same things. But more than that, I applaud you for experimenting!!

Sleep As Android can do this same thing. It uses your microphone/accelerometer to sense motion and estimate when you're entering REM sleep. It's not as advanced as the more complicated set up here, but anecdotally I can say it works fairly well. You can set it to play a trigger phrase when you enter REM sleep to help train lucid dreaming. I've never done it though because they default trigger phrase included is downright creepy sounding. It's some echo-y modulated voice that goes "You are dreaming-ing-ing-ing...."

I was expecting the article to be an actual dream control device and not just a device that helps you control your own dreams. Kind of misleading.

> I've never done it though because they default trigger phrase included is downright creepy sounding. It's some echo-y modulated voice that goes "You are dreaming-ing-ing-ing...."

I used an app like that to trigger a lucid state (might be the exact same one) and yeah I heard it say “you are dreaming” in that creepy voice and it gave me a freaking lucid nightmare. It succeeded in making me realize I was dreaming without waking me up, but my heart raced to about 200bpm and I thought that scary voice was going to come and kill me. Who the heck made that app?

I still remember being scared awake by that audio loop many years ago. Lucid dreaming had caught my attention for a while, and when they released the lucid dreaming feature I thought I'd give it a go. The media volume on my phone being set to maximum definitively did not help when that creepy voice wrought me out of sleep and I haven't tried it since. I wonder if it actually works, but can't really try it out nowadays as I'm not sleeping alone.

I had the exact same experience, it was really freaky and I had to turn it off.

I, too, was expecting instructions on how to control dreams. It's something I can do with varying success when I become aware that I'm dreaming, and I was hoping that this might help me improve the chances of becoming aware that I was dreaming.

Here's the conference paper [1], 30s preview video [2] and ACM Digital Library entry [3].

There's also a project homepage with a FAQ [4].

[1]: http://delivery.acm.org/10.1145/3190000/3188403/alt10.pdf

[2]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joYEbU2R57Q

[3]: https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?doid=3170427.3188403

[4]: https://www.media.mit.edu/projects/sleep-creativity/overview...

Fascinating. I have a keen interest in Shamanism and more patience for "woo-woo" here than most. Navigating your dream state is a mighty Shamanic concept. It is one of two Shamanic practices that people here will entertain. The other is the idea of the memory castle.

New technological approaches like this will help us peel back the veil of the tangible, 'ordinary' realities of which we are comfortable. The world will be a much more funky and weird place once we realize there are non-ordinaries realities that we can explore, too.

That's honestly what I was thinking while reading this. Shamans, and other types who are extremely skilled with meditation have control over their minds and bodies that is extraordinary. They can navigate dream states, explore their own bodily function, and perhaps even go to places we can't imagine.

Certain drugs like DMT, Mushrooms, or LSD are essentially performance enhancing drugs when it comes to those powers of meditation, and they allow ordinary folks a glimpse of what the human mind/body is capable of.

I think the converse is true, no?

That the shamanic practices will be pealed back, to reveal the familiar reality of scientific investigation.

I've had many lucid dreams, sleep paralysis, etc. "Navigating your dream state" seems really just like a lucid dream.

You're pretty much able to create a life-like world at whim in a lucid dream. The ability of the mind to hallucinate sensation in great depth is tremendous, and im sure, tied deeply to dreaming.

The advantage to opening yourself to what is loosely called 'right brained' thinking, is that you don't have to wait around for someone to publish a rigorous study in a journal about the subject you're seeking a solution for. If I waited around for science as much as some HN users imply they do, I'd be paralyzed and barely ever make progress on things that matter to me.

I believe great scientists often start in wooville before they are able to distill science out of it. “Why should not a bold thinker have guessed something that is afterwards confirmed by sober and painstaking detailed research?” -Freud

The generation of hypotheses is "right-brained thinking" in these terms.

Science is a process which includes the creative step of imagining a solution/explanation.

The differentiation between science and "systematic religous doctrine" is not in the character of the people, nor particularly in the way they think. Only that the scientist has an additional goal/duty to test his explanations.

That is an excellent point. I do agree that the converse is true. Together, now we are talking.

I don't think science will be able to say as much on the subject as one would like. "Navigating your own dream state" is a person making decisions about a world they themselves have created. There isn't much room for an objective observer there. In general, I don't think science is ever going to get a grip on consciousness. The whole "self observing the self" business makes it way too slippery a concept to get a grasp on in any satisfactory manor.

I would love some reading recommendations on these topics if you would be willing to recommend anything.

"The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep" by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche is excellent. The terminology can feel alien or intimidating, but if you're receptive you can see results quickly. Bonus: The author & his organization give many workshops, in the US and abroad, even online.

Awesome to see someone else familiar with Rinpoche. I came in this thread to mention it. Also worth noting is that they have two Youtube channels [1] [2] that they regularly share guided meditations from.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvtLfdR8gIVmdVVYsDcon_A [2] https://www.youtube.com/user/ligmincha

any/all of Joseph Campbell

Works by Robert Monroe https://www.amazon.com/Robert-A.-Monroe/e/B000AQ8V5A

Works by Dr. Lilly https://www.amazon.com/Center-Cyclone-Looking-Inner-Space/dp...

Carlos Castanteda (take it with a grain of salt :) https://www.amazon.com/Carlos-Castaneda/e/B000APXVFG/

D. Scott Rogo's "Leaving Body" is good compilation of various techniques https://www.amazon.com/Leaving-Body-D-Scott-Rogo/dp/06717639...


I have written a blog on this topic. It relates to work I have done working with Shaman and plant medicines in Peru. Here you go: https://goodroot.ca/post/2018/03/06/the-garden-axiom/ !

  > Ideas were not coming from me, they were just passing through my head
This might sound like I'm crazy but this brings back memories of a strange experience from some years ago that I can't really explain other than "coincidence".. but in the light of this article I started to think.. is it?

Me and my gf were really tired and both exactly in this "almost sleeping but not quite" state. We were lying down with our heads touching (my left temple touching her right temple.. not exactly the temple but just to give a generic idea). We were still talking with each other but at the same time I was seeing random fragments of dreams and the reality was fading away and coming back occasionally. At some point I saw a dream(?) about an orange (I think.. or a ball) that grew bigger and bigger till almost everything was.. filled by it and at that moment my gf says something in the lines of ".. and then there's this huge orange ball coming at me and growing bigger". I woke up immediately and asked her to explain wtf just happened because she was seeing the exact same thing that I was seeing at exactly the same time.

Could it be that one of our brains was picking up the brain waves of the other (..the brains were so close together after all :)) and as our consciousness was fading between being asleep.. it didn't filter out this random interference and interpreted it in the same way, producing the same dream like encounter? Was she, in essence, "reading my mind"? Am I crazy? :)

Consider an alternative hypothesis? In your hypnagogic state, your brain actually produced an image based on what she described to you, then reordered the chronology of events so that it seemed to you like you imagined the image before she described it. Not too dissimilar from deja vu.

It's well known that brains can sometimes reorder the chronology of events, especially if they occur within a short time window.

I was thinking even simpler: Maybe she started talking about the orange ball earlier, but he was asleep (or mostly asleep) at that point, and so started dreaming about it. Then he woke up at the last bit of the story.

Interesting. I've had several strange experiences in the last year which could be explained this way (as I have no other way to explain me "seeing the future"). In one example, my brain told me there was a 5 euro note under a chair at a cafe, and then I looked, saw it and picked it up. In another example, I saw a fruit had fallen from a tree and imagined an older man come and pick it up and then look up at the tree. This exact thing occurred 10 seconds later.

Other weird experiences include living in a new country and having at least 20 instances of deja vu there within a short time (not of having been there, but just random moments I had seen before in my head).

Thanks, I haven't thought of this but it sounds plausible as well.

Also see Déjà Rêvé.

I had a cognitive science professor relate a story about a similar liminal dream. He had a long dream about a visit to the library. Every element of the dream built to someone yelling "look up!" and when he did, he saw a large book falling right towards him, so he was about to knock it out of the way. He woke to find a book falling from a high shelf right above his head - and his hand already extended to knock it away.

Did he have a prophetic dream? Probably not. Probably he saw the book through barely-open eyes and his brain generated and stored the entire dream instantaneously and he only thought he had experienced it in normal time.

Like another poster said, your brain may have re-ordered the order of events. I remember something similar happening to me, but it wasn't another person talking, which allowed me to figure out that re-ordering happened.

I was dosing off while my family was still up. It was a short dream in which I was playing tennis. It was only 2 or 3 strokes, but I woke up with a start just as the ball hit the court surface. Turns out that someone dropped something nearby. I assume my brain heard it, played out the tennis match dream synchronizing the tennis ball hitting the court with something being dropped.

>“Ideas were not coming from me, they were just passing through my head,” one subject reported.

Is consciousness even real, man?

Great books if you wanna chew on basically (for now) unanswerable questions:

Peter Watts' "Blindsight" and "Echopraxia."

Neal Stephenson's "Anathem."

Lots of Greg Egan's work deals with consciousness. For example, "Permutation City" is great.

This is great. The device is interesting. I've accomplished the equivalent thing manually by putting my elbow on the bed and keep my arm straight up. As I'm falling asleep, the arm would fall down, bringing me mildly back to consciousness again. It works, and is gentler than using steel balls, but the method used here is even more refined.

The even more notable aspect of the story is that it seems lucid dreaming and related phenomena is finally moving firmly into the realm of reality in the minds of sleep/dream researchers, if this article is to be any indication. Though I'm aware that lucid dreaming was technically proven to be real ages ago, the notion that it's not seems to have stuck.

Side note; one of my favourite things to do when flying is to induce a hypnagogic state and then compose, and simultaneously listen to, music in my mind. Or rather, have music be composed almost automatically with gentle nudges from me using emotions (it's hard to put into words). It requires noise cancelling headphones and either white noise or a good binaural beats track. And of course, I don't always end up in the correct state of mind to be able to do it.

The music I hear in this state is incredibly beautiful. I'm no musician however, and I've never been able to "bring anything back" that's been of any significance.

What do you do when your arm falls back on the bed? Do you put it up again? And how many times do you do this before getting into the desired mental state?

Yeah, exactly. Sorry, the description was a bit rough.

Essentially; lie down on your back. Raise your arm from the elbow as if you were about to point to the ceiling, while keeping the elbow resting on the bed. When you are about to fall asleep, the arm falls down, waking you up (hopefully).

The point is to give you the opportunity to sort of traverse back and forth over the line separating waking and sleeping consciousness quickly.

The goal is first of all to be able to "spot" the state of mind. Since it's usually just something we pass by on the way to sleep, we don't normally have a very clear sense of what the state is like. Therefore it's hard to hold for any amount of time. Familiarizing yourself with the characteristics of the state of mind helps when trying to hold on to it.

Which is the eventual goal: to remain in the state for a longer time before waking up or falling asleep.

The arm thing is rigged to wake you up rather than letting you fall asleep. This is to increase chances that you're able to bring something useful back to full waking consciousness. If you have a very successful session in the liminal state, but then you fall asleep, chances are you won't remember the details later on.

A friend of mine achieves the same effect by putting his arms behind his head, tucked under his pillow. He finds it very uncomfortable to sleep like this, so eventually he gets tired enough to slip into hypnagogia, but he never quite falls asleep.

It doesn't work for me, I find that position very comfortable.

But basically, you can be creative in this regard. Anything that helps you hover back and forth between waking and sleeping mind helps you chase down the elusive middle bit.

Another friend swears by taking a double espresso and laying down in the afternoon. Apparently this is enough to keep her from going deeper into sleep than desired. I haven't had much success with this particular method either.

Thanks. Very interesting.

>> ... the world starts dissolving, but you still have awareness of your descent into unconsciousness and memories mixing with hallucinations,

>> Jibo robot would prompt them

So this is basically someone going on a guided acid trip. An induced state where real perceptions and illusions can be directed by an outside guide. As further proof, I'd like to see the robot say "your skin is covered in spiders". I'm betting that dreaming doesn't go so well.

Maybe just have it say "Coca-cola tastes great!" - boom, billion dollar industry right there.

Or as in Futurama "Lightspeed briefs, as seen in your dreams!"

Reminds me of Brave New World.

I'd be interested in experimenting with Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies [1][2] as cues.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oblique_Strategies

[2] http://obliquestrategies.ca

Critic: "System for Dream Control", i.e., "People are suggestible as they fall asleep."

Fan: "But this is closed-loop. It keeps you in the hypnogogic state."

Critic: 1. Optimize a simple open-loop system using, say, number of repetitions, inter-repetition interval as f(repetition), and amplitude as f(repetition). Use your outcome of choice (e.g. the Alternative Uses Task) and a factorial design to explore the space. 2. Optimize closed-loop system for the same outcome, exploring its parameter space. 3. Randomize 100 people to (1) or (2) 4. t-test on the means 5. Get back to me 6. Even if p(2>1) < 0.05, (2) is still just a fancy example of "people's thoughts are affected by words that they hear."

Dr. Horowitz may be onto something. Let's not get ahead of ourselves with clickbait headlines while we wait and see.

Bizarrely timely for me. Just yesterday I experienced something much like this. I was working through a personal problem in my head but was pretty tired, and kept almost dropping off to sleep before realizing my chain of thought made no sense whatsoever and awakening myself. It happened a few dozen times (I was determined to get through the problem, though I wasn't having much success.)

But at some point, I was amused by where my mind was going to, so I started writing the dream fragments down. They were dreamlike, too -- they would sort of take over my brain, it was very difficult for me to recognize that they weren't rational or at all related to what I had been thinking about, and after I fully awoke they'd slip away entirely. But like I said, there was a point before falling asleep where I would become aware enough to realize what was happening, then grab onto some fragment of the dream, and wake up enough to write it down. So here's the list (these are all snapshots, as that was all I could hang onto):

    * my son saying he's going to jump up to the sky and then him soaring upward

    * someone being trained in the Israeli army

    * getting kicked out of a band

    * cutting an Adam's apple out of a chicken neck

    * stomping on something that looks like a painting lying on the floor, and shattering it

    * holding and tilting up a spatula, onion, and lemon

    * shooting missiles at the butt of an enormous cow

Where can I download the device schematics (or order a pre-assembled device) and an instruction manual on how to use it? I really bloody want a kind of "a crutch" that would throw me in a lucid dream without all that "dream journal" kind of exercises.

I can't believe no one mentioned Queensryche's "Silent Lucidity" 'till now.

I remember now...

> As they were falling asleep, the Jibo robot would prompt them with one of two phrases: “remember to think about a rabbit” or “remember to think about a fork.”

I'd imagine a queue like this would work, regardless of if I was sleeping.

A cue* not queue

queue of cues

although not all of the subjects remembered what they said to the robot, all of them “remembered and reported seeing the prompt word during their dream state, showing successful inception


This title seems quite misleading, dream control has been practiced by individuals for thousands of years and is easy to learn if you just do some reading and dedicate yourself to it ('lucid dreaming' and everything related to it). It doesn't require any devices or technology, although some techniques can involve using technology to make various things easier or more reliable. If you learn it well you should be able to perform just as well as this device allows you to, although this device seems a bit more focused on the state before lucid dreams, it could be just as useful as a consistent trigger to attain lucidity.

It's strange that the title says 'dream control' yet 'lucid dreaming' is barely mentioned once in the article. It seems like they just mean more awareness in a hypnagogic state, or the ability to wake up quickly after entering one, which can also be attained just by practicing.

The data provided attempting to show the benefits of this is severely lacking as well. A sample size of six with little specific description of their alternative use task is not useful in the same way saying they spent 158 seconds longer writing stories is not. I'm sure someone who remembers all their dreams can tell you a long and 'interesting' story, but it's not necessarily useful.

The article isn't about lucid dreaming. It's about the liminal state.

It can take months of active practice to have lucid dreaming.

The liminal state takes about five minutes to learn. The article has a story about Thomas Edison dropping balls on the floor; this works well.

Yeah, I’m quite experienced with lucid dreaming, but this particular hypnogogic state is something I actually try to avoid lingering around in, because it’s very uncomfortable for me.

The process of falling asleep feels like having my mind squeezed through a narrow gap, surrounded by random proto-thoughts like fragments of words and images. I wonder if that’s just my perception of the lower frontal lobe activity they describe in the article. Once I’m out on the “other side” in a dream, I feel like my mind can stretch out and relax again.

Not to mention feeling the conscious control of your breathing slipping away. That was always a slightly freakish experience for me when I used to do lucid dreaming in my teens.

Yup, not my favourite, hah. I usually notice the lack of conscious control over breathing at the other end, when waking up in sleep paralysis—which unfortunately is triggered by lucid dreaming for me. Thankfully since I’ve had SP my whole life, I’m used to it by now and can just try to relax and wait for it to pass.

I think it's interesting. Tech to create a feedback loop to keep you in a particular state.

When I was a kid I really had this thing for switching a light switch between off and on. Know what I mean? There's a spot you can hold it between off and on where the light flickers, and buzzes, at low power, sort of randomly.

I guess this is like that for wake-sleep. Cool state to be in and to get there without drugs, concentration, or whatever else. Very simple.

Can you lucid dream/OBE? Was it possible to learn?

Lucid dreaming is a skill. There's varying levels of experience and control that can be exerted via different methods. It comes naturally to some people, but is very much also a learnable skill (to varying degrees of difficulty for different people).

I spent about a month practicing methods to lucid dream before being able to achieve a few lucid dreams over a couple weeks. It became difficult for me to keep up some of the exercises in order to do so (such as waking up to write down my dreams in my dream journal in the middle of the night would interrupt my wife's sleep). It can be time-consuming for some people as well, as learners benefit from being able to get 7.5+ hours of sleep each night. I still attempt to lucid dream when convenient, but I don't practice every day like I used to.

Great resources to get started with learning lucid dreaming:

- Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D. & Howard Rheingold

- https://www.dreamviews.com/

If you find yourself semi-lucid within a dream, it's beneficial to immediately try to "anchor" yourself in your surroundings, by slowing turning around in-place, touching yourself, smelling things; activate all of your senses and your grounding to the dream will be much stronger allowing you to stay lucid and control the narrative.

Huh. I should try that next time. I rarely realize I'm in a dream (that I can remember), and whenever I do ... I just try to make out with everyone. It's a lot harder than you'd think! At least for me, even when I realize I'm in a dream, it becomes incredibly difficult to direct anything that's happening.

A good way to realise you’re dreaming is to look for “dream tells”, which vary from person to person but often include: text being hard to read, clocks showing the wrong time, mirrors not working quite right, not being able to remember how you got where you are, things changing appearance when you look away and look back, that sort of thing.

Unless you’re well practiced with lucid dreaming, you probably won’t be able to exert direct control—either your efforts simply won’t work, or you’ll wake yourself up. A useful technique I use is to think something along the lines of “Oh, of course this is what will happen next” and it often does—the structure of the dream is often driven by your expectations and beliefs of how things ought to operate. Poke around and try stuff to see what works for you! :)

The clock/text thing works really well for me. I’ll read a line of text, look away, then read it again. If it seems to have changed, I’m dreaming. Same thing with the clock. If it behaves erratically, I’m probably dreaming.

I've had 2 very lucid dreams (when I was in high school and had a crush on this one girl) and in both I tried to make out with her and stuff but woke up right before anything good happened. Damn excitement. lol

This. I’ve seen colours in my dreams that I’ve never seen before. Senses are so much more vivid in lucid dreams.

I'm not who you're replaying to, but...

When I was learning how to lucid dream, one of the triggers that I used to tell I was in a dream was flipping a light switch on and off. When I saw nothing happened, I knew it was a dream. Another big one I use is looking at any words, numbers or clocks to see if they were legit, or random characters / garbage.

I started to "feel" what a lucid dream was because I would get some nightmares that would eventually wake me up. It felt real and I could remember everything about it (for a few minutes). The big ones always involved me falling from a building, and waking up once I hit the pavement.

Over time, I forced myself to try to mostly stay asleep during these nightmares. I remember falling from stuff, hitting the pavement, waking up, but keeping my eyes closed and trying to keep from waking up. It got to the point where I would "half" wake up, but still be in the nightmares. Then with some practice, I could do that to normal dreams too.

I can't really do it on demand, so it's more if I am having a crazy dream, I can usually snap out of it and fully control everything about it.

+1 on looking at words.

I once was having dinner with a girl and the topic of conversation drifted to dreams and how one might tell if one is in an "Inception" type scenario. I used the menu as an example-- read a line from the menu, close the booklet, reopen and reread the same line. I told her if the two lines aren't the same line, you're dreaming (the rendering hardware in your brain apparently uses different PRNG seeds for procedural texture generation).

I paused awkwardly as I realized that items in the menu kept changing each time I reread them.

She was very offended when I told her she was a figment of my imagination.

I like your explanation for changing lines of text, but I don't think brain is actively generating any content. I think brain is just trying its best to apply daytime pattern recognition to un-orchestrated neural activity. The most recently learned patterns are the strongest, which is why often you'll dream stuff that happened that day. If you spend a lot of time performing single activity (like gaming), the dream will be intensive and focused; this is called the Tetris effect.

Poke one finger of one hand into the palm of the other. If you are dreaming, the flesh will yield like putty, and your finger will go through. This also works most of the time with windows, and sometimes with walls.

Pinch your nose, close your mouth, and try to breathe. If you are dreaming, you will be able to inhale and exhale without any conceivable path for the air to flow. Also works if you are underwater.

Light switches always do something in my dreams. It might not be turning the lights on and off, but a thing happens when I flip the switch. (One time, it made some rabbits explode. That was fascinating, and I blew them all up one by one, and then felt guilty about it after I woke up.) Although most of the time, my dreams don't even have light switches, and I don't notice when they are absent from places where they should be, according to building codes.

I almost always have hands and a face, and the ability to move, so the two tricks above usually work.

"Pinch your nose, close your mouth, and try to breathe. If you are dreaming, you will be able to inhale and exhale without any conceivable path for the air to flow. Also works if you are underwater."

That has happened to me before! It was more an accident of experimenting around in a lucid dream. I didn't think anything further of it. You're right, though, that it should be a default technique since you can close your mouth and attempt to breath in about any dream situation. Thanks a lot!

One day, when you wake up and the power's out you're going to have an existential crisis

Weird. I've tried the 'flip a light switch on and off' in my dreams -- and the lights do go off and on. Every time.

I use reading and re-reading to test whether I'm in a dream.

> When I was a kid I really had this thing for switching a light switch between off and on. Know what I mean? There's a spot you can hold it between off and on where the light flickers, and buzzes, at low power, sort of randomly.

I relate to this on a spiritual level. When I was a child, I would go around the house and set all the switchs to that "in-between" state.

> A discrete decision based upon an input having a continuous range of values cannot be made within a bounded length of time.

~ Leslie Lamport



Just so people know, if you do that just wrong it can cause a fire.

Its funny you say that one twchnique for lucid dreaming is focusing on mundane things that you do in everyday life and within a dream the behavior is different. A friend actually used light switches as anchors so whenever there was one in a dream he would realize he was dreaming. Im not a practitioner so im not 100% sure how this works in practice but I remember him talking about light switches specifically

A great way to become conscious in your dreams is to notice something that isn't supposed to happen while you're awake. For reasons I'm not sure why, many people share a lot of experiences that happen in dreams that work well as anchors; your hair falls out, you look in a mirror and have missing teeth, technology doesn't work the way it's expected to, light switches don't work, clocks don't display a proper time or you can't read them, and more.

There are more ways to purposefully check if you're dreaming, such as by trying to push your finger through your hand, or breathing through your nose while you pinch it with your fingers. But some of the examples above just passively happen while you're dreaming and you can train yourself to notice them.

> Tech to create a feedback loop to keep you in a particular state.

We already invented this and named it “television.”

And as being further perfected by FB, Cambridge Analytica, etc. The quest for "mind control" of the masses is nothing new.

Yes. You start by having a dream journal. Before going to sleep, tell yourself with focus and mental expectation you will have dreams that you remember. Prep your mind. Each time you wake up, try to remember anything you might have dreamed jotting it down. This will increase awareness and number of dreams you have. Many also find taking naps during the day increases number of dreams. Most of mine came with them. You're also wanting to maximize REM sleep at least per previous research. That's where you get more dreaming and dream recall. There were devices built that supposedly detected when you were in REM vs NREM that could wake you up in REM. You could then journal stuff. I worried it might condition the brain to interrupt dreams, though. Never tried them.

So, now you're dreaming a lot. You now have to wake up in the dream. Techniques to do that are called "reality checks" since they tell you what's real and isn't. You do them all throughout the day of waking life to make a habit out of them. The habit kicks in during the dream either on autopilot (script) or when you remember to do it. You spot a discrepency between what's expected from reality and what you're seeing. You're therefore dreaming. You will probably wake up immediately with a mental rush. Lucid dreaming websites or books will give you techniques for "anchoring" from there like spinning around that hold the dream together. You can also do it with mental focus. You can also prime your subconscious to do it for you for a while but we're in tricky territory there with a lot to debate. Here's some reality checks I use to get your started:

First, ask yourself if you're awake. When you're awake, you know you're awake. If you're not sure, assume you're dreaming unless you prove otherwise. There's apparently some sense we have for that.

Second, there's often something to write with in dreams from a pen to your fingers on a surface. Write something down. Look at it to take in the words themselves plus their visual details. Hold it in your head while looking at other stuff in the room in similar detail. Then, look back at original writing to see if it changes. For some reason, the words will be different or start doing weird things like moving. You can do this with configuration of objects you find in room around you, too, but I find semi-cursive handwriting to be best. I speculate the difficulty is that the simulator has trouble telling what you're focusing on. That they're different components of the brain is already predicted by research on intuition vs reason.

Third, reflective surfaces like mirrors. They'll often have no reflection or reflect something unexpected. I'm probably the only person my friends meet who doesn't care about appearance much but always looks at mirrors. Get interesting reactions when I tell them I was just making sure the world was real instead of a dream. "No, I'm not worried or confused: just a good habit of mine." Another interesting reaction as that doesn't make it better haha. I take it as an opportunity to tell them about lucid dreaming or start a "how do you know what's real?" philosophy discussion. Or ensure they've seen The Matrix.

These three techniques have woken me in every dream I've ever had where I at least was aware enough to check them. Two of them are instances of a general pattern of simply observing the world in detail with a questioning mind. In my dreams, I similarly observe and question what I'm seeing with the WTF's going through the roof at some point. There's actually a compound effect where more simulation failures happen as I start noticing them. Confusion is how it starts. Then, my barely-functional, scripted mind starts wondering off script noticing things "aren't right." The second I'm partly independent of the dream's control I attempt a reality check out of habit. Then, I either wake up or have lucid control of the dream. My sneaky imagination sometimes counters, though, by switching to a new script to block my awareness. It adapts. The worst adaptation was, after seeing Inception, it incorporating the dream in a dream concept where I had to wake up 10+ times on occasion before I was awake. The dreams became inescapable.

That leads to the last point about practicing lucid dreams that people should know about: we can also get lucid nightmares. They're like all the creativity of your brain channeled in to writing your own personal, horror movie staring you as the perp, victim, or both. All depends on what you've seen/read previously and luck given dreams are semi-random connections between a vast array of thoughts/memories. ;) Most people can just wake yourself up to escape or at least nullify it knowing it's not real. That even feels empowering when you do it as you awaken to take on life's petty challenges after conquering something much worse. Some of us can't escape or make it go away, though. Nobody is sure how to determine that ahead of time either. One subset that was obvious was that any mental condition that brings anything from anxiety to paranoia can cause this since the same brain components are used in dream creation/control far as anyone can tell. My PTSD from head injury, aka "always-on worrying," turned some of lucid dreams from beautiful vacations I was used to into Freddy Krueger shit I couldn't escape from. Started happening a lot. Now, I just wake up the second I can since good ones aren't worth the bad ones to me.

Again, doens't happen to most people either anxious or not. I'm just giving the warning since anyone in that category will wish they knew ahead of time to make an informed decision about taking the risk. Everyone else, get a dream journal, start doing the reality checks, start taking naps, and prepare to have a blast just when you thought your day was "over." Also, you'll be the most experienced person in any conversation about what's real and isn't since you're ability to assess that will have been tested many times. ;)

I don't think your adaptations were caused by the movie. Fake wake-ups are common when lucid dreaming and some practitioners counter this by training themselves to preform reality checks each time they wake up.

That's true and good advise. I second that for anyone reading. You're never guaranteed to be out just because you seem to wake up. Double true if lying on bed when "awake." ;)

Regarding my case, I rarely had them over many years of lucid dreaming. They were 2-3 layers deep if each wake-up is a layer. After the movie, I had more in next months than I had in years with 3+ layers common with some around 10. I also increased lucidity after a few layers with changes to the dream script that tricked me into thinking I was more awake. The reality checks even failed on some of them. The simulation was that realistic. Except No 1 because I always know when I'm finally awake. I just couldn't apply No 1 in those dreams for some reason. I just eventually got out after massive, prolonged effort with many false positives until I was truly awake where I could apply No 1.

Freaky stuff. I'm not necessarily blaming the movie itself so much as saying it gave my mind an idea that unconscious creativity ruthlessly exploited from there. I can't prove causality but it's quite a huge correlation to be accidental. Fortunately, I managed to reduce the problem a bit using the reverse of learning lucid dreaming. Hit and miss. I haven't had one of those mega-layered dreams in a while.

Just to extend on that: Learning to recognise a dream state is quite trivial with some regular practice, there's many methods, one example is reading a street sign multiple times a day, looking away, re-reading and confirming to yourself that it hasn't changed (Written words will not stay the same in a dream). It's an amazing feeling to repeat such a boring inane boolean task only for it to suddenly be true.

The common hurdle for practitioners seems to be remaining calm while maintaining the lucid state, which takes far more effort and skill overall. It essentially becomes a meditation finely balanced between waking up and falling back asleep.

Not being snarky but...It's not mentioned because it would belittled the "accomplishment." Publishing "We've Done What's Already Been Done" isn't a milestone for the CV.

It's not news if it's old is it? The press isn't going to investigate. Instant buzz...over (next to) nothing. Welcome to the modern world.

That is one explanation. The alternative explanation is that someone found something cool and decided to write a blog post. How many front-page posts have there been on some algorithm or bloom filters or seemingly "advanced cool stuff" that people have already figured out decades ago?

Yes. But I think the point the comment (that I was commenting on) was getting at was that there are in fact refernece points that should have been mentioned for completeness.

That void is either intentional. Not good. Or due to a lack of awareness (or the obvious). Again, not good.

Or, neither? There are alternate benign interpretations which admittedly are very non-dramatic and boring. I've found that people are most often neither malicious nor stupid.

Can you share any interesting links on that topic? I am interested to see how I could use this myself.

Yup. And if you look in the usenet archives back in the mid to late 90s on alt.dreams.lucid you'll find people were building eye movement monitoring glasses that would trigger flashing LEDs even then.

What has your experience been with lucid dreaming? What tasks were you testing with and what improvement did you see?

There's still value in making it substantially easier and more practical.

What is the value? I've never been able to do it, nor have I tried much, as I don't see the difference in my life between controlling my dreams or simply allowing them to happen. My dreams are, to me, a vacation from the chore of trying to control the awake state. Why should I learn to bring that stress into my sleep state? Is there any evidence that lucid dreaming makes being awake any easier or more satisfying?

> I've never been able to do it, nor have I tried much, as I don't see the difference in my life between controlling my dreams or simply allowing them to happen.

Talk to the grand parent. They seem to think its this easy thing that people have been doing for thousands of years. I'd love to know the easy way too..

In the words of Macklemore, "One man's trash is another man's come up"

arduino + bend sensor, really?

one cigarette + laying-on-your-back nap = lucid dream

All i can think of... This is not a dream... not a dream. We are using your brain's electrical system as a receiver. We are unable to transmit through conscious neural interference. You are receiving this broadcast as a dream. We are transmitting from the year one, nine, nine, nine. You are receiving this broadcast in order to alter the events you are seeing. Our technology has not developed a transmitter strong enough to reach your conscious state of awareness, but this is not a dream. You are seeing what is actually occurring for the purpose of causality violation.

Specifically these. Scared the crap out of me as a 13 year old.


Oh my. I spent years trying to track down the source of that sample and eventually gave up and forgot about it. A John Carpenter movie I wasn't aware of? Thanks!!

... it is happening again ... it is happening again ...



People say things like that about buzzfeed.com too.

But Vice and BuzzFeed both do a lot of quality journalism these days. This article is a good example.

Is judging an article by its domain the modern equivalent of judging a book by its cover?

I disagree about the quality of the majority of their journalism, but I acknowledge that Buzzfeed has broken some high-impact stories in the last few years.

My issue is: why not link to the actual paper? HN is full of intelligent people, we can understand the primary literature.

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