Lucid dreams, where dreamers become aware they are dreaming and take control of it, can be an incredible experience. The only issue: They're rare and difficult to stimulate. As a result researchers have spent decades trying to figure out different techniques to create a lucid dreaming experience like sleep interruption, and using different breathing techniques before sleeping.
But scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Lucidity Institute in Hawaii have figured out a more consistent way to create a lucid dreaming state, and it involves the use of drugs normally used to treat Alzheimers.
The drug is called "galantamine". In addition to being used to treat Alzheimer's, it's also regularly used to treat muscular dystrophy and other disorders of the central nervous system.
A study using lucid dreaming practitioners had some dramatic results.
Without galantamine, using a placebo, 14 percent of users reported having lucid dreams. After a 4 milligrams dose of the drug that number rose to 27 percent.
Incredibly, after an 8mg dose of galantamine, 42 percent of participants reported having lucid dreams.
The study suggest galantamine's effectiveness might be "related to its effects on cholinergic receptor activity during REM sleep." The scientists also suggest that the drug's propensity to increase memory function might also be part of the reason why users are more likely to have a lucid dream using galantamine.
"Lucid dreams overall," reported the study, "were associated with significantly higher levels of recall, cognitive clarity, control, positive emotion, sensory vividness and self-reflection on one's thoughts and feelings compared to non-lucid dreams."
Users of the drugs reported minimal side effects.
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