Want to upgrade your dreams to HD? A psychologist needs your brain

A psychology student wants to see if a certain vitamin can make sleepy people have more lucid dreams. Is it Vitamin Zzzzzzzzzzzz?

Danny Gallagher
CNET freelancer Danny Gallagher has contributed to Cracked.com, Mental Floss, Maxim, Break.com, Mandatory, Jackbox Games, Geeks Who Drink and many, many other publications in his never-ending quest to bring the world's productivity to a screeching halt. He lives and works in Dallas. Email Danny.
Danny Gallagher
2 min read

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I know what I'd be dreaming about if I were her: smashing that alarm clock with a sledgehammer. © Image Source/Corbis

Everyone has at least one dream they wish they could rewind and play back in their head. Unfortunately, TiVo's not working on any brain implants as far as we know.

You may, however, be able to make your dreams more lucid and vivid simply by taking a vitamin.

That is, at least, the premise Denholm Aspy, a psychology student at the University of Adelaide in Australia, wants to explore. Aspy, who's studying lucid dreaming for his Ph.D., plans to conduct a study to see how people can gain more control over their dreams by recruiting some local dreamers, according to the university. Lucid dreaming means being aware that you're dreaming while you're dreaming.

Some think the secret to having more lucid dreams may lie in Vitamin B6, which is found in foods such as cereal grains, vegetables, fish and eggs and helps the brain produce the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. Aspy's experiment is based on several previous studies, including a preliminary one published in 2002 in the journal Perception and Motor Skills that examines the effects of Vitamin B6 on dreams.

The scientists behind the 2002 study recruited 12 college-age students -- a very small sample -- and gave them either a dose of the vitamin or a placebo to take before they went to sleep. They also interviewed the students during the five days the experiment lasted and asked them to recall and describe their dreams. Those who had taken higher doses of the vitamin had more salient dreams with increased vividness and more of an ability to observe emotions than those who had taken small doses or no vitamins at all, according to the study's summary.

The study theorizes that Vitamin B6 transforms the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Serotonin then wakes up the brain while the person is still sleeping and makes them more aware of their imaginary surroundings.

Aspy's study will replicate that experiment, but it will also compare the effects other B vitamins may have on people's dreams using a larger pool of participants. Aspy is looking for 150 people to participate in the study, according to a story from the Australian Broadcasting Company.

Aspy says the vitamin may be able to do more than just give people's dreams a high-definition upgrade.

"Previous research suggests that lucid dreaming has many potential benefits," Aspy said in the statement. "For example, it may be possible to use lucid dreaming for overcoming nightmares, treating phobias, creative problem solving, refining motor skills and even helping with rehabilitation from physical trauma."

This treatment might be able to get rid of nightmares? That's terrific news! You hear that, grizzly bear with my ex-girlfriend's face that chases in me in my dreams and always tries to kill me with its switchblade lobster claws? You're about to find yourself on the unemployment line!