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Interactive dreaming: Not just dreamers can communicate in real-time but also solve math problems

Yes, you can have real-time dialogue with a dreaming person.

It may be possible to enter other people's dreams and interact with them to help cope with nightmare disorder, trauma, anxiety, and depression. Read to know how you can do so?

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : February 21, 2021 6:35 PM IST

Some people talk during sleep without being aware of it and it is considered as an abnormal behaviour. But don't be surprised if a dreaming person answers your question correctly. It is possible to have a real-time communication with a dreaming person, say researchers.

According to a study published in the journal Current Biology, dreamers are capable of following instructions, answering yes-or-no questions and even do simple math.

The research team led by Karen Konkoly, a cognitive neuroscientist at Northwestern University in the US, found that individuals in REM sleep can interact with an experimenter and engage in real-time communication. Not just dreamers can comprehend a question without misconstruing it, but they can also engage in working-memory operations and give the answer, they said.

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Scientists enter people's dreams to interact with them

The conclusion was reached after evaluating 36 people in their lucid dream, which is when the dreamers are aware that they're dreaming. Typically, this happens during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the primary dreaming stage of sleep that occurs about 90 minutes after you fall asleep. The researchers asked the dreamers simple yes-or-no questions or math problems, like eight minus six. The dreamers responded using the signals, like smiling or frowning, eye movements, that they had been taught before falling asleep.

Out of the 158 questions, the lucid dreamers responded 18.6% correctly, and wrong answer to only 3.2%. These numbers show that the real-time communication, even if difficult, is possible during dreams, said the researchers and referred to this behaviour as "interactive dreaming." After they woke up, some dreamers remembered the questions as part of a dream.

The researchers said that this technique could be used in future studies of dreaming to assess cognitive abilities during dreams versus wake. It could also be used to influence people's dreams to help cope with nightmare, trauma, anxiety, and depression, they added.

Why you're having frequent nightmares or bad dreams?

If you're having frequent nightmares or threatening, frightening dreams, it is a sign that you could be suffering from nightmare disorder, also known as dream anxiety disorder. Anxiety and lack of sleep resulting from nightmares may even make it difficult from completing everyday tasks and impair your quality of life.

You could be having frequent nightmares because of extreme pressure, a stressful life event, or psychiatric disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder or as a side effect of certain medication like amphetamines, antidepressants, blood pressure medication, levodopa and medications for Parkinson's disease. Even stimulants like cocaine and caffeine are also known to cause nightmares. Majority of patients who suffer from PTSD also report having frequent nightmares.

Nightmare disorders are also seen in people suffering from depression, insomnia, schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder.

Exercising, practising yoga, meditation and other stress reduction techniques may help avoid nightmares and get more restful sleep. Practicing good sleep hygiene sleep can also help you snooze more soundly. This include keeping a regular bedtime and waketime, avoiding caffeine and other stimulants as well as spicy foods close to bedtime. Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet and turn off light sources. If frequent nightmares are making you feel anxiety around falling asleep, it would wise to consult a doctor and/or a psychologist.

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