Home Music therapy Scientists ‘initiate’ dreams in real life

Scientists ‘initiate’ dreams in real life


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Whether it’s your teeth falling out or showing up to school without your pants on, nightmares are no fun. They’re especially awful when they happen frequently, turning what should be a restful night’s sleep into something you dread.

When recurring nightmares are particularly severe, therapy can sometimes provide a solution. There is no perfect treatment, but researchers are getting better and better. Indeed, Swiss scientists have just developed a new technique that allows you to manipulate your emotions while you sleep using sound.

It’s true. Just like in Creation.

In a article published Thursday in the magazine Current biology, the study authors developed a method in which a sound associated with a good daytime feeling is played through a wearable headband. As you sleep, the sound passes through your ears and (hopefully) triggers peaceful dreams.

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“There is a relationship between the types of emotions experienced in dreams and our emotional well-being,” Lampros Perogamvros, sleep researcher at the University of Geneva and lead author of the paper, said in a press release. “Based on this finding, we came up with the idea that we could help people by manipulating emotions in their dreams. In this study, we show that we can reduce the number of emotionally very strong and very negative dreams in patients suffering from nightmares.

However, it’s not as simple as loading up a playlist of your favorite music for your nightly slumber. This method is combined with imagery rehearsal therapy, a process in which patients re-imagine common nightmares to achieve a more positive outcome. Suppose you often dreamed of showing up to your high school unprepared for an exam. You can rewrite this story to make sure you get it right every time.

The new study recruited 36 patients with frequent nightmares and provided them with repeat imagery therapy. Half were instructed to associate their dream positive outcome with sound produced by a wearable headband known as a Dream. They then practiced this combination daily for two weeks. The other half of the study cohort received only repeat imaging therapy.

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While patients slept, the headband would also measure electrical signals in the brain, allowing it to begin playing sound during REM sleep, when most nightmares occur.

The results revealed that both groups showed a decrease in nightmares. However, the one who received sound therapy had fewer nightmares after the two weeks of training and up to three months later. This group also reported happier dreams.

It should be noted that the sample size for the study was relatively small and recruited from Switzerland. The study authors recommend building on this research with more participants to see if it can work better on a large scale. However, the results are very promising.

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“We observed a rapid decrease in nightmares, as well as dreams becoming more emotionally positive,” Perogamvros said. “For us researchers and clinicians, these findings are very promising both for the study of emotional processing during sleep and for the development of new therapies.

So from the big screen to your dreams, it turns out there was a little more truth to Inception after all. Remember that if you start to hear Edith Piaf’s music playingyou should probably wake up as soon as possible.

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