There is a borderland between waking life and the uncharted wilderness of sleep that we all traverse each night, but we rarely stop to marvel at the strangeness of this liminal world. If we do, we find that it is full of hallucinations both wonderful and terrifying, a mental goulash of reality and fantasy.
Usually we pass through this state of half-wakefulness on our way to deep sleep within minutes. We may experience microdreams during the transition, but the content of these microdreams appear to be random and we usually don’t have any memory of them when we wake. A team of researchers led by MIT doctoral candidate Adam Horowitz wants to change that.
Horowitz and his colleagues at the MIT Media Lab have developed a relatively simple device called Dormio to interface with this unique stage of sleep. Their hypothesis is that this liminal period between wakefulness and sleep is a fount of creativity that is usually lost in the ocean of sleep. The thinking is that if you’re able to descend into that stage of sleep and return to consciousness without descending deeper into sleep, you will benefit from the intensely associative thinking that characterizes the strange microdreams experienced during the transition to sleep.
There’s so much we don’t know about sleeping, dreaming, and the brain as a whole, that I’d be quite nervous about using devices like these before we have a better understanding of our brain. Still, if it works, this is quite cool.
For almost a decade I regularly write down my dreams. It’s almost exclusively a write-only process (I rarely, if ever, revisit those written-down descriptions; maybe one day I’ll do something with them (a statistical analysis? ) – at least, since my dream diary exists at all, I will have the chance to do so), however I think it trained me to better remember the contents of my dreams, including from the sleep phase discussed in this article (since I often have dreams also in short naps, before main sleep)
And it can be wild – no FPS game can be as good as adventure I (sometimes…) have in my dreams, or with as good graphics. Definitely it can also help with creativity – I even had quite recently, as a dream, an idea for a ~therapeutic FreeDoom mod or for a logical game a bit in the style of Kirby Star Stacker for Game Boy (which I own), but somewhat different; and I’m planning to implement those ideas when I’ll settle a bit.
And I look forward to this MIT gadget.
Edited 2018-04-23 22:13 UTC