Research suggests sleepers can communicate in real time as they dream

Dream
Dreaming illustration Photo credit Getty Images

Researchers at Northwestern University have determined that it’s possible to communicate with sleepers in real time as they’re dreaming.

Ken Paller, director of NU’s cognitive neuroscience program, said using a simple code of glancing left or right can allow a lucid dreamer to answer math questions or simple “yes” or “no” questions.

Some examples of the latter: Are you dreaming in color? Are you underwater? Are you flying?

What the eyes do in dreams manifest physically, making them a good source for observing a dreamer’s responses, Paller said.

“They can’t speak back to us, but they can move their eyes. And when you move your eyes in your dream body, your actual eyes are moving as well,” he said Monday.

Other studies have focused on muscle twitch and sniff responses, with some attempting even more complex conversation through Morse code.

Paller says the research could one day help people suffering from waking-life anxiety and depression.