Try to remember your weirdest dream, or even one you found to be particularly vivid that stuck with you long after you woke up. Even if you feel like you can picture a dream like it was real life, there are inevitably some parts of it that get lost in the act of recollection, sometimes because it's simply hard to describe what it was you saw and felt. But hey, there's some good news for those who wish to recall their nighttime trips from start to finish: Recent research developments show that dreams can be recorded, and pretty soon, you might be able to watch yours back like an actual movie. How sci-fi is that?!
According to a report from CNN, independent dream researcher Daniel Oldis and David Schyner, the head of the Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at the University of Texas at Austin, are working together to study people's dreams and, more specifically, the patterns in speech and movement that happen when people are fast asleep and enjoying a little nighttime theater. The researchers use something called an electromyogram (EMG) to do this, and according to CNN, the device measures the nerve impulses sent to your muscles while you're sleeping.
Apparently, even though you aren't actually moving while you dream, impulses from your nerves are still being sent to your muscles, and by mapping those impulses, researchers can create IRL visuals of your dreams.
According to CNN, the researchers have been putting electrodes on study participants' arms, legs, and chins to measure these impulses while they're dreaming. Using the information from those electrodes, the researchers have then been able to compare that data to nerve impulses that were recorded when these same people made basic movements while they were wide awake, such as walking and shaking hands. The researchers then mimicked the movements from a person's dream using an avatar. Pretty wild, right?
What's more, Oldis and his team apparently have a plan to try and figure out the kinds of conversations you might be having in your dreams, too. To do this, he and his team are putting those same electrodes on study participants' lips and throats, and that data is being compared to their regular, waking speech patterns. Oldis told CNN that, basically, his ultimate goal is to be able to make a kind of "movie" out of people's dreams. Did anyone else just get chills, or was that just me?
Now, it's not really clear as to how long it might take before the rest of us could have access to this kind of thing outside of a lab setting. But hey, Oldis and Schyner aren't the only ones trying to figure out how to capture what really goes on when you enter dreamland. Yukiyasu Kamitani, a professor at Kyoto University in Japan, is attempting to recreate the actual images of people's dreams, according to CNN.
In a December 2017 study, Kamitani and his team of researchers were able to use something called functional magnetic resonance imaging (a fancy technique used to measure someone's brain activity by looking at blood flow to the brain), "to reconstruct images from a waking person's mind," per CNN.
Kamitani told the news outlet that these same brain activity measurements can potentially be done while a person is dreaming, and as a result, you could literally create real-life images of someone's dream.
But what do other dream experts have to say about all of this mind-blowing research?
Laurel Clark, chair of the Board of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, and author of the book Intuitive Dreaming, has been studying, teaching, and helping people interpret their dreams for more than 40 years. In an interview with Elite Daily, she expresses skepticism about the notion that there's any way to truly, accurately recreate a person's dream.
"The challenge, as I see it," Clark tells Elite Daily, "is that a dream is not just a brain activity. There is brain activity that occurs, but the brain activity is not the only thing. I don't think it's possible to record someone's internal experience. Dreams are very subjective."
While Clark doubts you'll be able to view your dreams as movies any time soon, she does believe that the practice of remembering and interpreting dreams can be very helpful for your overall well-being.
"Most everyday dreams help with coming to terms with emotional situations, or becoming aware of things that have been buried," Clark tells Elite Daily, adding that dreams can often tell you a lot about who you are and what your needs are. They can give you knowledge about how to be more whole or healthy on a mind-body-spirit level, she explains.
And as for why it can be so difficult to recall your dreams in the first place? Clark says it's all about the culture we live in.
"Our culture doesn’t value dreams, so why would we spend time trying to remember them if we think they don't mean anything?" Clark tells Elite Daily.
The key to using your dreams for knowledge and guidance, she explains, is learning how to interpret them. If you want to start making a habit of tracking your dreams to help you learn more about yourself, Clark recommends keeping a dream journal and pen right next to your bed, and before you go to sleep, tell yourself sincerely that you want to remember your dreams, and that you plan to record them.
She also suggests immediately writing down whatever you can remember when you wake up, even if it doesn't make sense. Moreover, even if you don't remember a single thing from your dream, she says, writing down something in that dream journal is still great, because it'll keep the habit going strong. Pretty soon, those visions will come back to you when you wake up.