Pre-sleep treatment w/ Galantamine stimulates Lucid Dreaming: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study


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  • Stephen LaBerge,
  • Kristen LaMarca,
  • Benjamin Baird
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Lucid dreaming is a remarkable state of consciousness in which one is aware of the fact that one is dreaming while continuing to dream. Based on the strong relationship between physiological activation during rapid eye-movement sleep and lucid dreaming, our pilot research investigated whether enhancing cortical activation via acetylcholinesterease inhibition (AChEI) would increase the frequency of lucid dreams and found AChEI to be a promising method for lucid dream induction. In the current study we sought to quantify the size and reliability of the effect of AChEI on lucid dreaming, dream recall and dream content as well as to test the effectiveness of an integrated lucid dream induction protocol which combined cholinergic stimulation with other methods for lucid dream induction. Participants (N = 121) with high dream recall and an interest in lucid dreaming were randomly assigned counterbalanced orders of 3 doses of galantamine (0, 4 and 8 mg). On 3 consecutive nights, they awoke approximately 4.5 hours after lights out, recalled a dream, ingested the capsules and stayed out of bed for at least 30 minutes. Participants then returned to bed and practiced the Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams technique while returning to sleep. The percentage of participants who reported a lucid dream was significantly increased for both 4 mg (27%, odds ratio = 2.29) and 8 mg doses (42%, odds ratio = 4.46) compared to the active placebo procedure (14%). Galantamine also significantly increased dream recall, sensory vividness and complexity (p<0.05). Dream recall, cognitive clarity, control, positive emotion, vividness and self-reflection were increased during lucid compared to non-lucid dreams (p<0.0001). These results show that galantamine increases the frequency of lucid dreams in a dose-related manner. Furthermore, the integrated method of taking galantamine in the last third of the night with at least 30 minutes of sleep interruption and with an appropriately focused mental set is one of the most effective methods for inducing lucid dreams available today.