Cardiovascular Responses to Dreamed Physical Exercise During REM Lucid Dreaming

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Previous studies have demonstrated intriguing psychophysiological correspondences when lucid dreamers carried out specific tasks during lucid dreams (e.g., eye movements and EMG activities). But only a few studies have investigated cardiovascular changes during dreamed physical activities. This study tests the hypothesis that physical activity (performing squats) carried out in a lucid dream increases cardiovascular parameters in the sleeping body. Therefore, 5 proficient lucid dreamers experienced with the eye-signaling method during lucidity spent 2 to 4 nonconsecutive nights in a sleep laboratory. Instructed to carry out specific tasks (counting and performing squats) while lucid dreaming, the participants reported becoming lucid and signaling in 11 REM periods recorded. Fourteen complete lucid dream tasks were verified by eye signaling. The results showed a statistically significant increase of heart rate between the preexercise and exercise periods and the postexercise period. The results for respiration rate were less clear. Even though respiration rate during the exercise period was higher than during the pre- and postexercise period, statistical significance was only found for the second comparison. Overall, the results support the hypothesis that lucidly dreamed motor action causes increases at the level of peripheral effectors.

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