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Did Back to the Future Reveal the Future of Sleep?

Did Back to the Future Reveal the Future of Sleep?


The Back to the Future trilogy predicted many things about the year 2015 and some have proven to be prophetic. In a case of life imitating art, Back to the Future II may have accurately forecasted devices to induce sleep quickly. Some very similar gadgets are on their way.

Social media feeds the world over are filled with Back to the Future day memes, quotes, links and whatever else the internet feels is appropriate. Yours are probably no exception. October 21, 2015 is the day that Marty McFly travelled to in the 1989 science-fiction classic “Back to the Future II” and your Facebook feed doesn’t want you to forget it.

There are many interesting gizmos in the film, from rehydraters to hoverboards. Here we’ll take a look at the sleep-inducing device from the film and its contemporary, real-life counterpart.

Back to Reality

When Marty’s girlfriend, Jennifer Parker, gets too excited about possibly knowing her future, Doc Brown pulls out his sleep-inducing alpha rhythm generator. The device looks like a futuristic pair of opera goggles and when activated, Jennifer goes out like a light.

Doc did so to protect Jennifer from running into herself or affecting the timeline in another harmful manner. While no device exists in 2015 that will knock you out immediately, there are some that will nudge you that way.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, uses magnetic fields to create tiny electrical currents in regions of the brain. These currents, once tuned, help to ease people into a restful state. TMS essentially tries to influence the activity of the brain in order to mimic a sleep state.

“Sleep is a rhythm,” Sarah Lisanby, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University says. “And you can actually use the different forms of stimulation – such as magnetic stimulation, or direct electrical stimulation, or sensory stimulation – at different frequencies to modulate those brain rhythms. The idea is to try to entrain the rhythmic activity of the brain in a way that would be comparable to sleep.”

Quality Sleep Now

You won’t be able to buy one of these devices anytime soon, however. They are still in the research and development stage. You can do a number of other things to get to sleep and stay asleep.

Here are some articles with tips on how to get better sleep:

Happy Back to the Future day! Let us know in the comments if you have any tips to get to sleep fast.

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