Much of the brain is still mysterious to modern science, possibly because modern science itself is using brains to analyze it. There are probably secrets the brain simply doesn't want us to know.
But by no means should that stop us from tinkering around in there, using somewhat questionable and possibly dangerous techniques to make our brains do what we want.
We can't vouch for any of these, either their effectiveness or safety. All we can say is that they sound awesome, since apparently you can make your brain...
So you just picked up the night shift at your local McDonald's, you have class every morning at 8am and you have no idea how you're going to make it through the day without looking like a guy straight out of Dawn of the Dead, minus the blood... hopefully.
"SLEEEEEEEEEP... uh... I mean... BRAAAIIIIINNNSSS..."
What if we told you there was a way to sleep for little more than two hours a day, and still feel more refreshed than taking a 12-hour siesta on a bed made entirely out of baby kitten fur? No more sneaking naps at the fry station for you!
Holy Shit! How Do I Do It?
It's called the Uberman Sleep Schedule, and besides having a totally badass name, it's a way to get the maximum amount of essential sleep for your body without wasting hours of precious time you could be using to work or drink or farm for World of Warcraft gold. The schedule consists of taking six, 20-30 minute power naps, every four hours during the day. Of course, this new sleep pattern blows donkey-dick to get used to, but it's a price you have to pay to basically extend your waking life by several years.
We're pretty sure Kramer did this once on Seinfeld. So it's probably a great idea.
The best way to start it off is to just jump right in. Get to sleep at 8pm, set your alarm for 8:30. Get up, play some Call of Duty, sleep again at 12, alarm at 12:30, and so on. After three or four days of this you will start to get high as fuck because of sleep deprivation, and might just want to kill yourself, but don't do it! That would be absolutely counter-productive.
By day 10 or so, your brain will say, "Fuck! FINE, we'll do it your way," and will adapt to your new superhuman sleep schedule.
How Does It Work?
When you sleep normally, your body gets only about an hour and a half of REM sleep, the kind of sleep that is thought to be the most important to keeping your brain sharp. While other stages of sleep help your body to heal and grow, the REM sleep is what makes you feel rested.
Of course, sleeping in a bed doesn't hurt either.
The first few days of adjusting are tough because your body isn't getting ANY of this REM sleep, and your brain hates you for it. After the third day, or so, your brain figures out that you mean business, and every time you lay down for one of these naps, dives directly into REM sleep in an attempt to compensate for the deprivation. Do some quick math and that's two full hours of REM sleep, while those who are sleeping normally are only getting an hour and a half.
Before you know it, while the rest of the world snores away, you'll be up and drawing dicks on their faces.
Yes, that's right kids! Tell your dealer goodbye and worry no more about winding up naked on the roof of an office building after a bad trip. Now you can be stoned out of your mind by building a homemade deprivation chamber out of some regular, completely harmless household objects.
Holy Shit, How Can I Do It!
You are going to need three things: a ping-pong ball, a radio with headphones and a red light.
Step 1: Turn the radio to a station with just white noise (static), and put on your headphones.
Step 2: Cut the ping-pong ball in half and tape each half over your eyes.
Step 3: Turn the red light so it's facing your eyes.
Step 4: Sit there for at least a half an hour.
Step 5: Follow Ben Franklin and your new friend, Harold the unicorn, into the gumdrop forest, and live happily ever after.
How Does It Work?
It's called the Ganzfeld effect, and it works by blocking out most of the signals that go to your brain. It's the same kind of effect you get when looking into a soft light for a while and lose vision, except at a larger scale.
The sound of the white noise and the light from the outside of the ping pong ball are eventually ignored by your brain. With all those signals out of the picture, your brain has to create its own, and this is where the hallucinations come in. We can't guarantee they won't involve, say, the ghost of Lizzie Borden trying to hack off your scrotum with an ax, but that's the risk you take, dammit.
Now, if you want a little more control over your hallucinations...
What if we told you there was a way to make all your fantasies come true? You could have that sports car you've always wanted and the daily threesome with Sarah Palin and Cannonball Run-era Burt Reynolds. Hell, we'll even throw in a few superpowers for your enjoyment.
We never miss an opportunity to use this picture.
Welcome to the wonderful world of lucid dreaming.
Holy Shit, How Can I Do It?
Most of you reading this have had a lucid dream before. Every once in a while you wind up in a dream but somehow recognize it as a dream, and you may have found yourself able to pretty much program the dream to your specifications. While there are plenty of tips and tricks to make this happen on purpose, we've narrowed it down to what seems like the most useful, so that you can be riding dinosaurs with Gary Coleman in your sleep in no time:
Cowboy hat, optional.
1. Keep a Dream Journal
As soon as you wake up from a dream, write down every little thing you can remember about it. Supposedly by writing it down, your brain recognizes certain patterns that only occur in a dream (since most dreams are immediately forgotten) and if they are on paper, you can recall them easily.
2. Think about exactly what you want to dream right before you fall asleep. Makes sense. For instance you've probably fallen asleep watching MythBusters before and immediately dreamed you were flying through the air, using a giant version of Jamie's mustache as a hang glider.
3. The best time to have a lucid dream is either right before you regularly wake up, or right after. Studies have shown that more people have lucid dreams when they take a nap shortly after they first wake up in the morning.
So you can do all that, or if you are the lazy type, get yourself something like the NovaDreamer, a device that detects when you've entered REM sleep and then makes a noise that's supposed to be not quite enough to wake you up, but enough to raise your awareness to, "Hey, this is totally a dream I'm having!" levels.
How Does It Work?
Obviously the big difference between a dream and real life is that if the Hamburglar came bursting out of your refrigerator right now and started screaming at you in Vietnamese, your first thought would be "This is a strange and unusual event that is occurring right now, and I should question my perceptions." If the same thing happens in a dream, you just go with it.
Yes, Mel Gibson is dressed like Col. Sanders. No, this is not a dream.
In a dream state, your mind mostly loses the ability to criticize anything that's happening because dreaming just doesn't involve the critical part of your brain. You're all worried that you're at work in your underwear, and don't even blink at the fact that your boss is a dragon who speaks in the voice of your old middle school gym coach.
But if you change your mental state ever so slightly, that critical part of your brain can keep functioning even while in dreamland. If you can perfect the technique of dreaming while not all the way asleep, the next thing you know you're ordering up a Smurf orgy.