Did you ever have a dream that felt real? Well, it’s called lucid dreaming. Technically, lucid dreaming is where the dreamer remains aware of the fact that he is dreaming. It is most common during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, sometimes known as the dream stage of sleep. During lucid dreaming, dreamers sometimes get control over the character, situation, or surroundings of the dream.
Aristotle first mentioned lucid dreaming in his treatises in 4th A.D, where he stated that during sleep, a part of our consciousness reminds us that what we are experiencing is not real and it’s just a dream.
Though Aristotle was the one who spoke about Lucid Dreams, it was not until the 20th century that actual study and research began. Dutch author and psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden used the term “lucid dreams” in the article A study of Dreams which he wrote in 1913. He claimed that lucid dreams are “the most interesting and worthy of the most careful observation and study.”
How do lucid dreams occur?
Neuroscientists are uncertain about the occurrence of lucid dreams. However, they do have some theories about it. Research has revealed a significant neurological difference in a person’s brain with lucid dreams compared to those who don’t have it. People with lucid dreams have a larger prefrontal cortex, which is the site of high-level decision-making and memory recall. It shows that those most prone to lucid dreams are generally overthinkers.
While a group of German researchers analyzed the electrical activity of participants’ brains as they slept, they deduced that lucid dreaming might be a transitional condition between deep sleep and awakeness.
Benefits of lucid dreaming
Lucid dreams may prove beneficial to you, such as:
Nightmares can cause various issues, no matter whether you sleep in the safest environment or on the plushest mattress while covered in a warm comforter. Nightmares not only affect your sleep quality but also increase problems like stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders.
Lucid dreaming may bring comfort by eliminating frequent nightmares. Throughout a lucid dream, you understand that the nightmare isn’t true. It also allows you to manage the dream, transforming a terror into a more calm or pleasant one.
The sense of control you have during a lucid dream may persist and make you feel powerful. When you know that you are in a dream, you can shape the story and its outcome. It helps those who have nightmares by teaching them how to control their dreams. Also, some claim that it helps them conquer the root of their worry.
Improves motor skills
The sensorimotor cortex of your brain is activated when you practice motor abilities while dreaming. It is the area of the brain that regulates movement. Lucid dreaming may aid in physical rehabilitation for those with disability in this way. Also, physically healthy people can improve their sports performance and other motor skills.
Creative people experience a more significant number of lucid dreams Because of their capacity to see things and recall dreams. According to some reports, lucid dreams boost their creativity and inventiveness.
Having lucid dreams often may bear some risk factors, such as:
Lucid dreaming may wake you up during sleep, and you may not be able to sleep again, resulting in lessened sleep quality.
Frequent lucid dreaming may confuse you between reality and imagination, further causing hallucinations and delusions.
How to do it?
Few studies suggest that you can trigger lucid dreams with specific techniques. Such as,
Make a habit of asking yourself whether it’s a reality or a dream. You may check facts by using various methods. Such as,
- Push your fingers against your opposite palm. If they pass through, you are dreaming.
- Check your image in the mirror. As in dreams, your image won’t reflect in the mirror.
- Pinch your nose, and if you can breathe, you are dreaming.
- Try reading the book, then look away and again at the text. If it’s a dream, the text will change.
Keep dream diary
To aid lucid dreaming, keep a dream diary or notebook. Writing down your dreams forces you to recollect them and helps your brain become conscious that you are dreaming. Maintain a notebook and a pen next to your bed and jot down dreams as soon as you wake up. Read your diary daily to acquaint your brain with your dreams.
Wake back to bed technique
The wake-back-to-bed approach confuses your rational mind into remaining active while switching back to REM sleep. Begin by setting your alarm clock for 3 to 4 hours after bedtime. When you wake up, get out of bed and do something to engage your mind, such as reading, writing, or even meditation. Return to sleep after 20 to 30 minutes. If the procedure is successful, your conscious mind will remain engaged even while your body returns to REM sleep.
Mnemonic induction of lucid dreams (MILD) technique
In this method, you tell yourself constantly that you will dream and that you will be aware that you are dreaming with this approach. The process depends on a type of memory known as prospective memory, or the capacity to recall future events to generate a lucid dream state.
Practice good sleep hygiene
Excellent and regular sleep hygiene is handy for lucid dreaming. Good sleep hygiene ensures that you receive enough hours of sleep each night to experience REM sleep regularly, which is good for lucid dreaming. You may practice,
- Have a regular sleep-wake time and stick to it.
- Maintain a cool and dark sleeping environment.
- Use a good-quality mattress that will help you sleep without twisting and tossing.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and heavy meals before hitting the mattress.
- Remove any electronic devices from the bedroom and avoid screens for at least thirty minutes before going to bed.
- Start bedtime rituals like reading books and listening to music to help you relax and sleep peacefully.
Though lucid dreaming may be risky for some people, if you are willing to try something interesting with the right intentions, giving it a try is a good idea.