24 Oct Lucid Dreaming
Awareness of dreaming while a dream is happening defines lucid dreaming, a state in which the prefrontal cortex is more active than during regular dreaming. By gaining awareness, dreamers are able to take control and direct their dreams. We have all seen the movie, but how much is fact or fiction?
How to induce lucid dreaming?
A review of the literature in 2012 showed a number of studies typically employed cognitive techniques while a lesser number opted for external stimulation.1 None of the techniques used in the studies were verified to work reliably and consistently however an internet search quickly explains some basic cognitive training techniques to try and train yourself.
- Routinely reflect to try and remember and record your dreams
- Think about your dreams when your awake
- Use reality checks during the day asking yourself “Am I dreaming?”
- As you become more familiar with your dreams and dream state you’ll eventually recognise easily when you are dreaming and be more aware of the dream.
Many cultures use meditation as a relaxation technique with the goal to achieve a dreamlike state. They use this level of consciousness to relax, unwind, make sense or peace with a situation, or look for philosophical answers.
A study in 2016 showed preliminary results suggesting an improvement in dart throwing performance occurred following focused lucid dreaming where the motor task was practiced while dreaming.2
So it’s all sounding fantastic, learn to control your dreams – experience your greatest fantasies and get better at sports or other tasks by practicing in your sleep!
There have been a number of Psychology journals looking at Psychosis and Lucid dreaming as they share some similarities such as intrinsic sense perceptions independent of external stimulation and the possible implications for therapy of Bi-Polar or Schizophrenia sufferers. A study in 2016 tested a theory that Lucid dreaming may be therapeutic to psychotic patients as the frontal cortex of the brain which is under active during psychosis is found to be activated during lucid dreaming.
They did find the psychotic dreamers reported control over their dreams much more frequently than non-psychotics. A possible explanation is that psychosis enhances the experience of internal reality in detriment of external reality. Unfortunately the results showed there was no clinical improvement in symptoms for the lucid dreamers who were psychotic patients compared to those patients who did not lucidly dream.
Training dream lucidity is likely to produce safe psychological strengthening in a non-psychotic population, but in a psychotic population LD practice may further empower deliria and hallucinations, giving internal reality the appearance of external reality. Just like in the movie, lucid dreaming may blur the lines of reality which may allow you to fulfil some of your wildest dreams or find answers within yourself, however it may not be for everyone.