Categories: Sleep Science

The Truth About Lucid Dreaming

One of the most interesting and slightly mystifying topics around sleep science is the topic of dreams. Science has come a long way to explain many of our dream states, but perhaps the most interesting dream state to this day is lucid dreaming. Unlike other dream states where the sleeper has no control or even knowledge that they’re dreaming, lucid dreams give the dreamer a chance to be aware of the fact that they’re dreaming. In some lucid dreams, the dreamer can even exert an amount of control over what happens in their dream, which is pretty cool. The images in lucid dreams can be as realistic as the latex foam mattress you’re sleeping on tonight. Let’s find out more about lucid dreams.

The term lucid dreaming was coined by the Dutch psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden in 1913. It is something of a misnomer since it means something quite different from just clear or vivid dreaming. Nevertheless, that is the term we are all familiar with now. Van Eeden explained that in this sort of dream “the re-integration of the psychic functions is so complete that the sleeper reaches a state of perfect awareness and is able to direct his attention, and to attempt different acts of free volition. Yet the sleep, as I am able confidently to state, is undisturbed, deep, and refreshing.”

For many years, there were arguments over the fact that lucid dreams were in fact, not dreams at all due to the fact that when you’re dreaming, you can’t move any muscles and therefore have no control over what happens in them. But this theory was defunct in 1978 when Keith Hearne proved that even during REM sleep, a dreamer could still move his or her eye muscles, which is how lucid dreams are controlled. Therefore, it was established that lucid dreams occur during a person’s REM sleep cycle.

Most lucid dreams occur in the morning, towards the end of a person’s sleep cycle. Believe it or not, these dreams that seem to have intricate and never ending story lines in our heads, only last about 2-5 minutes in reality.

Many people believe that having lucid dreams can make you more confident in real life since you can “rehearse” for life while you’re sleeping. Many people use lucid dreams to prepare for a big sports game, or practice a public speech. There are thousands of websites dedicated to teaching people “how” to have lucid dreams.

Interested in having lucid dreams? Here are a few tips:

  • Firstly, you need to be able to recall your dreams and make it a habit to journal about your dreams each day. By doing so, you will familiarize yourself with your unique dream style, quality and mood. After doing this long enough, you will recognize when you are dreaming.
  • Use a counting method to enter into lucidity. As you go to sleep, start counting, “1, I am dreaming, 2, I am dreaming…” and so on. By the time you reach a certain number, you really will be dreaming!

Have you ever had a lucid dream? Let us know what it was like here! Have a great Monday and don’t forget to dream!

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