Dreams are like a gateway to a world of our own. A place built in our very own mind palace. Most often our dreams are not something we can control. We’re merely spectators of our imaginative labyrinth. However, you must have noticed that you’re aware of what’s happening in some dreams. This is a lucid dream. Curious to know how this happens? Read more and find out!
What is lucid dreaming?
Lucid dreaming happens when you’re aware that you’re dreaming. You’re able to recognise and understand the things that are happening around you in your dream. It is also possible that you can control your dreams while lucid dreaming. This means you’re effectively the playwright of your dreams!
When do you lucid dream?
Surely you’ve heard about REM and non-REM sleep. REM sleep is a state of deep sleep with rapid eye movement. Your heart rate and brain are extremely active during this type of sleep. During non-REM, your brain waves, heartbeat, and eye movements gradually slow down.
By now you must have guessed that lucid dreaming like most other dreams occurs during REM sleep. 1 out of 2 people has experienced lucid dreaming at least once in their lifetime.
What’s in it for you?
Other than sounding like a cool way to create your own fantasy world, lucid dreaming has some actual benefits. Let’s have a look at what these are
- Banishing those nightmares:
Nightmares commonly affect people suffering from stress, sleep disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD). Lucid dreaming can help you say goodbye to your nightmares. During a lucid dream, you’re aware and hence understand that the nightmare isn’t real. You can also control your dream to turn into pleasant scenarios. So go ahead, try turning those monsters into butterflies!
- Relieving anxiety:
There has been some evidence that lucid dreaming can reduce the anxiety associated with PTSD. It can also ease anxiety related to other reasons, however, this aspect is still being investigated.
- Enhancing motor skills and healing:
Research has shown that lucid dreaming can help in physical rehabilitation. Mentally performing certain skills can help to perform them when one is awake. This can be true for people with and without physical disabilities. Lucid dreaming can help accelerate the activity of the immune system and physical healing as well.
- Exploring your creative potential:
Lucid dreaming can boost your creativity. It can allow you to explore alternate behaviours and different scenarios in a safe environment. If you’re stuck in a rut creatively, you can consider giving lucid dreaming a chance.
How can you deliberately lucid dream?
Now you’re probably excited to experience a lucid dream, but wondering how to. We’ve got a few tips to help you.
- Understanding whether you’re dreaming or awake. This is called reality testing.
- Identifying dream signs (signs that clearly tell you that you’re dreaming, for eg. flying)
- Keep a dream journal to keep track of your dreams. Note your dream signs as well.
- Perform an activity that requires your alertness right before sleeping.
This was an overview of lucid dreaming. If you’re suffering from some sleep disorders or mental health problems affecting your sleep, it is advisable to consult a doctor. There are certain risks associated with lucid dreaming as well such as dissociation from reality. Before engaging in this practice, make sure you fully understand these.
Sweet dreams tonight!
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4. Baird B, et al. Frequent lucid dreaming associated with increased functional connectivity between frontopolar cortex and temporoparietal association areas. Scientific reports. 2018 Dec 12;8(1):1-5.