Lucid dreaming is a term that is given to when you are dreaming yet conscious. That is, you are aware of what is happening during your dream state. Although being aware of your state during the dream is one key characteristic, there are some who assert that you can also control certain aspects of their ambiance while in this state. However, there are some studies that indicate that this does not necessarily happen. Some people have better control while lucid dreaming compared to others.
Chances are that you may experience lucid dreaming at least once in your lifetime. There are some people who even have lucid dreams at periodic intervals, like say once a month. Some experts reckon that lucid dreams can help to relieve nightmares, but there are certain experts who contest the benefits of lucid dreams arguing that it disturbs sleep quality.
How Lucid Dreams Happen
Researchers have studied lucid dreams extensively. However, many facets of lucid dreaming are still unclear. Some researchers are of the opinion that the prefrontal cortex controls lucid dreams.
During ordinary dreams, people are unaware that they are dreaming. While dreaming they will think that this is reality rather than fantasy.
Lucid dreams are quite different since dreamers know that this is just a dream. Some people can even control their dreams. Lucid dreams may be the result of elevated cortical activity.
The astonishing facet of lucid dreams is that dreamers have the same level of prefrontal cortex activity as when they are awake. Thus, the lucid dream phenomenon is a hybrid state that lies somewhere between sleep and wakefulness.
Ordinary dreams can occur any time during sleep and is possible at different stages of sleep. However, lucid dreams take place only during the REM stage. The rapid eye movement stage is the 4th and final phase of the sleep cycle. The first three stages of sleep are considered non rapid eye movement sleep. Researchers think that non-lucid dreams can influence lucid dreams.
How Lucid Dreams Affect You
Lucid dreams have grown increasingly popular in recent times. Lucid dreaming is said to help you in different ways including healing, overcoming fears and fulfilling wishes. There are a few studies which indicate that lucid dreams can help those suffering from the stress of recurring nightmares.
There is no consensus yet on whether or not lucid dreams are good for you. Some researchers believe that since lucid dreams can blur the line between fantasy and reality, they have adverse effects on mental health. These experts also say that higher level of consciousness is tantamount to reduced sleep quality. To prove that lucid dreaming has no benefits they point out that lucid dreaming does not help post-traumatic stress disorder victims.
Higher prefrontal cortex activity during REM while lucid dreaming could disrupt sleep. Higher levels of brain activity ensue with lucid dreams whereas brain activity is normally lower while sleeping without lucid dreams. Researchers think that lucid dreams can restructure the sleep cycle.
People with narcolepsy are more prone to lucid dreaming. Narcolepsy is a condition where sleep is severely disrupted as a result of which sufferers feel drowsy during the day and have a greater tendency to suddenly fall asleep.
More research will need to be done before researchers can understand the harms and benefits of lucid dreaming.
How to Induce Lucid Dreams
You can start lucid dreaming if you rely on certain methods. Even if you have little to no experience with lucid dreaming, you can induce it in the following ways.
Comfortable Sleep Environment
Make sure that the ambience is comfortable and conducive for a good night’s sleep. Good sleep hygiene can improve the quality of your sleep which can help you with lucid dreaming. Sleep hygiene and greater comfort induce the REM stage which is when lucid dreams often occur.
Keep your room at about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a comfortable temperature for sleeping. Make sure that the room is dark and quiet. If there is noise, you should use ear plugs or sound machines to cancel noise. If you cannot block out light completely then you may have to use a sleep mask. Blackout curtains can also help a lot.
Even while you are awake carry out an assessment test to check for reality. Make sure that you are awake and not dreaming. This might sound weird but it can help you during lucid dreams. This test will help you to know that you are indeed lucid dreaming. Carry out this same assessment during your lucid dream. All dreams have anomalies which indicate that you are dreaming. The reality check described can help you catch out these anomalies during lucid dreams so that you know you are dreaming.
MILD stands for mnemonic induction of lucid dreams. You have to sleep for exactly 5 hours and wake up immediately. If you cannot wake up on your own after exactly five hours, then use an alarm clock. Once you wake up you should resolve to remember during your sleep that you are indeed dreaming. This method for inducing lucid dreams has been found to be effective in several studies.
The WBTB method is somewhat similar. WBTB stands for wake back to bed. As the name suggests, you will have to wake up after 5 hours. Stay up for around 30 to 120 minutes and then start sleeping once more.
Make a record of your dreams noting down all details. This will help you to identify dream states easily. You can also use a recording device to note down the details of your dream if that is easier for you. identifying dream characteristics is helpful for starting lucid dreams.
You should suggest to yourself continuously that you will start lucid dreaming after you sleep. Some people can lucid dream merely through suggestion alone.
Lucid Dream Device
You can buy lucid dream devices for inducing lucid dreams. These devices work through tactile, visual, or auditory stimuli. Make sure that you talk to your doctor before trying to induce lucid dreaming.