Right in the middle of a dream if you realize you are in a dream and further to that if you can gain control over the dream and manage it the way you want, this is termed as ‘lucid dreaming.’ When Ellen Page in the 2010 Hollywood sci-fi and action movie ‘Inception’ aided by Leonardo DiCaprio dreams about a whole set of roads and buildings rising up and then turning upside down to settle down on the nearby roads and building, it was like the town folding upon itself. This is an act of lucid dreaming as she is the one who constructs the scenario in her mind. Not everyone would want to lucid dream this way, but it just goes to show that dreams can be managed as long as you realize you are in the dream and then you can take control guiding the dream with your train of thoughts and governing the narrative as the dream proceeds.
In the movie, there are quite a few ‘dream artisans’ who can, not just control their dreams but also the content band shape of the dreams of others. This might not be possible in real life. However, there are many people n the world who can control their dreams. Lucid dreaming is somewhere in the area between the world of dreams and reality. Most people dream, and it feels quite real to them while they are in it. It is only when they wake up; they realize that they had been dreaming. There are, however, many people who can ‘enter’ their dreams and are fully aware that they ate dreaming. These people are said to be lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is not a new phenomenon and nor is the realization that it is experienced b many people. The Greek philosopher Aristotle was the first one to write about it when he mentions self-awareness during his dream. He recalls that the image of Korikos presents itself, but the real Korikos is not present 1. The awareness about lucid dreaming existed even during the ancient times and so powerful was this phenomenon that Aristotle felt compelled to pen it down.
Is Lucid Dreaming common?
Data on Lucid dreaming is not available in exact terms as to how many people in this world lucid dream. Many surveys have, however, been conducted to assess the level of incidence or practice of lucid dreaming. According to a study conducted in Germany, the research revealed that 51% of people have at least once experienced the phenomenon of lucid dreaming. It was, however, hard to tell as to how many people lucid dream frequently or regularly and even how long the lucid dreams last. It is important to note the fact that lucid dreaming is underreported because it is purely based on self-reporting. Researchers, however, point out that lucid dreaming can start at any stage in life. It usually begins during childhood or even as late as adolescence. The researchers believe that it is easier to study lucid dreaming in adults as compare to children as the children normally lack the cognitive skills required to explain their lucid dreams 2. (Kee, 2018).
The German study referenced above polled 919 German adults. The instances of lucid dreaming were, however, more common among the female participants of the study. The recall of lucid dreaming was significantly higher among them, but it was correlated to their age negatively. The recall factor is important as there was a correlation factor of 0.57 between the dream recall frequency and lucid dreams frequency. Besides age, there were many sociodemographic factors which the researchers wanted to correlate with lucid dream frequency. These included marital status, education, monthly income, etc. However, none of these factors were found to be having any correlation with lucid dream frequency 3. (Schredl M, 2011).
The percentages of people recalling their lucid dreams turned out to be even higher in a study carried out in Brazil involving 3,427 adults whose median age was 25. Brazil has the largest population in Latin America. The study was conducted online in the form of a survey. 76% of the people polled reported recalling their lucid dreams at least once weekly. 93% of these lucid dreams were depictive of actions. The lucid dreamers recalled that 92% of these dreams showed people who were known to the study participants. 78% of thee lucid dreams had familiar sounds and voices, and 76% of the lucid dreams involved colored images. 37% of the lucid dreams involved content that was related to plans for upcoming days. 13% of the lucid dreams were about the events that had occurred on the previous day. 30% of the lucid dreams ha content which did not seem relevant t the lucid dreamer. The study also revealed nightmares occurring in 65% of the cases after that the dreamers had fear and anxiety. 48% were related to the lucid dreamer being stalked and 47% related to other unpleasant sensations. The crux of the results from this study revealed that as far as Lucid dreaming is concerned, 77% of the people polled had experienced lucid dreaming at least once in their life. 44% of the people recalled at least ten episodes or more. In 48% of the cases, the lucid dream was less than 1 minute long. The frequency of recall, however, was quite weak about lucid dreaming frequency. It turned out to be 28%.
Similarly, the control over lucid dreaming revealed a low percentage of 29%. In 33% of the cases, the subjects were not required to wake up early, and this facilitated the occurrence of lucid dreams. Similarly, the absence of stress aided lucid dreaming. Both the need to wake up early and stress cause Rapid eye movement sleep (REMS) to transition to waking. The study clearly shows that the occurrence of lucid dreaming is ubiquitous, but it is rather unstable and somewhat difficult to control. However, it is clear that it is facilitated if the REMS duration and transitioning to wake state. Similarly, data from the rest of the world also points to the fact that lucid dreaming is indeed a generally occurring phenomenon with humans all over the world 4. (Sérgio A. Mota-Rolim, 2013).
Benefits of Lucid Dreaming
While some people might suddenly wake up as soon as they realize that they are lucid dreaming, others would prefer to indulge in the lucid dreams and try to control what they are dreaming or at least parts of it. With practice, however, many can start to do it on a whim. However, they still need to be very much in that half-asleep, half-awake state. Many have succeeded in manipulating the content of the dream in a way that it becomes a pleasant experience. Once they notice something within their dreams that is directed negatively, they can manipulate it towards positivity. Lucid dreaming is fascinating and attractive. It allows the individual the liberty to explore inner worlds while remaining fully aware that he/she is in a state of lucid dreaming. The whole concept is quite intriguing and sounds quite magical 1.
Getting Rid of Nightmares
It can help the lucid dreamer resolve his/her fears, and the nightmares can turn into beautiful and pleasant dreams. This way, the individual would stop having nightmares.
Deciding What to Dream About
The lucid dreams are no longer left to the unknown. The lucid dreamer can control the dream and take charge of its narrative and guide the dream towards pleasant and attractive occurrences and conclusion. One can even travel to a new city, a new country, or even a new planet and experience life as one wants. It is possible to try out foods without worrying about how they would taste. Nothing could go wrong in the lucid dream as the dreamer is in control and is manipulating and guiding the dream towards pleasant experiences.
Lucid dreaming allows the dreamer to explore his/her inner child and thus enhance creativity. It allows the dreamer to explore unlimited ways to get inspired and to further the bounds of the imagination. One can experience almost anything without worrying that anything would possibly go wrong.
One can make use of lucid dreaming to resolve fears that have bothered the individual since childhood even. It is possible through lucid dreaming to control the narrative of the dream in such a way that it lets the person overcome his/her long-time fears without even leaving the bed or striving to do something in real life.
Meeting Lost Loved Ones
For all those people who miss a relative or a friend and would love to reunite with him/her, lucid dreaming offers a solution. The person can reunite with them the way one wants and summon them at will. It becomes possible to interact with them in a way as if they are present. This would let the dreamer get up with very beautiful memories and a relaxed mind. It would appear as if the person had been with the long-lost ones just a while ago. This is extremely helpful to those people who never got a chance to say goodbye to someone, and through lucid dreaming, they can reconnect and fulfill their longing to do exactly that.
Relate to the Subconscious Mind
While a person is awake, it is not possible to tap into the subconscious mind or communicate with it. However, lucid dreaming opens up a gateway into the depths of the subconscious mind which is always hidden deep beneath the surface. The subconscious mind is too complex and too powerful, and thus, the only way to communicate with it is through lucid dreaming.
The biggest health benefit of lucid dreaming is the ability to experience a deeper, better, and highly restful sleep, which allows the individual to improve the quality of sleep over time. This is especially good for those who have trouble sleeping or who remain disturbed during their sleep. Learning the skills related to lucid dreaming can help such people gain quality sleep. This would lead the individual to be more energetic and active during the time he/she is awake.
Real Life Skills Improvement
The lucid dreamer can practice real-life skills during his/her lucid dreams. This can cause a lot of improvement in real skills in real life. Many would get amazed at this type of benefit as one can even use it to learn how to drive better. The lucid dreamer can learn the lessons in real life and then continue practicing these during lucid dreaming.
Lucid dreamers can fulfill their fantasies related to meeting idols, and the encounters could be related to fun and not just academic or inspirational. They engage in intimacy with people who could be anyone from real life. People could also fulfill their fantasies related to space travel, skyscrapers, skydiving, etc. without any fear of fall or even some lucid dreamers would let them fall and experience a free fall with no nasty consequences.
Many people in the world have a hard time getting inspired. The whole idea appears to be quite elusive at times. Even people who need inspiration for their work careers have trouble getting it. These include artists, writers, marketing directors, etc. Lucid dreams can help all such people in getting inspired, and it would have an effect on their real lives and work careers as well.
Reducing Waste of Time
This is a great benefit, as well. Instead of wasting a lot of time in needless activities, the person engages in lucid dreaming while awake or while waking up from sleep and tries to lucid dream about things that he/she wants in life. The purpose of life becomes more meaningful and do does its pursuance. The mind and body engage in trying to follow the real wants of the individual 5. (HTL, 2019).
How to Get into the Act of Lucid Dreaming
Lucid dreams are not wasted. The individual need not limit oneself with self-criticism and become too judgemental. The power of lucid dreaming is unraveled once the persons let go the thoughts free and lets the horizons to expand. The waking ego is very much connected to the dreamscape. This enables the use of lucid dreams as a sort of a playground for growth of personality, and the person is enabled with deeper insights. Lucidity causes a lot of freedom to be made available to the lucid dreamer, and it enables the person to fly like a bird high in the sky without any fear that he/she would fall. One can run through solid objects even without crashing into them. One can go anywhere at any time. It is not just the fulfillment of wishes, which is on the table, but one’s awareness behind the lucid dream as well as the unconscious self enables the individual to heel past wounds and anxieties. This allows the user to see the world in a new light which powers the person’s mind and soul. The person no longer remains helpless in the wake of a storm but manages to find a way out 6. (Turner, 2019).
Dreams occur during REM sleep, which is normally in the second half of the night. Good sleep is necessary to enable good dreams. It is better to keep the bedroom dark, quiet, and cool. One can even use an eye mask if required. It is always a good idea to engage in calming activities before sleeping to enable a lucid dream experience. Taking a bath and turning off the cell phone, etc. are always good for this purpose. Room temperature in mid-sixties Fahrenheit is always beneficial. It is also a good idea to keep a dream journal by the bed to record a dream one can recall after waking up, or one can record the dream on the phone as a voice recording. One can also make good use of dream journal apps.
It is a good idea to look for any patterns in the recorded dreams like the reoccurrence of some people and things again and again. This reflects on what the person’s inner psyche is focused on. It would also make the person aware that he/she is dreaming. This helps the person identify the state of dreaming. One can then perform a reality check to become aware of whether one is dreaming or not. Observing one’s hand or feet would help too. In dreams, they normally appear distorted. Just before going to sleep, repeating a phrase like ‘I would know when I am dreaming’ or something similar to encourage the brain to stay awake when the dram starts. One can also try to go back to sleep after an actual dream and try to replay it again, but this time, one is awake. Some people even use repeated alarms to ensure that they wake up when a dream is going on. Some experts also state, based on a study that video gaming practice helps top remember the regular and lucid dreams better. Many Lucid dream experts recommend rubbing hands together in a dream or even falling backward. Moreover, one can keep doing what one is doing in the dream and convince oneself that one is in the dream 7. (Willson, 2018). This takes a bit of practice, and in the beginning, there could be issues but with time, the lucid dreaming would set in, and the lucid dreamer would start to manage and control the dream narrative.
1Cohut, M. (2018, September 18). Lucid dreaming: Controlling the stories of sleep. Retrieved from Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323077.php
2Kee, C. (2018, April 23). 15 Lucid Dreaming Facts That Will Make You Question Reality. Retrieved from Buzz Feed: https://www.buzzfeed.com/carolinekee/are-you-sure-you-are-not-in-a-dream-now
3Schredl, M, E. D. (2011). Frequency of lucid dreaming in a representative German sample. NCBI Resources, 104-8.
4Sérgio A. Mota-Rolim, Z. H. (2013). Dream characteristics in a Brazilian sample: an online survey focusing on lucid dreaming. NCBI Resources, 836.
5HTL. (2019). 10 Incredible Benefits Of Lucid Dreaming, And Why They Matter. How to Lucid.
6Turner, R. (2019). 12 Amazing Benefits of Lucid Dreaming. World of Lucid Dreaming.
7Willson, A. (2018, December 11). How to Lucid Dream? Retrieved from Tuck: https://www.tuck.com/how-to-lucid-dream/