Lucid dreaming is a rare form of dream in which the dreamer is conscious of the fact that they are dreaming, and in some cases, able to take control. In most normal dreams we are passive participants, watching the dream play out as if we were watching a film. Lucid dreaming is much more like a video game, in which we take an active role that alters the narrative.
What’s more, not everyone will regularly experience this unusual type of dream. While it’s thought that most of the population will experience them at some point in their lives, it only comes naturally to approximately 20 – 30% of the population.
Very little research has been done on the topic and it’s still seen as quite a mystery by scientists and psychologists.
What we do know is that it occurs during REM, which is our deepest sleep phase, meaning that a lucid dream isn’t just a halfway phase between sleep and wakefulness. We are fully asleep, but our brains are conscious of the fact.
Can I teach myself to have lucid dreams?
A study has shown that it is possible to teach yourself to have lucid dreams, however the same study also concluded that many of the techniques that are widely recommended do not produce the dreams ‘reliably or consistently’.
One technique is to tell yourself to remember that you are dreaming before you go to sleep. We often dream about things that have happened to us during the day and by rehearsing or imagining that you are becoming aware of your dream, there is a chance that this can have an effect.
Once we are in a dream, lucid dreaming can also be trigged by identifying things or anomalies that make it clear to our minds that we are dreaming. To help do this it’s often suggested that you write down your dreams so that you can start to spot things that regularly occur or appear whilst you are asleep.
Is lucid dreaming good for me?
Lucid dreaming is thought to be perfectly safe and there is some research which suggests that those who frequently lucid dream are better at problem solving.
The findings suggest that the lucid dreamer’s ability to “step back from perceived reality” is a skill that helps them to solve particular problems.
There is still a lot more research do be done to fully understand exactly how lucid dreaming works, but it just goes to show how fascinating sleep can be.