Are Lucid Dreams Real?
If you happen to have seen the thriller movie Inception, then the chances are that you are already familiar with the term ‘lucid dreaming’. Or maybe you have been lucky enough to experience this rare phenomenon yourself.
But what are lucid dreams? In simple words, lucid dreams appear when we know that we are dreaming while asleep. This is because we are conscious of the events happening in the dream, and for the same reason, the events feel realistic. We might even be able to control the actions in these dreams. Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?
This article will talk about the benefits and dangers of lucid dreams. Further, we discuss some techniques that you can use if you want to lucid dream.
Reality Check of Lucid Dreams
Lucid dreams are like a way to dissolve our reality and live in our fantasy. So, hearing about these for the first time when you have never experienced them can sound crazy or unrealistic. But, whether you believe it or not, science has actually confirmed that this phenomenon is real. It is merely a state of mind where you’re neither asleep nor awake. So, it is a natural occurrence for everyone. However, we observe it more commonly and frequently among youngsters than adults. Only about half of the people have had lucid dreams at least once in their lifetime.
Though, how can you tell if a dream we are having is lucid? Firstly, it will become obvious to you that you are dreaming. A lucid dream also appears to be very vivid and natural. It would be as if you were living the dream. You might further be able to control what was happening, unlike regular dreams. We can’t voluntarily regulate the events of an ordinary dream which continue to occur automatically. Lastly, you will probably remember the dream well the next day. Forgetting a lucid dream is quite rare.
Can We Benefit From Lucid Dreams?
The answer is yes. This vivid experience has been intriguing to people by helping them escape to a world that is unique and fantastic, where everything is possible. Aside from a lovely experience, it has other benefits to offer for our mental health.
- Creativity Enhancement: Creative people are more likely to lucid dream. This is also true the other way around. People who lucid dream are likely to be creative. It is an excellent opportunity to explore diverse scenarios in the confines of our dreams. A person makes up different stories through the characters in the dream. Whether it is for finding solutions to an existing problem or coming up with a new plot, lucid dreams are incredible creativity boosters.
- Decreased Anxiety: Lucid dreams give a sense of control to people, which allows them to try out actions they would not try in real life. A positive experience with the action and practice will make them want to perform the action in real life. It provides a sense of empowerment.
- Nightmare Therapy: People who struggle with nightmares consider lucid dreams a blessing. I mean, what is better than getting control over your horrendous nightmares, right? Bad dreams interrupt the quality sleep of a person and generate negativity in mind. Lucid dreams help put an end to them or redirect them to a sweet, pleasant ending.
The downside of lucid dreaming includes:
- Influence on sleep quality and schedule: Many curious minds are attracted to dreaming lucidly, which is completely understandable. However, they can get too invested in wanting to experience this that it affects their duration and quality of sleep. Even the people who have had experienced this can get negatively impacted. Lucid dreams tend to be emotional in nature, sometimes too much, causing you to wake up in the middle of the night. Further, it may be hard to get back to sleep. Frequent instances of the same influence your general duration of sleep, which is directly linked to your mental health state. Sleep deprivation is the first step to many unfavorable mental health conditions. Therefore, a healthy amount of good quality sleep is critical for general well-being.
- Reality vs. Imagination: Lucid dreams feel so realistic and natural that it is common for dreamers to confuse them with reality. The line between events that actually happened and lucidly dreamed events is blurred out. Imagination becomes so strong that it leads to daily-life confusion or even hallucinations in severe cases.
It is safe to say that the effects of lucid dreaming are not universal for everyone, every time. Some people encounter negative effects. Some encounter positive, both, or neither.
How to Have Lucid Dreams?
There are many techniques backed by science that you can use to increase your chances of having lucid dreams. Some of these are:
- Keep a Dream Journal: A dream journal is the one in which you jot down every dream you have. It’s like a diary that you write every day- just try to remember everything you can from your dream last night and write it down. Even though this technique has a meager success rate independently, it can be beneficial when used with other methods.
- Wake back to bed Technique(WBTB): This technique involves getting into REM sleep while still conscious. You can achieve that by first setting the alarm for 5 hours and going to sleep as usual. When the alarm rings, stay awake for the next 30 minutes after you wake up. You can enjoy a quiet activity in this time, like reading a book. Then, go to sleep again. This time, it is likely that you will get a lucid dream.
- Frequent reality testing: Several times a day, randomly ask yourself, ‘Am I dreaming?’ and keep notice of your consciousness. You can test reality by standing in front of a mirror to see if your reflection looks normal. This is to train your brain to check the awareness of the mind. So, the next time you dream, your brain will check awareness, and you will become conscious of your dream, thus elucidating it.
- Mnemonic induction of lucid dreams (MILD): When you’re in bed, think of a recent dream. Intend going back to the dream by repeating it in your mind. Keep reciting to yourself that the next time you dream, you will be aware of it. Combining the MILD technique with the WBTB technique will give you a high chance of getting a lucid dream.