Do you often remember your dreams? And do you remember ever being conscious of the fact that you are dreaming?
If you have watched Inception, then you are probably aware of the concept of lucid dreaming. Although most lucid dreamers are unable to dream as vividly as shown in the movie or even “share” or step into other people’s dreams, many do experience the basic form of lucid dreaming, that is, they are sometimes aware of being in a dream and can even control their actions or their environment in the dream to a certain extent. New research suggests that we may even be able to induce this specific type of dream state.
In a recent study by the University of Adelaide, researchers examined three different methods for inducing lucid dreams. These included checking the environment a few times a day to see if it is real or a dream, manipulating your sleep cycle so that you wake up in the middle of your sleep for a little while and then go back to sleep, and waking up after five hours of sleep and repeating the phrase “The next time I’m dreaming, I will remember that I’m dreaming” and then going back to sleep. Scientists found that those participants who used all three techniques had a significantly higher chance of having lucid dreams. Specifically, those who used the MILD technique that involves repeating the phrase and were able to fall back to sleep within five minutes of waking had an even greater chance of experiencing lucid dreams (46% versus 8% before using the techniques).
While it seems that we may be able to evoke lucid dreaming from time to time, is it actually a good idea to do so? There has been some research looking into how lucid dreaming could potentially be used to benefit mental health, including alleviating nightmares, PTSD, and aiding physical rehabilitation, however, there are also studies suggesting that inducing lucid dreaming can cause sleep problems and possibly also schizotypy symptoms. Given the relatively minimal amount of research in the area so far, it might be best to let our minds tell whatever stories it wants to while we are sleeping without getting too worried.
“In Brief – Controlling our dreams” (2018). Retrieved from www.apa.org/monitor/digital.
“Want to control your dreams? Here’s how you can” (2017). Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com.
“What dreams may tell you about your mental health” (2018). Retrieved from www.psychologytoday.com.