Lucid Dreams

Lucid Dreams


Lucid Dreams

A lucid dream is a dream in which the person is aware that he or she is dreaming while the dream is in progress, also known as a conscious dream. Lucid dreams occur during REM sleep, during which the dreamer becomes aware that he or she is dreaming and despite such awareness one continues to remain in the dream state without waking up. This peculiar awareness is referred to as lucidity or being lucid.  When the dreamer is lucid, he or she can actively participate in the dream environment without any of the limitations that otherwise would feel natural to persons who incorrectly believe they are in the “real” waking world. Lucid dreams can be extremely real and vivid depending on a person’s level of self awareness during the lucid dream.

The term lucid dreaming was coined by Dutch author and psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden in his 1913 article “A Study of Dreams”. This book was highly anecdotal and not embraced by the scientific community. Some consider this a misnomer because it means much more than just “clear or vivid” dreaming.  The alternative term conscious dreaming avoids this confusion. However, the term lucid was used by van Eeden in its sense of “having insight”, as in the phrase a lucid interval applied to someone in temporary remission from a psychosis rather than as a reference to the perceptual quality of the experience which may or may not be clear and vivid.

Besides the lucid feature, there are a considerable number of differences between regular dreams and lucid dreams and some of them are the clarity of lucid dreams being far superior in comparison to the ordinary dreams.  Because of awareness during a lucid dream, the dreamer is in control of the dream unlike a regular dream where the dreamer is a silent spectator.  A lucid dreamer can change or alter the setting of the dream and is free to perform various actions while being in a lucid dream.  During a lucid dream, the dreamer can change the course of his or her act and dream of flying, levitating, traveling through time etc.,

A lucid dream can begin in one of two ways. A dream-initiated lucid dream (DLD) starts as a normal dream, and the dreamer eventually concludes that he or she is dreaming, while a wake-initiated lucid dream (WILD) occurs when the dreamer goes from a normal waking state directly into a dream state with no apparent lapse in consciousness.

Lucid dreaming has been researched scientifically, and its existence is well established. Scientists such as Allan Hobson, with his neurophysiological approach to dream research, have helped to push the understanding of lucid dreaming into a less speculative realm.

Lucid dreaming is a harmless practice and can go a long way in fighting the demons (which are manifestations of real life fears) on a real life daily basis. People can be more intimate, more outspoken, and more aggressive and be real achievers in their dream worlds. These traits can filter into our daily life and help us cope with day-to-day stresses. This would make one see lucid dreaming as a very positive occurrence.

Neurobiological Model

Neuroscientist J. Allan Hobson has hypothesized as to what might be occurring in the brain while lucid. The first step to lucid dreaming is to recognize that one is dreaming. This recognition might occur in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is one of the few areas deactivated during REM sleep and where working memory occurs. Once this area is activated and the recognition of dreaming occurs, the dreamer must be cautious to let the dream delusions continue but be conscious enough to recognize them. This process might be seen as the balance between reason and emotion. While maintaining this balance, the amygdala and parahippocampal cortexmight be less intensely activated.  To continue the intensity of the dream hallucinations, it is expected the pons and the parieto-occipital junction stay active.

Perception of time while lucid dreaming

The rate at which time passes during lucid dreaming has been shown to be about the same as while waking. However, a 1995 study in Germany indicated lucid dreaming can also have varied time spans, in which the dreamer can control the length. The study took place during sleep and upon awakening, and required the participants to record their dreams in a log and how long the dreams lasted. In 1985, LaBerge performed a pilot study where lucid dreamers counted out ten seconds while dreaming, signaling the end of counting with a pre-arranged eye signal measured with electrooculogram recording.  LaBerge’s results were confirmed by German researchers in 2004. The German study, by D. Erlacher and M. Schredl, also studied motor activity and found that deep knee bends took 44% longer to perform while lucid dreaming.

Near-death and out-of-body experiences

In a study of fourteen lucid dreamers performed in 1991, people who perform wake-initiated lucid dreams (WILD) reported experiences consistent with aspects of out-of-body experiences such as floating above their beds and the feeling of leaving their bodies.  Due to the phenomenological overlap between lucid dreams, near death experiences and out-of-body experiences, researchers say they believe a protocol could be developed to induce a lucid dream similar to a near-death experience in the laboratory.

In Lucid Dreams, by consciously affecting the content of ones dream vision, we begin to understand something of the infinite wonder of which our imagination is capable: yet we remain constantly fascinated, because we realize that we can never exhaust that capacity and lucid dreams can be used for pure self-indulgence. Indeed, complete beginners should start developing their faculty by first learning to induce non-magical dreams, as the ability to put Lucid Dreams to use is advanced work, and only for those who are confident in their practice.

Excerpts taken from this article are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. They use material from Wikipedia topics “Lucid Dream” and/or “Sleep“.



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