Have you been asleep and become aware that you are dreaming? Have you ever found yourself in a vivid dream, knowing that you are asleep, where you were able to control what happens in the dream? If the answer is yes, then you have experienced a lucid dream.
A lucid dream is one where the person is able to dream and be aware of being in a dream, perhaps even control elements of the dream. Research found that around half of people have experienced lucid dreams and that some experience them more than others.
Lucid dreams is a growing area of research in the medical and psychological community. Such research has identified benefits of such dreams, including an ability to control anxiety, being creative and improved creative problem-solving. Lucid dreams can also affect the quality of sleep (difficulty to fall back asleep and poor sleep quality) as well as possible risks of delusions (believing something is real despite evidence that it is not real or logical) or dissociation (a feeling of being disconnected from one’s thoughts, feelings and identity). Some research has also looked at home lucid dreams can be of benefit to real-life achievements, with lucid dreaming used as a tool in sports to support the athlete to practice his sport.
Mary Arnold-Forster provided one of the earliest and clearest analyses of lucid dreams in her writings in 1921. She describes the “primary self”, one of two states of consciousness, in which one can analyse and make logical what is being experienced. This “primary self” is not typically active while we sleep, which is why we typically are not aware we are dreaming, or are unable to actively take action while dreaming. However, when we experience a lucid dream, this “primary self” is active and thus allowing us the ability to know that what we are experiencing is a dream while we sleep, and that we can take actions and make decisions actively, thus directly influencing the dream.
In the following blog we will be exploring what research found to be required in order to be able to experience lucid dreams, and what you can do to increase the possibility of experiencing such dreams.
Keep your eyes open for Part 2!
Petra Borg is a Trainee Gestalt Psychotherapist currently reading for a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy from the Gestalt Therapy Institute Malta (GPTIM) and working at Willingness as a Trainee Psychotherapist. She has experience as a Triage Officer and has also worked closely with Willingness over several years, coordinating the international internship programme and providing support over diverse events and initiatives.
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Martins, K. (2020). Lucid dreams. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/lucid-dreams-overview
Robson, D. (2021). Can lucid dreaming help us understand consciousness? The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/nov/14/can-lucid-dreaming-help-us-understand-consciousness
Cohut, M. (2020). Lucid dreaming: Controlling the stories of sleep. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323077