What is lucid dreaming?

Being able to control your own dreams sounds super exciting. But can we really dream while fully conscious even though the body continues to sleep? Here we will explain to you what is behind the phenomenon of lucid dreaming and whether we can learn to control our dreams.

Table of contents:

  1. What is a lucid dream?
  2. How does a lucid dream come about?
  3. What's the point of lucid dreaming?
  4. Learn to lucid dream
    1. Dream-initiated method (DILD)
    2. Awake-initiated method (WILD)
  5. Conclusion

1. What is a lucid dream?

A lucid dream, also known as a lucid dream, is a dream in which the sleeper is fully aware that he is currently dreaming and he can actively control the dream action. During a lucid dream you are mentally “awake” and know that your body itself is sleeping and what you are experiencing is being dreamed. Not only are you able to perceive the dream as such, but you can even control and influence what happens in the dream. According to studies, one in two people have experienced a lucid dream in their life.

Lucid dreams are often experienced more intensely and resemble a real event in their perception. However, because the dream remains fictional and we are not bound by rules or physical laws, unrealistic situations can also be experienced in a lucid dream, for example flying or teleporting to another place. The dream situation cannot usually be influenced at the beginning of dreaming, which is why nightmares can also occur during lucid dreaming and can be perceived even more impressively.

You can find out why we dream at all in this article.

2. How does a lucid dream come about?

Lucid dreams typically occur during REM sleep phases. Although dreams generally occur in all sleep phases, they are more common during REM sleep and are experienced particularly intensively. During this phase, our nervous system is highly active and the muscles are blocked by natural sleep paralysis. Lucid dreamers then come to consciousness in a kind of intermediate state between being awake and dreaming, which can occur completely by chance or can be brought about intentionally.

In some studies it has been observed that certain areas of the brain are significantly more active during a lucid dream and that the transport and processing of information in the brain increases. This is probably related to the unusual conscious processes and the ability to shape the dream experience yourself. Since lucid dreams often do not last longer than around 10 minutes, sleep itself and in particular the recovery effect of sleep are usually not affected.

3. What's the point of lucid dreaming?

Clear dreams can have many benefits and have a positive influence on your daily mood. They give us the feeling of being able to freely design an experience and experience situations that cannot take place in the real world. Wishes or daydreams can be realized, for example, the desire to fly, breathe underwater or meet a person who is unattainable in reality. These experiences usually leave you with feelings of joy, freedom or euphoria.

Lucid dreaming can also promote the ability to self-reflect, creativity and performance. In addition, it can also be helpful in treating nightmares or psychological impairments by teaching lucid dreamers to actively influence negative dream content and turn it into a positive situation.

4. Learn to lucid dream

smartsleep Schlafmagazin: Klarträumen / Luzides Träumen während des Schlafs im Wachzustand einleiten

Inducing lucid dreams yourself is possible with some practice. Various methods have been established in sleep science in which lucid dreams are either initiated from the waking state or consciousness is awakened during a normal dream.

Dream-initiated method (DILD)

The goal of this method is to "awaken" from sleep during a normal dream so that it becomes a lucid dream experience. The following techniques can help.

Keep a dream diary

A dream diary can help to raise awareness of dreaming and increase the likelihood of a lucid dream occurring by intensively engaging with dreaming. To do this, write down every dream you can remember every morning.

Perform reality checks

Lucid dreams can seem very realistic. That's why it's important to learn to distinguish between dreams and reality - for example with the help of so-called reality checks. Every day you ask yourself over and over again whether you are awake or dreaming, with the aim of this question becoming a routine, coming up even while you are dreaming and leading to waking up. Small reality tests are also helpful, for example by holding your nose and mouth and trying to breathe. Of course, this isn't possible in reality, but it's not a problem in a dream. This increases awareness of dream signs and makes it more likely to recognize a dream as such and “awaken”.

Meditation and autosuggestion (MILD)

Before going to sleep, you decide to experience a lucid dream and use various autosuggestions during the day in reality and in the dream itself to trigger the lucid dream or influence the dream events. Before sleeping, sentences such as “I recognize when I am dreaming” or “I will have a lucid dream” are useful. In the lucid dream itself, you can direct what is happening through autosuggestions, for example if you say “I am on an island” and suddenly find yourself on an island.

Awake initiated method (WILD)

When using a wake-initiated method, you practice slipping directly from the waking state into a lucid dream without first falling asleep. So you train to let your body fall asleep and keep your consciousness awake during this time. In contrast to dream-initiated lucid dreaming, this is considered more difficult. In order to fall asleep and slip into natural sleep paralysis, you have to lie still for a long time and not move. The onset of sleep paralysis is also associated with unpleasant sensations and can be accompanied by tingling, itching or tension and the so-called hypnagogic images. These are visual, auditory or physical hallucinations that can occur during the transition to sleep.

5. Dangers and risks when lucid dreaming

During REM sleep, in which most lucid dreams take place, the body is in sleep paralysis, which means the muscles are completely relaxed and we are unable to move. Despite the intense dreaming, there is no risk of physical harm. However, on a psychological level, there is a risk of becoming addicted to the positive experiences of lucid dreaming, of not wanting to wake up and of becoming increasingly alienated from reality and fleeing into the dream world.

6. Conclusion

  • Clear dreams / Lucid dreams are dreams in which the sleeper is aware that he is dreaming and can influence the dream events.
  • Lucid dreaming can be learned and practiced using various methods. A distinction is made between dream-initiated and awake-initiated lucid dreaming.
  • Lucid dreams can promote the mood of the day, the ability to self-reflect and creativity.

Greetings and see you soon!

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