lucid dreaming It might come as a surprise that while sleeping takes up a third of our lives, the idea of has rarely been studied. A few philosophers touched on the topic of lucid dreams. Aristotle wrote in his treatise On Dreams:
“When one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which tells us that what presents itself is but a dream."
What are Lucid Dreams?
Lucid dreams are separate from normal dreams. In a lucid dream, your prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain associated with reasoning, is active during your state of sleep. This means you are aware that you are dreaming. You’re aware that the events flashing through your brain aren’t really happening. But the dream feels vivid and real. You may even be able to control how the action unfolds, as if you’re directing a movie in your sleep.
Who Discovered Lucid Dreams?
While the idea of being able to lucid dream might seem unrealistic, scientists from prestigious educational institutions have conducted experiments to prove the existence of lucid dreaming.
Keith Hearne, opens a new window, Ph.D., at the University of Hull (UK) in 1975 and Stephen LaBerge, opens a new window, Ph.D., at Stanford University in 1978 both understood that during lucid dreaming, your brain goes through a REM state. REM is a state where your eyes move freely while dreaming. Hearne experimented with Alan Worsley, a talented lucid dreamer, to prove that lucid dreams existed.
How to Lucid Dream
Here are a few common exercises to attempt lucid dreaming:
- Reality checks: At every hour of the day, look at your hands and count your fingers, then poke one of your hands with your finger. Why? This helps make the activity a habit. When the time comes that you are dreaming, it can make you more aware of yourself and the odd things going on, helping you realize you are dreaming.
- Meditation: Before falling asleep, listen to guided lucid dreaming meditations. These might help you keep your consciousness awake while the rest of your mind and body fall asleep.
- Dream journals: In the morning, write down small vivid details that you remembered from the dream (it also helps to draw). This can help your awareness and memories of your dreams grow stronger.
- Read a book or draw: 30 minutes before falling asleep, try to resist using electronic devices and instead read a book. The blue light from devices can keep your mind overly active.
Don't expect a lucid dream after only a few days—the process is long, but the results are well worth it.