Lucid dreams occur when you know that you are dreaming even though you are asleep. Your mind is aware of the events that flash through your active brain but the events do not take place in reality. The dream seems lucid and fresh. Amazingly, you can even control the actions or events occurring in your dream as if your sleepiness is been directed by you. A recent study reveals that almost half of the earth’s population must have had at least one lucid dream in their lifetime. This does not happen often but only sometimes in the entire year.
When does lucid dream take place?
Lucid dreams typically occur during REM or rapid eye movement when we are asleep. This is the period when we are in a deep sleep state marked by eye movement, brain activity and fast breath. We enter the REM sleep around 90 minutes after asleep. It may last up to 10 minutes and every REM can be longer than the previous one that can last up to one hour.
How to Know If Your Dream Is Lucid or not?
In most lucid dream’s times, we are not sure about the fact that the events occurring are a part of the dream. The common characteristic of such kind of dream is that strange things might take place in the dream but we may feel as if they are real. Only after we are awake, we realize the event being imaginary or a dream. When you will have a lucid dream, though you will be able to recognise that whatever is happening is unreal and you are dreaming about the event. This might allow you to control your dream to some extent and make you feel relaxed in your dream. Some of the common signs associated with lucid dreaming are:
- One of the most common signs is your awareness that you are asleep and dreaming.
- The dreams are vivid.
- You can control your dream or event that does not happen in real at all.
- You feel emotions intensely.
- You may feel laughing or crying or exerted during lucid dreams.
Why do people have lucid dreams?
Well, neuroscientists have not yet found why lucid dreams take place and when they happen exactly. However, they have gathered little information on the same after years of research. According to a study made, physical differences in the brains of different people might affect lucid dreams condition. The front part of our brain known as the prefrontal cortex controls high-level tasks such as recalling old memories or making complex decisions. The bigger the prefrontal cortex a person has, the more he/she will have lucid dreams. This means people who have more lucid dreams may be self-reflective types who can control others minds seamlessly with their brains.
Another study in Germany found that brains work like electrical activities when people sleep. After measuring the activities, it has been found that a lucid dream is a form of ‘between state’ in which the person is neither awake completely nor the person is asleep. Many periods of sleep scientists state that lucid dreams can also take place outside the REM sleep when people have long thoughts during their dreams.
Is lucid dream beneficial?
Although the lucid dream may seem strange to us, it has many benefits for your mental and physical state.
Improved problem-solving skills: many researchers have found that lucid dreams can make people master problem-solving skills that need agility and creativity. For example, during a conflicting situation with another person, the dreamer may find a logical solution and apply the same if in any case, a similar kind of situation takes place in real life.
Fewer anxiety levels: the power to control the dreams during a lucid dream can stay with you even after you are awake. This can significantly make you feel empowered. Since you can shape your dream and control the ending, you might feel good like therapy especially if you have nightmares.
Developed motor skills: some studies claims that lucid dreams can improve simple skills in people such as tapping fingers promptly by practising the same during lucid dreams. The part of your brain that becomes active during the lucid dream can help you imagine the movements while awake or help them practice during the lucid dream.
How to Have Lucid Dreams?
Although there is no proper explanation about how lucid dreams may happen, researchers have found few ways that can trigger your lucid dream. Some of them include:
Mnemonic induction of lucid dream: also called MILD, in this process you need to wake up after sleeping for at least 5 hours and keep repeating to yourself that the next time you dream, you must remember every event. This way your prospective memory will start working and you will remember what you do in your dream. This indeed triggers lucid dreams significantly.
Drugs and devices: the drugs such as medicines or herbal plants we intake may cause several effects on our mental and physical health. However, it is still unclear what kind of drug may trigger lucid dreams in a person and whether it will be safe in the long run or not. There are headbands and masks available in the market which have different kinds of lights and sounds which might trigger lucid dreams in a person.
Reality testing: this is one way in which you need to pause at different times during the day and check if you are dreaming or not. You can try different things like inhaling through a closed mouth or pushing your finger through the palm. You can also try to do something difficult in a dream state such as reading a book.
Maintain a dream diary: study shows that people having lucid dreams keep a log of their dream events since they try to focus on them. These journals may or may not prove helpful but can be used when combined with another psychological process.
Drawbacks of lucid dreams
One of the most drastic effects of lucid dreams is the degradation of sleep quality. Vivid dreams can make your sleep restless and hard to sleep peacefully. You might not sleep while focusing on your lucid dream. Hallucination, delirium and confusion might be developmental issues and blur your imagination about what is real and what is imaginary.