• Pranav Nandurkar

Do you know: What if we knew that we are dreaming? | Lucid Dreams

Updated: May 22

Ever wondered about controlling your dream and dreaming of things you like. Sounds interesting right? Well, it's possible to some extent. So here comes the Lucid Dream, it is a type of dream in which the dreamer is aware that he is dreaming and during which dreamer could have some amount of control over that dream, like he/she could change the environment, characters and could narrate it how the dreamer likes it.

There are two types of lucid dreams:

  • Dream-initiated lucid dream (DILD) - Something within the dream triggers the dreamer to understand that they are dreaming.

  • Wake-initiated lucid dream (WILD) - The dreamer moves from waking to dreaming with no loss of awareness

For better understanding let’s see this, have you ever watched the masterpiece “Inception”? If you have then you might have noticed Leonardo DiCaprio's totem -- the object he uses to tell if he's still in a dream state, or back in reality. If the top keeps spinning, Leo's character is still dreaming. If it falls, he is awake. So it acts as a trigger. Similarly, if something triggers you during a dream then you could possibly differentiate between reality and dream and you could control your dream to some extent.

We have even seen the roots of lucid dreaming in ancient history where the dreamers have the ability to be aware that they are dreaming, where the roots are central to both the ancient Indian Hindu practice of Yoga Nidra and the Tibetan Buddhist practice of dream Yoga. The cultivation of such awareness was a common practice among early Buddhists

Speaking about the research Van Eeden studied his dreams in 1898 and recorded the ones in a dream diary out of which 352 of these dreams were categorized as lucid dreams. He even created names for seven different types of dreams based on his data -

  • initial dreams

  • general dream-sensations

  • ordinary dreams

  • pathological dreams

  • demoniacal dreams

  • vivid dreams

  • lucid dreams

Talking about how its name came into existence - In 1913, Dutch psychiatrist and writer Frederik van Eeden coined the term 'lucid dream' in an article entitled "A Study of Dreams”. He intended the term lucid to denote "having insight". Many researchers had already done much research on lucid dreaming and some are continuing but speaking about psychophysiologist Dr. Stephen LaBerge, who has become the pioneer of lucid dreaming research in the last 20 years, performed a pilot study in 1985 that showed that time perception while counting during a lucid dream is about the same as during waking life. Lucid dreamers counted out ten seconds while dreaming, signaling the start and the end of the count with a pre-arranged eye signal measured with electrooculogram recording.

Well, this was some of the research parts, now let us discuss something apart from it -

What if we could create a state where we could have lucid dreams?

Yes, it is possible. Here are some of the techniques

Checking for Reality -

Performing reality checks is one of the key factors which will help in distinguishing between reality and a dream. It is a form of mental training where you train your brain to recognize your awareness.

Some of its techniques are -

  • Visually examine your hands. Do they look normal? They incline to be distorted in dreams

  • Endeavor to push the index finger of one hand through the palm of your antithesis hand. Do so with the prospect that you’ll be able to make this transpire while asking yourself both before and after whether you’re dreaming. In a dream, this would genuinely transpire, although it wouldn’t in reality. Also, you could try this against solid walls or objects, inside the dream it will pass.

  • Try looking at a clock if time changes constantly then you are dreaming, in the real world it will barely change

Mnemonic induction of lucid dreams Technique -

Also known as the MILD technique, it was created by LaBerge in 1980. It was one of the first methods that used scientific research to induce lucid dreams. Every night as you’re falling asleep, reiterate the same phrase to yourself. It should be along the lines “The next time I dream, I want to remember that I am dreaming.” or something homogeneous. Keep reiterating it until you fall asleep.

As this technique is based on prospective memory, it will encourage your brain to be aware when you begin dreaming, increasing your chances of having a lucid dream.

Keeping a dream journal/diary -

It is considered to be a popular method for initiating lucid dreams. You could either write down your dreams into a journal or record them over a voice memo on your phone. Doing this will force you to remember what happened during a dream and will eventually help in recognizing dream signs and enhance awareness of your dreams.

Researchers have even encountered some BENEFITS and RISKS behind it -

Benefits -

  • Overcoming nightmares is one of the benefits of having lucid dreams because by doing so the dreamer would know that they are dreaming and will help them if they suffer from a nightmare. Eventually, it may relieve your anxiety.

  • In a study conducted by Spoormaker, Van den Bout, and Meijer in 2003 they investigated lucid dreaming treatment for nightmares by testing eight subjects who received a one-hour individual session, which consisted of lucid dreaming exercises. And as a result, a study revealed that the nightmare frequency had decreased and the sleep quality had slightly increased.

  • Enhancing Creativity - As lucid dreamers need to recall what they dreamt of and could even change their surroundings in a dream according to their creativity this might enhance their creativity. In her book The Committee of Slumber, Deirdre Barrett describes how some experienced lucid dreamers have learned to recollect categorical practical goals such as artists probing for inspiration seeking a show of their work once they become lucid or computer programmers probing for a screen with their desired code.

Risks -

  • As we have seen lucid dreams could be very beneficial by helping in overcoming a nightmare and relieving anxiety but on the other hand, some risks have also been suggested. People do get confused with sleep paralysis and lucid dreams as from outside both look similar. Whereas sleep paralysis could be a serious problem as this person is partially paralyzed and cannot move their limbs and could even encounter hallucinations.

  • The sleep interruptions of induction techniques may increase depressive symptoms.

  • A person who is having a lucid dream for first could cause him having various emotions such as Feelings of stress, or worry, or confusion could arise.

Got excited after reading the article? To read more about Lucid Dreams get this book: