Dreams come in different ways. It could be normal dreams, nightmares, false awakening dreams, lucid dreams, or daydreams. In this article, I am more concerned with lucid dreaming – one of the still mysterious types of dreaming that is deemed to be more beneficial than other types of dreams.
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Experiencing Lucid Dreaming
Almost everyone has experienced lucid dreaming in some shape or form. The more we practice lucid dreaming and record them, the more insights we gain.
Sleep scientists reveal that lucid dreams last for about 10 – 60 minutes, but there are ways or things that you can do to make them longer. If you have watched The Inception movie, then you perhaps have an idea of having awareness during your dream state, and also the ability to control your dream.
Since this kind of dreaming comes with invaluable benefits, some people have developed techniques on how to experience it, and some of these techniques have worked for some people. That means this type of dreaming can be learned.
It is also important to note that about 8 out of 10 people have at least once in their lives had consciousness or awareness about their dreaming – being aware that they are dreaming, and that the dream is not a reality.
What Exactly Are Lucid Dreams?
Lucid dreams are those dreams when you are aware of their reality while dreaming. It means you know that you are dreaming and the things that you are dreaming about are not real. Some people even have the ability in their lucid dreams to change the plot or the direction of their dreams.
While several studies have been done to understand more about lucid dreaming, it remains a mystery since the research is based on the self-reports of individuals.
Neuroscientific research also shows that there are physical differences that exist in the prefrontal cortex of the brain for those people who experience, and who do not experience lucid dreams. For the former, the researchers found that the prefrontal cortex is bigger than the latter. The prefrontal cortex part of the brain is the one responsible for recalling memories, making decisions, and performing high-level tasks.
When Do Lucid Dreams Happen?
There is a period when you are in deep sleep compounded with more brain activity, faster breathing, and rapid eye movement (REM). Researchers have found out that this is the period when lucid dreaming is experienced most. It is caused by a shift in the activity of the brain towards the direction of waking.
Benefits of Lucid Dreaming
Different researchers have studied this type of dreaming and whether it is beneficial or harmful. The findings are based on self-reported cases of sampled individuals and researchers themselves on how this dreaming occurs and its health and social impacts. Though some researchers have also found some negative impacts, there are many positive impacts that these dreams have on an individual. These benefits include the following:
When you can control your dreams, you will overcome many worries, since what you dream is what you are aware of. You know you are dreaming, and you know you are safe. Even if it is a bad dream, you are conscious of it and hence you get relieved of your worries and feelings of anxiety. This translates to real life since it helps you to develop an awareness of real-life situations and have control over them.
Other studies also reveal that when you dream consciously – knowing that you are dreaming, you get to feel empowered since you don’t get frightened and this reflects in your real-life experiences since you will have more sense of control.
One benefit according to Dr. Alicia Roth and that has been empirically proven is that lucid dreams help in motor skill development. Other studies indicate that people who experience lucid dreams usually are more creative than people who do not.
According to the research done by the University of Lincoln psychologists, it shows that there is a direct correlation between dreams and the activity of people. That means, if a person dreams of performing a certain task or routine duties, that person becomes better or his or her ability in that routine is enhanced in real life.
Psychological studies also show that people who lucid dream develop better problem-solving skills than what logic or math can help to solve. It makes people become creative and have the ability to solve problems such as when they have a conflict with other people. In addition to that, it helps people to become creative and thus they are able to relate their dreams and apply what they learn in real life – such as coming up with new ideas.
People who normally experience nightmares have found induced lucid dreaming beneficial since they will remain aware of what’s happening and that they are actually dreaming. Some even can direct their dreams to a new plot that is less frightening.
Some of the techniques that people use to induce lucid dreams include reality testing, wake-up-back-to-bed (WBTB), mnemonic induction of lucid dreams (MILD), and external stimulation.
Improves mental health
People who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and often experience nightmares are likely to benefit a lot from lucid dreaming. Studies have revealed that it helps in reducing nightmares, therefore, people, especially those with mental health issues, can benefit from this reality.
Though there are limited studies on how these dreams affect mental health, it is proven beyond doubt by the few findings of self-reported cases that this dreaming gives people a greater sense of control and that helps to improve mental health and depressive symptoms.
Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Lucid Dreaming
If you want to enjoy the above benefits, it is possible to become a lucid dreamer since you can learn it. The first step is to accept the fact that you are a dreamer, then you have to know that you are safe so that you become mentally prepared.