If you can control your dreams, you might be hyper-emotional.

The current science of lucid dreaming and how you can learn to do it.

Photo by Ann Danilina on Unsplash

This conscious awareness was the beginning of my lucid dreaming journey.

Slowly, I learned that I could make magical doors appear and escape the monsters. I could jump off buildings and breathe underwater since this was a dream world and not the real world. If the dream was too horrific to endure, I could even wake myself up by shutting my eyes really tight, then opening them simultaneously in the dream world and the real world. (Although sometimes this would not be successful, resulting in a dream within a dream, like in the Inception movie).

Lucid dreaming is more common than you think and it probably started when you were a kid

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About half the population has had a lucid dream, but not consistently

A meta-analysis of 34 different studies from 1966–2016, found that about 55% of people have experienced lucid dreaming at some point in their lives.

The onset of lucid dreaming starts in early childhood

An online survey of 2,492 people showed that lucid dreaming often begins spontaneously in children as young as 3–4 years old and decreases with adolescence. According to the study, if you haven’t experienced lucid dreaming by age 25, it is unlikely that you ever will (although new research suggests that this may not be true and the ability can be taught! — I will discuss this later).

Neuroticism and other psychological traits correlated with lucid dreaming

The study mentioned above talks about the relationship between personality traits and lucid dreaming. In psychology, the “Big Five” personality traits are openness, neuroticism, agreeableness, extraversion, and conscientiousness. This grouping of traits is also called the OCEAN model.

Does the lucid-dreaming brain look different from the typical dreaming brain?

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Can you learn to lucid dream as an adult?

In the personality trait study discussed above, the authors mention that lucid dreaming is not likely to appear organically after the age of 25. However, Dr.Denholm Aspy from the University of Adelaide, believes it can be taught.

1. Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD) Technique

The participant sets an alarm for 5 hrs after going to bed. When the alarm goes off, the participant must say “the next time I’m am dreaming, I will remember that I am dreaming”, then they can return to sleep.

2. Wake Back to Bed (WBTB) Technique

Similarly to the MILD technique, the participants sleep for 5-6 hrs, then wake up and stay awake for about 20–30 min (a good time to think about lucid dreaming or read an article about it), then return to sleep.

3. Reality Testing Technique

Several times during both a waking and a dream state — the person tries to ask themselves “Am I dreaming?”

However, combining the three techniques, 53 percent had a lucid dream during the one-week sleep trial period.

If the ability to lucid dream can be taught, it could be used as a therapeutic tool. The initial application scientists are considering is to address nightmares, by getting the person to control the outcome or stop that dream. It could also be used to help overcome phobias. The dream would provide a safe space for phobia exposure therapy, similar to hypnotic therapy.

Engineer, Mad Scientist, and Business Enthusiast (Keep in touch: annamensch4@gmail.com)

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