“Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives”. William Dement, a pioneer in sleep research.
Our dreams can be random, weird plots with no structure to the story whatsoever.
One night, you could dream your girlfriend’s face on your uncle’s body saying bizarre things; the next night, there could be some weird creature with 8 legs following you through empty streets.
The world of dreams is physics-defying and therefore, very alluring.
However, imagine how interesting things would get if you were told that you could be aware that you are dreaming and may even direct action. Movies, such as Waking Life and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, explore the idea of lucid dreaming.
Although difficult to research and validate scientifically, the phenomenon has been a subject of rigorous laboratory experiments over the past decade or so.
Research on Lucid Dreaming
Stephen LaBerge, a psychophysiologist at Stanford University and founder of lucidity.com, is one of the most prominent researchers in the field of lucid dreaming.
Using a technique that was discovered by Keith Hearne, Stephen uses electroencephalograms (EEG) to measure brain activity of the sleeper.
Through pre-arranged eye movements, the sleeper can signal the researcher when he/she has started lucid dreaming.
Similar studies by neuropsychologists Ursula Voss and Martin Dresler have demonstrated that lucid dreaming had features of REM sleep, but were different from non-lucid dreaming and state of wakefulness. This gave credibility to participants’ claim of being in a lucid dream. (Source: The Guardian).
On the subject of dreaming brain and lucid dreaming brain, Matthew P. Walker, director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at the University of California, Berkley, thinks that it is related to the lateral prefrontal cortex. This part is related to logical reasoning and working memory and is inactive during REM sleep (and understandably so). The researcher thinks that during lucid dreaming, this part of the brain becomes active. (Source: The New York Times).
However, it should be noted that a lot of research is required in the field to reach any conclusive evidence.
Ways That May Help You Lucid Dream
Here are some techniques that lucid dream researchers have suggested:
Keeping journal helps better recall of dreams and lets the person recognize signs that they are in a state of dreaming.
Getting up half an hour earlier than normal, staying awake for good 30 to 60 minutes and then sleeping again may prove to be helpful. This may blur the lines between state of wakefulness and sleep.
Reality testing may also be useful. This is in line with the Buddhist concept of mindfulness. The more you are aware that you are conscious, the more it will help you become aware when you are in a dream.
Rekha Shrivastava understands the power of the mind and the tricks it can play. Helping people leverage off of the power of their subconscious minds, she makes lives better by the incredible process of hypnosis.