What was your wildest lucid dream

Not every lucid dreamer can control the dream action

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Neurobiological findings on REM sleep in general provide a background for this thesis. In adults, the frontal lobe is rather sluggish in REM sleep and thus in REM dream. Since the frontal areas are responsible for thinking, judgment and working memory, this could explain why dreams are so irrational and mostly forgotten. In the lucid REM dream, the frontal lobe is significantly more active (Medical hypotheses: Mota-Rolim and Araujo, 2013), so it can be distinguished from a non-lucid one.

Only a part of the regular lucid dreamers can influence the dream action. This includes two groups in particular, discovered Daniel Erlacher and his colleague Tada Stumbrys (Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 2017): On the one hand, those who dream particularly frequently, and on the other, more mindful people. Being mindful means being able to control your attention. Possibly, write Erlacher and Stumbrys, these people could even transfer this control from waking to dreaming.

Nobody should play around with their dreams lightly

In fact, there are many methods that are designed to specifically trigger lucid dreams. Some scientific studies examine how well these work. A Heidelberg working group led by Tadas Stumbrys checked all of them (Consciousness and Cognition, 2012). The result: no method reliably elicits a lucid dream. But some are better than the others: For example, regularly visualizing that one is dreaming lucidly. Or get up in the morning and lie down again after an hour. Or get into the habit of doing reality checks during the day, which you can then use at night: for example, pinching your arm and checking whether you can feel it. By the way, you don't feel it in a dream, even in a lucid dream.

Brigitte Holzinger, however, warns against throwing oneself into such dreams for fun. "We don't know exactly what happens psychologically when we intervene in our dreams," she says. "This shouldn't be handled lightly." She advises a cautious, respectful approach.

If used correctly, however, there is great potential in lucid dreams. Not only for the dreaming, but also for science. In the meantime, lucid dream research has made it from the esoteric corner to philosophy, psychology and neuroscience. Because with the help of lucid dreams one can probably expand knowledge about why we sleep and dream, and what our consciousness is all about.