Clear dreams make sense

Lucid dreams: can you create your own dreams?

Learn in a dream and thus save time and resources in stressful everyday life? That is an idea that should sound very attractive to many people. Children put their math books under their pillows in order to do well in the exam the next day, while adults have mantras read to them in their sleep for smoking cessation - both of which are rather dubious activities from a scientific point of view in order to achieve the desired success. Lately, the lucid dream (also called “lucid dream”) has been getting more and more attention from scientists and people who want to train their mindfulness.

We'll discuss in this article:

What exactly is “lucid dreaming”?

Lucid dreams are also known as lucid dreams in the German-speaking world. The term is not defined uniformly and is also discussed among scientists. The most important criterion is in any case that the dreaming during the dream at any time deliberately are about that they are currently in a dream.

The realization of being in a dream very often follows an impossible event. This can be a kite in the bedroom, but also the appearance of a deceased relative or the ability to fly. From this point on, a normal dream has turned into a lucid dream. The term “lucid” (Latin for “clear”) describes the clarity with which the lucid dream can be classified as such.

In addition to the awareness of the experienced dream, there are other criteria that are used to define lucid dreams. In this way, people can use their own during the dream Remember “awake” life. This remembering should be possible without gaps and undistorted. In some cases, this also applies Influence on what was happening as a sign of a lucid dream.

The lucid dream is therefore a state of consciousness in which a person dreams and can perceive, influence and control this dream. Whoever has mastered the ability of the lucid dream can look at the sonorous description "Oneironaut * in" give.

Learning Lucid Dreaming: How Do I Become a Oneironaut?

Children are more likely to dream clearly than adults.
They mostly lose the ability as they get older.
Image source

Children Lucid dreaming is still very easy. They often report sleep states in which they are aware of dreaming. Very often they still have a great influence on the course of the dream and can actively shape their adventures. The older they get, the less pronounced their ability to dream lucidly becomes, until it is hardly or not at all in many adults. To learn lucid dreaming in adulthood, there is currently no general recipe. However, there are a few ways to train your lucid dream skills.

Reality checks can include the display of clocks, for example. Image source

On the one hand, checking the wakefulness can be practiced regularly. This will also "Reality check" called. This includes, for example, pinching the arm (which can be felt in the waking state, but not in a lucid dream), but also the perception of clocks in the environment (these usually don't seem to show the time in lucid dream). In general, the repeated question about the current state of consciousness helps a lot to develop an automatism which then asks about the existence of reality even during a lucid dream.

Many people report that it helps them to initiate a lucid dream to get up early in the morning and then, for example, to relax Back to bed an hour later to lay. This is to make reaching a lucid dream easier.

Even more Mindfulness in one's own life seems to have a positive influence on one's own perception in dreams. In addition to young age and frequent attempts to dream clearly, mindfulness while awake was one of the strong indicators of the controllability of a lucid dream in a 2016 study by Erlacher and Stumbris.

The MILD technology

A well-known method by which lucid dreaming can be initiated and practiced is the MILD technique. This goes back to Stephen LaBerge, an American lucid dream researcher, who scientifically proved the existence of lucid dreams for the first time in his doctoral thesis.

MILD is an acronym and stands for "Mnemonic Induced Lucid Dream", which means "memory-induced lucid dream". It should work best in the early hours of the morning, as the REM phases are particularly long here.

The technique consists of five steps:

  1. Building a dream memory
    Before going to sleep, it is firmly resolved to wake up in dream phases and to remember the last dreams.
  2. Recall your last dream
    If you actually wake up, the last dream should be actively remembered immediately. The best thing to do is to replay the events in front of the inner eye.
  3. Set an intention (autosuggestion)
    This is considered by many to be the critical point of MILD engineering. After the memory, one focuses on the intention of wanting to dive into a lucid dream. It is important not to drift back into other thoughts. A mantra like "The next dream I want to remember to recognize the dream." can help.
  4. Imagine yourself in a lucid dream
    In addition to the autosuggestion described in point 3, one imagines returning to the dream last experienced (and this time consciously perceiving that one is in a dream). LaBerge recommends imagining a dream sign by which one can recognize the dream as such (for example a floating feeling, distorted proportions, blurring in the field of vision or unrealistic life situations). In this way you play through the dream again as a “lucid variant”.
  5. Repetitions
    Now it's time to repeat steps three and four for as long as it feels right before going back to sleep. If it takes a long time to fall asleep, the steps can also be repeated quite often - this should even further increase the likelihood of lucid dreaming. Those who fall asleep again very quickly can make themselves a little more “awake” by taking a short walk through the apartment or writing down their last dream and then use the time gained for steps three and four.

Lucid dreaming is particularly likely in the early hours of the morning (after about 5 hours of sleep).Image source

The MILD technique according to LaBerge is still considered a very successful method for learning lucid dreaming. Successes can often be seen after two to three weeks (however, you should be patient and keep practicing that long). It is best paired with mindfulness exercises and reality checks.

Since an important part of the MILD technique is the memory of the past dream (also called “dream focus”), this ability should best be learned before using the MILD technique. The Dream focus can be increased above all by keeping a dream diary: After waking up, all memories should be called up and written down. This trains the memory and helps to gain more conscious access to one's own dreams.

This is what science says: Effectiveness of the lucid dream

After many scientists, including LaBerge, have dealt with the phenomenon of the lucid dream in recent decades and have collected more and more evidence for its existence, the lucid dream has moved from the esoteric corner to the center of science.

In the meantime, changed activities during the lucid REM phase compared to the more sluggish, normal REM phase have been shown. The simultaneous presence of deep sleep and consciousness could also be shown by measuring the eye movements of sleeping subjects.

One of the leading scientists working on the phenomenon of lucid dream in recent years is Dr. Denholm Aspy. According to himself, he had a lucid dream the night before the subject was fixed for his Ph. D. in Psychology. This inspired him so much that he wanted to deal with it instead of the topic of non-verbal communication that had been planned until then.

Lucid dreams can help with recurring nightmares. Image source

In addition to the entertaining and inspiring value of dreams that can be influenced, scientists have also dealt with the question of how lucid dreams can be made usable for people.

Among other things, it deals with the processing of fears and trauma that show up in nightmares. nightmares can seem less frightening just by the fact that they can be perceived as a dream. At the same time, by influencing the dream event, an argument can also become possible that could not be experienced before. For example, the confrontation with a dream monster can turn out very differently than in an unconscious dream - for example with the friendship with the monster or with the recognition of its harmlessness. This should also make it possible to work with trauma and fears that show up in dreams.

At the same time, there has been constant speculation about whether lucid dreams can be used to learn skills.

Learn motor skills in a dream

To ensure the effectiveness of the Motor skills training to investigate in the context of lucid dreams, Prof. Dr. Daniel Erlacher in his study from 2005 the mental training of movement sequences during a lucid dream versus the physical training of the same movement sequences.

In lucid dreaming, only the movement technique is learned, not the motor skills. Image source

Various tests were carried out as part of the investigations. In these, Erlacher first showed that changes in the body (such as in heart rate) can be observed at the same time as lucid dreams. He also found that the targeted practice of a movement sequence is possible in the lucid dream and also found indications that training in the lucid dream can lead to an improvement in performance.

Prof. Dr. Erlacher also from personal experience. “During my doctorate, I carried out a small individual study for myself in which I wanted to teach myself to dream to juggle. Unfortunately, in the end there wasn't enough lucid dream training, ”explains Prof. Dr. Erlacher in his interview with OpenD.

So there seem to be some possible uses within athletic training, some of which are already being used. For example, it is still possible to train during breaks in injuries (in dreams) or other training breaks can be used particularly effectively (e.g. the necessary recovery days after intensive training or competition days). In such situations, some trainers of high-performance athletes fall back on lucid dreams for support.

Is lucid dreaming associated with risks?

Although hardly any risks and side effects are known to date, experts advise caution when learning lucid dreams on your own. So far, there has been a lack of long-term observations that could rule out undesirable effects.

There are still no estimates of the “side effects” of frequent lucid dreaming. Image source

In addition to previously completely unknown risks, some people fear the possible inadequate recovery from frequent lucid dreaming. By consciously perceiving and controlling dream sequences, the REM phase could no longer be able to process the impressions of everyday life optimally. In a society that is increasingly committed to optimizing activities, skills and people themselves, manipulating sleep could further exacerbate the negative consequences of constant self-optimization. Currently, however, these thoughts can only be described as speculation.

Conclusion - lucid dreams as an opportunity

According to the current state of knowledge, lucid dreams represent an important opportunity to deal with ourselves further and to learn. The lucid dream can be an exciting enrichment for all those who want to use their dreams to realize wishes that are not possible in reality (such as flying over the earth or traveling to foreign places). Lucid dreaming has also proven to be helpful in coping with nightmares and the feelings behind them, as well as in supporting motor learning. In order to rule out any possible excessive demands, it is advisable to take a regular, honest look at your own well-being and to consult a trained doctor - then nothing stands in the way of experimenting with lucid dreams! Anyone who would like to dig deeper into the topic should consider the extensive work on motor learning by Prof. Dr. Daniel Erlacher recommended. The scientific foundations of lucid dreaming are also reworked here.