A study on lucid dreaming explains how to take control of our dreams. The largest lucid dreaming study to date has identified the best techniques to help people take control of their nighttime dreams. This practice could help people in their daily lives, explains the author of the study.
Lucid dreaming is a fascinating phenomenon in which a person is aware that he is sleeping and dreaming. Those who are more adept at lucid dreaming are able to control the action and content of their dreams to varying degrees. But can we learn to dream lucidly and perfect our technique?
According to a new study that Frontiers in Psychology recently published, the answer is “yes”. Study author Denholm Aspy, currently a visiting scholar at the School of Psychology at the University of Adelaide in Australia, tested the effectiveness of five different techniques for achieving lucid dreams. Dr. Aspy is fascinated by lucid dreaming for many years. To better understand the phenomenon, the researcher launched the largest study known to date on lucid dreaming: the International Study on Induction of Lucid Dreaming (ILDIS).
5 techniques to be lucid during your dreams
For this study, Dr. Aspy worked with a cohort of hundreds of participants across different stages. Initially, he asked 1,618 volunteers to complete a specific questionnaire before the start of the study. A total of 843 participants went on to complete the first week of the study, and 355 participants completed the second week. The final analysis focused on a cohort comprising 190 participants. The volunteers were between 18 and 84 years old. Among the volunteers of the last cohort, 54.9% declared having already used certain techniques for inducing lucid dreams.
During the study, Dr. Aspy tested five different techniques or combinations of techniques for inducing lucid dreams. It is:
1 Reality check
A person must examine their physical surroundings repeatedly every day to remember them in great detail. If it becomes a habit, a person may end up realizing when they are no longer in their daily world and therefore, in a dream, realize that they are dreaming.
2 Wake up and go back to bed
This involves falling asleep, waking up after 5 hours, and then going back to sleep after a short period of wakefulness. The goal is to send a person straight into rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, a phase associated with dreaming. In theory, this should make it easier for a person to achieve lucid dreams.
3 Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD)
This technique also involves waking up after 5 hours of sleep. However, people practicing MILD must confirm their intention to realize that they are dreaming after going back to sleep. They can do this by repeating the following sentence (or a similar sentence): “The next time I dream, I will remember that I dream”.
4 Senses that Initiate Lucid Dreaming (SSILD)
This technique also requires waking up after 5 hours, except that the person then concentrates on the images, sounds and physical sensations. She must focus on these stimuli for 20 seconds each before going back to sleep.
5 A technique combining MILD and SSILD
After 5 hours of sleep, the person must concentrate on different stimuli in their environment, as well as repeat their intention to remember that they are dreaming the next time they fall asleep.
“I chose the techniques that were the most widely studied, that seemed the most promising, and that were relatively easy to learn. I then put them in several different combinations to learn as much as possible about how to get the highest success rate,” the researcher said.
Dr. Aspy found that of all the techniques, MILD and SSILD were the most effective in inducing lucid dream states.
applications of lucid dreaming
Although the mechanisms by which MILD and SSILD facilitate lucid dreaming remain unclear, the researcher notes in the study paper that there are a few likely explanations for the success of SSILD. One possibility, writes the researcher, is that repeated focus on visual, auditory, and other environmental stimuli “causes generally heightened awareness of perceptual stimuli that persist in REM sleep, making it more likely that the practitioner will notice that ‘he’s dreaming “.
Dr. Aspy also argues that lucid dreaming may have useful applications for well-being. This makes it an interesting phenomenon to study and a potentially useful experience to have. “One of the applications of lucid dreaming is that it provides vivid and fulfilling experiences while dreaming. Which is not possible for some people when they are awake. This can be due to difficult medical conditions, but also circumstances like self-isolation or when daily routines are disrupted and emotional stressors are high.”
The researcher also observes that some people may find it easier than others to lucid dream. Often, he explains, these are the people who have less trouble remembering what they dreamed of during the night. The ability to enter lucid dreaming, Dr. Aspy said, “is due to many different factors, which we are still figuring out. Factors that influence dream recall include how much time you spend sleeping, how much time and energy you spend trying to recall your dreams (this can be improved with practice), and your food “.