Although lucid dreaming is not among my professional interests, I find this phenomenon fascinating.
Learning about lucid dreaming (awareness that you're sleeping) can help with tackling nightmares
Lucid dreaming is the state of awareness that you are dreaming whilst you are sleeping. (read more) In controlled lucid dreams, with practice, you can go wherever you want, do anything you want, and meet with anybody you want! To some this may sound unrealistic, but there is emerging research to back this phenomenon.
Mentioned in the texts of Aristotle, lucid dreaming has been known since ancient times. However, modern lucid dreaming research was only established by LaBerge in 1980. (read more)
Many of us experience this state at some point. Perhaps you remember such dreams from your childhood, when you were flying and at the same time you knew that you were asleep? Children tend to have more lucid dreams than adults, and there might be a link between the natural occurrence of lucid dreaming and brain maturation. (read more)
Adults can learn how to see lucid dreams again. LaBerge documented techniques for lucid dreaming, such as keeping a dream journal, using reality checks (regularly asking yourself 'Am I dreaming?' during the day) and concentrating on the idea of lucid dreaming before going to sleep. Some other tricks without science backing are promoted around the Internet, so be careful with the sources you use.
Yet another wearable? Lucid dreaming 'eyeglasses' are now available to the consumer, which generally work by measuring rapid eye movements and once the user is in a dream state, sending sound or light stimuli to remind the user that s/he is in fact asleep.
Is it safe? You wouldn't be alone if you were worried about potential negative psychological or physical effects of lucid dreaming. Indeed, although there is currently a general agreement amongst researchers that training in dream lucidity is safe and even beneficial for healthy people, sufferers of psychosis may experience stronger deliria and hallucinations, as lucid dreaming can give internal reality the appearance of external reality.
Starting to sound like Inception? Read up on the science before trying this at home!
by Anna Firsova
Abstract: Abstract The distinction between phenomenal and access consciousness is central to debates about consciousness and its neural correlates. However, this distinction has often been limited to the domain of perceptual (visual) experiences. On the basis of dream phenomenology and neuroscientific findings this paper suggests a theoretical framework which extends this distinction to dreaming, also in terms of plausible neural correlates. In this framework, phenomenal consciousness is involved in both waking perception and dreaming, whereas access consciousness is weakened, but not fully eliminated, during dreaming. However, access consciousness is more active during lucid dreaming. The proposed framework accounts for different aspects of dream phenomenology, including levels of integration of perceptual, cognitive and affective features in dreams, bizarreness, dream amnesia and the occurrence of meta-awareness and accessibility in lucid dreaming. Self-related experiences and their neural substrates are suggested to be differently involved in waking cognition and dreaming. Further, phenomenal consciousness during both waking and dream experiences involve widespread recurrent interactions and convergence-divergence zones in the thalamo-cortico-limbic system, activated before conscious access in global workspace areas. Finally, we discuss the relationships of the proposed framework with other neurocognitive theories and models of consciousness and major theories of dreaming, and propose novel experimental predictions.AbstractThe distinction between phenomenal and access consciousness is central to debates about consciousness and its neural correlates. However, this distinction has often been limited to the domain of perceptual (visual) experiences. On the basis of dream phenomenology and neuroscientific findings this paper suggests a theoretical framework which extends this distinction to dreaming, also in terms of plausible neural correlates. In this framework, phenomenal consciousness is involved in both waking perception and dreaming, whereas access consciousness is weakened, but not fully eliminated, during dreaming. However, access consciousness is more active during lucid dreaming. The proposed framework accounts for different aspects of dream phenomenology, including levels of integration of perceptual, cognitive and affective features in dreams, bizarreness, dream amnesia and the occurrence of meta-awareness and accessibility in lucid dreaming. Self-related experiences and their neural substrates are suggested to be differently involved in waking cognition and dreaming. Further, phenomenal consciousness during both waking and dream experiences involve widespread recurrent interactions and convergence-divergence zones in the thalamo-cortico-limbic system, activated before conscious access in global workspace areas. Finally, we discuss the relationships of the proposed framework with other neurocognitive theories and models of consciousness and major theories of dreaming, and propose novel experimental predictions.
Pub.: 02 Nov '16, Pinned: 22 Apr '17
Abstract: Nightmares are a frequent symptom in narcolepsy. Lucid dreaming, i.e., the phenomenon of becoming aware of the dreaming state during dreaming, has been demonstrated to be of therapeutic value for recurrent nightmares. Data on lucid dreaming in narcolepsy patients, however, is sparse. The aim of this study was to evaluate the frequency of recalled dreams (DF), nightmares (NF), and lucid dreams (LDF) in narcolepsy patients compared to healthy controls. In addition, we explored if dream lucidity provides relief during nightmares in narcolepsy patients.We interviewed patients with narcolepsy and healthy controls.Telephone interview.60 patients diagnosed with narcolepsy (23-82 years, 35 females) and 919 control subjects (14-93 years, 497 females).N/A.Logistic regression revealed significant (P < 0.001) differences in DF, NF, and LDF between narcolepsy patients and controls after controlling for age and gender, with effect sizes lying in the large range (Cohen's d > 0.8). The differences in NF and LDF between patients and controls stayed significant after controlling for DF. Comparison of 35 narcolepsy patients currently under medication with their former drug-free period revealed significant differences in DF and NF (z < 0.05, signed-rank test) but not LDF (z = 0.8). Irrespective of medication, 70% of narcolepsy patients with experience in lucid dreaming indicated that dream lucidity provides relief during nightmares.Narcolepsy patients experience a markedly higher lucid dreaming frequency compared to controls, and many patients report a positive impact of dream lucidity on the distress experienced from nightmares.
Pub.: 18 Oct '14, Pinned: 20 Apr '17
Abstract: In this article, we present results from an interdisciplinary research project aimed at assessing consciousness in dreams. For this purpose, we compared lucid dreams with normal non-lucid dreams from REM sleep. Both lucid and non-lucid dreams are an important contrast condition for theories of waking consciousness, giving valuable insights into the structure of conscious experience and its neural correlates during sleep. However, the precise differences between lucid and non-lucid dreams remain poorly understood. The construction of the Lucidity and Consciousness in Dreams scale (LuCiD) was based on theoretical considerations and empirical observations. Exploratory factor analysis of the data from the first survey identified eight factors that were validated in a second survey using confirmatory factor analysis: INSIGHT, CONTROL, THOUGHT, REALISM, MEMORY, DISSOCIATION, NEGATIVE EMOTION, and POSITIVE EMOTION. While all factors are involved in dream consciousness, realism and negative emotion do not differentiate between lucid and non-lucid dreams, suggesting that lucid insight is separable from both bizarreness in dreams and a change in the subjectively experienced realism of the dream.
Pub.: 12 Dec '12, Pinned: 20 Apr '17
Abstract: The relationship between time in dreams and real time has intrigued scientists for centuries. The question if actions in dreams take the same time as in wakefulness can be tested by using lucid dreams where the dreamer is able to mark time intervals with prearranged eye movements that can be objectively identified in EOG recordings. Previous research showed an equivalence of time for counting in lucid dreams and in wakefulness (LaBerge, 1985; Erlacher and Schredl, 2004), but Erlacher and Schredl (2004) found that performing squats required about 40% more time in lucid dreams than in the waking state. To find out if the task modality, the task length, or the task complexity results in prolonged times in lucid dreams, an experiment with three different conditions was conducted. In the first condition, five proficient lucid dreamers spent one to three non-consecutive nights in the sleep laboratory. Participants counted to 10, 20, and 30 in wakefulness and in their lucid dreams. Lucidity and task intervals were time stamped with left-right-left-right eye movements. The same procedure was used for the second condition where eight lucid dreamers had to walk 10, 20, or 30 steps. In the third condition, eight lucid dreamers performed a gymnastics routine, which in the waking state lasted the same time as walking 10 steps. Again, we found that performing a motor task in a lucid dream requires more time than in wakefulness. Longer durations in the dream state were present for all three tasks, but significant differences were found only for the tasks with motor activity (walking and gymnastics). However, no difference was found for relative times (no disproportional time effects) and a more complex motor task did not result in more prolonged times. Longer durations in lucid dreams might be related to the lack of muscular feedback or slower neural processing during REM sleep. Future studies should explore factors that might be associated with prolonged durations.
Pub.: 30 Jan '14, Pinned: 20 Apr '17
Abstract: Cognitive, affective, and behavioural disturbances are commonly reported following thalamic strokes. Conversely, sleep disorders are rarely reported in this context.Herein, we report the cases of two young patients admitted for an ischemic stroke located in the territories of the left pre-mammillary and paramedian arteries. Together with aphasia, memory complaint, impaired attention and executive functions, they reported lucid dreams with catastrophic content or conflicting situations.Lucid dreams are an atypical presentation in thalamic strokes. These cases enlarge the clinical spectrum of sleep-wake disturbances potentially observed after an acute cerebrovascular event.
Pub.: 24 Oct '15, Pinned: 20 Apr '17
Abstract: Lucid dreaming is a state of awareness that one is dreaming, without leaving the sleep state. Dream reports show that self-reflection and volitional control are more pronounced in lucid compared with nonlucid dreams. Mostly on these grounds, lucid dreaming has been associated with metacognition. However, the link to lucid dreaming at the neural level has not yet been explored. We sought for relationships between the neural correlates of lucid dreaming and thought monitoring. Human participants completed a questionnaire assessing lucid dreaming ability, and underwent structural and functional MRI. We split participants based on their reported dream lucidity. Participants in the high-lucidity group showed greater gray matter volume in the frontopolar cortex (BA9/10) compared with those in the low-lucidity group. Further, differences in brain structure were mirrored by differences in brain function. The BA9/10 regions identified through structural analyses showed increases in blood oxygen level-dependent signal during thought monitoring in both groups, and more strongly in the high-lucidity group. Our results reveal shared neural systems between lucid dreaming and metacognitive function, in particular in the domain of thought monitoring. This finding contributes to our understanding of the mechanisms enabling higher-order consciousness in dreams.
Pub.: 23 Jan '15, Pinned: 20 Apr '17
Abstract: The contrast between self- and other-produced tickles, as a special case of sensory attenuation for self-produced actions, has long been a target of empirical research. While in standard wake states it is nearly impossible to tickle oneself, there are interesting exceptions. Notably, participants awakened from REM (rapid eye movement-) sleep dreams are able to tickle themselves. So far, however, the question of whether it is possible to tickle oneself and be tickled by another in the dream state has not been investigated empirically or addressed from a theoretical perspective. Here, we report the results of an explorative web-based study in which participants were asked to rate their sensations during self-tickling and being tickled during wakefulness, imagination, and lucid dreaming. Our results, though highly preliminary, indicate that in the special case of lucid control dreams, the difference between self-tickling and being tickled by another is obliterated, with both self- and other produced tickles receiving similar ratings as self-tickling during wakefulness. This leads us to the speculative conclusion that in lucid control dreams, sensory attenuation for self-produced tickles spreads to those produced by non-self dream characters. These preliminary results provide the backdrop for a more general theoretical and metatheoretical discussion of tickling in lucid dreams in a predictive processing framework. We argue that the primary value of our study lies not so much in our results, which are subject to important limitations, but rather in the fact that they enable a new theoretical perspective on the relationship between sensory attenuation, the self-other distinction and agency, as well as suggest new questions for future research. In particular, the example of tickling during lucid dreaming raises the question of whether sensory attenuation and the self-other distinction can be simulated largely independently of external sensory input.
Pub.: 04 Oct '14, Pinned: 20 Apr '17
Abstract: The current study focused on the distribution of lucid dreams in school children and young adults. The survey was conducted on a large sample of students aged 6-19 years. Questions distinguished between past and current experience with lucid dreams. Results suggest that lucid dreaming is quite pronounced in young children, its incidence rate drops at about age 16 years. Increased lucidity was found in those attending higher level compared with lower level schools. Taking methodological issues into account, we feel confident to propose a link between the natural occurrence of lucid dreaming and brain maturation.
Pub.: 30 May '12, Pinned: 20 Apr '17
Abstract: The aim of the present exploratory clinical study was to evaluate LD as an add-on therapy for treating nightmares.Thirty-two subjects having nightmares (ICD-10: F51.5) at least twice a week participated. Subjects were randomly assigned to group: A) Gestalt therapy group (= GTG), or B) Gestalt and lucid dreaming group therapy (= LDG). Each group lasted ten weeks. Participants kept a sleep/dream diary over the treatment. Examinations with respect to nightmare frequency and sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) were carried out at the beginning, after five and ten weeks and at a follow-up three months later.Concerning nightmare frequency, a significant reduction was found in both groups after the ten-week-study and at the follow-up (Wilcoxon test: P ≤ 0.05). Significant reduction in dream recall frequency could only be observed in the GTG (Wilcoxon test: P ≤ 0.05). For subjects having succeeded in learning lucid dreaming, reduction was sooner and higher. Sleep quality improved for both groups at the follow-up (P ≤ 0.05, Wilcoxon test). Only the LDG showed significant improvement at the end of therapy (P ≤ 0.05).Lucid dreaming, in combination with Gestalt therapy, is a potent technique to reduce nightmare frequency and improve the subjective quality of sleep.
Pub.: 03 Feb '15, Pinned: 20 Apr '17
Abstract: Dreaming and psychosis share important features, such as intrinsic sense perceptions independent of external stimulation, and a general lack of criticism that is associated with reduced frontal cerebral activity. Awareness of dreaming while a dream is happening defines lucid dreaming (LD), a state in which the prefrontal cortex is more active than during regular dreaming. For this reason, LD has been proposed to be potentially therapeutic for psychotic patients. According to this view, psychotic patients would be expected to report LD less frequently, and with lower control ability, than healthy subjects. Furthermore, psychotic patients able to experience LD should present milder psychiatric symptoms, in comparison with psychotic patients unable to experience LD. To test these hypotheses, we investigated LD features (occurrence, control abilities, frequency, and affective valence) and psychiatric symptoms (measure by PANSS, BPRS, and automated speech analysis) in 45 subjects with psychotic symptoms [25 with Schizophrenia (S) and 20 with Bipolar Disorder (B) diagnosis] versus 28 non-psychotic control (C) subjects. Psychotic lucid dreamers reported control of their dreams more frequently (67% of S and 73% of B) than non-psychotic lucid dreamers (only 23% of C; S > C with p = 0.0283, B > C with p = 0.0150). Importantly, there was no clinical advantage for lucid dreamers among psychotic patients, even for the diagnostic question specifically related to lack of judgment and insight. Despite some limitations (e.g., transversal design, large variation of medications), these preliminary results support the notion that LD is associated with psychosis, but falsify the hypotheses that we set out to test. A possible explanation is that psychosis enhances the experience of internal reality in detriment of external reality, and therefore lucid dreamers with psychotic symptoms would be more able to control their internal reality than non-psychotic lucid dreamers. Training dream lucidity is likely to produce safe psychological strengthening in a non-psychotic population, but in a psychotic population LD practice may further empower deliria and hallucinations, giving internal reality the appearance of external reality.
Pub.: 26 Mar '16, Pinned: 20 Apr '17
Abstract: Although the concept of ‘lucid dreaming’ was first coined by Frederik Willems van Eeden, a Dutch psychiatrist, and introduced at the meeting of The Society for Psychical Research held on 22 April 1913, the phenomenon of lucid dreaming was already known in earlier historical periods and its descriptions can be found in writings of Aristotle. However, modern lucid dreaming research was established only after LaBerge introduced his method for physiological investigation of lucid dreaming through eye signals in 1980. Current attempts in the field are directed at defining the neuro‐physiological correlates of lucid dreaming, an aim that still has yet to be achieved. One of the possible applications of lucid dreaming is in the field of psychotherapy where it is usually used in treating nightmares. However, other possible therapeutic potentials of lucid dreaming are still in the process of being discovered and therefore constitute a fertile area for future researchers. Copyright © 2009 British Society of Experimental & Clinical Hypnosis. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Pub.: 25 Nov '09, Pinned: 20 Apr '17
Abstract: Sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming are both dissociated experiences related to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Anecdotal evidence suggests that episodes of sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming are related but different experiences. In this study we test this claim systematically for the first time in an online survey with 1928 participants (age range: 18–82 years; 53% female). Confirming anecdotal evidence, sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming frequency were related positively and this association was most apparent between lucid dreaming and sleep paralysis episodes featuring vestibular-motor hallucinations. Dissociative experiences were the only common (positive) predictor of both sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming. Both experiences showed different associations with other key variables of interest: sleep paralysis was predicted by sleep quality, anxiety and life stress, whereas lucid dreaming was predicted by a positive constructive daydreaming style and vividness of sensory imagery. Overall, results suggest that dissociative experiences during wakefulness are reflected in dissociative experiences during REM sleep; while sleep paralysis is related primarily to issues of sleep quality and wellbeing, lucid dreaming may reflect a continuation of greater imaginative capacity and positive imagery in waking states.
Pub.: 27 Jul '16, Pinned: 20 Apr '17
Abstract: Lucid dreaming (LD) is a state of consciousness in which the dreamer is aware that he or she is dreaming and can possibly control the content of his or her dream. To investigate the LD prevalence among different samples, researchers have used different types of methodologies. With regard to retrospective self-report questionnaire, two ways of proceeding seem to emerge. In one case, a definition of LD is given to participants ("During LD, one is-while dreaming-aware of the fact that one is dreaming. It is possible to deliberately wake up, to control the dream action, or to observe passively the course of the dream with this awareness"), while in the other instances, participants are presented separate questions targeting specific LD indicators (dream awareness and dream control). In the present study, we measured LD frequency in a sample of French student in order to investigate for possible disparities in LD frequency depending on the type of questionnaire as outlined above. Moreover, we also study links between the prevalence of LD as assessed, respectively, by each questionnaire with various factors such as Vividness of Mental Imagery and Parasomnia. Results revealed no significant difference between LD frequencies across questionnaires. For the questionnaire with definition (DefQuest), 81.05% of participants reported experience of LD once or more. Concerning the questionnaire based on LD indicators (AwarContQuest), 73.38% of participants reported having experienced LD once or more. However, with regard to the correlations analysis, links between LD prevalence and factors such as Vividness of Mental Imagery and Parasomnia, varied across questionnaires. This result is an argument suggesting that researchers should be careful when investigating links between LD and other factors. The type of methodology may influence findings on LD research. Further studies are needed to investigate on the methodology effect in LD research namely on the respective weight of awareness and control.
Pub.: 15 Sep '16, Pinned: 20 Apr '17
Abstract: Lucid dreaming (LD) is a distinct behavioral state characterized by an awareness of dreaming while a dream occurs and, at times, an ability to, during dreaming, control dream events and/or purposefully awaken from a dream. LD and its potential role as a mechanism of action of Imagery Rehearsal therapy (IR) were investigated in military veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder and recurrent nightmares. This study reports on the nature of LD constructs in 33 treatment-seeking Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans participating in a larger clinical trial of 6 sessions of 1 of 2 therapies: components of Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (cCBT-I) or IR + cCBT-I. Participants completed questionnaires regarding sleep and nightmares, other PTSD symptoms, and LD before and after treatment. Before treatment, veterans demonstrated a LD profile characterized by high dream awareness and low dream content control. After IR + cCBT-I treatment, control of dream content, but not lucid awareness, increased more than after cCBT-I treatment (ES = .68). This increase in dream content control was related to a reduction in nightmare distress. An increase in 1 component of LD, namely control of dream content, appears to contribute to therapeutic change with IR for recurrent posttraumatic nightmares. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Pub.: 12 Sep '16, Pinned: 20 Apr '17