Everyone dreams during sleep. Some people remember their dreams and others may deny they dream at all. Dreaming is a normal part of sleep, but their significance has fascinated generations and continues to enchant young and old alike.
During lucid dreaming the dreamer is aware that he or she is dreaming. They may be so involved in the dream that it is only when something strange or striking happens they realise that they are dreaming. This may happen abruptly, accompanied by a feeling of distortion and excitement.
In lucid dreams the dreamer has control and power. They are involved in their dream and able to direct events. The dilemma seems to be whether the dreamer is really in control of the dream. Psychologists have developed a number of tests in an attempt to find out whether the dreamer is really aware, or just dreaming. Dreamers may be asked to read, press switches or bang their head as these actions are rarely performed in dreams.
There is no evidence to suggest that lucid dreaming is harmful and some psychologists suggest that it creates better self understanding. People who practice how to have lucid dreams try to create a situation where they can control the activity and sensations in their dreams. Some people experience very vivid lucid dreams and lucid dreamers attempt to maintain the dream state by coming in and out of full consciousness. Various techniques are used to help create conditions that help maintain lucidity. One technique is to wake during the later hours of sleep when REM sleep is strongest, and then try to fall asleep again and go into the dream experience.
This is similar to lucid dreaming but with less control. This is when the dreamer believes they are awake and performing functions such as going to work or performing normal daily actions. They may find it distressing to wake and find that ‘reality’ was really a dream and they are still in bed.
Researches have worked with lucid dreamers to investigate the content of dreams and the dreamer’s level of control. A number of ways are used to develop lucid dreaming including meditation, hypnotism and dream workshops.
As the interest in dreams and of sleep increases, it is likely that more people will become involved in investigating the world of dreams.
Non Lucid Dreams
Most dreaming happens during REM sleep. During REM sleep brain activity, adrenaline levels, pulse rate and breathing are similar to being awake. The mind is active but the muscles deeply relaxed. Deprived of REM sleep it is difficult to learn and Concentrate The Next Day. Researchers believe that this relates to a ‘need to dream’. Deprived of REM sleep the body tries to catch up with the loss and increases REM sleep on subsequent nights.
During REM sleep, eye movements may be reactions to the activity in the dream. It is also suggested that outside events such as loud noise can be integrated into a dream closing the gap between being unconscious and full consciousness. There are also other reactions in the REM state which suggest the mind’s ability to react to emotions in dreams.
REM sleep is like a bridge between waking and sleeping. It is difficult to differentiate between dream images and imagining for some people. Accessing the subconscious takes us into areas of creativity and self understanding that can enhance our waking life and make sleep more interesting.
Assessing Your Sleep
Think you’re getting a good night’s sleep? Find out how to Assess Your Sleep Quality in our article on this site.