Lucid dreaming: Now, you're in control

Alright, so now I am at the top of the building. What do I want to do next? I think I want to jump off to land safely on a trampoline. And, the next thing I know, I’m doing just that.

Then, all of a sudden the dream stops and I wake up and think Wow that was cool, I got to control my own dream. This is called lucid dreaming, and for many it happens fairly often during their slumber.

Lucid dreaming has been around for thousands of years and some of the first reports of it is from Aristotle, but it has been researched a lot more in the the 1960’s and recent films and spotlight in the television have allowed this topic to spiral into the minds of many Americans.

“Centuries ago-Aristotle wrote about it, A lot of research and debate in the 1960s and 70s, lot of interest was again focused on the topic after the movie Inception,” AP Psychology teacher Rebecca Whitney said.

Trying to lucid dream is different for everyone. There are many different techniques, but more practice can advance any sleeper to be able to lucid dream. It all has to deal with one’s brain and how easily it is to train it to be able to lucid dream.

“There are some people who seem to be more prone to lucid dreaming without trying, though many will experience one in their lifetime. Being focused and meditating before sleep is an often-cited quality to lucid dreams. The part of the brain called the lateral prefrontal cortex, which deals with logic, may become activated during REM sleep,” Whitney said.

Photo illustration by Alissa Green

There are many different techniques of lucid dreaming, but the most popular technique is the wake back to bed method. This technique involves the person falling to sleep for a couple of hours, waking up for a short amount of time and then falling back to sleep. This process happens during a stage of deep sleep and by following this sleeping pattern the person is able to control their dreams.

“I used something called the wake back to bed method. You wake up in the middle of the night after about four hours of sleep and then you stay up for about 20 minutes and go back to sleep. Lucid dreaming doesn't always happen to me. It only happens once a week,” a lucid dreamer and freshman Jonathan Green said.

For most people, their first lucid dream is one that they remember. They can come in various settings and some remember them the next morning once they wake up from their sleep.

“I started lucid dreaming a few months ago. These dreams are all different in character and only happen on occasion, but they’re usually really vivid so I remember most of them,” Green said. “All of my lucid dreams are very vivid and memorable. The first lucid dream I had was very interesting. I realized I was dreaming, but I didn’t start controlling anything because I wasn’t completely sure what was going on. Then I woke up and checked to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, and I wasn’t.”

Lucid dreaming can take place in any place or any time. It is all up to the person who is dreaming to control what they actually want to dream about. Lucid dreaming can also be used as a way for a person to slowly stop having nightmares and people of any age can learn to lucid dream.

“People actually commonly use lucid dreaming to learn how to stop or redirect nightmares. It appears as though people of any age claim to be able to experience lucid dreams,” Whitney said.

As of now, there are not any effects on a person who occasionally lucid dreams, but in rare chances sleep apnea can occur.

“I am not aware of any, but I am neither a professional psychologist or a lucid dreamer myself,” Whitney said.


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