Can you act consciously in your dreams

Lucid dreaming Night shift in the dream factory

All just dreamed? Some dreams feel so real that they seem real to us. Sleep researchers hope to be able to help people with nightmares through so-called lucid dreaming: because whoever knows that they are dreaming can determine the rules.

Learn to fly. George Clooney dates. Ride a unicorn across rainbows. Speak japanese. Or live out the most secret of our sex fantasies. Everything is possible in a dream. But who can determine what he dreams and experiences in the dream?

“Dreams usually take us to a parallel world that is heavily influenced by emotions,” writes sleep researcher Ursula Voss. Sometimes this world is shaped by pleasant feelings and images in sleep, sometimes it seems terrible to us and we wake up bathed in sweat.

And very often the world is simply confused and confused. What happens when is usually beyond our control, or so we thought. The researcher Voss is therefore investigating the exception: that lucid dreams or lucid dreams that have fascinated us since Nolan's masterpiece “Inception” at the latest.

Lucid dreams are dreams in which we are aware that we are dreaming. Because here a form of I-consciousness shows itself in the dream, we can Influence dream events. A test person from the Voss study on “Conditions of lucid dream” tells how she became aware that she was dreaming and suddenly was able to change the entire scene.

"When I saw the beautiful landscape blur, I thought: This is my dream, it should stay!" It stayed and she even got a horse because she wanted to gallop through the landscape. The horse would have looked "rather fake", but she felt herself riding the horse and lying on the bed at the same time.

Conquering nightmares through lucid dreaming

Sounds esoteric. But lucid dreaming really does exist. Sleep researcher Voss is convinced: Lucid dreaming opens the gate to an intermediate world in which we theoretically have unlimited possibilities while sleeping. Practical, but it rarely happens, which is why she investigates how lucid dreams can be artificially brought about and more often stop with practice. It is important to differentiate strictly from intense daydreams or hallucinations while falling asleep and waking up.

Lucid dreaming is even a real bearer of hope for science. Because lucid dreaming allows one to influence the dream events in a self-determined manner, lucid dreaming is already used to treat chronic nightmares. Furthermore, it is investigated whether lucid dreaming can also be used to treat schizophrenia.

As far as we know today, schizophrenic patients are in a pathological state that resembles dreaming. Their consciousness and their voluntary action are - similar to a normal dream - restricted. If one were to find out how a person gains awareness and influence on what is happening in lucid dreaming, one could perhaps also use this ability in schizophrenia therapy and thus give those affected again power over their thoughts and actions.

Researchers also suspect that lucid dreaming can also be used specifically to learn new skills, e.g. learning a language or sport. The possibilities that lucid dreaming open up are enormous.

Dream driver: travel through your own imagination in a lucid dream

The hobby-like lucid dreamer also knows about this variety, but has one reason to enjoy it lucid dreams found: Where else can you ride unicorns, learn to fly or do something else that you would never have dared to dream of. Clarifying dreamers report an intoxicating state that equates to an expansion of consciousness - albeit of the legal kind.

Researchers and physicians also know this fun factor of lucid dreams and confirm that lucid dreaming is completely free of side effects. Except for the lingering euphoria most people report.

So what are we waiting for? Let's saddle up the unicorns and take off. In fact one should lucid dreaming learn and train.

However, the researchers do not give too much hope that it will become an everyday pleasure. Lucid dreaming is a rare phenomenon even with experienced lucid dreamers. Voss says that experienced lucid dreamers experience a conscious dream state about once a week.

Most of us don't even have sex that often! So rather a rare, good one than no pleasure at all. While there are all kinds of instructions in forums and reports on how to get into lucid dreaming, science does not support all of these methods.

The field of lucid dreaming is simply too unexplored to be able to give concrete tips for learning. In this respect, nothing speaks against trying out the various, absolutely harmless methods to catapult yourself into the realm of a lucid dream and experience a lucid dream. Here we go:

Travel guide: learning lucid dreaming

+ Keeping a dream diary: Around lucid dreaming To learn, it should help to become more aware of your dreams by keeping a dream diary. You take a moment to do this immediately after waking up. Actively remember what you dreamed and immediately write it down in a diary. Tip: The memory of a dream often disappears quickly. If notes take too long for you, you can put a dictation machine next to the bed and speak your dreams on it. It is important to do this immediately after waking up, because then the dream is most present.

+ to ask: Am I dreaming? Or am I awake? Keep asking yourself this question. Preferably several times a day. Even if you are sure that you are not dreaming. The aim of the exercise is to ritualize this question so that one day this question will also appear in your dreams. If you then realize that you are dreaming, you are in a lucid dream.

+ Reality check: Do you find yourself in a situation that you are not sure whether it is real or dreamed - do the reality check. For example, you can cover your nose. If you can still breathe, you are in a lucid dream. This reality check can also be used as ritualization. So do the reality check during the day when you are fully conscious.

+ Prepare to dream lucid: In order to dream clearly, it should help to imagine a concrete dream backdrop before going to sleep. For example, you can imagine that you are in your grandparents' garden. Visualize this backdrop and keep asking yourself whether you are dreaming or awake.

+ Recognize signs: If there are objects, people or situations that keep cropping up in your dreams, you should also be aware of them during the day. Often things are unreal, such as the melting dial of a clock or a tree with blue leaves. If these objects pop up in your head, you could find yourself in a lucid dream. The reality check now helps.

Cover picture: Sky_melody / iStock

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