We spend a third of our lives asleep, so it’s safe to say that dreams make up a large portion of our lives. Dreaming, however, is different for everyone. Some people are plagued by nightmares, some don’t remember their dreams at all, and a small number are even able to control their dreams.
Those who experience the latter experience what are referred to as lucid dreams. This happens when a person is aware that they are dreaming and, therefore, is able to control what they dream about. A popular German study found that 51% of people have a lucid dream at least once in their lives.
The ability to control dreams is something which could benefit people in a number of ways. To begin with, it has the ability to boost their mood, and, in certain instances, help them to overcome traumatic experiences if the lucid dream is conducted in a clinical setting.
Plus, let’s all be honest with ourselves, we’d all rather dream about our celebrity crush than find ourselves trapped in a dream reminiscent of that horror movie we definitely shouldn’t have watched before falling asleep. Being able to lucid dream at will opens up a world of possibilities.
Well, in theory, it opens up an entirely new world…
On that note, a technique to induce lucid dreams has just been independently verified for the first time!
What’s more is that this technique has the potential to be even more effective when combined with others, so the possibility of being able to have a truly amazing night’s sleep could be within the grasp of us all in the future as it does not require external intervention.
This potentially life-changing technique, or should I say combination of techniques, are known as the mnemonic induction of lucid dreams (MILD) and reality testing.
Reality testing requires people to regularly check whether or not they are awake, and MILD is initiated by setting an alarm every five hours. Once this alarm has gone off, a person must say, “The next time I am dreaming, I will remember that I’m dreaming”.
After this, the person using the MILD control has to go back to sleep, and, as crazy as the technique sounds, it yielded incredible results when it was combined with reality resting on a group of 169 people.
In the not so distant past, lucid dreams were thought to be a myth, but science has now confirmed that they do, in fact, exist.
Dr. Denholm Aspy of the University of Adelaide decided to investigate the possibility of combining techniques to induce lucid dreams because of the potential benefits which they have.
He discovered that while reality testing had no effect on a person’s ability to lucid dream on its own when it was combined with MILD, 56% of the participants in his study experienced a lucid dream with 17% having one each night.
Dr. Aspy said that because reality testing was relatively ineffective on its own, the benefits might be entirely attributed to MILD.
While lucid dreams might sound like a – pardon the cliché – dream come true, they do have a downside, and, before you decide to try out reality testing and MILD for yourself, you might want to learn a bit about sleep paralysis…
Sleep paralysis is a terrifying phenomenon which happens when a person finds themselves trapped between being awake and asleep, and, as a result, is unable to move their body. This can result in chest pain, a choking sensation, and even hallucinations.
Thankfully, however, if you decide that you want to experience a lucid dream, there are ways to avoid sleep paralysis. This includes ensuring that you don’t eat too much before going to sleep and ensuring that you fall asleep at roughly the same time each night.
It’s also worth noting that while sleep paralysis is a scary phenomenon, it’s completely harmless.
To be honest, if I get to dream about Orlando Bloom every night for the rest of my life, sleep paralysis is a risk I’m willing to take!