Sleep Research: How Lucid Dreaming is Possible for Everyone

When I was 19 – long before I thought of pursuing a career as a space writer – I dreamed that I was standing on the surface of Mars, gazing at a rusty, stony desert stuck in an eternal dawn and its desolation. was intrigued. After apparently absorbing everything for hours, I looked up and saw a space station hanging in the sky. I decided to just fly there in Iron Man style throwing boots. Then unfortunately I woke up.

It was no accident that I stumbled upon Mars in my dream. And I knew I had slept the whole time. As part of a lucid dream, also called lucid dreaming, I decided to go to the red planet. I voluntarily decided to bask in alien solitude. I voluntarily decided to fly. And since I was having lucid dreams almost every night at the time, I experienced several variations of this dream – each stranger and better than the last.

Lucid dreaming is not easy to describe and how it works varies from person to person. But in essence, it means that one is aware of the dream state and can take a more active role in the dream. Some of my own lucid dreams have been like canvases on which I have built a new wild environment or gradually composed it.

Other lucid dreams have allowed me to deal with stressful situations, such as giving public speeches. In another dream that I fondly remember, I was playing cards with my grandmother, who had passed away years earlier. This experience helped me understand how I felt for her in a way that I never could have done when I was 13.

Even though it feels like they’re completely random, dreams do have power over people. In addition to allowing us to break away from the sometimes boring physical and social boundaries of the real world, they can help us cope with grief and be more creative. And when I dreamed lucidly – a state that I unfortunately rarely achieve these days – I found that I was sleeping even more. People who share their lucid dreaming experiences on online forums often write that they have been inspired by new musical or fictional works, have found solutions to real-world problems, or have simply found had incredibly entertaining moments.

“You can argue that REM sleep is kind of a neglected human resource,” says Benjamin Baird, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who studies human cognition. “What if we could take advantage of this state where people can actually control their thoughts and actions and decide what to do? This state could not only be used for entertainment, but also for creative problem solving. Lucid dreaming can also be important for learning how memory works – “and for all kinds of others [neurowissenschaftlichen] Questions “.

Baird thinks that another fascinating application of lucid dreaming could be in art. “One of the techniques that visual artists that I have encountered is that in their lucid dreaming, they invent an ‘art gallery’ and look at the paintings that are hung in that gallery,” he says. “Then they wake up and paint what they saw. The same goes for listening to the musicians’ new scores. It’s like someone else is creating them, but it’s your mind.

A small but growing number of scientists led by Baird and other sleep labs around the world are hoping to learn more about lucid dreaming: how does it work? How is it triggered? And, can the average person be trained to practice it regularly? By studying people who can remember what happened to them in their dreams, these researchers aim to find out what cognitive processes are going on in the head while measuring and observing brain activity and physiological processes. For example, how does the brain perceive certain physical objects or processes that only take place in the head? How does he react to visual impressions that are not really there? How does it mimic parts of the state of consciousness without the person being awake?

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Some researchers like Martin Dresler, cognitive neuroscientist at Radboud University in the Netherlands, suggest that lucid dreaming could even be used to fight clinical disorders such as recurrent nightmares or post-traumatic stress disorder. “I think it’s pretty intuitive and plausible that if you realize during a nightmare that it’s not real, that removes a lot of the danger of the nightmare,” he says. You may just be able to practice waking up and ending the dream – or overcoming the very strong feelings of fear and dread by telling yourself it is a dream.

Why are we dreaming? Scientists still don’t know. Freud believed that dreams are our subconscious which shows us our repressed desires. Some evolutionary biologists believe that the dream evolved so that we could play out threatening real-life scenarios and figure out how to respond appropriately. Many neuroscientists who have studied how neurons fire during sleep believe that dreams play a role in how we encode and consolidate memories in the brain. Harvard psychiatrist Allan Hobson believed that in dreaming the brain reconciles the different layers of consciousness it has acquired during the day.

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