During most of our dreams, we are "asleep" within the dream and not aware of the fact that we are dreaming.
A lucid dream is a dream in which we are aware that we are dreaming. This awareness allows us to experience what is known as a lucid dream, an alternative state of consciousness. In this situation, we can choose whether to initiate awakening, actively influence the dream or passively observe it.
During most of our dreams, we are not aware that we are dreaming. This is the most common unconscious state, but not the only possibility. When we wake up within a dream, we recognize that we are in a state of dream sleep. During a lucid dream we are aware of the fact that our body is currently sleeping. Some call this state a hybrid state, in which we are both asleep and awake at the same time.
Has lucid dreaming been scientifically proven?
In the mid-1970s, two scientists, Keith Hearne and Stephen LaBerge demonstrated the phenomenon of lucid dreaming in a sleep laboratory. They connected lucid dreamers to an EEG and asked them to indicate with their eyes when they had entered lucid dreaming state. Previous studies had demonstrated that the eyes, which move at random during REM sleep, “look” in the same direction the dreamer does within the dream. That is to say, the dreamer has control over eye movement during the dream. In this experiment, the lucid dreamers were told to move their eyes to the right and to the left a certain number of times determined in advance, as soon as they recognized that they were experiencing a dream. Beyond proving the existence of the lucid dream, the experiment became the first time a sleeping person consciously communicated with a waking person from within a dream!
How common is lucid dreaming?
Although the phenomenon is not well known to the public, estimates are that 50% of the population has experienced a lucid dream at least once in their lives. About 20% experience lucid dreams regularly, meaning at least once a month.
When do people start experiencing lucid dreams?
The age at which people begin to experience lucid dreaming is not clear-cut, but pioneer lucid dreamers report experiencing a lucid dream as early as the age of 5. The first spontaneous lucid dream that people remember usually occurs at the age of 12-14, and the trigger for lucidity is, in most cases, experiencing a nightmare. This can indicate that this is a natural phenomenon that occurs in the developing brain and usually disappears with puberty. However, lucid dreaming is an ability that can be acquired in adulthood with the help of various methods and techniques.
What do lucid dreamers do in their dreams?
A 2008 study found that 81% of lucid dreamers choose to have fun in their dreams. 64% choose to transform nightmares or bad dreams into pleasant experiences. 30% use the lucid dream to solve problems creatively. Lucid dreamers are often active in changing the content and plot of their dreams and also plan what they will do in their dreams while they are awake. Flying, talking to dream characters and having sex are the most common activities. Beyond being fun, lucid dreams have great potential to create change and healing in our lives and according to Eastern traditions lead to spiritual development.