Lucid DreamingDreams are the playground of the mind.
Anything can happen when one isdreaming. The only limitation is that we only rarely realize the freedomsgranted to us in our dreams while we have them. Lucid dreaming is the ability toknow when one is dreaming, and be able to influence what will be dreamt. Anormal dream is much like passively watching a movie take place in your skull. In a lucid dream, the dreamer is the writer, director, and star of the movie. Lucid dreams are exceptionally interesting.
Lucid dreaming is defined as dreaming when the dreamer knows that they aredreaming. The term was coined during the 1910s by Frederik van Eeden who usedthe word “lucid” in the sense of mental clarity (Green, 1968). Lucidity usuallybegins in the midst of a dream, when the dreamer realizes that the experience isnot occurring in physical reality, but is a dream. Often this realization istriggered by the dreamer noticing some impossible or unlikely occurrence in thedream, such as meeting a person who is dead, or flying with or without wings. Sometimes people become lucid without noticing any particular clue in the dream;they just suddenly realize that they are in a dream. A minority of lucid dreams(about 10 percent) are the result of returning to REM sleep directly from anawakening with unbroken reflective consciousness (LaBerge, 1985).
These types oflucid dreams occur most often during daytime napping. If the napper has been REMdeprived from a previous night of little sleep their chances of having a REMperiod at sleep onset are increased. If the napper is able to continue his orher train of thought up to the point of sleep, a lucid dream may develop due toan immediate REM period. The basic definition of lucid dreaming requires nothing more than thedreamer becoming aware that they are dreaming. However, the quality of lucidityvaries greatly.
When lucidity is at a high level, the dreamer is aware thateverything experienced in the dream is occurring in their mind, that there is noreal danger, and that they are asleep in bed and will awaken eventually. Withlow-level lucidity they may be aware to a certain extent that they are dreaming,perhaps enough to fly, or alter what they are doing, but not enough to realizethat the people in the dream are just figments of their imagination. They arealso unaware that they can suffer no physical damage while in the dream or thatthey are actually in bed. Lucidity and control in dreams are not the same thing.
It is possible to be lucid and have little control over dream content, andconversely, to have a great deal of control without being explicitly aware thatone is dreaming. Lucid dreams usually happen during REM sleep. Working at StanfordUniversity, Dr. Stephen LaBerge proved this by eliciting deliberate eye movementsignals given by lucid dreamers during their REM sleep.
LaBerge’s subjects sleptin the laboratory, while the standard measures of sleep physiology (brain waves,muscle tone and eye movements) were recorded. As soon as they became lucid in adream, they moved their eyes in large sweeping motions left-right-left-right, asfar as possible. This left an unmistakable marker on the physiological record ofthe eye movements. Analysis of the records showed that in every case, the eyemovements marking the times when the subjects realized they were dreamingoccurred in the middle of unambiguous REM sleep. LaBerge has done severalexperiments on lucid dreaming using the eye-movement signaling method,demonstrating interesting connections between dreamed actions and physiologicalresponses. It has been debated if lucid dreaming interferes with the function of normal dreaming.
According to one way of thinking, lucid dreaming is normaldreaming. The brain and body are in the same physiological state of REM sleepduring lucid dreaming as they are during most ordinary non-lucid dreaming. Indreams the mind creates experiences out of currently active thoughts, concerns,memories and fantasies. Knowledge that a person is dreaming simply allows themto direct their dream along constructive or positive lines, much like theydirect their thoughts when awake. Furthermore, lucid dreams can be even moreinformative about the self than non-lucid dreams, because one can observe thedevelopment of the dream out of ones feelings and tendencies, while being awarethat one is dreaming and that the dream is coming from the self. The notion thatdreams are unconscious processes that should remain so