If you’ve experienced consciousness of yourself while dreaming in such a way you’ve been able to manipulate its narrative, then you probably know what lucid dreams are. It is estimated around 55% of the population experience some degree of lucid dreaming.
Lucid dreams have been studied by psychologists and sleep scientists alike for their implications in treatments of chronic illnesses such as PTSD, recurring nightmares, and anxiety.
If you’re curious to learn more about lucid dreams and how they work, here’s everything you might need to know, from how you can have lucid dreams yourself, to why you might be experiencing a spike yourself –
The Benefits Of Lucid Dreaming
One of the key benefits of lucid dreaming is that you’re able to intervene, which can be especially useful in the case of people who struggle with consistent nightmares. When you have chronic nightmares, it might be a side effect of being on a certain kind of medication, heightened amounts of stress and anxiety, as well as a post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mastering the art of lucid dreaming can enable you to catch yourself in the middle of a nightmare, and let you control the dream into something that is more neutral or pleasant. In the process, you might find that you’re able to have a much firmer grasp on your anxiety.
Other benefits of lucid dreaming include an improved sense of creativity and even better motor skills. This is because visualizing physical movements can actually help improve your ability to do them.
How To Get Better At Lucid Dreaming
One of the ways many experts recommend getting better at lucid dreaming is by trying to keep a dream journal. Not only are dream journals a great way to document and chart your progress with a dream, but they’re also one of the only ways you’re going to be able to conscientiously recognize familiar patterns in your dreams.
Another popular way to practice lucid dreaming is to engage in something known as reality testing. Reality testing involves creating awareness of whether or not you’re awake or dreaming – doing this multiple times a day while you’re awake means the habit will pass on naturally when you’re falling asleep.
Some popular reality checks include trying to read a book and seeing if the text changes when you look away, finding a mirror to check your reflection on, and trying to breathe through a pinched nose. With the use of reality checks, it’ll soon become easier for you to distinguish if you’re in the middle of a dream or doing something else.
The Risk of Too Many Lucid Dreams
As interesting an experience lucid dreaming can be, it does come with a couple of risks. You might find yourself experiencing exacerbated sleep problems when you’re consistently trying to interrupt your sleep for the sake of entering your dreams.
More seriously, people with mental health disorders might find themselves especially struggling with the after-effects of lucid dreaming. These can range from derealization, in which it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between reality and dreams, as well as disassociation, in which you can begin to feel disconnected from your present surroundings.
Whether you’re just curious to see what it’s like, or you’re considering using lucid dreaming to treat sleep problems of your own, going in with an open mind and figuring out whether you enjoy the process is all part of the process. If you have trouble sleeping, be sure to improve all other aspects of your sleep hygiene too – this includes giving yourself a consistent bedtime routine, and prioritizing your comfort by finding the most comfortable mattress for you to rest on when it’s time to wind down.