5 Benefits (and 3 Risks) of Lucid Dreaming
Anything is possible in the world of lucid dreaming. Anything from flying and visiting other planets to time traveling and meeting your ancestors is often dotting the experiential dreamscape. One of the best ways to experience amazing dreams is to learn to control them through lucid dreaming—vivid dreaming you have full control over. Not only is lucid dreaming exciting, recent research shows that it is also good for your mental well-being and self-realization.
Benefits of Lucid Dreaming
While humans have most likely experienced lucid dreaming throughout all existence, and possibly animals as well, this phenomenon started intriguing scientists since mid-1800s. It was discovered that they are completely different from both the sleeping and awake states of mind and so this phenomenon soon started gaining the interest of neuroscientists who could see a different brain activity. Their findings pointed out many benefits to this interesting sleeping experience.
Lucid dreaming is good for your mental health. One study in Frontiers in Psychology journal has found that people who had lucid dreams had less depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. One important detail is that the lucid dreams must be associated with positive emotions. Going into a lucid dream and creating scenarios that cause negative emotions is unhelpful.
It adds joy to your life. When done correctly, lucid dreaming is fun and can provide a break from the day to day life.
It provides opportunities for self-reflection. For those willing to dig deeper and access their subconscious, lucid dreaming can be a place for internal self-improvement. This time can be used to ponder big life decisions or even to concentrate on work or school problems. Some athletes have been known to use dreams to improve their performance.
It creates opportunities for creative inspiration. Dreams can be an untapped source of creative energy. Use lucid dreaming to gather ideas for any creative projects.
It can help overcome anxiety. If you have a fear to defeat, accessing it in dream form can be its own type of therapy. Fears such as of public speaking, flying, or confrontations can be alleviated by replaying an uncomfortable situation in a lucid dream and having control over which way it goes.
Lucid Dreaming: Healthy vs Unhealthy Ways
One study has pointed out that while lucid dreaming is good for mental health, inducing lucid dreams may not be. This is partially correct, but it all depends on how you make yourself lucid dream. Many herbs that can aid with vivid dreams have other side effects such as insomnia. It is also important to only try lucid dreaming when you are in a good place of mind and body—not when you are exhausted or short on time.
Here are some side effects that can come with lucid dreaming and how to avoid them.
Addiction: a human mind can get addicted to anything that brings it an experience of pleasure. The excitement that comes with exploring lucid dreaming is not immune to this. Check in with yourself to see if you lucid dream to avoid the world or dream up situations that you wish you could have in real life, both of which can leave you feel empty when you wake up. To avoid addiction, make sure to lucid dream in moderation while also looking to live an exciting life. For example, if you want to fly in a lucid dream, why not fly in real life either through a non-gravity simulation or by jumping out of a plane with a parachute.
Poor sleeping habits: Lucid dreaming has been shown to fall somewhere in between deep REM sleep and the waking consciousness. Therefore, the brain cannot get a full night’s rest when lucid dreaming. Make sure you are lucid dreaming in addition to your regular hours of sleep—not instead of. Also, it is not recommended to use a popular technique of waking up on purpose in order to trigger a lucid dream in the state of tiredness when falling asleep the second time. While it may induce a lucid dream, it is completely counterproductive to getting a healthy amount of rest.
Confusion: It is important to not confuse what happens during a lucid dream with real life or create what’s called false memories. The easiest way to have a reality check is by keeping a dream journal. Every time you have a lucid dream, write down all that happened in full detail. That way if ever you feel confused about a situation or an emotion and cannot tell if it comes from real life or a dream, you can go back and see what happened in the dream world. The answers are almost always there.
Safest Way to Lucid Dream
Without using herbs that may cause other side effects and waking up at random hours of the night or sacrificing healthy sleep, the safest way is to use the MILD (Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreaming) technique or inducing a lucid dream while already dreaming.
Mnemonic signifies a tool that helps a person remember something. MILD was developed by an American psychophysiologist Dr. Stephen LaBerge, and it uses your own memories to train yourself to lucid dream.
The instructions are simple, and all it takes is practice.
- When you have a dream, any dream, retell it to yourself in full detail a couple of times to train your memory for dreams as well as train yourself to recognize what is a dream versus waking life.
- Every time before going to sleep keep repeating to yourself, “During the next dream I will recognize that it is a dream.”
- The next time you fall asleep recall all the details of your last dream to try to trigger the same dream, only this time you should quickly realize that you are dreaming.
- Continue all the steps until you know that you are dreaming, and then you can control what happens during your dreams.
Once you learn to lucid dream, how you use them is up to you. You can use it for your own entertainment or improve your life. As Dr. LaBerge quotes in his book, controlling dreams makes life fuller and longer.
“Dreams are a reservoir of knowledge and experience yet they are often overlooked as a vehicle for exploring reality. In the dream state, our bodies are at rest, yet we see and hear, move about and are even able to learn. When we make good use of the dream state it is almost as if our lives were doubled: instead of a hundred years we live to be two hundred,” Tibetan Buddhist Tarthang Tulku quoted by Dr. LaBerge in Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming.
Lucid Dreaming – What it is and how to do it