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ETpro's avatar

Lucid Dreaming -- Is it a good or bad idea?

Asked by ETpro (34581points) May 2nd, 2012

A Lucid Dream is a dream in which you are aware you are dreaming and you may even be able to decide how you want the dream to proceed. I have occasionally had them, but never concentrated effort on how to make all my dreams lucid ones. There are supposedly techniques you can employ to learn lucid dreaming, and then routinely slip into a dream space where you are aware it’s a dream, and you are able to exert control over the script.

Some psychologists think that dreaming may be an activity our brain uses to keep itself healthy, working out stresses, fears and emotional pains of the waking world. Others speculate that it’s just a healthy brain occupying itself in play at night because there’s nothing else to do and it’s bored.

If the mental-maintenance theory of dreaming is true, then scripting your dreams consciously would seem a risky venture. Your script might divert the brain away from working on important issues, leaving them to fester. If the bored-brain theory of dreaming is correct, then what better use of the idle mind than to script and direct your own mental movies complete with total sensory immersion?

How many Jellies experience lucid dreaming? How many have worked toward being consciously able to dream lucidly? If you studied how, what program did you use and did it work? Does anyone here routinely have lucid dreams? Does routinely having lucid dreams seem to impact the restorative power of your sleep? Does it boost or diminish your sleep’s restorative power? If you routinely have lucid dreams, and it it has no deleterious impact on your mental health or rest, then wouldn’t that debunk the mental-maintenance theory of dreaming?

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25 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

I’ve only had a few lucid dreams and it was a good time. I’m not sure why it would be a bad idea, though.

bkcunningham's avatar

I have chronic sleep paralysis. I have actually just started working with lucid dreaming as a way to control the feelings of sheer terror that come with this crazy disorder. Lucid dreaming isn’t difficult for me for whatever reason (but only for portions of my dreams – nearing the end), but combining it with the sleep paralysis dream is very difficult for me.

Coloma's avatar

I’m a strong lucid dreamer and am able to be aware of my dream states and actually tell myself “this is only a dream” and yes, I can then choose to wake up or keep dreaming, consciously telling myself I want to end the dream. I don’t notice any impact on my rest and usually sleep very well for the most part.

Speaking of dreams, I had the most bizarre dream last night. haha
I was at a resort of some kind and, of course, was in the hot tub, which was surrounded by crazy aquariums with turtles and frogs. I was feeding worms to a turtle and these crazy black fish with big eyes were swimming all around. lol

No, I did not indulge in a happy brownie, must have been the strawberries and yogurt bedtime snack.

marinelife's avatar

I guess I don’t really see the point.

Elm1969's avatar

I have posted elsewhere on Fluther about my ability to have lucid dreams. I see them as a bit of fun. When I have had a lucid dream I can usually recall what has happened in the morning and I know which parts I have changed. I don’t change my dreams all the time only when they are making me too anxious or are boring.

wundayatta's avatar

I’ve had a few lucid dreams in my life. At once point I realized I could do it if I really wanted to work at it. But it wasn’t really worth it to me. In fact, dreaming is not really worth it to me any more. I mean, I’m sure I dream, but I don’t bother to remember dreams any more.

Nimis's avatar

Hmmm…maybe. Much of my sleep feels more like resting.

Lots of lucid dreaming. I also use it to creatively brainstorm. (I purposefully fall asleep while thinking intently of all the parameters of a project and work through a solution in my sleep.) I have also done other homework (math problems) in my sleep. The weirdest thing is that you can still talk to me when I’m “asleep” and I’ll likely reply to you with something coherent.

That being said, I’m always tired.

mazingerz88's avatar

Never heard of the term lucid dreaming until now. I know I’ve never had enough of wet dreams done lucidly. Lol. I wish! Whenever the opportunity presents itself, me realizing I’m in a dream, I take advantage of it. I do my flying Superman style and pretend to be a zombie so they won’t go after me. Until feelings of fear overcome and that’s when they turn towards me.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

When I can sleep, I often have vivid dreams that are so complex and convoluted that when I become aware that I am dreaming the details start to get more and more muddled and I wake up,

TexasDude's avatar

I’ve been a lucid dreamer since I was a little boy. I first learned of it by accident and spent several years cultivating the ability to where I can almost do it at will now. I guess I should note that I am not a true lucid dreamer because I never quite get full power over my dream world, but what I am able to do is explore and observe the pre-constructed dream worlds on my own volition without being guided along by a dream script. Basically, my dream worlds and lucid dreaming subjects me to the same rules that the real world does- I have the ability to move about and interact freely with things and characters, but I don’t have godlike powers or terraforming abilities.

Also, I have a very keen dream memory. I almost always remember my dreams in extreme detail. This, coupled with my consistent semi-lucid dreaming, has allowed me to note consistencies and recurring locations and characters in my dreams and I have been able to place most of my recurring dream settings within a larger map. Yes, I have been able to actually map out my dreams, and the map has remained consistent for years as I’ve been able to add to it. For example, I’ll dream about a city and wake up remembering the road layout of the small part I dreamed about, and I’ll write it down. A few nights later, I’ll dream of the city again, only I’ll lucidly explore another part connected to the first. The first part will remain consistent with the first dream and I’ll add what I remember of the second part to my map. If I dream of a location enough, I’ll eventually map out enough of it that I can figure out where it goes on the larger map, and it almost always remains consistent. I guess my dreaming brain keeps it that way because I expect it to.

My subconscious is pretty kickass, apparently.

After all of this hardcore lucid dreaming that I’ve experienced for years, I haven’t gone insane or anything, and I’ve gained a lot of creative benefits from it, so I’d judge it to be beneficial, if anything. I typically still feel rested after extended dreaming sessions, too, so it doesn’t affect the effectiveness of my sleep.

The human brain is complicated. I don’t think that lucid dreaming being non-damaging debunks the mental-maintenance theory, necessarily. While you are consciously involved in a lucid dream, your brain may be using other resources to continue with its “maintenance.” Or the lucid dream itself still does the job, and it’s not the content of the dream that effects the maintenance, but the act of the dream itself.

DominicX's avatar

Reading all of this just makes me jealous. I have had lucid dreams before, but I have never been able to do it regularly or to really fully “control” things. I would love to be able to do so more, especially when I have dreams that take place in beautiful natural settings. The mountain biking that I do has inspired dreams I’ve had about being in the forest with winding pathways leading every which way. Recently I had a dream liked this in which I was aware it was a dream and I wanted to keep exploring the forest and I found myself creating it as I went along. Unfortunately, it only lasted a short while before I started moving through the forest too quickly and I started to feel it fading away and then I woke up just a few seconds later.

I’d like to know how to prevent it from stopping like that. Because for me, the point at which the dream becomes lucid means that it will end in a very short time.

And yes, I’ve had numerous sexual dreams that stopped right before the “good part”. Can’t tell you how frustrating that is…

flutherother's avatar

I haven’t had a lucid dream since childhood. I still remember dreaming of being in the local sweet shop and being able to help myself. I wke up all too soon. I have heard there are herbs that promote lucid dreaming but I have never experimented myself.

submariner's avatar

I’ve had dreams that seem to fit the description of a lucid dream, but then, how does one know whether one really has control? Maybe I only dreamed I had control. I guess this is only a problem for people who believe in free will.

Usually, once I become aware that I am dreaming, I wake up fairly soon, but sometimes I can keep the dream going for a while. It’s hard to tell, because I’ve also had many experiences where things took an absurd turn for the worse in my dream, at which point I recognized that I was dreaming, and chose to wake up as the quickest way out of an unpleasant situation. Hmm, maybe next time that happens I will see if I can exert more control over the situation.

I tried keeping dream journal for a while, but stopped when I found myself unsure of whether certain memories were of real events or dreams. This might have something to do with the mental maintenance thing.

bewailknot's avatar

I used to use lucid dreaming a lot when my life was a mess, but stopped when things settled down. I guess I didn’t need it any more.

Paradox25's avatar

I’ve never had a lucid dream that I can remember of, and I don’t even understand how other people get them. Like the one post said here, when I do become aware that I’m dreaming I usually wake up very quickly.

filmfann's avatar

I love it, but it can be a little wearing.

ETpro's avatar

@Blackberry I wasn’t sure whether it would be good or bad. That’s why I asked.

@bkcunningham Sorry to hear about the struggles with sleep paralysis disorder. This might prove interesting. I won’t vouch for the science expressed in it. But as an SP sufferer, I’d be very interested to hear your opinion and report on anything you might choose to try from Dr. Conesa’s suggestions.

@Coloma Do you ever take over the dream and direct it or script where you want it to go?

@marinelife Don’t see the point in what. Bothering to make dreams lucid?

@Elm1969 Interesting. I can’t recall ever noticing during a dream that it was boring. I think whenever that happens, my brain kicks it up a notch or two.

@wundayatta The only time I remember any details of a dream is when I awake shortly after it or it is a lucid dream.

@Nimis I’d love to use lucid dreaming for creative inspiration, but not at the price of being constantly tired. Sounds like something to consult a sleep disorder clinic about.

@mazingerz88 Since you are aware you’re in a dream, can’t you just decide zombies are forbidden, or make sport of them?

@Dr_Lawrence My sincere sympathies. Sounds like you live sleep deprived. When I do have lucid dreams, it is usually because the dream starts to change milieu over and over, far too rapidly for it to be real life, and I realize it’s a dream. I, too, usually wake up shortly after that realization. But I have no problems sleeping other than restless leg syndrome occasionally and frustration with myself when I let my work load pile up.

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard Fascinating. I am blown away by how unique each of us are in our dream-space. Yours appears to work very well for you.

@DominicX Google lucid dream tutorial and you should find some resources that teach how to exert more control over the experience. Just avoid the scam artists that want you to sign up for a costly course.

Speaking of those near-miss wet dreams, I had a strange one a few nights back, and it ended shortly after becoming lucid. I very rarely dream of homosexual acts, but in this dream I was going down on a really long member, and I suddenly realized that I was curled over and it was my own. It was starting to feel REALLY good when it hit me that my own in nowhere near that big, and that even if I was hung like a horse, I am not flexible enough to reach the sweet spot. End of fun, but at least I didn’t end up with sticky pajamas.

@flutherother That dream sounds sweet.

@submariner Enough people have researched the experience now that we can be sure lucid dreams are real. It is totally possible to prescript the dream before going to sleep, then when a dream starts, recognize you are dreaming and switch the dream’s script to the one determined while awake. Researchers can observe when dreaming begins by looking for periods of REM sleep. If they wake the subject either mid-dream or immediately after it. they can document what the dreaming subject experienced.

@bewailknot Thanks. That pretty well says it isn’t harmful and in fact may be quite the opposite.

@Paradox25 What usually tips me off to the fact I am dreaming is when something absurd happens or when the dreamscape keeps changing way too rapidly for it to be the real world. Like one minute you are in your own living room and the next, without leaving the room it becomes a log cabin. Or you start down a sidewalk on a busy city street and when you turn the corner, you’re on a woodland hiking trail. Dead giveaway it’s a dream.

@filmfann So what is it you do when these lucid dreams occur? :-)

linguaphile's avatar

Like @bewailknot, I did a lot of lucid dreaming when I was depressed. It was an alternate world where I could go and not have to deal with real-life issues, but at the same time, I did deal with them in my dreams. They helped as both an escape zone and a processing zone.

My lucid dreaming seems to be a bit different than others- mine is more like, I’ll fall asleep and wake up in the dream world, fully aware that I’m asleep and dreaming but can interact in the other world with a large degree of control. I often find myself in the same locations frequently—there’s a white multi-layered house, a large duplex, and a specific town. Sometimes I remember the details vividly as if it’s more of a memory, but other times I remember for a hour or two, then forget.

Many of my lucid dreams have been survive-or-die type of dreams where I am thrown into a crazy, illogical situation—buildings warping, huge floods, the ground shifting, runaway cars, etc, and I do all kinds of stunts to survive. I’m aware I’m in a dream, aware of my actions and decisions, but don’t have control over what’s thrown at me, only react to them. Oddly enough, these dreams I remember with the most clarity.

Nimis's avatar

@ETpro It’s been like this my whole life. Kind of gotten used to it. Plus I don’t want to mess with how I dream. It’s become a part of who I am. It’d be weird not to dream this way.

@linguaphile My lucid dreaming is recreational when life is going well. But I’ve also used it to work through things when life gets a bit more complicated. I’ve had satisfying (strangely enough, considering that I know it’s only a dream) conversations with people I wouldn’t have otherwise.

What’s most interesting is that you revisit the same places. I do too! I wonder if that’s pretty common?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I feel that it wouldn’t be a good idea to have control over your dreams all the time.

bkcunningham's avatar

@ETpro, thank you very much for the website.

ETpro's avatar

@Nimis I understand. I’ve got mixed blessings of my own that I’ve grown attached to.

@Dutchess_III Why do you feel that way?

@bkcunningham I sincerely hope it’s helpful.

bewailknot's avatar

Being in control of your dreams is a choice. It helped me solve problems, feel empowered, gave me hope. Just like the kids in the Freddie K movies it can come in handy, what started out as a nightmare can be turned around with lucid dreaming..

Elm1969's avatar

@Nimis I agree with you, that’s how my lucid dreams are. It’s just the way that they have developed.
I vist the same places. I have characters that are in the same place too that show me the direction that I need to go sometimes.

My idea about having the same places in my dreams is possibly, well imagine that I have things to sort out, just everyday things and they are on my mind when I go to sleep.

When I am dreaming and working through the tasks ahead a charachter that I have seen before in other dreams will show me the direction that I need to take sometimes.

Then there will follow a series of tasks, some easy or some hard. If I arrive at one of my known places then that affirms to me the correct way to deal with my everyday tasks. If I don’t arrive at the common place then I know that more thought needs to go into my planning, so I will need to have more dreams to work the right route out.

I hope that reads ok. I think what I am trying to get across is that the common locations for me signify the right outcome of whatever it maybe that I am dreaming about. I can some how interpret my own dreams instinctivly I can’t always describe the meaning to someone else but I know.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@ETpro I knew you were going to ask that! I’m not sure. Maybe…if you control your dreams too much, you don’t get to the information or the solution or whatever it is your subconscious is trying to work out. Like a mother controlling every little thing her kid does, and not letting them find some things out on their own. You already KNOW what you want with your conscious mind. Let the alternate take over and find another, maybe better, way. Does that make sense?

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