A team of researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia, coordinated by psychologist Denholm Aspy, says he has discovered that people who follow a combination of very specific techniques are more likely to experience lucid dreams. In these types of experiences, sleepers are aware that they are dreaming. In fact, there are individuals who claim that they are able to control to a certain extent the events that take place in the dream; that is, they manage to modify the scene at will, introduce new elements and characters, change their appearance… Some psychologists refer to these people as onironautas.
The Dutch psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden defined this type of dream in 1913, in his work A Study of Dreams, but Aristotle, in the fourth century a. C., and the physician Galen of Pergamon, in the II, already speculated on the nature of this phenomenon, that is cultivated in some schools of yoga. However, it is not something that happens frequently, and some experts relate lucid dreams to the hypnagogic hallucinations that sometimes occur at the time of transit between wakefulness and sleep.
To believe is to be able
In the last 30 years, different researchers have promoted the study of this type of dreams, their possible applications and how to induce them. Among them, probably the best known was Stephen LaBerge, a psychophysiologist at Stanford University who, for this purpose, founded the Institute of lucidity in 1987. However, Aspy and his colleagues point out that the initiatives that have been implemented so far have not yielded satisfactory results. Thus, they have presented a system that, in their opinion, favors the development of these dreams.
In a study published in the journal Dreaming , they analyze the effectiveness of three techniques: the reality test – in which the environment is checked several times a day to see if you are dreaming or not; wake up and go back to sleep – in essence, this consists of getting up after five hours of rest, staying awake for a short period of time and going back to sleep, which favors entering the REM state, in which dreams are given; and the so-called mnemonic lucid dream induction (MILD). Like the previous one, the subject must wake up after having spent five hours of sleep, but before falling asleep again, one must repeat a motto that convinces him that he will experience a lucid dream, such as “next time that I dream, I will remember that I am dreaming”.
Aspy’s team examined the reactions of 47 individuals who combined the three approaches to try and experience them and observed that in just one week they got it 17% of the time. The result was significantly higher than that of those who had not practiced these techniques. In the case of those who managed to fall asleep within five minutes after following the MILD strategy, the success rate reached 46%.
Psychological and physical benefits
“The MILD technique is related to the so-called prospective memory, that is, the ability to remember the actions we want to perform in the future. When we repeat a phrase that allows us to remember that we are dreaming, we actually set in our mind the purpose of that will be, which opens the door to experiencing lucid dreams, “Aspy notes. “Moreover, individuals who successfully use the MILD technique have less sleep deprivation the next day, which indicates that having lucid dreaming does not negatively affect the quality of rest,” he adds. “Our study supposes to take a step towards an effective system that allows to induce this type of experiences and to use them to treat different disorders, such as nightmares recurring or even enhance some physical abilities through their practice in the dream, “concludes Aspy.