What is lucid dreaming? Can you control dreams?

What exactly are dreams? Dreams are virtual imaginations. An individual usually dreams in the REM stage of the sleep cycle. The brain waves associated are typical to that when a person is awake. It helps retain memory and increase self-awareness. Dreams help gain valuable insight to deal with the problems facing in one’s lives. One can experience bad dream-nightmare. But with lucid dreaming, they can control their dream narrative.

Types of sleep

It can be of two types – latent and manifest content. The manifest content is the original content, or storyline, of a dream. Latent content, on the other hand, refers to the hidden meaning of a dream. For instance, if you see yourself naked in a dream, it means that you feel insecure and are nervous about your shortcomings. Dreams help gain valuable insight into dealing with the problems.

Researchers believe that dreams reflect life events that are important to the dreamer. Dreaming represents a state of proto-consciousness. For instance, if a person falls in their dream, their body reacts with a jerk rather than waking up. These jerks are because our muscular actions are highly controlled when dreaming. Various glands like the hypothalamus, brain stem, and medulla are responsible for this limitation.

The hormone responsible for dreaming

Dreaming is also associated with the Pineal gland, which secretes Melatonin. Melatonin is a vital protein responsible for sleep. It also plays a role in dreaming. People who have Insomnia consider Melatonin as a medication. They consume 1-3 mg only.

These Melatonin supplements can cause the following side effects:-

  • sleepiness and drowsiness
  • grogginess in the morning
  • intense, vivid dreams
  • a slight increase in blood pressure
  • a drop in body temperature
  • anxiety
  • confusion

Other important hormone produced by the Pineal gland

The Pineal gland produces traces of DMT (Dimethyltryptamine), the god hormone; to alter states of consciousness at various times of stress is appealing to some. DMT is also known to trigger an ”out of body’body’ experience. The Pineal gland can’t accomplish such an experience. The Pineal gland would need to rapidly produce about 25 mg of DMT to provoke such a psychedelic experience. Monoamine oxidase (MAO) degrades DMT, and there is no evidence that the drug can naturally accumulate in the brain.

Can we control our dreams?

Ever experienced bad dreams which ruin your whole day and wish you could direct your vision? What if somebody’s doing that right now? Lucid dreaming is a phenomenon in which an individual can control their dream while they’re dreaming. Lucid dreaming can help control your dream narrative.

Dreams usually occur during REM sleep. Lucid dreaming also occurs in REM sleep. Often, when an individual is dreaming, he is not aware that he’s dreaming and is nervous about the threats in the dreams. But in lucid dreaming, the dreamer is aware that he is dreaming and have no reason to fear. These are not typical, one-dimensional day dream-like experiences. They are immersive and flexible. One can dream of having superpowers or bringing up a city of their choice.

How can we use lucid dreaming to our advantage?

We can use lucid dreaming as a nightmare treatment by continually reminding oneself that it is just a dream, mental rehearsal, and overcoming fears. For example, a person is facing PTSD and has terrible nightmares. Therapists use lucid dreams as a therapy, by training the patient to become lucid in his nightmare, and to resolve or re-script the nightmare while he has it; rather than only in a retrospective way the next day in just talking about it.

Lucid dreaming can help control your dream narrative. It helps lucid dreamers create a pleasant environment and a happy life. Regular dreamers never remember every detail in their dream, or at least some parts are dark, blurry. But a lucid dream is a three-dimensional, multi-sensory, hallucinatory experience. It is like an Immense Virtual Reality, where even the touch, taste, and smell can be experienced. Games can also make you feel like a lucid dream.

Do scientists accept the phenomenon of lucid dreaming?

Scientists did not accept Lucid dreaming. They claimed that it is a hybrid state in which half the brain is awake and the other half dreaming, which would help people gain control over their dreams. But it came to light when some studies where performed.

A person who claimed that he could lucid dream was taken into the MRI. First, he was asked to clench his fists, and in the MRI, certain regions lit up. He was then asked to sleep and clench his fist while he was lucid dreaming. Surprisingly the same areas of the brain lit up when he clenched his fists while he was awake.

 There are thousands of people all over the world. They are practicing lucid dreaming to have these extraordinary dream experiences that are impossible or very unlikely according to our ordinary waking life, social and physical standards. Some people enjoy the experience and frequently do it employing various techniques.

Is lucid dreaming dangerous? Should you practice it?

Lucid dreaming can be hazardous in some situations. It’s never advised to lucid dream when you are facing a mental illness like schizophrenia. The main reason people are afraid of practicing it is the inability to distinguish dream from reality. They often confuse dreams and reality.

Sleep paralysis is the most common adverse effect of lucid dreaming. It occurs in the REM stage of sleep, where our body can’t act out due to paralysis. Lucid dreaming is a state between consciousness and unconsciousness, and it is easy to slip into either of those states. It is scary when the person is conscious but is still paralyzed.

People fear getting stuck in their dreams, which is not usual. It is only the false awakening that happens to realize that they’re still dreaming. That keeps happening until the person pops into reality.

The main problem in lucid dreaming is that a person can be sleep deprived by spending most of his time in the REM stage. Maintaining a schedule and have a lucid experience during naps rather than the night sleep, can be beneficial. People usually feel that they are still dreaming when they wake up. Experiencing it during the night can be tiring throughout the day.

Lastly, you can never die in lucid dreaming. It is advised to confront the constant fear of death.

Related: What causes nightmares – Vividly realistic dreams turned bad

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