Did You Know…lucid dreaming can help you heal, spur creativity, and even strengthen your problem-solving skills?
Dreaming, which occurs during the rapid-eye-movement, or REM, stage of sleep, is not an arbitrary side effect of sleeping, but rather a specialized activity that helps our bodies and minds heal and revitalize, so that we awake better able to tackle our days.
And we aren’t at the mercy of our dreams—some people can consciously control their dreamscape at will.
What Is Lucid Dreaming?
Have you ever been dreaming only to realize you were in a dream? That’s called lucid dreaming. About half of us will have a lucid dream at some point in our lives, and about 20% of us frequently lucid dream according to studies conducted by Daniel Erlacher, a professor at the University of Bern’s Institute for Sport Science.
Conducting research on lucid dreaming is tricky because not many people can lucid dream at will, especially not in a lab. However, several studies confirm positive benefits.
Psychologists from the University of Lincoln in England published a study in Dreaming, the journal of the American Psychological Association, which showed that people who practice lucid dreaming regularly are better at performing cognitive tasks that involve insight, such as problem solving.
A 2010 study published in Sport Psychologist demonstrated that people who dreamed of practicing a specific skill—in this particular case throwing coins into coffee cups—showed improved skills the following morning, compared with non-lucid dreamers.
A study conducted by Max Planck Institute in Germany showed that when lucid dreamers clenched their fists from left to right during lucid dreaming, it activated the same parts of the brain during REM sleep as it did when the lucid dreamers clenched their fists from left to right while awake.
Preliminary studies suggest that lucid dreaming can help improve depression and overall mental health by instilling a sense of self-control in patients.
How to Lucid Dream
Start by becoming more present and aware of details in your environment while you are awake. Cultivating an attention to detail is a habit you can then carry with you into the dreamscape. If you notice any details out of the ordinary while you are dreaming, you can then activate your awareness to kickstart lucid dreaming.
Wear a piece of jewelry to bed at night—like a ring, necklace, or even a piece of string tied around your wrist. When you see this object in the dream, you know you are lucid dreaming!
You can also use herbs, crystals, and essential oils to heighten your ability to lucid dream.
|Herbs: Calea, Mugwort, Heimia Salicifolia, Celastrus paniculatus, Blue Lotus, Tian Men Dong (remember, not all herbs are meant to be ingested! Consult with your doctor before consuming… otherwise you can use the aromatherapy benefits of the herbs)
Crystals: Quartz, Malachite, Ametrine, Moonstone, Amethyst, Moldavite, Azurite
Essential Oils: (diffuse in an aromatherapy diffuser) Sandalwood, Lavender, Geranium, Jasmine, Bergamot, Chamomile, Ylang Ylang
Finally, you might want to keep a dream journal by your bed and record your dreams first thing in the morning. This will help you clear away dream debris and accelerate any healing and restorative benefits.