…if you hate sleeping because you believe it’s a waste of time, if you need to improve your athletic or artistic skills, or if meditation is not your cup of tea.
Let me begin – contrary to my usual habit – with a personal story to explain why I, a green beauty and healthy lifestyle blogger, talk about dreaming.
My Lucid Dreams
When I was six, I was haunted by nightmares. An avid reader and blessed with a lively imagination, I had of course very colourful, garish, 3D, “Tim Burton”-style nightmares. So much so, that my parents had to install a nightlight and to talk me into going to bed every single night.
Seeing that no positive change whatsoever was to be expected, my father (who, as I told you in some earlier posts, was a bit of a buddhist and tought me meditation later, when I was a teenager) suggested that I remind myself that I’m dreaming and try to wake up. “How?” I cried, “I’m asleep!” And he said, “Just ask yourself how realistic it is to see what you’re seeing, and then try to open your eyes wider and wider.” When we’re kids, we’re open to things that our adult selves may consider “weird” or “crazy”, and so I trusted my father’s suggestion. And because my parents never lied to me, I had no doubts that it would work, and so it worked. The freshly aquired ability to be aware of dreaming or to control the dreams has fascinated me quite a lot since. For years, my favourite thing to do was to induce a dream of flying when I went to sleep.
What’s in it for you: Lucid Dreaming
If you hate sleep for being a “waste of time” or have troubles learning how to meditate, lucid dreams are a perfect tool. But there are more reasons!
While AFAIK there is no perfect definition for lucid dreaming because it’s relatively new as a science, there are scientists – sports physicians, oneirologists – who research our ability to use our dreams for our waking state. (What I’m not discussing here are the ancient roots of lucid dreaming that can be found in Dream yoga and in Yoga nidra where it has a different, spiritual purpose.)
Lucid dreamers claim to be able to advance in their creative and scientific careers, to be able to learn new things more effectively.
So without further ado, here are the:
5 Reasons to try Lucid Dreaming
1. Lucid dreams can help end nightmares and ease daytime stress
2. Lucid dreams can help athletes improve their skills and techniques, interesting in particular for learning new dangerous moves
3. Lucid dreams can help people with injuries continue training during their rehabilitation
4. Lucid dreams can help you getting better at practicing any physical skill, so virtually anything you decide to focus on: foreign language, playing a music instrument, painting… And those of you who hate sleep – if that isn’t great news 😉
5. Lucid dreams can solve problems and ignite creativity
But HOW does it work?
Say hi to neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity is why we get better at tasks we repeat. If I were to recall stuff learned at the uni (hi there, cognition science seminars!) then it is the ability of our brain to remain “plastic” well into adulthood. Our brains change according to what we give them: learning, action, exercise, meditation.
In fact, there was some mindblowing research by a neuroscientist who worked with the Dalai Lama to study the effects of meditation on the brain, documenting that the brain’s physical structure can be changed by meditation, “rewriting” brain regions responsible for depression and anxiety, attention and the ability of the body to heal itself.
Neuroplasticity makes the athlete a better athlete and the artist a better artists by connecting our brain and body more effectively. Neuroplasticity makes the person meditating daily more focussed, less stressed out.
Now, during a dream, our body doesn’t realise that things aren’t real. And because of this, during a lucid dream, we can improve neuroplastic changes we want to improve.
Sources and further reading: Spontaneous lucid dreaming frequency and waking insight | Lucid dreaming verified by volitional communication during REM sleep | Frequency of Lucid Dreams and Lucid Dream Practice in German Athletes | Seeing is believing: The effect of brain images on judgments of scientific reasoning