ADELAIDE, Australia — Pinch yourself. Are you dreaming?
Called “reality testing,” regularly checking your environment to see if you’re dreaming is one way researchers say people can achieve lucid dreaming. In a lucid dream, the sleeper is aware they are dreaming and can control the experience. It’s an elusive state, and a new study out of University of Adelaide is aimed at finding the best combination of techniques to make it happen.
“These results take us one step closer to developing highly effective lucid dream induction techniques that will allow us to study the many potential benefits of lucid dreaming, such as treatment for nightmares and improvement of physical skills and abilities through rehearsal in the lucid dream environment,” study author Denholm Aspy says in a university press release.
While many methods have been developed to induce lucid dreaming, earlier research into lucid dreaming has met with limited success. This difficulty of reliably getting subjects to lucid dream was the initial impetus to develop better methods.
Using three groups of participants, the study investigated the effectiveness of these three techniques:
Reality Testing – Look around to see if you are dreaming in daily life. This is about getting in the habit of checking to see if you are dreaming in the hope that the habit persists when you actually are dreaming.
Wake Back to Bed – After about five hours, wake up and stay awake for a very short period. This makes the sleeper more likely to enter the type of REM sleep in which lucid dreams are most likely to occur.
MILD (Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams) – This combines the “wake back to bed” method with a mnemonic device. After waking up five hours into sleep, the prospective lucid dreamer repeats: “The next time I’m dreaming, I will remember that I’m dreaming,” while also envisioning themselves in a lucid dream.
Out of these tested techniques, the highest rate of success was seen with those using the MILD technique, while also being able to go back to sleep within 5 minutes. These participants saw an astounding 46% success rate.
“The MILD technique works on what we call ‘prospective memory’ – that is, your ability to remember to do things in the future. By repeating a phrase that you will remember you’re dreaming, it forms an intention in your mind that you will, in fact, remember that you are dreaming, leading to a lucid dream,” says Aspy. “Importantly, those who reported success using the MILD technique were significantly less sleep deprived the next day, indicating that lucid dreaming did not have any negative effect on sleep quality.”
One of the most mysterious realms yet to be deeply explored by science, sleep is little understood and is still the subject of regular scientific revelations — such as the recent discovery that even brainless jellyfish sleep.
Want to participate in Aspy’s future lucid dreaming research and help push forward sleep science? If you speak English and are over 18 years old, visit http://www.luciddreamingaustralia.com to participate.
The full study was published in last month’s edition of the journal Dreaming.