Lucid dreaming means awareness while dreaming — Awareness of the dream state, of the capacity to make decisions, memory functions, self-concentration and focus, dream’s environment, and meaning.
Lucid dreaming’s history
What is called today lucid dreaming was a common practice in the ancient Indian Hindu practice of Yoga Nidra and the Tibetan Buddhist practice of dream Yoga.
Lucid dreaming has become a subject for scientific debate in the nineteenth century, when sinologists Marie-Jean-Léon, Marquis de Hervey de Saint Denys, inspired by his knowledge on Chinese culture first stated that anyone could dream while being conscious.
The term dates since 1913, and it belongs to psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden. Since then, lucid dreaming has proved to be a therapeutic instrument that can help with nightmare treatment. Patients who have PTSD showed improvement with nightmares with the help of lucid dreaming techniques.
The New Study
Made on 48 adults, a recent study showed evidence that lucid dreaming can be helpful with people suffering from insomnia. Along with insomnia comes anxiety and depression. One triggers the other, in a perfect symbiosis.
Usually, if one manages to reduce one of them, the other two will follow. So, it will be fair to say that lucid dreaming could help with anxiety and depression treatment also, but that can be subject to future studies. Such therapeutic advice is usually offered by a well-prepared counselor from BetterHelp.
Insomnia and Lucid Dreaming
Either if it doesn’t let us fall asleep or wakes us up after a few hours, insomnia has a lot to do with our dreams. However disputed, Sigmund Freud’s theory saying that dreams are the royal path to our unconscious might have a say in this. Freud used patients’ dreams as one of the main instruments in treating psychological disorders. He considered dreams to be the most truthful statement of oneself.
Dreams are unconscious wishes, he said. Wishes that we don’t allow ourselves to have, or can’t be fulfilled. In a dream, our unconscious takes advantage of our sleeping rational censor and gets wild by living the impossible dream. The more impossible to accept the wish, the more our dreams become cryptical, unrealistic, fictional.
In psychoanalysis therapy, the patient learns to decipher his dreams, thus deciphering himself.
Lucid dreaming is like the dreamer’s awareness taking the reign of his unconscious kingdom.
During the study, the subjects went through a period of lucid dreaming training, where they’ve learned to master specific techniques that would help them to become lucid while they would dream.
About 37 of the 48 participants were able to master the technique and achieved lucid dreaming. The rest of them, who didn’t get to have a lucid dream, or didn’t manage to master the method, were also the ones with the most severe symptoms of insomnia and anxiety.
The participants who managed the technique and had at least one lucid dream showed improved symptoms in both anxiety and sleep quality. More so, at the end of the study, 25 of the 37 successful lucid dreamers were no longer candidates for insomnia.
However, the 11 participants who were not successful in achieving lucidity during dreaming, raise questions on the range of lucid dreaming efficiency. Whether they need more training to get to master it, or it needs to be combined with another kind of therapy, such as psychoanalysis, or if lucid dreaming is inefficient with those struggling with severe insomnia. Further studies will hopefully answer them. For now, the research proves that lucid dreaming is efficient for people suffering from mild insomnia and associated anxiety and depression.