A new technique for lucid dreaming, where people are aware they are having a dream while they experience it, has been verified. Although the study began well before anyone had heard of a new coronavirus, the author thinks the timing is appropriate, as lucid dreaming may be a big help to those trapped in isolation due to lockdown measures.
Many people have lucid dreams, but most do so rarely. Several methods have been proposed to help make dreams like this more common, but tests of their effectiveness have generally not been very rigorous.
In 2018 Dr Denholm Aspy of The University of Adelaide tried to change that with a study comparing several techniques to induce lucid dreaming. Aspy reported those using the Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD) method had lucid dreams on 17 percent of nights when first practicing. This was the best anyone had measured without the assistance of supplements. (Validated supplements are the Alzheimer's medication galantamine and B6, not anything that might get you arrested).
For a new study, Aspy randomly allocated 355 volunteers to try five different techniques or combinations, including Senses Initiated Lucid Dream (SSILD), a new method involving waking after five hours and focusing attention intensively for 20 seconds before going back to sleep. In Frontiers in Psychology, Aspy confirms his previous success rate for MILD with the larger sample, and reports SSILD was equally effective. A hybrid technique combining MILD and SSILD induced the same number of dreams as either individually. As in Aspy's previous research, two other approaches produced significantly fewer lucid dreams.
Many lucid dreamers greatly enjoy the experience, particularly in the third of cases where they experience some control over the dream's direction. Just over half of Aspy's participants had lucid dreamed before, and were keen to learn to do it more frequently.
However, Aspy says the benefits go deeper. Many lucid dreamers describe using their dreams to solve problems that defeat them when awake, or practice for challenging situations.
For millions trapped at home, Aspy thinks the timing is perfect. “One of the applications of lucid dreaming is that it provides a way to have vivid, life-like and fulfilling experiences while dreaming that are not possible for some people while they are awake,’’ Aspy said in a statement.
Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic has sparked more intense dreams, including a rush of nightmares, “Some about hospitals or about loved ones getting sick, others more symbolic,” Aspy told IFLScience. Learning to lucid dream helps people who suffer frequent nightmares wake themselves when things take a distressing turn.
People trapped home alone might also want a new hobby one can do in bed, Aspy added.
Aspy is always seeking people to participate in his studies who are willing to stick to the technique he allocates them and report their outcomes. He told IFLScience many participants in the latest study volunteered after reading our coverage of his previous work. If you want to sign-up for future research, you can here.