Lucid dreaming science can be fascinating and telling. We will cover several aspects of the science of lucid dreaming including how you can use technology to enhance your chances of having lucid dreams, how you use biology to do the same, and why we dream in the first place.
Lucid Dreaming Science: Why We Dream
When it comes to the science of lucid dreaming, one question many lucid dreamers, and in fact many people with any interest in remembering and interpreting their dreams, ask is why do we dream? There have been many theories. Freud, and then later psychoanalysts suggested that dreams are a representation of unconscious wishes and impulses. During our waking life we do not think of these impulses, and instead repress them into our unconscious. During our dreams, when things are safer – there is no one there to watch or find out! – these repressed desires and thoughts express themselves. Psychoanalytic theory states that those impulses that are even too scary to the conscious during dreams are not expressed directly, and are instead expressed through metaphor and representation – objects and people in the dream not really being who they stand for.
A newer theory that we like as it relates to lucid dreaming science has been put forth that suggests that dreams are actually a form of self-analysis or self-psychology. This theory suggests that dreams are merely trying to make sense of less-than conscious desires or thoughts – that it is emotional confusion and uncertainty that the person harbors about their current life or past that the dream world is trying to unravel and piece together to make sense.
Lucid Dreaming Science: Binaural Beats
Many people who have looked into relaxation techniques and sleep aids have likely come across binaural beats at some point. These specially placed beats, often played alone or under some sort of soothing music (or even under some verbal relaxation induction CDs) have been scientifically found to induce a relaxed and tranquil state. For many this helps induce a restful sleep, or at least helps them unwind so that sleep can be found.
But some in the lucid dreaming community have found that binaural beats also help induce lucid dreams and this is why we cover them as part of the science of lucid dreaming. Perhaps the mechanism by which they do this is merely that they help create a deeper, longer, and more restful sleep, thereby setting the stage for lucid dreaming. In other words, maybe binaural beats do not have any effect on directly inducing dream control, but they give you the best chances to do it yourself through your techniques. In fact, those who have a lucid dream one night may be so excited about having more dream control in subsequent nights that they may be too excited to get to sleep – perhaps binaural beats can specifically address that and allow the next lucid dream to come.
Yet perhaps there is something about the binaural beats that actually taps into the science of lucid dreaming. Could it be possible that these specially placed beats could actually directly induce a lucid dream like state? We cannot rule that out, given reports of dream control during or after playing binaural beats. Like many other examples of lucid dreaming science, we find that despite the excitement and thrill of this field, there is not too much controlled scientific research being done. We can only judge things, at this point, from the reports of advanced lucid dreamers, and we hope that if you have used this method, whether successfully or unsuccessfully, you will comment below.
Science of Lucid Dreaming: Mood
Lucid dreaming is done at night and one of the best facets of these exciting journeys is that they make a time that you usually sleep through full of wonder and adventure. This would be good enough if that’s all that lucid dreaming techniques could provide. Yet there is a science of lucid dreaming related to its effect on your mood and outlook the following day. Learn how to have lucid dreams and you might improve your mood during your waking hours. We are not sure how this works, but you’ve probably experienced it with regular dream states. When you have a pleasing or fun dream you wake up in a good mood (and the opposite can be true as well). But far too many nights you wake up having had neutral dreams, or not remembering your dreams. When you learn how to lucid dream you actually gain more control over the content and quality of what happens and therefore you might be able to generate that carryover effect more regularly. Then, in turn, you may find it easier to have more pleasant dream states the next night – it becomes a positive cycle and is some of the science of lucid dreaming.
Keep in mind that lucid dreaming techniques merely put you in the lucid state, and from there people often report varying degrees of being able to control what happens next. You may try to learn how to have lucid dreams that are positive and happy, only to see the figures in your dreams, or the overall plot of the dream, change in ways you cannot control despite your lucidity. Regardless, when you learn how to have lucid dreams you are definitely upping your chances of controlling things into a happy and pleasant state that can have a carry-over effect in to your waking life the next day.
Many people in the lucid dreaming community describe this type of emotional hangover that lasts into their waking day after they’ve had a lucid dream. They say that a happy lucid dream experience, where during their dream control a lot of really nice things happen, can lead to a good mood for all or part of the next day. A more frustrating lucid dream experience can lead to a feeling of waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Interestingly, this same type of report seems to hold, though perhaps not quite as strongly, for regular dreams. People report that a good dream can translate into a happy mood, where a bad dream can do just the opposite. But is all of this truly part of lucid dreaming science? It’s helpful to wonder about a chicken and egg phenomenon when trying to understand this lucid dreaming science:
1. If we are in a good mood to begin with, the surroundings of our lucid dreams – the actions taken by the figures in our dreams and the general look and feel of our surroundings, may be positive. Thus our dream control experience may be positive not so that we end up in a good mood, but because we were in a good mood to begin with.
2. The opposite may hold true for negative experiences during dream control – a bad mood preceded the sleeping time and led to the dream characters and environment going bad.
Now we actually believe that instead of being such a straight line in the lucid dreaming science related to mood equation – that a bad or good mood precedes a bad or good experience of lucidity which then carries into waking life all due to the original mood – we think that this actually becomes a cycle that creates some magnification. In other words, you may go to sleep in a slightly bad mood – whether sad, frustrated, angry, etc. – and then your lucid dream experience is negative. This in turn actually magnifies the original bad mood which carries over into your waking life.
The above are just several examples of what people are often asking about when they ask questions about lucid dreaming science.