Lucid Dreaming: Induction, Individual Differences, and Benefits (Part 2)
They also found that respiration rates, such as breathing faster, would increase while performing intense dream exercise. This particular study clearly shows the evidence for the existence of lucid dreaming, with the lucid dreaming participants performing specific eye movement tasks being recorded while dreaming that cannot be disregarded.
Lucid Dreaming Induction
There are a variety of ways for one to induce lucidity in oneself. While there are many techniques to choose from, and many may have evidence of success, but there have been few studies that evaluate the effectiveness of such techniques. Paulson Parker (2006) mention this fact, they also note that the specific conditions required for studying lucid dreaming are hard to come by, and many researchers are unable to have the opportunity to be in such an environment. This environment usually consists of using a sleep laboratory with specific control conditions and a large number of participants. With this controlled environment, researchers have to rely on participants own recollection of their dreams. They also mention that the majority of lucid dreams are induced by some type of dream sign. This sign is usually abstract in nature and serves as a visual key that the dreamer is in a dream. An example could be looking at a watch one moment, and then looking at it again; after looking at it the second time, the time on the watch may change
drastically signaling to the dreamer they are in a dream. Dream signs are key to recognizing being in a dream.
A dream journal is one of the most common methods used to help a dreamer recognize these dream signs. Dreams are written in a journal everyday immediately upon waking to recall as much of the dream as possible. Over time, after amassing a collection of dream entries, the journal is scanned thoroughly for common occurrences which can be considered dream signs. Of course to maintain such a journal, the dreamer needs to have a great motivation to do so (Paulson Parker, 2006).
This dream journal technique is usually maintained for a number of weeks, over this time dream recall, or simply having a better memory of dreams, tends to greatly improve. Once successful dream recall has occurred, a variety of methods can utilize this information and help the dreamer achieve consistent lucid dreaming. Tholey (1989) came up with the technique of reflection. This involves the dreamer constantly asking themselves throughout the day “Am I awake? ”, “Am I dreaming? ” This is done in the hope of the dreamer asking the same questions while dreaming to induce lucidity. This same technique can be used in different ways as well, such as pinching an arm throughout the day, and if done in a dream, no pain is felt serving as a signal for the dreamer. Research on this technique has found that it is somewhat effective in non-lucid dreamers, but only truly shines when used with
consistent dreams who can already achieve lucidity. Price et al. (1991) notes that while techniques such as reflection may have some use, there are nearly no studies that provide valid and significant research that they always work.
LaBerge Levitan (1995) performed research on such reality testing techniques, but no statistical significances were found. LaBerge (1980) also added to the reflection technique, making it a reflection-intention method. In this extended method there are four stages. These include planning to reality test, acting it out, thinking about dreaming, and then think about what to dream about while lucid. Yet still with this technique, there is a lack of legitimate research proving its effectiveness. Another technique discussed was the wake-initiated lucid dream, termed WILD. With this technique dreamers may wake themselves during a REM cycle, and then go back to sleep. Yet the key here is to remain completely aware while going back to sleep such that the dreamer may instantaneously enter a lucid dream. The body needs to be relaxed while the mind awake and aware. Dreamers may envision something such as constantly going down a set of stairs to keep their mind from wandering and drifting into sleep without knowing it.
To elaborate on some recent induction research, Paulson Parker (2006) conducted a two week study with 31 participants to evaluate their lucidity progression after introducing them to some induction techniques. They first gave the participants an
elaborate questionnaire to assess the participants dreaming habits, and ability to recall dreams. The technique used was similar to the reflection-intention method, instructing the participants to do reality checks morning, day, and night at least 5-10 times throughout the day. For this reality check they were to read a section of text, and then look back at it, if it’s the same it’s not a dream. This is because in a dream read text will often completely change spontaneously. They also were made to imagine what they would do while dreaming, and had to fill out a journal entry immediately after waking up. The journals were to include the
time of going to sleep and awakening, along with the amount of dreams recalled. To gather data the researchers had the participants submit all information gathered on-line through the use of elaborate e-mails. Out of the 31 participants, 11 dropped out mainly for no given reasons. Of the remaining 20, none had any significant experience lucid dreaming, with only 13 of them ever having remembered having a lucid dream.
The results of the research concluded with positive correlations.