Lucid Dreaming: Induction, Individual Differences, and Benefits (Part 4)
Along with reduction of nightmares, emotional disturbances such anxiety or depression have been shown to decrease with frequent lucid dreaming training. Roberts (et al. 2009) notes that constant nightmares may increase rates of anxiety in everyday life. Learning how to lucid dream may reduce the frequency of nightmares, in turn decreasing
rates of anxiety. Galvin (1993) did an in depth study using hypnotic techniques on 8 participants with frequent nightmares in an intensive 9 week program.
Participants were made to keep a frequent dream journal throughout the testing period, concluding with 446 dream reports after the study. They also all had some distinct characteristics, being that they all were involved in some sort of creative work, such as an artist or musician. It is noted that those characteristics led the participants to thinking of themselves in an unusual way, as in thinking they are not quite normal. This possibly had an effect on the frequent night terrors they reported. Emotional sensitivity was another distinct characteristic they all possessed, possibly leading them to be constantly frightened, and in turn leading them towards having frequent nightmares. The most common characteristic all participants had was a troubled adolescence, such as being bullied or picked on.
Their main goal was to teach the participants techniques on lucid dreaming, and use these techniques to face and conquer the fears they have in their nightmares. Usually, nightmares are uncontrollable and bring intense fear to the dreamer, with the ability to frequently dream recall, and eventually lucid dream frequently, those effects of the nightmare are the complete opposite. The results of this study support the hypothesis that
teaching techniques of lucid dream are indeed effective in reduction the frequency and intensity of nightmares.
In a similar study done by Victor Jan Van Den (2006), 23 consistent nightmare victims suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder participated in a study using lucid dreaming induction methods to overcome their frequent nightmares. A questionnaire was given at the start of the study to assess the participants stress levels along with their sleeping and dreaming habits. Participants were then given training and instruction on lucid dreaming treatment. This treatment not only consisted of lucid dreaming induction techniques, but also basic psychological information on how to control and change nightmares. At the 12 week follow up of the intervention, the participants were required to fill out another similar questionnaire. It was found that the participants had a significant reduction in nightmare frequency; however, they had no changes in sleep quality, or lucidity. The results indicated that it was unclear whether it was the lucid dreaming techniques or therapeutic intervention that provided the changes in nightmare frequency.
The field of lucid dreaming is continuously progressing. It is still relatively new, and may offer a vast amount of potential therapeutic and individual benefits. Much of the
current scientific research being done is unreliable and hard to come by. Many specific conditions are required for lucid dreaming research, such as sleep laboratories if research is to be done in the lab, which requires much of a participants time. The techniques required to induce lucid dreaming are time consuming and often unsuccessful. Personal accounts of their therapeutic lucid dreaming interventions are also often unreliable, and much is expected from the participant. Through constant updating and improving, those techniques will continue to work better and more efficient. Benefits such as the reduction of night terrors in nightmare sufferers are only the beginning (Holzinger, 2009).
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