Have you ever felt like you had control over your dream? It felt real and vivid, but you were able to determine the narrative? If so, you were lucid dreaming. It’s suggested that about half of all people have experienced lucid dreams at one point in their lives, and far less have these controllable dreams a few times per month.
Although lucid dreaming may interrupt restful sleep, which can become an issue if it occurs frequently, many people describe lucid dreaming as a creative, mood-boosting and even therapeutic experience.
Lucid dreams are dreams that occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, when our brains are extremely active. When having a lucid dream, we are actually cognizant of the fact that we’re dreaming.
Lucid dreams have even been characterized as controlled experiences that enable the dreamer to alter dream events.
Some researchers explain this dream state as a good indicator of mental health and well-being, which explains why some people try to deliberately induce lucid dreaming.
When Do They Occur?
Lucid dreaming usually occurs during REM sleep. This stage of sleep happens about 90 minutes after you fall asleep.
It’s the stage you go through right before you enter a deep slumber.
In REM sleep, your heart rate speeds up and breathing quickens. Your brain is active in this stage too, which is what allows for lucid dreaming.
The typical adult only spends about 20 percent of her sleep cycle in the REM stages.
During REM sleep, your brain sends out sensory and motor signals that process emotions, store memories and more. This brain activity is done in the prefrontal cortex, the part that’s in charge of decision making, personality expression and planning.
It makes sense that we can experience fantastical dreams when this part of the brain is so active.
Many times, people have trouble knowing if they are in a dream state or reality when lucid dreaming. It’s described as a “hybrid state of consciousness.”
How to Lucid Dream
Although most people experience lucid dreams spontaneously, there’s developing research and reports on people deliberately inducing lucid dreaming. Why? Many enjoy this altered state of consciousness that occurs naturally.
With lucid dreaming, your conscious is still awake, while your subconscious is dreaming.
There are some techniques that can help induce a lucid dream or train your brain to enter this dream state more often.