Lucid dreams and their impact on real life. Positive and negative effects and dream therapy

Pre-University Paper, 2020

17 Pages, Grade: 1



Table of content


1 What is lucid dreaming?

2 How do you get to this state of dreaming?
2.1 Dream Initiated Lucid Dreams
2.2 Wake Initiated Lucid Dreams
2.3 SSILD – A hybrid technique

3 What are the positive effects of lucid dreams?
3.1 Learn and practice skills
3.2 Solving problems & overcome challenges
3.3 Emotional healing
3.4 Get more creativity

4 What are the possible negative effects of lucid dreams?
4.1 Dream claustrophobia
4.2 Awareness of sleep paralysis
4.3 Lucid nightmares

5 How does lucid dream therapy work?
5.1 How can dream therapy help you to change your behaviour?

6 A Business with lucid dreams?
6.1 How “Lucid Dreamer” works
6.2 Does the Lucid Dreamer cause any longterm effects?
6.3 The business form and conditions

7 How could scientists prove that it is possible to stay conscious while dreaming?

8 Interviews
8.1 Clare Johnson



Table of figures


I have decided to write my annual project work about lucid dreams as I have been interested in them for a long time. I have made my first experience with lucid dreams at a very young age without even knowing that this kind of dreams existed. A few years ago, someone mentioned the term lucid dream in front of me and I recognised it as the type of dream I had often experienced so far. Since then, I have read quite a lot about it and have become more fascinated with every information I have got.

However, I found out that they are so much more than just dreams. In this work, I want to focus on the effects these dreams can have on our life and how we can use them to our advantage. My research question is “How can lucid dreams impact our real life?”. I believe that if we learn how to cope with these dreams, we could change so much in our life as we spend nearly half of our life sleeping.

At first, I will explain what lucid dreaming is and elucidate different techniques to experience them. After that, I will explain the positive effects they can have and how to use them for personal growth. However, I will indicate that there are some possible negative effects, too. Subsequent, I will write about researches and will introduce a business which has found a way to gain money with lucid dreams. At last, I will state how scientists proved that lucid dreams exist and will write about the experiences of two lucid dreamers.

1.What is lucid dreaming?

Lucid dreaming is a process while sleeping in which you are fully aware that you are dreaming and can control yourself and the storyline of it. It was first mentioned in “A Study of Dreams”, by the Dutch novelist Frederik van Eeden in 1913. In his book, he suggests the idea of 9 different types of dreams:

- Initial Dreams
- Pathological Dreams
- Ordinary Dreams
- Vivid Dreams
- Symbolic or Mocking Dreams
- General Dream-Sensations
- Lucid Dreams
- Demon Dreams
- Wrong Waking Up/Phantasma (Frederik van Eeden Club, 2003)

Lucid dreams are most common in REM sleep – Rapid Eye Movement. In this state of dreaming, your brain gets active, your heart rate rises and your eyes start to move quicker. A possible reason why you can be aware that you dream is the part of the brain which is responsible for logic as it can wake up during REM sleep and helps the dreamer to find out that he is dreaming (Rosenbloom, 2007).

2. How do you get to this state of dreaming?

If you want to get to this state of dreaming, it is essential that you remember your dreams, if you do not do it naturally. One way to help you not to forget them is to write a dream diary. This will help you to focus on your dreams and to remember even more the next night. You can either get from a regular dream into a lucid dream or directly from the waking state. The first option is called DILD, which stands for Dream Initiated Lucid Dream and the second possibility WILD, which means Wake Initiated Lucid Dream. There are different methods which allow you to take the second opportunity to get lucid. This includes meditating (Nunez, 2019).

2.1 Dream Initiated Lucid Dreams

Besides writing a dream diary, getting more REM sleep also increases the chance of having a lucid dream. You will get more REM sleep by:

- Following a sleep schedule
- Getting enough exercise daily
- Not using electronic devices before going to bed
- Having a comfortable sleeping atmosphere (e.g. dark enough, cold)
- Not drinking alcoholic drinks or caffeine in the evening

Furthermore, paying attention to your surroundings while you are awake is helpful as people tend to adopt their habits in their dreams. That will make it easier to recognise so-called “dream signs”. These are situations that could not happen in real life and help you to find out that it must be a dream you are in right now. Reality checks are an effective way to gain more awareness when you are awake. Most used reality checks include pinching your nose and trying to breathe, watching if your mirror reflection changes without moving and trying to put your finger through your hand palm. To do one of the reality checks multiple times a day is sufficient (Nunez, 2019).

2.2 Wake Initiated Lucid Dreams

Several techniques have been developed in laboratories to induce wake initiated lucid dreams. One of them is called Custom Alarm Noise Wake Initiated Lucid Dream (CANWILD). This method includes setting an alarm which does not require to be shut off. So, when the alarm goes off after 4 or 5 hours of sleep, your mind awakes but your body should stay still as the sleep paralysis needs to remain. It should be possible now to sink from the wake conscious state to the lucid conscious state. Other wake-initiated induction techniques focus on imagined visual images you keep seeing while you fall asleep or when the REM state is interrupted by getting up. Then it is easier to go back to the REM state and to have lucid dreams (Lucid Fandom, Induction Techniques, n. y.).

2.3 SSILD – A hybrid technique

Senses Initiated Lucid Dream is a Chinese technique which was established in 2011. It was seen as a very mysterious phenomenon as no one knew why it was so effective and easy to learn at the same time. The speciality is that the effectiveness of SSILD does not deteriorate over time as most of the lucid dream techniques do if your motivation declines (Lucid Fandom, Senses Initiated Lucid Dream, n. y.).

SSILD is performed in “Circles”. It is important to focus on different senses. Keep in mind that you should not expect anything outraging to happen as this would rather be bad than helpful. One circle involves the following steps:

1. In the first step focus on your sight. Close your eyes and keep them still but pay attention to what you see. Even if it is just dark, because you are not supposed to see anything immediately.
2. It continues by focusing on hearing. Be aware of any noise in your surroundings. If you do not hear anything you may hear your heartbeat or some noises inside your mind.
3. In the last step focus on your sense of touch. Notice where your body feels heavy and where it feels light. You may recognise any other unusual sensation.

The time to utilize these circles is the same as in the CANWILD technique. The only difference is that you will get up for 5 to 10 minutes when your alarm rings. When you go back to bed it is recommendable not to lie down in your usual sleeping position as you could fall asleep too soon. Perform the “Circle” described ahead 4 to 6 times very fast. Afterwards, repeat it 3 to 4 times slowly. Each step should last about 30 seconds at least. Do not try to make a conscious change nor eliminate any thoughts which come to your mind. In the end, make yourself comfortable and try to fall asleep as soon as possible (Lucid Fandom, Senses Initiated Lucid Dream, n. y.).

Be aware that there are some possible scenarios which this technique may cause. It is likely to have the feeling of falling or floating, seeing lights and images and hearing sharp noises. This phenomenon is called Hypnagogia. Another scenario which is likely to proceed is “False awakening”. So, you might think that it did not work and you have woken up again but indeed you are only dreaming this. Therefore, it is important to apply a reality check which I have already mentioned in this work (Lucid Fandom, Senses Initiated Lucid Dream, n. y.).

3.What are the positive effects of lucid dreams?

Although lucid dreaming happens while you are asleep, it can have many effects on your mental and physical health. Furthermore, it has the power to influence your life significantly.

3.1 Learn and practice skills

Lucid Dreams can help you to learn and practice skills. In an experiment, a few lucid dreamers were asked to dream about doing deep knee bends. When they dreamt about it, their heart rate increased as if they were actually doing some. This shows that your brain acts similarly like it would if you were awake which leads to the conclusion that you can learn and practice skills (Erlacher, 2012).

As lucid dreaming feels the same way as reality does, it is also a good place to practice for an important presentation in front of a big audience. This can help to reduce stage frightening (Erlacher, 2012).

3.2 Solving problems & overcome challenges

In lucid dreams, you have the opportunity to overcome different challenges like a phobia. That is because you can create the situation you are afraid of and master it. Good examples are the fear of spiders or heights. The benefit is that you are safe and in full control over your fears (Lucid Dream Society, n. y.).

Your dreams are also a good place to solve any problem as your brain devises new connections which help you to have different ideas and are a good way to make important decisions. Another way to use lucid dreams is to try out different solutions for a problem to see which outcome they bring with them (Lucid Dream Society, n. y.).

3.3 Emotional healing

Lucid Dreaming can be useful for emotional healing as it reduces nightmares, which can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety if they befall someone frequently. Nightmares commonly occur during the REM state and are highly vivid and well-remembered. If a person gets lucid while having one he/she could take control over himself/herself and the dream and even change the content of it. Besides that, he/she knows that it is just a dream and he/she cannot suffer from real physical damage. Permanently, this leads to a healthier sleeping habit. (Macêdo, Ferreira, Almondes, Kirov, & Mota-Rolim, 2019)

Furthermore, it can help you deal with doubts, stress, traumas and chronical diseases as one could create the scenery of a doctor and speak with him/her or simply explore one’s inner self in one’s dreams. One reason why this works is your mind. If your mind thinks it is healed, you will actually be healed because of the placebo effect (Lucid Dream Society, n. y.).

3.4 Get more creativity

It is proven that lucid dreaming can improve your creativity. In a dream, your mind is free and can create everything it wants. Many artist and scientist have used dreams as a source of inspiration. The dreams were likely lucid dreams as they are more vivid and therefore, better to remember.

- Albert Einstein dreamt of a light beam which gave him finally the idea of his theory of relativity.
- The whole melody of the song “Yesterday” by the Beatles was dreamt by Paul McCartney.
- Niels Bohr’s dream helped him to discover the structure of an atom.
- Larry Page, the founder of Google, had his idea in a dream.
- The film “Inception” is based on a series of lucid dreams the director, Chris Nolan, had.
- Stephen King dreamt the first 40 pages of his novel “Misery”.
- Dr James Watson’s dream helped him to discover the shape of a DNA (Santos, 2017).

Nicolas Zink, Department of Clinical Psychology in Düsseldorf, researched the connection between lucid dreaming and creativity in 2013. 334 participants were tested in an online survey. 28,5 % were not lucid dreamers, 47,7 % occasional lucid dreamers and 23,8 % frequently have lucid dreams. Frequently lucid dreamers scored significantly higher in creativity than non-lucid dreamers. Occasional lucid dreamers scored less than frequently lucid dreamers but still more than a non-lucid dreamer. This suggests that lucid dreaming plays an important part in creativity (Zink, 2013).


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Lucid dreams and their impact on real life. Positive and negative effects and dream therapy
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Lucid Dreams
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Anonymous, 2020, Lucid dreams and their impact on real life. Positive and negative effects and dream therapy, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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