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Lucid Dreams May Be Harmful to Mental Health

Lucid Dreams May Be Harmful to Mental Health

March 28, 2018

Social Sciences & Humanities

The Jerusalem Post — Most of the time when we dream, we are convinced that what is happening to us is real. Many of us experience moments of clarity from time to time while dreaming – such as during a nightmare, when we realize that it is just a dream and as a result can wake up or change its course. In a lucid dream, however, we are aware that it’s only a dream.

In recent years, there has been an increasing number of people who try to initiate lucid dreaming so they can experience things that cannot be experienced in real life, such as flying like a bird.

There even are online forums dedicated to the subject and devices on the market that flicker or beep during sleep that are meant to signal to dreamers that they are asleep.

Liat Aviram and Dr. Nirit Soffer-Dudek, of BGU’s Department of Psychology, recently conducted a study on the positive and negative effects of lucid dreaming. Examining 187 psychology students, their study found that despite the popularity of lucid dreaming and the widely held hypothesis that lucid dreams are beneficial for mental health, people can sometimes do damage in their attempt to proactively dream.

As part of the technique of creating a lucid dream, people learns to ask themselves repeatedly whether they are awake or asleep – both during the day and in the dream – and also examines it in different ways, such as examining whether they can push their hand through the wall.

The researchers argue that the constant doubt places the individual in a kind of intermediate zone between waking and sleeping. Indeed, the study found that those who tried to initiate a lucid dream reported more sleep and stress problems, as well as feelings that they experienced themselves or the world in a detached or “dreamlike” way (dissociative experiences).

The researchers also showed that these symptoms tended to increase within two months after attempts to reach lucidity.

“Our research is pioneering in the field because we are the first to examine whether the attempt to initiate lucidity can cause damage,” Soffer-Dudek explains.

“Many people are tempted to try and reach an alternative state of mind by reaching lucidity, but it seems they may be paying a price. We know from hundreds of studies how much sleep is critical to functioning, health and mood.

“My recommendation is to be careful and consider carefully before deciding to fool around with our sleep and dreaming,” she adds.

Read more on The Jerusalem Post website >>