New study can help humans control their dreams

By Neelabja Adkuloo

Nightmares will soon be a thing of the past. Recently, the scientists at the University of Adelaide published a study in the journal Dreaming, claiming to have found a combination of techniques that allow people to take control of their dreams. Led by Dr Denholm Aspy, a visiting fellow at the School of Psychology, the team of researchers carried out trials on 169 participants. The unprecedented results from this research have created ripples all over the world.

Three techniques

Previously too, studies on lucid dreaming have been conducted, but with little success. During a lucid dream, a person is aware that they’re dreaming and as a result, they can control the experience. These dreams feel as real as waking life. The challenge is that they’re immensely difficult to trigger. Dr Aspy has stepped in and identified three phenomenal techniques to facilitate the process. These are reality testing, wake back to bed, and Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD).

Reality testing involved participants paying close attention to their surroundings several times in a day to check whether they’re dreaming or not. The alternative is wake back to bed technique. It entails the participants waking up after 5 hours of sleep, staying awake for a short span of time and finally going back to bed to enter the REM cycle. Lucid dreams are more likely to occur during the REM period. MILD, the final and the most effective alternative, works on prospective memory, which is our ability to remember to do things in the future. It involves the participant waking up after 5 hours worth of sleep and repeating the phrase: “The next time I’m dreaming, I will remember that I’m dreaming.”

Results of the study

Repeating a phrase formed an intention in the mind of close to 50% participants, who were successfully induced into a lucid dream. The study shows a 17% success rate for those who managed to combine all three techniques. The participants who reported success using the MILD technique were notably less sleep deprived the next day. This has led to the deduction that lucid dreaming has no negative effect on sleep quality, another achievement for the technique.

Future prospect

Learning to control dreams has a plethora of benefits for humans. These range from treating nightmares and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) to improving abilities through practising them in a lucid dream environment. Professional athletes and stage artists could psychologically rehearse the skills they require on the field and the stage, respectively. People could utilise the innovative methods to solve difficult problems they’re facing in their real life. Currently, the study is still at a preliminary stage. Dr Aspy continually strives to increase the effectiveness of the techniques.

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