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When our heads hit the pillow and we fall fast asleep, we lose the ability to sense and perceive our surroundings. Despite the fact that we are no longer conscious of the world around us, our bodies continue to carry out several crucial metabolic processes. During sleep, parts of our minds actively regulate growth, metabolism, and our dreams.

A full period of sleep consists of several different stages, including one known as the REM stage. The REM (rapid eye movement) stage is one of the deepest periods of sleep, and also the stage in which the most vivid dreaming takes place. Scientists continue to debate the purpose of dreaming. While some see it as a tool utilized by the brain to process thought at night, others believe it is a result of random and unregulated signals in the brain. Regardless of the controversy, research suggests that dreaming is correlated with better health, as it prevents anxiety, depression, tension, and hallucination.

Child sleeping and dreaming.

Image source: Yinjia Pan

While dreams can take a negative turn and transform into nightmares, they can also evolve into lucid dreams. Lucid dreaming is a phenomenon in which an individual, while asleep and dreaming, is conscious of the fact that they are dreaming. Lucid dreaming occurs due to greater activity in areas of the brain that stimulate consciousness. This allows for a delicate balance by which the sleeper is mentally “awake” while dreaming.

A recent study on the topic explored whether individuals could self-induce lucid dreaming. Research conducted by the University of Adelaide found that the technique MILD (Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams) was effective 46% of the time in inducing lucid dreaming in the 47 participants. The MILD technique had participants wake up after five hours of sleep and repeat to themselves that they would lucid dream before they went back to sleep. The results from the study appear to suggest that one’s will itself can impact brain activity.

Dreaming is a critical part of everyday life that, while correlated with improved health, also functions as a medium for imaginative thought. Understanding lucid dreaming not only gives us insight into our creative potential but also the activity of our subconscious brain.

Featured Image Source: Dreams by Drew Coffman

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