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Lucid dream

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A lucid dream is a dream during which the dreamer is aware of dreaming During lucid dreaming, the dreamer may be able to exert some degree of control over the dream characters, narrative, and environment123


  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 History of the phenomenon
    • 21 Ancient
    • 22 17th century
    • 23 19th century
    • 24 20th century
  • 3 Scientific research
    • 31 Skepticism
  • 4 Definition
  • 5 Suggested applications
    • 51 Clinical application in treating nightmares
    • 52 Creative application
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References
  • 8 Further reading


The term 'lucid dream' was coined by Dutch author and psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden in his 1913 article A Study of Dreams,4 though obviously descriptions of dreamers being aware that they are dreaming predates the actual term

History of the phenomenonedit


Early references to the phenomenon are found in ancient Greek writing For example, the philosopher Aristotle wrote: 'often when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream'5 Meanwhile, the physician Galen of Pergamon used lucid dreams as a form of therapy6 In addition, a letter written by St Augustine of Hippo in 415 AD tells the story of a dreamer, Doctor Gennadius, and refers to lucid dreaming7

Zhuangzi dreaming of a butterfly

In Eastern thought, cultivating the dreamer's ability to be aware that he or she is dreaming is central to both the Tibetan Buddhist practice of dream Yoga, and the ancient Indian Hindu practice of Yoga nidra The cultivation of such awareness was common practice among early Buddhists8

17th centuryedit

Philosopher and physician Sir Thomas Browne 1605–1682 was fascinated by dreams and described his own ability to lucid dream in his Religio Medici, stating: 'yet in one dream I can compose a whole Comedy, behold the action, apprehend the jests and laugh my self awake at the conceits thereof'9

Also, Samuel Pepys in his diary entry for 15 August 1665 records a dream, stating: "I had my Lady Castlemayne in my arms and was admitted to use all the dalliance I desired with her, and then dreamt that this could not be awake, but that it was only a dream"10

19th centuryedit

In 1867, the French sinologist Marie-Jean-Léon, Marquis d'Hervey de Saint Denys anonymously published Les Rêves et Les Moyens de Les Diriger; Observations Pratiques 'Dreams and the ways to direct them; practical observations', in which describes his own experiences of lucid dreaming, and proposes that it is possible for anyone to learn to dream consciously1112

20th centuryedit

Frederik van Eeden and Marquis d'Hervey de Saint Denys, pioneers of lucid dreaming

In 1913, Dutch psychiatrist and writer Frederik Willem van Eeden 1860–1932 coined the term 'lucid dream' in an article entitled "A Study of Dreams"4512131415161718

Some have suggested that the term is a misnomer because van Eeden was referring to a phenomenon more specific than a lucid dream19 Van Eeden intended the term lucid to denote "having insight", as in the phrase a lucid interval applied to someone in temporary remission from a psychosis, rather than as a reference to the perceptual quality of the experience, which may or may not be clear and vivid20

Scientific researchedit

In 1968, Celia Green analyzed the main characteristics of such dreams, reviewing previously published literature on the subject and incorporating new data from participants of her own She concluded that lucid dreams were a category of experience quite distinct from ordinary dreams, and predicted that they would turn out to be associated with rapid eye movement sleep REM sleep Green was also the first to link lucid dreams to the phenomenon of false awakenings21

Lucid dreaming was subsequently researched by asking dreamers to perform pre-determined physical responses while experiencing a dream, including eye movement signals2223

The first peer-reviewed article on the subject was published by Stephen LaBerge at Stanford University, who developed such techniques as part of his doctoral dissertation24 In 1985, LaBerge performed a pilot study that showed that time perception while counting during a lucid dream is about the same as during waking life Lucid dreamers counted out ten seconds while dreaming, signaling the start and the end of the count with a pre-arranged eye signal measured with electrooculogram recording252627 LaBerge's results were confirmed by German researchers D Erlacher and M Schredl, in 200428

In a further study by Stephen LaBerge, four subjects were compared either singing while dreaming or counting while dreaming LaBerge found that the right hemisphere was more active during singing and the left hemisphere was more active during counting29

Neuroscientist J Allan Hobson has hypothesized what might be occurring in the brain while lucid The first step to lucid dreaming is recognizing one is dreaming This recognition might occur in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is one of the few areas deactivated during REM sleep and where working memory occurs Once this area is activated and the recognition of dreaming occurs, the dreamer must be cautious to let the dream continue but be conscious enough to remember that it is a dream While maintaining this balance, the amygdala and parahippocampal cortex might be less intensely activated30 To continue the intensity of the dream hallucinations, it is expected the pons and the parieto-occipital junction stay active31

Using Electroencephalography EEG and other Polysomnographical measurements, LaBerge and others have shown that lucid dreams begin in the Rapid Eye Movement REM stage of sleep323334 LaBerge also proposes that there are higher amounts of beta-1 frequency band 13–19 Hz brain wave activity experienced by lucid dreamers, hence there is an increased amount of activity in the parietal lobes making lucid dreaming a conscious process35


Some skeptics of lucid dreaming suggest that it is not a state of sleep, but of brief wakefulness, or "micro-awakening"3637 Experiments by Stephen LaBerge used "perception of the outside world" as a criterion for wakefulness while studying lucid dreamers, and their sleep state was corroborated with physiological measurements23

Philosopher Norman Malcolm has argued against the possibility of checking the accuracy of dream reports, pointing out that 'the only criterion of the truth of a statement that someone has had a certain dream is, essentially, his saying so'38


Paul Tholey, a German oneirologist and Gestalt theorist, laid the epistemological basis for the research of lucid dreams, proposing seven different conditions of clarity that a dream must fulfill in order to be defined as a lucid dream:394041

  1. Awareness of the dream state orientation
  2. Awareness of the capacity to make decisions
  3. Awareness of memory functions
  4. Awareness of self
  5. Awareness of the dream environment
  6. Awareness of the meaning of the dream
  7. Awareness of concentration and focus the subjective clarity of that state

Later, In 1992, a study by Deirdre Barrett examined whether lucid dreams contained four "corollaries" of lucidity:

  • The dreamer is aware that they are dreaming
  • Objects disappear after waking
  • Physical laws need not apply in the dream
  • The dreamer has a clear memory of the waking world

Barrett found less than a quarter of lucidity accounts exhibited all four42

Subsequently, Stephen LaBerge studied the prevalence of being able to control the dream scenario among lucid dreams, and found that while dream control and dream awareness are correlated, neither requires the other LaBerge found dreams that exhibit one clearly without the capacity for the other; also, in some dreams where the dreamer is lucid and aware they could exercise control, they choose simply to observe1

Suggested applicationsedit

Clinical application in treating nightmaresedit

It has been suggested that sufferers of nightmares could benefit from the ability to be aware they are indeed dreaming A pilot study was performed in 2006 that showed that lucid dreaming therapy treatment was successful in reducing nightmare frequency This treatment consisted of exposure to the idea, mastery of the technique, and lucidity exercises It was not clear what aspects of the treatment were responsible for the success of overcoming nightmares, though the treatment as a whole was said successful43

Australian psychologist Milan Colic has explored the application of principles from narrative therapy to clients' lucid dreams, to reduce the impact not only of nightmares during sleep, but also depression, self-mutilation, and other problems in waking life Colic found that therapeutic conversations could reduce the distressing content of dreams, while understandings about life—and even characters—from lucid dreams could be applied to their lives with marked therapeutic benefits44

Psychotherapists have applied lucid dreaming as a part of therapy Studies have shown that by inducing a lucid dream recurrent nightmares can be alleviated It is unclear whether this alleviation is due to lucidity or the ability to alter the dream itself A study performed by Victor Spoormaker nl and van den Bout 2006 evaluated the validity of lucid dreaming treatment LDT in chronic nightmare sufferers45 LDT is composed of exposure, mastery, and lucidity exercises Results of lucid dreaming treatment revealed that the nightmare frequency of the treatment groups had decreased In another study, Spoormaker, van den Bout, and Meijer 2003 investigated lucid dreaming treatment for nightmares by testing eight subjects who received a one-hour individual session, which consisted of lucid dreaming exercises46 The results of the study revealed that the nightmare frequency had decreased and the sleep quality had slightly increased

Holzinger, Klösch, and Saletu managed a psychotherapy study under the working name of ‘Cognition during dreaming – a therapeutic intervention in nightmares’, which included 40 subjects, men and women, 18–50 years old, whose life quality was significantly altered by nightmares47 The test subjects were administered Gestalt group therapy and 24 of them were also taught to enter the state of lucid dreaming by Holzinger This was purposefully taught in order to change the course of their nightmares The subjects then reported the diminishment of their nightmare prevalence from 2–3 times a week to 2–3 times per month

Creative applicationedit

In her book The Committee of Sleep, Deirdre Barrett describes how some experienced lucid dreamers have learned to remember specific practical goals such as artists looking for inspiration seeking a show of their own work once they become lucid or computer programmers looking for a screen with their desired code However, most of these dreamers had many experiences of failing to recall waking objectives before gaining this level of control48

See alsoedit

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street, a 1984 film directed by Wes Craven
  • Active imagination
  • Dream yoga
  • Inception, a 2010 film which includes lucid dreaming as a major plot device
  • Lucia, a 2013 film involving lucid dreaming
  • Nightmare
  • Paprika, a 2006 film
  • Pre-lucid dream
  • Rapid eye movement sleep
  • Vanilla Sky, a 2001 film that involves a character experiencing a harrowing journey in a lucid dream; American remake of Abre los ojos
  • Waking Life, a 2001 animated film where the characters discuss lucid dreaming, including steps to recognize whether you're in a dream or not
  • Yoga Nidra



  1. ^ a b Kahan T; LaBerge S 1994 "Lucid dreaming as metacognition: Implications for cognitive science" Consciousness and Cognition 3: 246–264 doi:101006/ccog19941014 
  2. ^ Adrienne Mayor 2005 Fossil Legends Of The First Americans Princeton University Press p 402 ISBN 978-0-691-11345-6 Retrieved 29 April 2013 The term "lucid dreaming" to describe the technique of controlling dreams and following them to a desired conclusion was coined by the 19th-century Dutch psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden 
  3. ^ Lewis Spence; Nandor Fodor 1985 Encyclopedia of occultism & parapsychology 2 Gale Research Co p 617 ISBN 978-0-8103-0196-2 Retrieved 29 April 2013 Dr Van Eeden was an author and physician who sat with the English medium Mrs R Thompson and was also 431 in which he used the term "lucid dream" to indicate those conditions in which the dreamer is aware that he is dreaming 
  4. ^ a b Frederik van Eeden 1913 "A study of Dreams" Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 26 
  5. ^ a b Andreas Mavrematis 1987 Hypnogogia: The Unique State of Consciousness Between Wakefullness and Sleep Routledge, Chapman & Hall, Incorporated p 96 ISBN 978-0-7102-0282-6 Retrieved 29 April 2013 The lucid dream, a term coined by van Eeden himself, had already been noted by Aristotle who wrote that 'often when 
  6. ^ Véronique Boudon-Meillot Galien de Pergame Un médecin grec à Rome Les Belles Lettres, 2012 
  7. ^ "Letter from St Augustine of Hippo" Newadventorg Retrieved 2009-06-20 
  8. ^ Tse-fu Kuan 2008, Mindfulness in Early Buddhism: New Approaches through Psychology and Textual Analysis of Pali, Chinese and Sanskrit Sources Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism
  9. ^ Religio Medici, part 2:11 Text available at http://penelopeuchicagoedu/relmed/relmedhtml
  10. ^ "Tuesday 15 August 1665" The Diary of Samuel Pepys 
  11. ^ D'Hervey de Saint-Denys, Les Rêves et Les Moyens de Les Diriger; Observations Pratiques, Paris/Amyot archived at: https://archiveorg/details/lesrvesetlesmoye00herv
  12. ^ a b Kelly Bulkeley 1999 Visions of the night: dreams, religion, and psychology SUNY Press p 157 ISBN 978-0-7914-9798-2 Retrieved 29 April 2013 The person most widely credited with coining the term "lucid dream" is Frederick Van Eeden, a Dutch psychiatrist who from 1898 to 1912 gathered reports of lucid dreams and performed experiments on his own abilities to have lucid dreams  
  13. ^ Tim Bayne; Axel Cleeremans; Patrick Wilken 4 June 2009 The Oxford Companion to Consciousness Oxford University Press p 236 ISBN 978-0-19-856951-0 Retrieved 29 April 2013 Van Eeden 1913, who coined the term lucid dreaming, 
  14. ^ Allan Angoff; Betty Shapin; Parapsychology Foundation 1973 Parapsychology today: a geographic view; proceedings of an international conference, held at Le Piol, St Paul de Vence, France, August 25–27, 1971 Parapsychology Foundation ISBN 978-0-912328-21-8 Retrieved 29 April 2013 Best known is Frederik van Eeden 1860–1932, physician, author and poet, who became interested in psychical 431, wherein he coined the term "lucid dreams," that is the type of dream in which the sleeper knows that he is dreaming 
  15. ^ Pier Luigi Parmeggiani; Ricardo A Velluti 30 December 2005 The Physiologic Nature of Sleep Imperial College Press p 551 ISBN 978-1-86094-557-1 Retrieved 29 April 2013 The term was coined by Frederik van Eeden 1913 
  16. ^ New Scientist New Science Publications January 1990 Retrieved 29 April 2013 The term "lucid dreaming" which isn't a very good one since it means much more than vivid or clear dreaming was coined by Frederik van Eeden, a Dutch psychiatrist,  
  17. ^ Psychology Today 1989 PSYCHOLOGY TODAY: APRIL 1989 Retrieved 29 April 2013 Society for Psychical Research, that the Dutch physician Frederik Willems Van Eeden wrote of having a "lucid" dream Van Eeden may have coined the term, but it was Hugh Calloway, an English contemporary, who was the first to  
  18. ^ Tipiti: Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America 1–2 Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America 2003 p 195 Retrieved 29 April 2013 The term "lucid dream" was coined by the Dutch psychotherapist Frederik van Eeden 1913, as one of the nine categories of his dream typology 
  19. ^ Blackmore, Susan 1991 "Lucid Dreaming: Awake in Your Sleep" Skeptical Inquirer 15: 362–370 
  20. ^ "Lucid Dreaming Frequently Asked Questions Answered by Lucidity Institute" luciditycom 
  21. ^ Green, C, Lucid Dreams, London: Hamish Hamilton
  22. ^ Watanabe Tsuneo March 2003 "Lucid Dreaming: Its Experimental Proof and Psychological Conditions" Journal of International Society of Life Information Science Japan 21 1: 159–162 The occurrence of lucid dreaming dreaming while being conscious that one is dreaming has been verified for four selected subjects who signaled that they knew they were dreaming The signals consisted of particular dream actions having observable concomitants and were performed in accordance with a pre-sleep agreement 
  23. ^ a b LaBerge, Stephen 1990 "Lucid Dreaming: Psychophysiological Studies of Consciousness during REM Sleep" In Richard R Bootzin; John F Kihlstrom; Daniel L Schacter Eds Sleep and Cognition Washington, DC: American Psychological Association pp 109–126 ISBN 978-1557982629 CS1 maint: Extra text: editors list link
  24. ^ Laberge, S 1980 Lucid dreaming: An exploratory study of consciousness during sleep PhD thesis, Stanford University, 1980, University Microfilms No 80-24, 691
  25. ^ LaBerge, S 2000 "Lucid dreaming: Evidence and methodology" Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23 6: 962–63 doi:101017/S0140525X00574020 
  26. ^ LaBerge, Stephen 1990 in Bootzin, RR, Kihlstrom, JF & Schacter, DL, Eds: Lucid Dreaming: Psychophysiological Studies of Consciousness during REM Sleep Sleep and Cognition Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, pp 109–126
  27. ^ LaBerge, Stephen; Levitan, Lynne 1995 "Validity Established of DreamLight Cues for Eliciting Lucid Dreaming" Dreaming 5 3 International Association for the Study of Dreams
  28. ^ Erlacher, D; Schredl, M 2004 "Required time for motor activities in lucid dreams" Scholar search Perceptual and Motor Skills 99 3 Pt 2: 1239–42 doi:102466/PMS9971239-1242 PMID 15739850 
  29. ^ LaBerge S; Dement WC 1982b "Lateralization of alpha activity for dreamed singing and counting during REM sleep" Psychophysiology 19: 331–32 doi:101111/j1469-89861982tb02567x 
  30. ^ Muzur A, Pace-Schott EF; Allan Hobson November 2002 "The prefrontal cortex in sleep" PDF Trends Cogn Sci 6 11: 475–481 doi:101016/S1364-66130201992-7 PMID 12457899 
  31. ^ Hobson, J Allan 2001 The Dream Drugstore: Chemically Altered States of Consciousness Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press pp 96–98 ISBN 978-0-262-58220-9 
  32. ^ Ogilvie R; Hunt H; Sawicki C; McGowan K 1978 "Searching for lucid dreams" Sleep Research 7: 165 
  33. ^ Harms, R nd "Polysomnography sleep study Definition" Retrieved April 21, 2014 
  34. ^ LaBerge S, Levitan L, Dement WC 1986 Lucid dreaming: physiological correlates of consciousness during REM sleep Journal of Mind and Behavior 7: 251121–88
  35. ^ Holzinger B; LaBerge S; Levitan L 2006 "Psychophysiological correlates of lucid dreaming" American Psychological Association 16 2: 88–95 doi:101037/1053-079716288 
  36. ^ Schwartz, BA; Lefebvre, A 1973 Conjunction of waking and REM sleep II Fragmented REM periods in French Revue d'Electroencephalographie et de Neurophysiologie Clinique, 3, 165–176
  37. ^ Hartmann, E 1975 Dreams and other hallucinations: an approach to the underlying mechanism In RK Siegal & LJ West Eds, Hallucinations pp 71–79 New York: J Wiley & Sons
  38. ^ Malcolm, N 1959 Dreaming London:Routledge and Kegan Paul
  39. ^ Tholey, P 1980 "Klarträume als Gegenstand empirischer Untersuchungen Conscious Dreams as an Object of Empirical Examination" Gestalt Theory 2: 175–91 
  40. ^ Tholey, P 1981 "Empirische Untersuchungen über Klartraüme Empirical Examination of Conscious Dreams" Gestalt Theory 3: 21–62 
  41. ^ Holzinger B 2009 "Lucid dreaming – dreams of clarity" Contemporary Hypnosis 26 4: 216–224 doi:101002/ch390 
  42. ^ "DREAMING 24 Abstracts - The Journal of the Association for the Study of Dreams" asdreamsorg 
  43. ^ Spoormaker,-Victor-I; van-den-Bout,-Jan October 2006 "Lucid Dreaming Treatment for Nightmares: A Pilot Study" Psychotherapy-and-Psychosomatics 75 6: 389–394 doi:101159/000095446 PMID 17053341 Conclusions: LDT seems effective in reducing nightmare frequency, although the primary therapeutic component ie exposure, mastery, or lucidity remains unclear 
  44. ^ Colic, M 2007 "Kanna's lucid dreams and the use of narrative practices to explore their meaning" The International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work 4: 19–26
  45. ^ Spoormaker, VI; van den Bout, J 2006 "Lucid dreaming treatment for nightmares: a pilot study" Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics 75 6: 389–94 doi:101159/000095446 PMID 17053341 
  46. ^ Spoormaker, VI; van den Bout, J; Meijer, EJG 2003 "Lucid dreaming treatment for nightmares: a series of cases" Dreaming 13 3: 181–86 doi:101037/1053-0797133181 
  47. ^ "Holzinger, B, Klösch, G, & Saletu, B 2012 Cognition in Sleep - A Therapeutic Intervention in Patients with Nightmares and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 21st Congress of the European Sleep Research Society, 1, Retrieved April 21, 2014" akmch 
  48. ^ Barrett, Deirdre The Committee of Sleep: How Artists, Scientists, and Athletes Use their Dreams for Creative Problem Solving and How You Can, Too Hardback Random House, 2001, Paperback Oneroi Press, 2010

Further readingedit

  • Blanken, CM den and Meijer, EJG "An Historical View of Dreams and the Ways to Direct Them; Practical Observations by Marie-Jean-Léon-Lecoq, le Marquis d'Hervey-Saint-Denys" Lucidity Letter, 7 2 67–78; 1988 Revised Edition in: Lucidity,10 1&2 311–322; 1991
  • Conesa, Jorge 2003 Sleep Paralysis Signaling SPS As a Natural Cueing Method for the Generation and Maintenance of Lucid Dreaming The 83rd Annual Convention of the Western Psychological Association May 1–4, 2003 Vancouver, BC, Canada 
  • Conesa, Jorge 2002 "Isolated Sleep Paralysis and Lucid Dreaming: Ten-year longitudinal case study and related dream frequencies, types, and categories" Sleep and Hypnosis 4 4: 132–142 
  • Gackenbach, Jayne; Laberge, Stephen 1988 Conscious Mind, Sleeping Brain New York: Plenum Press ISBN 0-306-42849-0 
  • Green, Celia; McCreery, Charles 1994 Lucid Dreaming: The Paradox of Consciousness During Sleep London: Routledge ISBN 0-415-11239-7 
  • LaBerge, Stephen 1985 Lucid Dreaming Los Angeles: JP Tarcher ISBN 0-87477-342-3 
  • Olson, Parmy 2012 "Saying 'Hi' Through A Dream: How The Internet Could Make Sleeping More Social" Forbes 
  • Warren, Jeff 2007 "The Lucid Dream" The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness Toronto: Random House Canada ISBN 978-0-679-31408-0 
  • Tuccillo, Dylan; Zeizel, Jared; Peisel, Thomas 2013 A Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming: Mastering the Art of Oneironautics Workman Publishing ISBN 978-0-761-17739-5 
  • Lucid dreaming can be induced by electric scalp stimulation, study finds
  • A look at four psychology fads — a comparison of est, primal therapy, Transcendental Meditation and lucid dreaming at the Los Angeles Times
  • HowToLucidcom - A range of articles on Lucid Dreaming, and some tutorials
  • "Step by step guide how to lucid dream"

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