Can You Solve Your Problems with Lucid Dreaming?

Lucid dreaming is knowing that you are in a dream while you are still in it and, at times, using that state of awareness to influence what happens in your dream. Lucid dreaming is considered by many sleep experts to be a variation of normal dreaming. There are techniques used to induce lucid dreaming, which practitioners say helps them solve problems and even learn new skills.

The History

Although lucid dreaming is thought to have originated with Tibetan Buddhism and is documented in ancient Indian yoga practices, the first scientific research into this state was reported in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. When REM sleep-the stage of sleep during which most dreaming occurs-was discovered, sleep researchers were better able to investigate what happens in the brain during sleep and dreaming.

Stephen LaBerge, a researcher from Stanford University, founded the Lucidity Institute, Inc. in 1989 to help promote educational activities and research on lucid dreaming and other aspects of consciousness. A number of research studies have been performed to help scientists figure out exactly what lucid dreaming is and how it works. In one study, published in a 2009 issue of the professional journal Sleep, brain scans showed different activity during lucid dreaming that was different than brain activity exhibited during both REM sleep and wakefulness and at the same time, a combination of both.


These are the techniques you can use to help yourself have lucid dreams.

  • Before you fall asleep, tell yourself that you will wake up immediately after a dream and remember the details of your dream
  • As soon as you wake up, focus on recalling your dream.
  • Tell yourself to remember this dream next time you dream.
  • Imagine yourself in the dream you just had and visualize what you would do or say to influence the outcome.

Lucid dreaming is a controversial subject because some sleep researchers and former practitioners say it is an unnatural attempt at control that tricks people into thinking they can rewrite the script of their lives. Others say lucid dreaming, or dream consciousness, can lead to creative insight and help change the nature of repetitive nightmares. By experimenting with lucid dreaming techniques, you can find out if the process works for you.


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Holzinger B, LaBerge S, Levitan L. "Psychophysiological Correlates of Lucid Dreaming."  Dreaming (American Psychological Association). 2006;16(2)88-95.


Kahn D, Gover T. "Consciousness in Dreams."  International Review of Neurobiology. 2010;92;181-95. Web. 22 Nov 2010.


Lucidity Institute, Inc. 04 Nov 10. Web. 22 Nov 10.


Voss U, et al. "Lucid Dreaming: A State of Consciousness with Features of Both Waking and Non-Lucid Dreaming." Sleep. 2009 Sep 1;32(9):1191-200. Web 22 Nov 2010.