All of us would have experienced one or the other form of lucid dreams. We might not even recall or realize it. Lucid dreaming is a phenomenon that was reported in Greek Mythology but is very newly being talked about in the scientific sphere. There are many factors about the lucid dreaming phenomenon that are in the grey area. However, according to researches published by The American Journal of Psychology, 83.5% of people have had experiences of lucid dreaming. The average duration of a lucid dream is about 14 minutes. Lucid dreams often lead to sleep paralysis, disorientation, drowsiness, etc., all of which have adverse effects on sleep.
Lucid dreams are described as the ability to be aware of the dream and direct the course and outcome of the dream. In a normal dream, one just experiences the happenings in the dream without dictating what’s going to happen next. In case of a lucid dream, the person is aware that they are dreaming and can take control of the dream. They can decide the outcome of the dream by dictating what will happen next. Though there is limited research on this phenomena, there are certain factors that are reported to play a major role in inducing or causing lucid dreams. Lucid dreams are experienced by all, but in many cases, a person can go from being an occasional lucid dreamer to a frequent lucid dreamer. This could cause potential hazards on the sleeping cycle, sleep patterns, and the circadian clock of the body.
Sleep patterns are ideally a healthy mix of REM (Rapid eye movement ) and non-REM stages. Lucid dreaming changes these patterns because the brain activity is higher and the non-REM stage is reduced. It is during the non-REM stage that our body relaxes and refreshes. Lucid dreaming can create haphazard sleep patterns and the body finds it difficult to cope with it.
The circadian cycle is also disturbed by lucid dreaming. The body is used to a certain sleep and wake cycle. Lucid dreams have the tendency to put the person in a trance-like mode which cannot be termed awake or asleep. This confuses the body’s internal clock and affects various biological functions of the body.
A person stands higher chances of having lucid dreams frequently due to:
Researchers who have studied lucid dreaming extensively say the brain activity increases exponentially when a person experiences a lucid dream. Sleep can basically be broadly categorized into 2 stages: REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Stage and Non-REM Stage. Most of the dreams occur during the REM stage and brain activity is increased to a certain extent. During the non-REM stage, the whole body is relaxed and the brain activity is minimal. However, it was found that during the lucid dreaming stage, the activity of the brain is midway between the REM stage and awake state.
A person’s brain undergoes a sudden unnatural peak in brain activity during a lucid dream. The whole point of sleep is to refresh and relax the body and mind. Normal dreams have shown to marginally increase the brain activity, which doesn’t affect the restful state of the body during sleep. Lucid dreams on a frequent, continuous or back-to-back basis pose a harmful threat to the person.
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It is not a cause of concern if a lucid dream occurs once in a while. However, if you are having trouble staying away from lucid dreams, here are some of the things that you could consider doing to wean away from it:
Lucid dreams could be adventurous and thrilling once in a while. It is better to be prepared to never fall into the trap of being addicted to them. Lucid dreams are just that – dreams. One should not let that take away the beauty and adventure of our real life.