Science

Want to control your dreams? Scientists say these are the three things you need to do

Researchers say it might also help you sleep better.

If you have ever found yourself waking up in terror after a nightmare and wishing you had the ability to choose your dreams, here’s something that might help.

New research suggests there is a way to induce lucid dreams – where you are aware that you are dreaming and can control the experience.

Scientists at the University of Adelaide say they have found a “specific combination of techniques” that allows you to take command.

It involves reality testing – where you check the environment several times a day to see whether or not you’re dreaming; wake back to bed – where you wake up, stay awake for a short period, then go back to sleep in order to enter a REM sleep period; and Mild (mnemonic induction of lucid dreams) – where you wake up after five hours of sleep and then state your intention by repeating the phrase: “The next time I’m dreaming, I will remember that I’m dreaming”.

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Among a small group of 47 test subjects who took part in the experiment for a week, 17% achieved lucid dreaming.

And for those who managed to fall asleep within five minutes of practising the Mild technique the success rate was higher, at 46%.

“The Mild technique works on what we call ‘prospective memory’ – that is, your ability to remember to do things in the future,” said study author Dr Denholm Aspy.

“By repeating a phrase that you will remember you’re dreaming, it forms an intention in your mind that you will, in fact, remember that you are dreaming, leading to a lucid dream.”

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Dr Aspy said practising the techniques also showed positive benefits.

“Importantly, those who reported success using the Mild technique were significantly less sleep deprived the next day, indicating that lucid dreaming did not have any negative effect on sleep quality,” he said.

“These results take us one step closer to developing highly effective lucid dream induction techniques that will allow us to study the many potential benefits of lucid dreaming, such as treatment for nightmares and improvement of physical skills and abilities through rehearsal in the lucid dream environment.”

This research is published in the journal Dreaming.

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