Although many people have had a lucid dream, they seem to be far and few between. Now a technique to induce lucid dreaming has been independently verified for the first time, and it might be even more effective when combined with other techniques. During a week-long trial, more than half the participants lucidly dreamed, resulting in a record-breaking success rate without using external intervention.
Lucid dreaming, where the dreamer is aware they are dreaming and has some control over how the dream progresses. Once considered a myth, science has since confirmed lucid dreams do exist and discovered some methods help increase the changes that people will have them.
However, some methods require special equipment, while others prove to be are unreliable. Because people enjoy lucid dreaming and they are considered to be a potential tool for healing trauma as well as controlling unhealthy, Dr Denholm Aspy of the University of Adelaide, Australia, speculated whether combining techniques would bring greater success.
In Aspy’s trial, he instructed the 169 participants in techniques developed to induce lucid dreaming. One of these, called ‘reality testing’, gets people into the habit of regularly checking to make sure they really are awake while dreaming. Mnemonic induction of lucid dreams (MILD) on the other hand, has participants set alarms to wake them after five hours and recite “The next time I am dreaming, I will remember that I’m dreaming” before going back to sleep. MILD practitioners also imagine what it would be like to be in a lucid dream.
In the journal Dreaming, Aspy reports that reality testing on its own produced no benefit, but of those who tried the combination of reality testing and MILD, 53 percent had a lucid dream during the trial period, with 17 percent successful each night. This exceeds any previous study conducted without interventions, such as masks that shine lights in people’s eyes on detecting REM sleep.
Due to the lack of benefit from reality testing alone, Aspy recognized that the lucid dreams may be entirely attributed to MILD. However, Aspy noted that the success rate of this study exceeds that of previous studies of MILD, even those done by himself.
An estimated 55 percent of people have a lucid dream at some point in their life, it is rare for most people. Aspy became interested in lucid dreaming after experiencing one as a child. He had another on the evening before he was to begin his doctorate and changed his psychology PhD from studying non-verbal communication to lucid dreaming.
According to Aspy, most lucid dreamers initially wake quickly but with experience can learn to extend them for up to an hour. Aspy is seeking volunteers for further studies.