Clear dreams are overrated

Lucid dreams: this is how you can direct your dreams yourself

September 21, 2020 - 5:56 p.m.

No more nightmares and Co.

Do you often dream confused things at night and wake up from a nightmare bathed in sweat? Psychology has been intensively concerned with lucid dreaming since the 1970s. There are techniques with which you can determine for yourself what and how you dream. Our reporter tries with the help of a psychologist in a week-long self-experiment to consciously direct her dreams. Here in the video we show whether you succeed in the attempt.

What happens to us when we sleep?

While the body is sleeping, the brain is still active. At night it uses the inactivity to process and classify the experiences of the day. Sleeping and dreaming act like a kind of data backup. Usually children dream more than adults. This is because their brain has to process more because they are not yet able to deal with their feelings very well and to sort them out properly.

Anyone who suffers from nightmares can simply end the bad dream with the skills they have learned as a "oneironaut" - this is how a person is called who can also expose his dream as a dream while dreaming. He can turn an uncomfortable situation into something nice while he sleeps.

Why do we dream such weird stuff?

Dreams actually always have a direct relation to reality. Many dreams reflect experiences of the day, but often in a strongly exaggerated form. Dreams act a bit like a magnifying glass. They reflect real problems - for example in a partnership or at work - but sometimes with drastic images.

We dream most intensely in the REM sleep phase. The rapid eye movements are typical of this sleep phase, from which the name REM - for Rapid Eye Movement - is derived. This is especially the case in the morning before you wake up. These dreams are also the easiest to remember.

How do I deal with uncomfortable dreams?

While dreams give clues about our inner state, they should not be overstated. Small fears can appear huge in our dreams. But that doesn't mean you have a serious problem. Nightmares are mostly related to stress.

Since our brain is always active, we also dream during the entire sleep. However, we can only remember the last ten to 15 minutes before waking up.

The first steps towards lucid dreaming

Do I have an influence on what I dream? Yes! Everyone is likely to have lucid dreaming skills, as lucid dreaming can be learned.

The first step

  • Keep a dream journal.
  • Immediately after waking up, write down in key words what you have dreamed of.
  • This will help you remember your dreams better and better.

The second step

  • The "reality check": You have to be aware of your own dream state. This awareness can be trained like in meditation. When you are awake, keep asking yourself the following question: "Am I dreaming or am I awake?" In this way you can actively direct and positively influence the dream.
  • Hold your nose every now and then during the day and notice how it should feel right - or count your fingers regularly.
  • In the dream one remembers the reality check at some point. But it feels different or you can't count your fingers correctly. That means then, one dreams. It is only a small step from this realization to the self-determined dream

You can find more helpful tips on the subject in the video.

Book tips from the editors for dream control

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