I’ve always been interested in dreams, and since I’ve been crafting a new character with a penchant for dreams—or is it nightmares?—I figured I’d do a little research on the topic. What I found was enough to produce stories for the rest of my life.
Imagine shaping the world as you see fit. You can fly, battle the forces of evil like some superhero, administer world peace . . . make out with the hottie behind the counter at Starbucks. Did you know that with training, it’s possible to control your dreams? You’re limited only by the power of your imagination!
Lucid dreaming has been the stuff of legends, mystics, oracles, and the devoutly religious for millennia. It sounds like science fiction, but “in 1959 at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University . . . an effective technique for inducing lucid dreams was developed, and true research into the phenomenon began taking place.” Since then, “Stephen LaBerge of Stanford University, founder of The Lucidity Institute, Lynne Levitan, and other current dream researchers have studied lucid dreaming techniques extensively,” and they’ve scientifically proven its existence.
Wild fantasies aside, lucid dreaming may have some practical applications as well. According to LaBerge, this sort of dreaming aids in “personal development, enhancing self-confidence, overcoming nightmares, improving mental (and perhaps physical) health and facilitating creative problem solving.”
LaBerge also states on the Lucidity Institute website that, “lucid dreaming could provide the handicapped and other disadvantaged people with the nearest thing to fulfilling their impossible dreams: paralytics could walk again in their dreams, to say nothing of dancing and flying, and even experience emotionally satisfying erotic fantasies. Such sensorimotor practice could conceivably facilitate recovery from stroke.”
Violent dreams may be a sign of something dire. A rare sleep disorder called REM sleep behavior (Rapid Eye Movements, a distinguishing characteristic sleep) “causes people to act out their dreams, sometimes with violent thrashes, kicks and screams,” and may be indicative of “early signs of brain disorders” such as “Parkinson’s disease and dementia, according to research published online July 28, 2010, in the journal Neurology. The results suggest the incipient stages of these neurodegenerative disorders might begin decades before a person, or doctor, knows it.”
You’re more likely to experience negative emotions while dreaming.
“Calvin S. Hall collected more than 50,000 dream accounts from college students. The dream accounts revealed that many emotions are experienced during dreams including joy, happiness and fear. The most common emotion experienced in dreams was anxiety, and negative emotions in general were much more common than positive ones.”
Are you a night owl? Beware, because you may be prone to more nightmares! “Research published in 2011 in the journal Sleep and Biological Rhythms, revealed that night owls are more likely than their early-bird counterparts to experience nightmares.”
You forget most of your dreams. “Within five minutes of waking, half of your dream is forgotten. Within ten, 90% is gone.”
We dream in color! Well, most of us do. Research suggests that about 1 in 8 people only dream in black and white.
Dreams can include all the senses. “People who are born blind do not see any images, but have dreams equally vivid involving their other senses of sound, smell, touch and emotion.”
However, people who become blind a bit later in life still see images. An interesting post on the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign website by someone who has been blind since they were young stated that what the blind “see in their dreams depends on how much they could ever see. If someone, such as I, has had a measure of sight, then that person dreams with that measure of sight. I still dream as though I can see, colors included.”
Men and women are different, as if you didn’t know.
But how do these differences affect their dreams?
According to a 2011 article in Psychology Today, “Men dream more often about other men rather than women, whereas women dream equally often about men and women. For example, 67% of characters in men’s dreams are other men, whereas 48% of characters in women’s dreams are other women. Men tend to dream about aggressive encounters with other men (typically strangers), while women tend to dream about interactions with familiar others that take place in familiar surroundings.”
But why this discrepancy? Well, “one possibility is that men and women are socialized differently as they grow up—boys are taught to be more aggressive than girls, and girls are taught to be more social than boys—or so the story goes.”
How many dreams do we have each night? “Most people over the age of 10 dream at least 4 to 6 times per night during REM sleep. During REM periods our brains become as active as they are during waking, although not all parts of the brain are reactivated. REM periods vary in length from 5 to 10 minutes for the first REM period of the night to as long as 30-34 minutes later in the night. It thus seems likely that dreams can be a half hour or more in length.” Why do we need HBO?
Sleeping and dreaming are essential to good health. “In research conducted involving students who were woken up at the start of their REM stage, it was noted the students became irritable, hallucinated a lot, were affected by psychosis and were finally disinterested in everything they did. Thus a good night’s sleep combined with regular dreaming” is a cornerstone of prolonged good health.
But the best reason of all to become a skilled lucid dreamer?
You can have an orgasm in your sleep!
Vlad V. is the author of The Button, Yorick, and Brachman’s Underworld. His novella “The Sleep Artist” was published in Insanity Tales, a collection of dark fiction, in October 2014 (Books & Boos Press). His most recent release is his novella “Float,” published in Insanity Tales II: The Sense of Fear in October 2015 (Books & Boos Press). His first kids’ book, The Moon is Dead!, was released in January 2015.
Vlad is also the founder and managing editor of The Storyside, a publishing collaborative dedicated to bringing the best in independent fiction to the market.
He is an editor, publishing consultant, freelance writer, and former newspaper correspondent for the Lowell Sun andFitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise. Learn more about Vlad at www.TheVlad.net.
His books are available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple and Smashwords.com, as well as most bookstores.