by Dr Achilleas Pavlou, Lecturer in Psychology and Clinical Communication Skills, University of Nicosia Medical School
This lecture will describe lucid dreaming (LD), a distinct neurophysiological and phenomenological dream experience wherein the dreamer gains insight into the fact that they are dreaming. This awareness can be passive or active and enables the dreamer to exert volitional control of their dream actions/environment. I will cover the individual characteristics associated with lucid dreaming frequency, induction techniques, the potential applications of lucid dreaming. The lecture will finish off by describing the key findings from my PhD thesis.
While LD is considered a rare-occurring phenomenon of dream sleep, a recent meta-analysis estimated that about 55% of the population has experienced at least one LD in their lifetime and that 23% experience at least one LD in a month which indicates that the capacity to LD is widespread. Importantly, LD research has demonstrated a slew of potential scientific (e.g., cognitive, consciousness and mental disorder research) and therapeutic applications (e.g., for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
To explore all the potential applications of LD, various LD induction techniques have been proposed and tested such as cognitive, external stimulation and psychopharmacological approaches. A particular focus of the lecture will be to discuss external stimulation techniques (ES). ES techniques present stimuli (e.g., auditory, light or tactile) during REM sleep with the aim of incorporating them into the dream content to alert the dreamer that they are dreaming. Up to now, ES techniques have some challenges (including other types of techniques) and varying degrees of incorporation and LD induction success. The work done for my PhD thesis culminated in the development of a novel ES technique which uses machine learning algorithms in order to adjust certain stimulation parameters to the individual and improve LD induction rates