Wakey Wakey

July 30, 2010

Rheanna Sand


Every time I have a lucid dream, I make myself fly. As soon as that familiar feeling comes along, I close my eyes, push with my mind, and start to float. Soon I am zooming around, sometimes dangerously high, until I start to wake up. Then my powers subside and I'm left pathetically jumping around, trying to get back into the air before my alarm pulls me to reality.

Apparently I could be using these dreams to conquer real-life problems, rather than for child-like fun. Lucid dreaming, as seen in Chrisotpher Nolan's summer blockbuster Inception (excellent interpretation here), has been used as a therapy for nightmares, which themselves are a symptom of real-world fears. The technique of "mastery" has seen some success, which is confronting your greatest fears in your dream world so that you can better cope with real-life situations. Exposing patients to actual stressors - snakes, spiders, Carrot Top - while they are awake is often used in conjunction with mastery.

But how does one get to a lucid dreaming state, without resorting to fictional machines like the PASIV dream-sharing device?

There are at least three technologies, two of which have been discontinued, that purport to get you to a lucid state while dreaming. The DreamLight and NovaDreamer both went for around $1000 US, but for some strange reason these ugly blinky masks aren't sold anymore. The REM Dreamer, however, is fresh on the scene with a new and improved ugly blinky mask!

The idea is this: infrared sensors detect eye movements and determine when you have entered REM sleep (rapid eye movement - this is when you are dreaming most actively) and introduces small disturbances in the form of flashing lights and beeps. You are supposed to learn to recognize these cues, which get incorporated into your dream, and use them as your "key to lucidity." Or maybe you just end up dreaming you're trapped inside an 80's video game.

Whether or not the REM sleeper can get you there, lucid dreams are real. Dream sharing, on the other hand, is highly unlikely. So, if you feel like you might be in someone else's head right now, and the top won't stop spinning…and spinning...and spinning....



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