“You can argue that REM sleep is sort of a neglected resource,” says Benjamin baird, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who studies human cognition. “What if we could use this state when people can actually control their thoughts and actions and decide what to do? The state could potentially be used for entertainment and problem-making – problem-solving and learning how memory works and all kinds of different [neuroscience]. ”
Baird thinks that a particularly intriguing application for lucid dreaming might be in art. “One technique of visual artists I have met is that they find an ‘art gallery’ in their lucid dream and look at the painting hanging in the gallery,” he says. “Then they wake up and paint what they saw. The same can be done in an analogous way for listening to musical scores. It’s like someone else is creating it, but it’s your own mind.
A small but growing number of scientists led by Baird and other sleep labs around the world are hoping to learn more about how lucid dreaming works, how it is triggered, and whether the average person can be taught to do it on a regular basis. By studying individuals who are able to remember what happened to them in their dreams, these researchers can correlate the cognitive processes that occur in the mind as brain and physiological activity is measured and observed. For example, how does the brain perceive specific objects or physical tasks that take place only in the mind? How does he react to visuals that aren’t really there? How does he emulate parts of consciousness without actually being fully aware?
Some researchers, like Martin dresler, a cognitive neuroscientist at Radboud University in the Netherlands, suggests that lucid dreaming could even be used to fight clinical disorders like recurrent nightmares or PTSD. “I think it’s pretty intuitive and plausible that if during a nightmare you realize it’s not real, that obviously takes away a lot of the nightmare sting,” he says. You may be able to just practice waking up and ending the dream, or overcoming the very strong feelings of fear and dread by telling yourself it is a dream.
In a memorable dream, I played cards with my grandmother, who had passed away years earlier. The experience helped me understand my emotions towards her in a way that I could never have dealt with as a 13 year old.