Tenth Anniversary Issue of Lucidity Letter

Virtual Worlds

Copyright 1991 by Lucidity Association


Part III: Empirical Work

1. Introduction Stephen LaBerge

Section A: Induction

2. The Problem of Induction: A Panel Discussion Robert Price, Stephen LaBerge, Christian Bouchet, Roger Ripert & Joseph Dane

<3. Induction of Lucid Dreams, Including the Use of the DreamLightStephen LaBerge & Lynne Levitan

4. A Comparison of Waking Instruction and Posthypnotic Suggestion for Lucid Dream InductionJoseph Dane & Robert Van de Castle

Section B: The Sleep Laboratory

5. Physiological Mechanisms of Lucid Dreaming Stephen LaBerge

6. H-Reflex in Lucid Dreams Andrew Brylowski

7. EEG Activity During Lucid Dreaming Robert Ogilvie, Kevin P. Vieira & Robert J. Small

8. Neurophysiological Order in the REM Sleep of Participants of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Program Jan M.R. Meirsman

Section C: Predisposing Factors and Individual Differences

9. An Estimate of Lucid Dreaming IncidenceJayne Gackenbach

10. Sex Differences in Lucid Dreaming Self-Reported Frequency: A Second Look Jayne Gackenbach

11. Lucid Dreams and Viewpoints in Imagery: Two Studies Susan Blackmore

12. Manifest Content Analysis of Sleep Laboratory Collected Lucid and Nonlucid DreamsJayne Gackenbach

13. Validation of Lucid Dreaming in School Age Children Deborah Armstrong-Hickey

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Back to Lucidity Letter 10th Anniversary Issue

1. Introduction


Stanford University, California

"Experientia docet," asserts the proverb, but all experiences do not teach equally consistently. The scientific method of controlled observation and exper-imentation is designed to elicit reliable answers from the questions we put to nature. Part III contains a sample of the scientific research on lucid dreaming. Most of the empirical studies on the topic have focused on three major aspects of the phenom-enon: induction, physiology, and individual differences; this selection is arranged accordingly.

Procedures for the induction of lucid dreaming are of obvious importance to the development of the field, given the rarity of spontaneous lucidity. The section be-gins with a panel discussion from the first annual meeting of the Lucidity Associa-tion outlining many of the basic approaches to the induction of lucid dreams. One of the most promising methods appears to be providing an external stimulus during REM, which if incorporated into the ongoing dream, can cue the dreamer into lucid-ity. LaBerge and Levitan describe the results of experiments with the DreamLight device based on this principle. Another promising induction method is based on the idea of giving post-hypnotic suggestions for lucidity. The first controlled study of this idea is reported in the article by Dane and Van de Castle.

It is easy to overlook the fact that claims of lucid dreamers of being conscious while asleep can sound impossibly paradoxical to many ears. Sleep laboratory studies have been important because they established that paradoxical or not, lucid dreaming is a reality. The next section surveys some of this laboratory research: studies of the physiology of lucid dreams (LaBerge and Brylowski), of the EEG alpha activity (Ogilvie et al.), and of REM density in TM subjects reporting wit-nessing (Meirsman).

Another major approach to understanding lucid dreaming is to study individual differences. Comparing the ways in which people who report lucid dreaming differ from those who do not might tell something about how lucid dreaming works. Reprinted here are papers on mental imagery (Blackmore), content and incidence (Gackenbach), and an account of teaching lucid dreaming to junior high school children (Armstrong-Hickey).


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2. The Problem of Induction:  A Panel Discussion



University of Texas at Austin; Stanford University, California; Paris, France;Centre Oniros, St. Denis, France; University of Virginia, Charlottesville

Editor’s Note: This panel discussion includes the following presentations:

• Robert Price: Overview of Current Induction Techniques

• Stephen LaBerge: Mnemonic Induction (MILD) Techniques

Used With Trigger Devices

• Christian Bouchet: Tholey’s Combined Reflection Techniques

• Roger Ripert: Results of Study Based on Combined Technique

• Joseph Dane: Posthypnotic Suggestion Combined With MILD

Price: All of us here are drawn together by our fascination with the lucid dream ex-perience. We believe that it has the potential to enhance personal development and perhaps to increase our scientific understanding of dreams and consciousness. With-out intentional induction procedures, lucid dreams tend to occur spontaneously but sporadically. An individual experiencing a lucid dream for the first time will often become intrigued by it, and attempt to increase the frequency of these experiences by trial and error. These hit and miss methods do not often achieve their goal consis-tently. If we are to make progress toward scientific and personal understanding of lu-cid dreams, we must first develop techniques to induce the lucid dream experience reliably. This is the most important task currently facing lucid dream research.

Robert Price: Overview of Current Induction Techniques

Price: At present one can find throughout the literature a wide variety of [proposed induction] techniques, very few of which have been formally tested. In our attempt to find order among the jumble of procedures we need some way of organizing them. There are, of course, many different dimensions along which these techniques may be organized. Some of these are, for example, the time of day practice, induction prior to or during sleep, home or sleep lab setting, and self- or experimenter-induced. By way of introduction, I would like to present one possible classification scheme in a very broad, bare-bones fashion. For those of you interested in fleshing out this outline, it is presented more fully along with its theoretical underpinnings in Gackenbach and LaBerge’s Conscious Mind, Sleeping Brain: Perspectives on Lucid Dreaming (Gackenbach & LaBerge, 1988).

The first category in Table 1, "Lucid Awareness Training," involves an attempt to promote a particular attitude or state of consciousness during wakefulness. The idea is that once this attitude becomes firmly established while awake, it will be trig-gered during the dream. Examples of the target waking state of mind have ranged from Tholey’s emphasis on active critical attitude through a state of heightened re-ceptive perceptual awareness that has been promoted by Peth and others. Although these two states seem to be at opposite ends of the active-passive continuum, Lucid Awareness Training may be the most effective when a synthesis of these two atti-tudes is developed. After noting the similarity of lucid dreaming to the various medi-tative states, often accompanied by alpha brain waves, Hunt and his associates sug-gested that lucid dreaming may be facilitated by training subjects prior to sleep, to increase alpha activity. This technique is known as "Alpha Feedback Training."

Malamud and Sparrow independently utilized procedures in which subjects "redream" their previously unpleasant nonlucid dreams during the waking fantasy, as if they are lucid. Through this process the individual becomes familiar with a state of consciousness similar to the lucid dream. The Lucid Awareness Techniques may be carried out during the day or immediately prior to sleep onset.

The second major category, Intention and Suggestion Procedures, has recently been distinguished by Tholey. Under the heading of intention procedures, we have "Action Specific" Intention. Because the intention to become lucid is a rather vague goal to carry into the dream, the individual intends instead to perform a particular action in the dream which is associated with lucidity prior to sleep. Examples of this are Castaneda’s Hand-Focusing Technique and Hearne’s "False Awakening with State Testing" or "FAST" technique in which experimentally induced false awaken-ings are intended to promote lucidity. LaBerge’s "Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams" or "MILD" utilizes a mnemonic intention and visualization procedure after awakening from a dream in the early morning hours.

On the suggestion side, Joe Dane has formulated a two part strategy for utiliz-ing posthypnotic suggestion and achieved some encouraging results that he will discuss. The majority of these intention and suggestion procedures are carried out right on the verge or just prior to falling asleep.

The last major category, "Cue-REMinding," attempts to stimulate lucidity by introducing an external stimulus during REM sleep. These attempts have focused primarily on auditory and tactile cues. Hearne has developed a machine that delivers a mild electric shock to the wrist of the dreamer but the most common method used to induce lucidity with external stimuli has involved auditory cueing. LaBerge intro-duced an taped message to the dreamer, which repeated, "This is a dream," so that it would directly remind the dreamer without awakening. Kueny recently completed a study utilizing four different auditory cues: one similar to LaBerge’s and another composed of a musical phrase. [Editor’s Note: This discussion occurred before LaBerge introduced his DreamLight device.]

David Cohen and I used auditory biofeedback during REM sleep. Initially our goal was to influence the frequency of eye movement in order to observe the effect on the dream content. In a pilot study the technique was highly associated with lucid-ity. Most of these "Cue REMinding" techniques involve the use of special equipment and sleep monitoring in the lab. Because of this requirement, these procedures might best be suited, as Tholey has suggested, to acquaint previously nonlucid subjects with their first lucidity experience.

Because all of these techniques may be more effective when practiced together rather than in isolation, combined techniques have utilized various combinations of these procedures. Finally, "Hypnagogic Lucidity Techniques" refer to procedures designed to retain continuous reflective awareness while falling asleep, thus inducing hypnagogic lucid dreams.

This outline is intended only to familiarize you with the range of techniques that have been proposed, and to provide some order to them. We must first know what we have to work with so we can systematically determine which are most effective. Because of time constraints, I have said little about the results obtained with each of these techniques. Although each major class has been met with some limited suc-cess, none has yet emerged as superior.

During this discussion, we will attempt to focus on the following three ques-tions. First of all, "What common factors can we extract from the available induction techniques as the essential element(s) for lucidity induction?" Although I have pre-sented three separate classes of techniques, there is a great deal of overlap between them. What are the common threads? Question number two: "How widely available is the lucid dream experience?" "Is the potential to develop lucid ability shared by most dreamers or only a minority?" And finally, if the time allows: "What are the potentials and limitations of the lucid dream experience in terms of frequency, dura-tion, and content control?" First of all, let me introduce the first question. What fac-tors can we extract and what are your experience with the different techniques?

Stephen LaBerge: Mnemonic Induction (MILD) Techniques

Associated With External Stimulus

LaBerge: First, I’d like to make one or two comments about some of the points you’ve made. I think you’ve got a nice general outline of the various techniques. However, I would take exception to the idea that all these techniques are sort of good. I think some techniques you have listed there are just ideas and that nobody has ever shown that they work even once. For example, the FAST technique. As far as I know that was an idea described as a technique but nobody has said, "I did it and it worked for me." So there’s no evidence for FAST. If anyone has done it, I would like to hear about it. I think that similar things can be said for the idea of alpha feedback. It was a good idea but results were not forthcoming that showed that it worked.

There are some techniques that I think the evidence suggests might be good for a specific group of people. Also, there are some techniques that might be useful for people who have never had lucid dreams before that will increase their likelihood of experiencing them so that they’ll have a lucid dream now and then. But there are other techniques that are designed for enabling one to have lucid dreams at will. The technique that I developed (MILD) was designed to do just that. My goal was to be able to have lucid dreams at will, not merely to increase their frequency. I wanted something that I’d be able to use in the laboratory when I wanted to have a lucid dream at a particular time. I’m convinced from my own experiences with trials using other approaches, being just as motivated, that the MILD is a particularly effective technique in the hands of people of a certain class, yet to be determined. Maybe it’s people who have had a lot of experience with lucidity. I don’t know. I do know that if I don’t use the MILD I can’t reliably count on having a lucid dream. Consequently, at a certain level of development, it’s a technique that could be useful. On the other hand, the MILD seems to be something that is pretty difficult to teach to people who have had no experience with lucid dreaming. Maybe there will be a different set of techniques that will be useful at different levels of development. That’s one thing that would be nice to be able to determine. What’s the appropriate developmental level? It is unlikely that we’ll have one technique that will do it.

Price: I agree. We may find that the lucid awareness techniques will tend to be more effective at increasing the general frequency of lucid dreams, whereas the intention, suggestion, and Cue REMinding will be more effective in triggering a lucid dream during a particular REM period.

LaBerge: Now to answer your question, "What do I see as the most effective kind of method?" I’ll briefly describe a study that was recently completed in collaboration with Robert Rich, of Stanford, who did his Honors Thesis in Psychology on this. We determined all of the things that we thought might help people to have lucid dreams and had subjects do them. Then we tested the subjects in the laboratory. The results were quite encouraging. We used subjects who did not report frequent lucid dreams so that we had some that had never had lucid dreams. Most of these people had had a few lucid dreams. They knew what they were but they didn’t have them with any degree of regularity. Of the the twenty subjects, who slept for one night only in the laboratory, something like twelve to fourteen lucid dreams were recorded. This is similar to the results that Joe has gotten. Now what did we do to produce these results? First we had a Waking-Training Procedure which was associated with a particular cue that would be applied during the REM state. The Waking-Training Procedure consisted of wearing a device on their ankle that was connected with a timer that caused a vibration to occur every 30 to 40 minutes throughout the day for 5 seconds each time. This was a reminder to tell the subjects to check whether or not they were dreaming at that moment. The test that we gave people to do this check-ing was as follows. We had digital watches on their hands which they would look at to see the time, which they then recorded. Then they would check to make sure their recorded list of numbers all made sense. It was a solid reality test which no dream would pass. In addition, because the answer’s always no, we wanted to do something else so that they wouldn’t get in the habit of thinking, ‘Well, I know it’s not a dream.’ So the next step was to ask them, "All right, you know this isn’t a dream, but if it were?" this is similar to Tholey’s technique of imagining it as if it were. We asked them to imagine, ‘The next time I’m in the laboratory, when I feel this it will have been a dream.’ We had a few other techniques where we asked them to ask themselves certain questions. We guided their thinking about how they were going to find out whether they were dreaming in ways other than the watch, to give them practice in the critical reflective technique. We had them do this for one or two days. We have reason to believe that two days is better. They then came into the laboratory. When they were in REM sleep we would apply the same stimulus to which they had developed a association. The key innovation is the association. In the past induction studies with some sort of external cue supplied no association to the cue. For instance, we’ve had some very odd situations where the cue seems to get into the dream but the dreamer doesn’t know that it means anything. I remember one subject who wrote out his dream report. I said, "Well, what happened there?" "Didn’t you hear it?" In his dream report it said, "These people are trying to say something to me but I don’t want to listen. They say you’re dreaming." That’s what he wrote. He didn’t even recognize that until he woke up. He was hearing it in the dream. It’s not enough to have the information appear. Dreamers have to have an association made between the cue appearing and a particular reality testing action. We found, interestingly enough, that nobody in their dream felt the vibration and then looked at their watch and discovered their true state. Either people felt the vibration and thought, ‘Oh, yup, there it is. It’s the dream,’ or else the stimulus caused the dreams walls to start wobbling and other oddities and at that point people said "This is a dream." It’s a simple condition, no higher consciousness is required. The association to the vibration is "check reality."

Price: Did the stimulus ever lead to a micro-arousal or increased alpha?

LaBerge: In one case we got an awake type lucid dream, where there was a momen-tary awakening and then the person went right back into REM. Generally it didn’t occur. The problem of using external cues is, of course, you too often wake people up. If the stimulus is large enough to be effective then you frequently wake them up.

Question: How did you apply the vibrator?

LaBerge: We had it on the ankle at first but then we were waking people up too eas-ily. It was one of these mechanical vibrators which we couldn’t start slowly enough. There was an inertia so that once it came on it was too much stimulation. Conse-quently, we put it at the foot of the bed, in the mattress. That seemed to work.

One reason that we wanted to try a tactile stimulus, was that the auditory system was more associated with monitoring the environment for danger while we sleep and so therefore, more likely to produce arousal.

Price: How did you determine exactly when to introduce the stimulus?

LaBerge: That’s a good question and points to one of the major deficiencies of the study. How do we decide when to turn it on? We’d turn it on after a REM burst or some other indication of physiological activation. Ideally this should be done with a computer which would be looking for certain levels of physiological activation and always apply the cue at that time. When we start doing studies like that, where we could easily reproduce the levels at which it was applied, we’ll make a lot better pro-gress. Lucid dreams, when they occur, I shouldn’t say spontaneously because they’re usually induced by deliberate intention, occur with a certain level of physiological activation. You can’t be guaranteed of lucidity if the cue is applied at random. That’s another important consideration; applying the cue at the right time.

Price: We found that, during REM sleep, when presented the tone, sometimes the subject would just totally ignore the tone while at other times it would awaken him. That is a very touchy issue; trying to present the stimulus at just the right level and at just the right time. Christian, would like to describe some of the results you got with the Combined Technique?

Christian Bouchet: Tholey’s Combined Reflection Techniques

Bouchet: We had 93 subjects and a lot of them, 88, agreed to do Tholey’s Combined Technique. However, of the 88, only eight fulfilled the requirements of the method. In Tholey’s Combined Technique there are nine instructions about lucid awareness. In my opinion, it’s possible to divide these techniques into long term and short term. that is, if you follow the first three instructions, I mean those which modify the frame of mind during the day, you are going to have lucid dreams after a long time, but they will be durable. But if you use the short term techniques, you’ll have an immediate result but it won’t last. Consequently, the Combined Technique is useful for people who have never had lucid dreams. (But in fact, we had a better result with previously lucid dreamers.) It is useful because it is necessary for a nonlucid dreamer to have lucid dreams rapidly in order to be motivated to continue. But to consolidate the re-sults, it is necessary to strengthen them with the first three techniques.

I think it is necessary to make having lucid dreams second nature. For example, you do it for five weeks and after this period you are accustomed to doing it and so sometimes you ask yourself, "Maybe I am dreaming right now? Maybe it’s a dream?" Your dream life may be modified if you change your mental habits. This is especially true when you use long term techniques.

Price: Did you find out, Stephen, as you developed MILD, that your daily attitude, changed in any way?

LaBerge: I do think so, because MILD is an exercise that is closely associated with the dream state. When you wake up from the dream, the idea is how to make a con-nection between where you are now and the next time you’re dreaming. So, opti-mally, it’s done immediately after waking from the dream because the physiology of REM persists into the period of waking. Furthermore, it’s been shown that when people are awakened from REM sleep and asked to tell a story, they tell very dream-like stories. So we want to associate it directly with the dream-state.

Price: There is another point that we had talked about earlier, the distinction between people who didn’t actually use the technique but still had lucid dreams. I think that would be an important point to make.

Bouchet: This experimentation was done by Roger Ripert and myself. The results will be presented to you by Roger. I will say a few words about the unexpected re-sults as they have been obtained from people who didn’t do the test but did have lucid dreams. This kind of result can’t be inserted in a statistical analysis, as there is no data to support it, but it is necessary to take it into account.

First of all, I’ll give you a few figures to help you understand the scope of the project. (By the way, Roger Ripert had his own group and we mixed the results.) I contacted 93 persons to whom I explained lucid dreams and Paul Tholey’s method of inducing them. As I said, 88 agreed to participate. Only 53 began to work with the method. Of these 53, 35 gave up along the way, four didn’t answer and six have not finished the test because they didn’t start it on time. Only eight have completed the experiment. Their results have been incorporated into those of Roger’s group, in order to obtain a larger sample size for statistical analyses.

These figures are interesting because they illustrate two limits to statistical analysis. On the one hand statistical analyses only takes into account the results of those who concluded the experiment. the people who gave up also obtained good results and sometimes better than those who finished. On the other hand, when you examine the results, you might think that people who are able to obtain lucidity be-long to one of the two categories: people who have concluded the test or those who have given it up. Actually obtaining lucid dreams occurred in all categories includ-ing those who did not undertake the experiment. It is necessary, therefore, to find the reasons behind their lack of participation. In our statistical analysis the number of successes was determined by the dreamers who finished the experiment. Unfortu-nately, the other successes in obtaining lucidity were not noted. They appeared in subsequent conversations with the subjects. Therefore, it is not possible to give the figures concerning those who have not practiced the technique. What are the causes for the induction of lucid dreams in subjects who have not followed the procedure?

Dane: Let me try and understand. You’re about to talk about those who didn’t com-plete the procedure, yet nonetheless developed lucid dreams.

Bouchet: Yes. To those who have partly followed the procedure we can assume that they have taken advantage of Tholey’s techniques in some way. It is not the same for the others, so we must examine the notion of the psychological field.

To understand the following, it is necessary to know why the test was not prac-ticed. The majority of the subjects declared that they were short of time. But, in my view, the test needs little time: the subjects had only to note their dreams and to fill out the test paper. The instructions were short and should not have interfered with other activities. There was no obligation to record dreams except for the lucid dreams and the dreams associated with lucid dreams. We could presume that lucid dreams would not appear daily, at least in the beginning. In the same way, to fill up a paper is not difficult. The real reason was, in fact, a want of mental responsibility, which is completely different.

This lack of mental responsibility appears in two ways. First, it is a conscious refusal to use the first three prescriptions in spite of an apparently firm decision to contrary. The instructions stipulate that the subject should ask himself the critical question, which is "Am I dreaming or not?", at least five to ten times a day. Some subjects can’t do it. Furthermore they say: "I try to see as in a dream what is around me, but I can’t conceive of the idea that it is a dream." Some of them go further and say that when they try to do it they think that it is stupid. It is something like a nat-ural rejection even if it takes the shape of verbal reasoning like: "It is clear that what is around me is not a dream."

For some, this type of question is not a problem. They are those who see life as a movie, as a drama or a game, something to be played. For them, the idea of consid-ering what is around them as a dream is not a case of perturbation because it is an attitude which is already existing in them. Even if they have not begun the technique, merely somebody speaking about the lucid dream with them can provoke spontane-ous lucidity. It seems that one of the characteristics of the psychological field favor-able to spontaneous lucidity may be found in the ease with which one can question the reality of the world without being anxious. It is a kind of serenity in face of the diversity of life. Spontaneous lucidity didn’t happen before to these individuals because when they think of the world as a movie, there was no need to transfer such thoughts to the dream state. But when they were asked to think of realism in terms of a dream, the transfer seems to be automatic.

Price: They already had the habit of thinking of the world as a game or film, which easily adapted to dreaming.

Dane: That observer rule, if you will, was built into their way of viewing life, and all you did was ask them to apply that one notch over.

Bouchet: The lack of mental responsibility is also the result of our mental concerns. Many of the participants told me that they were not able to follow the instructions because they were preoccupied with personal or professional concerns. These con-cerns did not allow them to think about the nature of reality. This last attitude is a little different from the preceding one. One who is addicted to his work to such a degree that he forgets himself is not able to think of anything but what he is doing because it is irrelevant to his work. This subject says that he expects a rest period or holiday to occur prior to the test. This kind of attitude characterizes the majority of the subjects who undertook the test. However, they have good intentions.

However, in my view conforming to the instructions of the test is not a hin-drance to one’s personal work, or to the solution of diverse preoccupations. Follow-ing the instructions is felt as a hindrance when it is not practiced because it then ap-pears as difficult. When the subject works on it he feelings of difficulty disappear, but when he stops, he forgets the ease of the method. Moreover, the use of this method may give the strength to pursue a task. Two of the subjects mentioned this and many of them found the solution to problems that they thought insurmountable.

This allows us to understand the second reason for spontaneous lucidity arising among the subjects who had not completed the test. When someone asks himself if he is dreaming or not, he very often takes a new point of view for familiar situations. Some subjects find advantages to this way of thinking so they spontaneously use this method in other circumstances. This attitude change is probably the cause of lucid dreams for the subjects who had never had such dreams before. We have, therefore, different types of reactions and/or different types of individuals. First, the people for whom Tholey’s instructions are natural; second, people who discover the applicability of it for their everyday life, and so they spontaneously adapt.

What has been said concerns observations from a great number of subjects who were individually questioned. This kind of work indicates directions for research not implied by the statistical analysis. For example, develop a simplified test to subjects who have to the profile given above, with the hope that we would obtain better re-sults. Another possibility is to prepare the subjects in terms of these specific points before offering them the method for inducing lucid dreams.

Dane: What would be nice to know is the exact number of each type of subject for whom you’re getting success. I think you’re saying that the people in between have more trouble. Those are the ones that didn’t seem to get the results. They just stopped doing the technique.

Price: Another thing that this finding, if it holds up, could provide is a way of screen-ing subjects with psychological assessment devices to see who holds these types of attitudes, to predict their success with a particular technique.

Dane: I think Christian’s findings will hold up. I think he may have something, as it seems parallel to Jayne’s finding that frequent lucid dreamers are characterized by "risk taking" as defined on the scale which Bob Van de Castle and I developed. We had defined it more as a sense of "adventuresomeness," which according to Hilgard is also a characteristic of those with high hypnotic capacity. Intuitively, there seems to be some parallel between a sense of adventuresomeness in life and what Christian describes as living or seeing life as if it were a game or a play on the stage.

Roger Ripert: Results of Study Based on Combined Technique

Bouchet: Roger analyzed some of the data on some of the successful subjects for that same study. He will comment on those findings as well as those for another group.

Ripert: Research in sleep and dream laboratories on lucid dreaming (LD) means hav-ing experienced lucid dreamers, capable of inducing lucidity in experimental situa-tions. Consequently, the development of an efficient induction technique is crucial. The Combined Reflection Technique developed by Paul Tholey apparently gives good results, as ordinary dreamers were reported to obtain their first lucid dream after four to five weeks of practice. Thus we decided to test this method.

This technique is based on the principle of a transfer from waking to dream, of a critical-reflective frame of mind concerning one’s state of consciousness. This frame of mind is developed during the waking state and also calls for formulating intention (as in LaBerge’s MILD technique) and internal programming of a specific action (as in Don Juan’s teachings).

For this study, 13 subjects, aged 20 to 50, tested Paul Tholey’s Combined Reflection Technique over a period of five to six weeks. Each participant received:

1. A list of nine instructions;

2. A daily checklist of instructions carried out;

3. A self-reflection scale (developed by Sheila Purcell) allowing the subject to score his dreams according to their degree of lucidity;

4. A complementary instructions as how to keep a dream diary and suggestions to help remember dreams (as per Patricia Garfield); and

5. A questionnaire to be filled out at the end of the experiment. The results are given in Table 2, later.

The subjects met with some difficulty comprehending the instructions and deal-ing with the amount of work involved. Consequently, they often only carried out part of the directives. Nevertheless, of the 13 subjects who completed the experiment, seven out of the eight subjects who had already experienced lucid dreams increased their LD frequency during the test. In addition, one of the five persons who had never had lucid dreams before did experience several during this period.

Preliminary statistical analysis indicated that there is a correlation between:

1. The frequency of LD during the experiment (F2), the number of critical questions in induced imaginary situations (Q3) and the number of times lucidity was programmed before going to sleep—this is particularly significant for the ordinary dreamer who attained lucidity during the test;

2. The number of critical questions (Q1, Q2) and the number of inductions in the early morning hours (P2). For four subjects who had already experienced LD, this technique was often successful.

Although no firm conclusions can be drawn, due to the limited number of sub-jects, we can say that the most efficient techniques appear to be asking the critical question in ordinary dreamers of LD programming in the early morning hours for those who had already experienced lucid dreams.

As Paul Tholey emphasizes, it is not so important to frequently ask oneself the critical question as it is to develop a permanent critical attitude towards one’s state of consciousness.

Several of the lucid dreams obtained were published in Oniros Bulletin [Editor’s Note: This French language publication is available from: Roger Ripert, Centre Oniros, B.P. 30, 93450 11e St. Denis, France].

Joseph Dane: Posthypnotic Suggestion Combined With MILD

Price: Joe, would you like to comment on your results? And could you say a little bit about the second question. How universal do your results suggest the lucidity poten-tial to be?

Dane: Remember my results are with nonlucid dreamers. However, they are a select portion of the population in that they are all in the upper 50th percentile on hypnotic susceptibility. So we still need to do similar experimentation with the other half of the population. Nonetheless, it’s now clear that within the laboratory context lucid dreaming can indeed be trained, and with "punch," if you will. In one night you can get folks hopping to it!
I like Stephen’s description of the problem of whether lucid dreaming is univer-sal or not. Probably everybody can swim or ride a bike or whatever, within certain limitations, such as do you have the physiological capacity for it, whether or not you’re exposed to the opportunity to do it, whether or not you have had any prior ex-periences that would make that kind of activity attractive for you, etc. For example, have you ever been pushed in the water and nearly drowned? If you have, you’re not going to enjoy swimming. So it would be if you’ve had bad nightmares, such as the Vietnam veterans. I think Ken Dennis was talking about wanting to talk with Viet-nam veterans and train lucidity in those who are having repetitive traumatic night-mares. Their response was, "Hell, no, I don’t want to go back into those nightmares. I want them stopped." Ken mentioned a woman that was having dreams about two friends being killed on motorcycles. Her fear was that going back into that dream would simply be a revivification of something that she couldn’t change in the dream any more than could she change it in waking life. So it wasn’t attractive. In any event, probably most people can, to some degree, swim, ride a bike or have a lucid dream. But how motivated are they? How trained, etc?

One thing I’d like to do first, is to clarify the techniques we used which were ef-fective; what some of the results were; and tease out some specifics. In the first phase of our work, we used Stephen’s MILD technique and an earlier version of post-hypnotic suggestion with 20 experience lucid dreamers. With respect to the MILD, there was one consistent finding within the experimental context, which was consis-tent with Roger’s findings and also consistent with what Ken Moss was telling me. However effective MILD may be in the long term, it seems to be very cumbersome for use in an experimental context. Out of Roger’s 83 initial participants, only eight actually completed the suggested techniques. Likewise, I asked ten in my group who were going to use the MILD to use it on any seven out of twelve consecutive nights. Nobody could do it. And these folks were motivated. But they were honest about whether they were doing it or not. Six was the maximum number of nights anybody could do it in the assigned time frame. So there seems to be something to be learned there if you’re wanting to produce results in the lab immediately. 6

In the second phase of our work (I described the methodology earlier), we found that both waking suggestion and waking suggestion in combination with posthyp-notic suggestion were effective with formerly nonlucid, hypnotically susceptible females. So under the right circumstances, both posthypnotic suggestion and waking instruction can be effective for lucid dream induction. With posthypnotic sugges-tion, what seems to be working is, first, you give the posthypnotic suggestion to have a lucid dream. You implant the direct suggestion. The other thing you seem to be doing is actually inducing changes in the dream content. You’re alerting the dreamer to what’s happening in the dream and that becomes a cue. It’s a little bit like classical conditioning, if you will. And even that is just another way of looking at posthypnotic suggestion. In my study, I used a hypnotically receptive state to estab-lish the dreamer’s receptiveness to recognizing, or giving importance to, a dream symbol. Now with respect to that, out of the 15 hypnotic subjects or people who were exposed to hypnosis, ten had a dream symbol in their dreams. And in seven of those instances the dream symbol was related to inducing lucidity. So we were changing the dream content with posthypnotic suggestion.

For example, one woman had a hypnotic dream about a woman who was spin-ning round in a black cape. That was her hypnotic dream about hypnosis. Now this was a young woman who was going to be a a psychology major. But she was also very different towards me and this whole idea of lucid dreaming. There was a cur-ious sort of juxtaposition between her espoused interests and the fact that she would kind of downplay the whole idea of lucidity, its application for personal growth, etc., these things just didn’t work right with her. So I asked her a bit more about the hypnotic dream, and she said, "Well, I was kind of over in my little world looking down on her, looking down on this woman who was spinning around in a black robe." My association was, "Wow, she’s looking down on that woman who is kind of an archetypal image of trance induction (whirling dervishes, etc.), and I feel like she’s looking down on this whole experiment." When I shared my impressions with her, she bought the idea and in fact said her family was pretty much fundamentalist and thought of her interests in the powers of the mind as a "black force" in life. On the last night during hypnosis, she did in fact encounter that symbol, and asked for its assistance in enlisting a lucid dream. In her subsequent lucid dream, she reported, ". . . we (the experimenter and the subject) were talking and there was a woman that we both saw go into the basement of a church. And in the dream I said, ‘I want to find out if that woman flew last night.’" This was presumably because part of the hypnotic suggestion was to "turn off the automatic pilot in your dreams and to fly with awareness." In any event, she recognized, "Wait a minute, there’s nobody else in this experiment. There’s just me. This is a dream." And she said to me in the dream, "I’ll go and find her." And she did. She went down to the basement and asked the woman, "Did you fly in your dreams last night?" And the woman said something like, "You know, it’s just amazing what you can do if you just broaden your perspective." And there, the dream ended.

In other words, there are numerous examples where the symbol itself did not necessarily appear in the dream, but where the dream content or interactions seemed to clearly allude to the dream symbol. Now, by contrast, you don’t seem to change the dream content with waking instruction. It’s more like Tholey’s Hypnagogic Im-agery State and what other people have talked about, where you’re establishing sen-sitivity to sleep onset phenomena and then, similar to biofeedback technique, you extend that sensitivity into dream awareness. So you establish sleep onset aware-ness, and then extend that into dream awareness.

With respect to comparing the effectiveness of posthypnotic and waking sug-gestion for lucid dream induction, there were an equal number of subjects who were successful with both techniques. However, five very important post hoc measures indicated that, from a qualitative point of view, the hypnotically associated lucid dreams were far superior to non-hypnotically associated lucid dreams:

1. They occurred more frequently in the late REM periods;

2. They lasted longer;

3. They required less work by the experimenter;

4. Post-experimental lucid dream frequency was greater; and

5. The personal relevance and intensity of the lucid dreams were greater.

LaBerge: I’d like to make one final observation based on the work that Jayne sum-marized on personality differences. The first thing she said is that the variance ac-counted for by personality factors is very small. What does that mean? It means all of the major variance has got to do with factors like interest, If you looked at the person-alities of piano players, you wouldn’t get very interesting results, because there are lots of different reasons why you might or might not play the piano. I think the same thing is true of lucid dreaming, that the capacity is general, that everybody could de-velop it. The question is, are they interested in doing so.

Price: I would agree with that and just say, three general factors seem to contribute to increasing one’s chances of becoming lucid. First, the dreamer must value his or her dream life and develop good dream recall, perhaps by keeping a journal. Secondly, one must be very motivated to achieve the state. Dreamers have to have some under-standing of what they are trying to achieve and really want to do it. Thirdly, they need some method or technique to trigger the state, whether it be through lucid awareness to develop long term lucidity, an intention procedure, or a Cue REMinding procedure.


Gackenbach, J.I. & LaBerge, S.L. (Eds.) (1988). Conscious mind, sleeping brain: Perspectives on lucid dreaming. New York: Plenum.


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3. Induction of Lucid Dreams, Including the
Use of the DreamLight


Stanford University, California

LaBerge: Today I would like to talk in a somewhat broader context than just the use of the DreamLight. I will give you a sense of why I have been working on devel-oping this device and my view of the induction of lucid dreams in general. In case there is anyone present who doesn’t know what a lucid dream is—it is a dream in which you know you are dreaming while it is happening.
I started my own journey into the field of lucid dreaming about ten years ago when I was at Stanford University and needed a topic for my Ph.D. dissertation. I settled on lucid dreaming, a phenomenon that had not, as far as I knew, been re-searched yet. I had had a few experiences with lucid dreaming, enough to give me a great deal of personal interest in it. I began some experiments with inducing lucid dreams in myself and was motivated to have lucid dreams in the laboratory so I could study them for my dissertation.

When I started out trying to induce lucid dreams, all I had to go on was the idea from Patty Garfield’s abstracts and books that she had been able to increase her fre-quency of lucid dreaming by autosuggestion, just by telling herself, "I’m going to have a lucid dream tonight." I found that when I simply reminded myself before going to sleep, "I want to have a lucid dream tonight," I would have lucid dreams approximately once a week. However, notice on this chart [Figure 1] of my lucid dream frequency during the three years of my dissertation project, at Point A I reached ten lucid dreams per month, a considerable leap from the periods around it.

The explanation for this sudden improvement is that that was the time when I was writing my dissertation proposal, in which I was claiming that I was going to be able to learn to have lucid dreams for this study. In other words I was extremely motivated to have lucid dreams, and it made a big difference in my success. But, as soon as I finished the proposal, my lucid dream frequency dropped back down to where it had been, because of the difficulty of maintaining such a high level of moti-vation. At Point B on the chart, where you see a similar sudden increase in the number of lucid dreams I was having, I was in the laboratory at Stanford doing my dissertation research. Again, my motivation soared.

But, you notice, in addition to the two outstanding high points due to motiva-tional factors, there is a general increase in my lucid dreaming frequency as time passes. It looks like I was somehow learning how to do it, and at about this point marked Part Two I began to realize what it was I was doing when I was doing it right. I had begun with the idea of using a sort of autosuggestion: "Tonight I will have a lucid dream." However, I had no idea of how I was going to do it, and so it was difficult to convince myself that I really was going to have a lucid dream. When I discovered what I was doing when I succeeded, it turned out to be a very simple thing. It was that I was setting the intention of remembering to do something later. Once I got the mental set right, my lucid dreaming rate started increasing more, and I developed the method I call Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams, or MILD.

MILD involves using visualization to see yourself in a dream recognizing that you are dreaming—to help remind yourself to do something, i.e. realize you are dreaming, in your next dream period. The procedure is to wake up from a dream and using that same dream you just wakened from, visualize yourself back in the dream, see yourself becoming lucid, and tell yourself, "Next time I’m dreaming, I want to recognize I’m dreaming." I found that with practice when I used this technique I was able to have lucid dreams on any night I wished.

Others have had similar results with related methods, showing that once your mental set is correct, becoming lucid in dreams is not a difficult process. However, it is no trivial condition: "Once your mental set is correct. . . ." The method we are using to attain that mental set is remembering to do something in the future. If you think of this in terms of the waking state, how do you remember to do things in the future? You write yourself notes, or leave yourself reminders. If you want to take something with you when you are going out the door, you put it by the door so that it is there to remind you when you need to remember it. The problem is, how can we remind people at the time they need to be reminded, namely, while they are dream-ing, that they want to recognize that they are dreaming? How do we get a cue into a dream?

One example of what we have used is goggles with flashing red lights worn by the sleeper. When the person is in a REM period, dreaming, we apply this flashing light, and if the light is incorporated into the dream and if the dreamer recognizes the light correctly, he will realize that he is dreaming. The light can be incorporated into the dream in different ways.

Now I want to show you the device we have been using for home studies (called the DreamLight) and report our results with it so far. It consists of a mask you wear over your eyes while you are sleeping, which picks up eye movements with an infra-red eye-movement detection device, and when enough eye movements occur that the computer in the box "believes" you are in REM sleep, the lights in the mask flash. Meanwhile, back in your dream the light may appear somehow, perhaps in a transformed way—if you recognize it, you will realize you are dreaming, or, if your mind is not prepared, you might not . . . for example, I might think there was some-thing wrong with the projector here, and say, "Turn that thing off, please!" If my mind is prepared, and I’m really ready to remember it, then I’ll say, "Aha! That is the DreamLight. That means I’m dreaming right now." And then I can remember, "Oh, yes, I went to sleep wearing the DreamLight."

We did a study with the DreamLight and 49 subjects who attended eight weekly group meetings. During the course of the group, they had the opportunity to use the DreamLight several times. The average number of times the DreamLight was used per subject was six nights, and each subject also contributed an average of thirty nights of data from nights when they did not use the DreamLight. On those non-DreamLight nights they may have been using other induction techniques, such as MILD or a modification of the reality testing procedure recommended by Paul Tholey.

This slide (Figure 2) shows the frequencies of lucid dreams per night per sub-ject during the study. You can see that lucid dreams are more frequent on nights when the subjects used the DreamLight, even though there is a smaller sample of DreamLight nights than non-DreamLight nights. In fact, if you take the average rate of lucid dreaming on non-DreamLight nights, and multiply that expected rate by the total number of nights the DreamLight was used, that gives you the expectation of how many lucid dreams subjects would have had on the same number of nights using the DreamLight—if it had no effect. But, you can see a striking difference between this expected number of lucid dreams and the actual number observed for the DreamLight nights. Using the expected baseline lucid dreaming rate, only two of the 49 subjects would have had lucid dreams on DreamLight nights, rather than the observed 19.

There were three techniques that we were using in this study: the DreamLight, reality testing and MILD. For each subject we did a correlation between the number of times that they had lucid dreams and their use of the DreamLight or not (this was a dichotomous variable) and then the number of times they tested reality on the day before, or the number of times they did MILD during the night. Then we averaged the correlation coefficients for however many subjects there were in each compar-ison. Not everybody did all the techniques, so there were fewer than 49 correlation coefficients. Only subjects who had at least one lucid dream could be used, so we have N’s of 34 to 36.

The averages of the correlation coefficients across subjects are shown in Table 1. The T-tests test the significance of the difference of each average correlation coefficient from zero. If there is no relationship for a given technique between the technique and lucid dream frequency, half the subjects would have a positive correlation, and half would have negative, and the average correlation would be non-significant.

The DreamLight shows a small, but significant correlation coefficient of about +.10—it is statistically significant, and a majority of subjects had positive correla-tions between DreamLight use and lucid dream success. In the last column, the Z-score takes into account the fact that people contributed different numbers of nights of data—somebody who used the DreamLight fifteen nights, which was the max-imum number, had more data for the DreamLight nights than somebody who used it only two nights. We wanted to weight the data according to how many nights of data there were for each subject, so we took the p values (the probability) for each of the correlation coefficients, converted them to standard scores, and then used a standard statistical method to determine the overall probability of the occurrence of that col-lection of standard scores. Again, we have a significant relationship shown for use of the DreamLight and lucid dream frequency.

Now, let’s look at the results for reality testing. This is a modification of Tholey’s variant of this idea, wherein one asks, "How do I know I’m not dreaming right now?" throughout the day, and then does a visualization while repeating to oneself, "All right, I think I’m not dreaming right now, but later on when I am dreaming, I’m going to remember to do this [a reality test]." It is a bit of a combina-tion between reality testing and a mnemonic intention exercise. Although there were two or three subjects who had a significant positive relationship between lucid dream success and frequency of reality testing, overall the group showed no rela-tionship. About half the group had positive correlations and half negative, with no statistical significance. So, we found no support for the usefulness of reality testing for inducing lucid dreams in this particular group.

MILD, on the other hand, showed the largest overall effect—the largest group correlation was between lucid dream frequency and the practice of MILD (r = .12, p < .001). This success may have to do with the fact that people had more of a chance to work with MILD than with the DreamLight, but, nevertheless, there was a significant relationship both for the probabilities and for the actual correlation coefficients. Thus, we found evidence that use of the DreamLight and use of MILD were both effective in increasing the rate of lucid dreaming.

Having looked at the rate of lucid dreaming for four conditions, with Dream-Light, reality testing, MILD, and no technique, we know that the DreamLight was effective and so was MILD. How did people do on the nights without the Dream-Light or MILD? This baseline lucid dreaming rate was 3.7% meaning that on these nights, if we had 100 people in the group, we would expect them to have a total of about four lucid dreams among them. In the condition in which the DreamLight was used without mental preparation with MILD, the rate went up to 5.5%. Using MILD without the DreamLight produced a rate of 13%, and the combination of MILD with the DreamLight resulted in the highest rate of 20%. Our interpretation of this is that using the DreamLight without MILD means using the DreamLight with insufficient mental preparation, so that when the light flashes, even if you see it, you won’t know what it means. It will be just a meaningless bit of dream content that you need to explain away.

Thus it is clear that, in this case, a reminder is not going to help you unless you are ready to remember it already. There is a saying, "A word to the wise will suffice, but for a fool a thousand explanations will never serve." Of course, we can be either wise or foolish depending on our preparation and what we bring to any task. Some people have the impression that the DreamLight is some sort of machine that will force people to have lucid dreams, and some have expressed the concern, "Well, what if you are not really ready to have lucid dreams, then what will happen?" The answer is, very probably nothing. You’ll have a dream in which you dream about the room light flashing, or something else you can explain away, but you won’t become lucid unless your mind is prepared. Whether or not there is a developmental aspect —some psychological development has to occur before you can have lucid dreams, I really don’t know. We have no evidence bearing on that question.

We do know that the mental concentration you put into it on the night before—especially the night before and perhaps the day before as well—you try to have a lucid dream is crucially important. If you are trying to remember to do something in the dream state, then, obviously, preparing your mind right before bed and each time you wake up during the night will be by far the most effective. It may not make any difference if right now, for example, you all very strongly prepare your minds, "I’m going to have a lucid dream tonight, I’m going to remember to do this," because if tonight when you go to bed you don’t think about it, this preparation will be diluted by the day’s subsequent experiences, and will have little, if any, effect. Thus, in order to maximize our results with the DreamLight lucid dream induction tool, we will be focusing on the preparation immediately before bed, and during the night.

I would now like my associate, Lynne Levitan, to describe a bit of the phenom-enology of what happens with the light incorporations. The study I just described was one in which people used the DreamLight for one to fifteen nights, but we have some people who have used the DreamLight in various incarnations over the past several years, and had a great deal of success with it. I’d like you to get a bit of an impression of what this is like.

Levitan: I’ve used the DreamLight about 130 times in the last three years, in several different versions. You can see in Figure 3 that I clearly have more success in having lucid dreams when I’m using the DreamLight. The following results include no information on mental preparation; we can assume that I wasn’t really paying much attention to mental preparation.

I have data for 101 nights that I used the DreamLight. On 59 of the nights I had incorporations. On 40 of the nights I had lucid dreams, so we can assume that on 19 of those nights I could have had a lucid dream, but I was stupid.

Table 1 shows the various ways in which the light was incorporated. The cate-gory here with the biggest percentage is "light emanating from a dream object." The red light that you saw here actually comes into the dream and becomes part of the dream. If you don’t have any idea that you are wearing the DreamLight, it is just part of the dream. It is interesting to look at the various ways that the DreamLight can incorporate. A classic one is the sun—or reflections of the sun. The main thing about the incorporation is that it is very bright. You see a bright reflection in a mirror, or I even saw a bright reflection from a photograph of the sun in my eyes—in some cases I thought it was just the sun in my eyes, but usually I realized, "Oh, that’s the DreamLight," probably because it was so bright. One theme I’ve heard others report, too—the TV malfunctions and flashes in your eyes. In one case of mine there was a Star Trek episode on television, and the enemies had devised an exciting new weapon that produced something I called the "retinal flash." Another common case for me in this category is the popping of flashbulbs—someone is tak-ing pictures. And, I’ve seen slide projectors projected directly in my eyes. A case in which I failed was: I was at a concert, sitting in a stadium on the bleachers, and it seems there was an arc lamp sitting right in front of me flashing into the audience. Now I don’t know why anyone would put an arc lamp facing up into the audience, but I never figured out it was the DreamLight until I awoke.

The second most common category, light superimposed on the scene without a dream source, is pretty mundane. You simply see light in your eyes, and it is pretty obvious that it is the DreamLight. Interestingly, though, it is not always red. I’ve seen it as white or green as well. One time I saw it as four red dots hanging in front of my left eye—the interesting thing about that was that the mask I was wearing at the time only had two LEDs, rather than the usual four, so clearly my mind was still constructing away.

The third category is unaltered incorporations of the light stimulus. We don’t have any statistics on this, but my guess would be that this is the easiest type to recognize, because it looks exactly like you are wearing the mask—except you are walking around and you suddenly see this stimulus hanging in front of your face. On the other hand, strange things happen like you see the light and take off the mask, in your dream, and you say, "Oh no, I’m not asleep, but it’s still flashing!"

The fourth category is interesting—you see the light as psychedelic or geomet-ric patterns. I’ve seen absolutely glorious brilliant patterns in concentric circles, and just fascinating geometric shapes covering the entire field of vision. I’ve seen traffic lights and flash bulbs turn into psychedelic displays.

The final category is alterations of the ambient light level in the dream. In one interesting case, I was walking down a street on a very dark night when suddenly it was as bright as day and I was floating about a hundred feet above the street. I said, "Well, I must be dreaming!" In another curious case, I was talking to Fariba [Bogzaran] in a room when she said, "I think we need some more light in here," and suddenly the room was filled with light. Now, how she did that, I have no idea!


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4. A Comparison of Waking Instruction and Posthypnotic Suggestion for
Lucid Dream Induction


University of Virginia Medical School, Charlottesville

The following is a summary of the methodology, results and conclusions of a dissertation . . . available through University Microfilms.

The original purpose of this study was to evaluate two techniques for lucid dream induction in formerly nonlucid dreamers during one night in the sleep labor-atory. However, efforts to correct a suspected flaw in one of these techniques fortu-itously led to the development and comparison of four experimental conditions.


Subjects were 15 pairs of matched hypnotically susceptible females (ages 18– 32) reporting recall of at least one dream a month and no prior experience with lucid dreaming. Only females were used. . . . All subjects were in the upper fiftieth per-centile of hypnotic susceptibility as indicated by a score of 5 or above on the Stan-ford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form C (SHSS:C).

The initial methodology called for comparing the effects of lucid dream induc-tion capacity via Waking Instructions (WI) with that of Waking Instructions plus Posthypnotic Suggestion (WI + PHS) (N = 15 per group). Posthypnotic Suggestion included generalized reinforcement of Waking Instruction and was individually administered by the experimenter the night of each subject’s participation in the lab. PHS also provided a hypnotic encounter with a personalized "dream symbol" before going to sleep in the laboratory. During this encounter, subjects were instructed to ask for their symbol’s help in becoming lucid during their dreams that night.

Personal symbols were developed based on discussion of the subjects’ imagery which had occurred in response to item 6 of the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form C (viz., "go to sleep and have a dream about hypnosis"). The rationale given for development and use of this symbol was twofold. First, lucid dream induc-tion was described as a process of enhancing cooperation between "waking" con-sciousness and "dream" consciousness, such that dream consciousness would be willing to allow the "intrusion" of waking consciousness into its presence. Second, it was explained that the imagery being discussed reflected the subject’s individual-ized view of her own dream consciousness, and that symbols based on this imagery could provide a useful "ally" in eliciting the desired cooperation. Other than differ-ences in the dream symbols themselves, hypnotic procedures and suggestions were the same for all participants.

The Original Waking Instructions (OWI) were likewise administered by the ex-perimenters on the night of each woman’s participation in the lab. OWI focused on maintaining an inquisitive attitude toward one’s experience and on evaluating that experience throughout the night by constantly asking, "Am I dreaming now? Is this a dream?" In order to reinforce this focus, and to establish a habit of communication with the experimenter, OWI also directed subjects to give a prearranged ocular sig-nal whenever they found themselves asking this question, regardless of how they themselves might answer the question. The intent was that the sleepers could then be wakened by the experimenters and receive feedback about whether or not they had indeed been dreaming, thus gradually increasing their awareness of subtle altera-tions in subjective experience as they approached the dream state. Subjects were also told to continue signaling every minute to a minute and a half for as long as they remained lucid, and that they would be wakened for a dream report about a minute and a half after what appeared to be their final signal.

Efforts to correct a suspected flaw in OWI (i.e., research participants’ frequent-ly reported failure to signal when uncertain whether they were awake or asleep) led to development of the Revised Waking Instructions (RWI). RWI consisted essen-tially of the following stepwise procedure:

1. Signal whenever you think you might be asleep (as opposed to "asleep and dreaming");

2. Signal only when you are asleep and experiencing "imagery" of any sort (e.g., random or "hypnagogic" imagery); and

3. Signal only when you are asleep and truly "dreaming."

The Revised Waking Instructions thus constituted a sort of biofeedback-like procedure wherein verbal feedback from the experimenter at the time of waking the women from their signaling served to guide the subjects’ progression from one stage of learning to the next. Considerable attention was given to teaching the distinction between random, isolated imagery and true "dreams," which were defined as the presence of an ongoing, "hallucinated" scenario consisting a more or less linked series of events or experiences which the subject subjectively experienced as "real" rather than consciously made up or imagined.


Ultimately, four experimental conditions were established and compared:

A. Posthypnotic Suggestion (PHS) + Original Waking Instructions (OWI); N = 8.

B. Posthypnotic Suggestion (PHS) + Revised Waking Instructions (RWI); N = 7.

C. Original Waking Instructions (OWI) only; N = 8.

D. Revised Waking Instructions (RWI) only; N = 7.

There was no significant difference in the average level of hypnotic susceptibil-ity between any of these conditions (A = 8.6, B = 9.3, C = 8.1, D = 8.7), nor were there any differences between these conditions with respect to age or level of dream recall reported prior to the experiment.

The majority of participants in all conditions reported more than once for each lucid dream. A complex measure of interrater reliability of signal detection between the experimenters and blind raters was found to be comparable to that reported in earlier studies by Hearne (1978) and LaBerge (1980).

Lucid dreams which were reported during the study were divided into three types, based upon when ocular signaling actually occurred:

Unambiguous REM Lucid Dreams (UREM LD): Lucidity and ocular signaling oc-curred during unambiguous REM sleep;

Ambiguous REM Lucid Dreams (AREM LD): Lucidity apparently occurred during unambiguous REM sleep, but ocular signaling occurred immediately after arousal from REM sleep;

Non-REM Lucid Dreams (NREM LD): Lucidity and ocular signaling occurred dur-ing non-REM sleep.

Substantiation and discussion of the above classification system, especially that of "non-REM" lucid dreams, will be discussed elsewhere. It should be emphasized that all reports of random, isolated (hypnagogic) imagery were excluded from analysis.

Table 1 indicates the number of each type of lucid dream reported in the various conditions, with the number of subjects reporting each type indicated in parentheses. Note that since most subjects reported more than one type of dream, the total num-ber of subjects indicated in Table 1 is greater than the total number of subjects in the study (n = 30).

The basic unit of measure for analysis was the number of subjects in each con-dition who reported a lucid dream (only two lucid dream reports were not verified by ocular signaling). Table 2 indicates the number of subjects in each condition who reported at least one lucid dream of one or more of the three types.

When compared to the effects of Original Waking Instructions (Condition C) (binomial test and Fisher’s exact test), each of the three other conditions were inde-pendently significant at the .05 level or better (it should be stressed that these three conditions all remain significant even if non-REM lucid dreams are excluded from analysis. Thus, since OWI alone (Condition C) was not successful, PHS (Condition A), PHS + RWI (Condition D) were all independently successful with these former-ly nonlucid dreamers.

No statistically significant difference was found between any pairwise combi-nation of these three techniques. That is, PHS, RWI and their combination were all equally effective with respect to the number of subjects who reported lucid dreams. However, the five measures which are discussed below suggested that results asso-ciated with PHS (Conditions A and B) were qualitatively superior to those obtained with either form of Waking Instruction alone (Conditions C and D).

First, remember that participants sometimes signaled and were wakened prior to signaling from their first lucid dream. In what amounts to primarily the "PHS only" condition (Condition A), the first signal given by all successful subjects occurred during their first lucid dream. However, four of the six successful subjects using RWI only (Condition D), and all of the seven successful subjects using PHS + RWI (Con-dition B) signaled one or more times from nonlucid dream states (e.g., during hyp-nagogic imagery at sleep onset after initially going to sleep but prior to signalling from their first lucid dream. Thus PHS tended to require less "priming" than did RWI. That is, PHS tended to establish dream awareness directly, without ongoing intervention from the experimenter in the form of verbal feedback over the course of several wakenings. RWI, on the other hand, tended to first establish and refine sub-jects’ sensitivity to the subjective changes which occurred during sleep onset and to then "extend" this sensitivity into the ongoing awareness of dreaming.

Second, all REM-associated lucidity (i.e., UREM LDs and AREM LDs) in the non-PHS condition (Conditions C and D) occurred prior to three A.M. and no later than the third REM period of the night. Yet 6 of the 14 REM-associated lucid dreams in two PHS conditions (Conditions A and B) occurred between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. and during the fourth to the sixth REM periods of the night. This was true despite the greater frequency of four or more REM periods having occurred in the non-PHS conditions than in the PHS-related conditions. It is thought that most spontaneous lucid dreaming occurs during the later REM periods of the night (Garfield, 1974; Hearne, 1978); LaBerge, 1980; van Eeden, 1969). Since late REM periods are typ-ically more emotionally involved than early REM periods, it may be "easier" to have a lucid dream during an early, less emotionally distracting REM period. PHS-induced lucidity may therefore be more "potent" than that induced via involvement with effective (i.e., "Revised") waking instructions.

In this connection, it was also noted that when compared with either PHS "alone" (Condition A) or RWI alone (Condition D), the combination of PHS and RWI (Con-dition B) tended to produce fewer REM LDs and to produce more NREM LDs. Thus the combination of PHS and RWI appeared to restrict or localize lucid dreaming to NREM sleep. This finding was attributed to the reinforcing effect of PHS on in-creased awareness of sleep onset phenomena which was so strongly emphasized in the Revised Waking Instructions. This emphasis may have tended to narrow the dreamer’s focus to NREM dreams.

A third measure of qualitative difference between PHS and non-PHS effects was that post experimental levels of lucid dream frequency were higher in the PHS related conditions (Conditions A and B) than in the non-PHS related conditions (conditions C and D). This was true both in terms of the number of subjects report-ing lucid dreams at various follow-up times and in terms of the number of post experimental lucid dreams reported per person.

Fourth, as indicated by the participants subjective reports and by the length of time between multiple ocular signals (when they occurred), lucidity tended to last longer within a given dream in the PHS related conditions than in the non-PHS related conditions.

And fifth, the lucid dreams of the PHS related conditions showed higher levels of intensity, personal relevance and personal involvement than did those of the non-PHS conditions. That is, affect and visual imagery tended to be more vivid and in-tense, experimentation within the dream and manipulation of dream content occurred more frequently, and dream content had more personal relevance and immediacy than was typically the case in the lucid dreams of those not exposed to PHS.

Nonetheless, it should be emphasized that with all three successful induction techniques (PHS, RWI and PHS + RWI), enduring benefits of lucidity were demon-strated on nightmares and other forms of negative affect within dreams. For exam-ple, one PHS subject was able to end a life history of recurrent nightmares through independent use of her lucidity training at home.

One final qualitative difference of note between PHS and WI related conditions was the manner in which lucidity was usually triggered. PHS tended to induce lu-cidity by altering dream content in a form which the individual was trained to recog-nize (e.g., inclusion of the dream symbol), while WI tended to alter the dreamer’s tendency to be critically aware of ongoing experience in general.


It is important to remember that the results of this study may not be widely generalizable, since the study sample represents only females in the upper fiftieth percentile of hypnotic susceptibility. Nonetheless, it is now apparent that dream lucidity is not simply an innate ability. Some hypnotically susceptible subjects can learn to dream lucidly within one night in the sleep laboratory and can maintain and even extend this learning well beyond the laboratory experience.

It also now appears that the range of sleep physiology which can accompany lucid dreaming includes NREM sleep. While NREM lucid dreams have not been prevalent in earlier laboratory studies, their presence in this study was probably due to the focus in Revised Waking Instructions on sleep onset phenomena combined with the experimenters’ clear communication to subjects that dreaming can occur in both REM and NREM sleep. Non-REM lucid dreams are clearly possible, and in some instances, their level of intensity and emotional involvement is comparable to or even exceeds that typically experienced in REM lucid dreams.

With respect to specific techniques, both Posthypnotic Suggestion and Revised Waking Instructions can produce lucid dreams in equal numbers of subjects, but PHS in conjunction with personal symbols appears to induce a more clinically potent and enduring form of lucid dreaming. Combining PHS and RWI appears to interfere with the optimal performance of both techniques.

It should also be remembered that signaling played a significant role in eliciting and sometimes even maintaining lucidity. Since signaling was also reported to help reactivate lucidity at home following the experiment, efforts to communicate with the waking world from the dream state may be an important key to eliciting dream lucidity.

And finally, with respect to clinical and personal applications, the induction of lucid dreaming shows considerable promise, since it can establish and enhance a new level of active cooperation between waking and dreaming consciousness. Given the apparent occurrence of ocular signaling in immediate proximity to "delta wave" (Stage 3 and 4) sleep, lucidity training may even have potential for the treatment of night terrors and sleep walking.


Garfield, P. (1974). Creative dreaming. New York: Ballantine.

LaBerge, S. (1980). Lucid dreaming: An exploratory study of consciousness during sleep. Doctoral Dissertation, Stanford University. (University Microfilms International, 8024691).

van Eeden, F. (1913). A study of dreams. In C.T. Tart (Ed.), Altered states of consciousness. Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, Doubleday & Co., Inc.


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5. Physiological Mechanisms of Lucid Dreaming


Stanford University, California

For those of you here who aren’t familiar with the general approach we have been using in our research on lucid dreaming I will briefly describe it. We’ve been having talented lucid dreamers, like Beverly Kedzierski, enter the dream state on a particular mission. Before they go to sleep we arrange that once they realize they are dreaming they will make an eye movement signal by moving their eyes left, right, left, right.

Figure 1 is a typical example of such a lucid dream—it’s actually a little better than average, because we have the last 8 minutes of a 30 minute rapid eye move-ment (REM) period. When the subject woke up he reported that he had made five signals, which you can see in the part of the dream preceding the awakening. The channels we recorded for this experiment were: an electroencephalogram (EEG) channel on the top of the chart, two eye movement (electro-oculargram, or EOG) channels in the middle, and chin muscle tone (electromyogram, or EMG) on the bot-tom. For those of you who are not familiar with sleep research, one can determine what stage of sleep a person is in using the classical scoring by means of these three parameters. The part of the record with the lucid dream is all REM sleep, as you can see by the rapid eye movements, low muscle tone, and appropriate brain waves. The first signal, given at number one, is when the subject realized he was dreaming. He made the correct signal. The next thing that happened was that he flew around and did other things he enjoys doing in his lucid dreams until about a minute and a half later, when it seemed to him that he had awakened. So, he made the appropriate sig-nal to indicate an awakening. We have subjects signal not only when they become lucid, but also when their lucid dreams end and they think they have awakened. This is because of cases like this; when you look at the record, you see that both before and after his wake signal he is still in REM sleep. He is only dreaming that he is awake; he’s had a "false awakening." He dreams on for a while and then odd things begin to happen. At one point the technician in the dream is taking off the subject’s electrodes and treating him impolitely, and he realizes that this doesn’t happen at Stanford, so he must still be dreaming. Then he makes another signal, marked in Figure 1 by number three, which means that he knows that he is dreaming again. However, he realized that he didn’t do it quite right, so he repeated it properly. You see at number three he has made actually six eye movements, rather than the agreed upon four. He dreams on and at the end he truly wakes up.

We rely on both the physiological and psychological records together to deter-mine the subject’s state of consciousness. At the end of the dream, he actually is awake, and we say he’s awake because we see muscle tone and movement artifact, so we know he is moving around. Here, at the false awakening, we say he’s still in REM sleep because the EEG has not changed. It’s hard to see at this scale, but it is still mainly delta waves, with theta and a little alpha here and there. The EMG also didn’t change, proving that he’s still in the dream state there. It’s only because he’s given the waking signal while still dreaming that we could conclude without even seeing the report that, in all likelihood, he had just had a false awakening. True, sometimes people will give the wrong signal, so that a subject would give what looks like a false awakening signal and then in the report say, "So, I signalled that I knew I was dreaming." This would be what the subject does for signals, making a mistake about it and not noticing, or else saying, "And I knew I didn’t do it right, but you know, I hope it worked." People vary in how carefully they do this.

The important thing about this subject making six eye movements, then realiz-ing that that was not right and repeating the signal correctly is that it shows he is monitoring his actions critically. He is noticing, "I’m supposed to do this, but I did not do it correctly." Therefore, he is critically "awake." This is the variety of lucid dreams we have been studying, ones in which people are explicitly conscious that they are dreaming; there is not any doubt. We don’t have to ask them afterwards, "Did you know if you were dreaming?" The subjects know not merely that they are dreaming, but that they are in the sleep lab and that they’re there for a purpose—in order to signal the beginning of the lucid dream, and then carry out whatever other experiments have been planned for the dream state. This is different from some other levels of lucid dreaming that exist for people who don’t attain fully lucidity, but who may have some sense of what it’s like to know they are dreaming. We’re studying a very specific type of lucid dream.

Now we will take a look at how we have been examining the physiology of lucid dreaming. To begin there are variations in how much eye movement activity occurs in different parts of the dream. In the first part of the dream shown in Figure 1 there is not much eye movement activity. Right before the lucid dream there is more. What we have done is take 76 lucid dreams, from 13 subjects, of this variety, all unambiguously signalled so that we were certain where lucidity began. Begin-ning from these signals, we divided up the entire REM periods into 30-second per-iods before and after the onset of lucidity. We looked at respiration rate, finger pulse amplitude, and eye movement density in the periods before and after lucidity, and our results are displayed in Figure 2. These four plots are all the same. We are look-ing at standard scores, so the zeroes in all these cases are the mean values for the entire REM period. For example, taking REM density, we counted how many eye movements occurred in each 30 second period for the whole REM period. For each subject we converted these counts to standard (Z) scores. Then we averaged these across subjects. The number of dreams contributed by each subject varied from 1 to 25. Beverly contributed 25 lucid dreams, but we averaged all hers together so she contributed one Z-score to the averages that you see here. Thus, for eye movement density we have 13 subjects each contributing an equal amount. You see that in the 30 seconds before the lucid dream begins there is a significant elevation of eye move-ment activity, and also of respiration rate and frequency of skin potential responses. There’s a trend toward an increase in the heart rate, but it doesn’t increase signifi-cantly until later in the lucid dream. The stars mean that the elevation is statistically significant.

You can also see that once the lucid dream has begun, the physiological acti-vation continues, and in some cases increases. So, we can see quite clearly that lucid dreams are more activated than normal REM on the average. There is an extra in-crease of activation at the initiation, the point at which the subject realizes he or she is dreaming, that you can see especially in the skin potential responses, which are very frequent at this point. In fact, the occurrence of skin potential responses in REM is almost an easy way to tell when a lucid dream starts, because skin potential responses in REM sleep are fairly uncommon, yet when they occur they are very fre-quently associated with lucid dreams.

Another interesting thing to note about these measures I’ve presented here is that they are all measures of sympathetic activation. Since all of these factors are increasing at the onset of lucidity, clearly what is happening is that lucid dreams are occurring in one of the two main varieties of REM sleep: the one called "phasic REM." The general background state is called "tonic REM," upon which occasion-ally is superimposed phasic activation which may be present in varying degrees. Lucid dreams tend to occur in association with the highest degree of phasic activa-tion. Phasic activation is responsible, among other things, for the active suppression of sensory input. I will return to this topic in the summary, but let us now turn to another analysis.

We found that the dream reports fell into two categories. People either said that they had just awakened from a lucid dream with no awakening before, or they men-tion having been briefly awake before entering the lucid dream. That is, they were either continuously in the dream state, or else there was a mention of an awakening. When we looked at the physiological records of these dreams, we found that 100 percent of the wake (W) types had at least momentary awakenings somewhere in the two minutes before; whereas something like 10 percent of the others did. So it seems quite clear that some lucid dreams are initiated from awakenings during REM; we call these wake-initiated lucid dreams (WILDs). They were the minority of our cases; only 25 percent were of this type. Some subjects, who contributed only one or two lucid dreams didn’t have any WILDs. But it is plain that at least two types of lucid dream occur, and this fits quite well with the experiential literature. We call the other type of lucid dream DILDs, for dream-initiated lucid dreams.

We have gathered some interesting information on how these lucid dreams are initiated. What we did is measure the time at which lucid dreams occurred from the beginning of the REM periods. REM periods last from 1 or 2 minutes to 45 minutes or an hour, depending on the time of night. Then we plotted the distribution of the lucid dreams within REM periods. Since our time is limited, we’ll just consider the combined lucid dream sample (LaBerge, 1985). It basically has two factors. One, it is a little flat at the beginning and then it decreases with time—this distribution is accounted for mainly by the survival function of REM periods. The fact is that there are many more REM periods that are at least 2 minutes in length than there are ones of at least 20 minutes in length. Consequently, you would expect to find more lucid dreams occurring at 2 minutes in length than at 20 minutes in length, other factors being equal. This is a gradually monotonically decreasing function which just falls off, but there are some exceptions, especially with the WILDs. At the beginning with the shorter REM periods, there are less cases than would be expected by the survivor function. The remainder of the variance can be accounted for by adding one other factor, such as eye movement density. REM density, if plotted across a REM period, starts out very low in the beginning. In the first two minutes of REM the eye-movement density and all the other physiological parameters are about three or four standard deviations below the mean value for the whole REM period. This means that the brain is not fully activated yet; it takes more time. This again fits with the activation picture that we saw in Figure 2, which showed that one only has lucid dreams if the brain is sufficiently activated. For that reason, lucidity tends not to happen in the first few minutes of a REM period.

There is one last analysis which I want to discuss. We also have looked at the distribution of lucid dreams across REM periods (LaBerge, Levitan & Dement, 1986). That is, how many lucid dreams happened in REM period one, two, three, and so on. Again, most of the variance is covered by two factors. One is simply the amount of total REM time available in each REM period. If you count up how many total minutes of REM period Number One there were in one night and how many total minutes of REM period Number Two, and so on, you will find that you can account for a lot of the distribution by the amount of REM time. This is similar to the preceding results in that there is roughly a constant probability of having lucid dreams. Given the appropriate mental set where there is an opportunity for lucidity it will happen. However, there is one other factor which is almost as important: the REM period effect. In later REM periods of the night lucid dreams are much more likely to happen. What we determined was the relative proportion of lucid dreams in each REM period segment. The number of lucid dreams per minute in REM period Number 1, 2, 3, 4 is a linearly increasing number, so that in REM period Number 3 there is a higher rate than in 2, and so on. It is a directly increasing result. What should we make of this?

There is a phenomena that has been described by David Cohen especially, called the hypothesis of Gradually Increasing Left Dominance or GILD. The reason this hypothesis seems to fit with these findings is that, in earlier REM periods of the night, the right hemisphere is involved in REM sleep, whereas as the night goes on you see less of a full right hemisphere type of activation and more mixtures with the emergence of left hemisphere activity. Now, in the lucid dream state it is clear that you’ve got to have an active left hemisphere, because that’s the one needed to say, "This is a dream." That is the speaking hemisphere, and the more analytical hemi-sphere. Therefore, I think that GILD could easily account for the relative proportion of lucid dreams being greater in later REM periods. This is also fits with the fact that many people have reported, "My lucid dreams typically happen after being in bed for eight or nine hours or late into the night."

To summarize what is indicated by our findings, although that the dream is a paradoxically activated state, the lucid dream is a very activated state. But the dreamer doesn’t wake up due to this activation. I think that’s part of the clue to why lucidity typically happens in REM sleep, and apparently more rarely under other cir-cumstances as yet undetermined, which Joe will mention later, in non-REM sleep. In REM sleep active processes are suppressing awakening. The more these processes are turned on, the less likely it is that you will wake up. So a positive feedback loop is activated. Perhaps because you’re so involved in the dream and constructing such a vivid reality there, it becomes still harder for sensory information to come in due to the fact that in order to perceive something you have to put it in context. If the con-text you have is in a dream, then this context does not include the external environ-ment. What we see then is that physiological activation seems to be the main factor in determining the onset of lucid dreams. Another factor, obviously, is mental set, because if you haven’t got the mental set to do this it’s not going to happen. We could have plotted a thousand records from people who didn’t have lucid dreams, and they would have shown similar peaks and valleys. In their peak activation periods they never had lucid dreams, because they didn’t have the mental set.

Obviously, there are many things we’re going to have to work out in the future, but so far the picture is quite straightforward in showing that activation is tremen-dously important in determining when lucid dreams happen.


LaBerge, S. (1985). The temporal distribution of lucid dreams, Sleep Research, 14, 113.

LaBerge, S., Levitan, L. & Dement, W.C. (1986). Lucid dreaming: Physiological correlates of consciousness during REM sleep. Journal of Mind and Behavior, 7, 251–258.


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6. H-Reflex in Lucid Dreams


University of Texas Medical School at Houston

When I started medical school, I wanted to continue doing psychophysiological research into consciousness during REM sleep, but many of my mentors suggested that by definition this was impossible. I was going to have to come up with some sort of unequivocal proof that the phenomenon I was talking about was indeed REM sleep and not a micro-awakening. After collaborating with Stephen LaBerge, and others, and reviewing the literature, we decided that the best thing to do would be to continuously monitor H-reflex amplitude throughout the night, its suppression being a unique criterion of REM sleep.

To induce the H-reflex, we stimulated the posterior tibial nerve, which is a nerve behind your knee, every 5 seconds to produce a contraction of the soleus mus-cle, which was then recorded as a pen detection on the polygraph record. What the literature had documented was that the H-reflex amplitude was variably present in all states of non-REM sleep and wakefulness, but during REM sleep, when all your muscle tension is gone, and when you are in effect paralyzed and not receiving any sensory input from the external environment, this H-reflex is suppressed. By docu-menting H-reflex suppression during lucid dreaming, we added further support to the growing body of knowledge that the phenomenon is indeed a REM sleep occur-rence and not a micro-awakening.

In Figure 1, the left side of the diagram is REM sleep with an eye movement signal indicating that I’m lucid, and the right side of the diagram is awake with eyes closed and an eye movement signal which we agreed means that I perceive myself to be awake. The top nine lines are brain wave activity, followed by three lines for eye movements, a line each for anger pulse, submental muscle tension, heart rate and H-reflex, and two lines for respiration.

The dream behind this polygraph record was one in which I was not lucid. I was walking around minding my own business when all of a sudden Jimmy Stewart started to talk with me. I immediately realized I was dreaming, since Jimmy Stewart normally doesn’t come and talk with me. I decided to signal left-right, left-right, up-down, up-down, left-right, left-right. I awakened shortly thereafter and made a left-right, left-right, left-right, left-right signal, which means that I perceive myself to be awake.

Figure 2 shows that the H-reflex is significantly more suppressed during lucid REM sleep than during any other stage of sleep or wakefulness. These statistics were generated by scoring each 5-second epoch within each REM period as awake, Stage 1, Stage 2, REM or lucid REM sleep. The H-reflex amplitude was measured after each 5-second epoch and 95% confidence limits were established. As you can see, the H-reflex is significantly more suppressed during lucid REM sleep than dur-ing any other stage. This would _t with a hypothesis that increasing brain activation during REM sleep leads to further suppression of reflex activity.

In the future, I hope to further investigate the physiology of lucid dreaming in order to better understand how the teaching of this skill to various patient popula-tions may be useful as an adjunct to current treatment plans.


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7. EEG Activity During Lucid Dreaming


Brock University, St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada

We have been interested in the electrophysiological correlates of lucid dream-ing (LD) since early work in this laboratory suggested a relationship between lucidity and alpha activity (Ogilvie, Hunt, Sawicki & McGowan, 1978; Ogilvie, Hunt, Tyson, Lucescu & Jeakins, 1982; Tyson, Ogilvie, & Hunt, 1984). Until now, this alpha-lucidity hypothesis had not been tested in our lab on high frequency lucid dreamers who signal while in the REM stage of sleep, and LaBerge (1980; 1981) had not observed any changes in alpha in signalled episodes of lucidity.

The present report describes computer analyses of EEG activity obtained during eight laboratory nights from a frequent lucid dreamer (RJS). In addition to standard polysomnographic measures, CCTV monitoring with two cameras and a screen splitter permitted simultaneous display and videotaping of the subject’s face and concurrent polygraphic activity. This was particularly useful during REM, since RJS had trained himself to sleep on his back and to try to signal from that position.

In the month prior to the lab nights, RJS spent over an hour per day meditating. He also used LaBerge’s lucidity induction or cognitive self-instruction techniques and reported LD rates in excess of one per night. He practiced signalling (using three blinks/rapid vertical eye movements) and thought he had successfully sig-nalled several LDs while at home.

In the lab, he was instructed to try to enter the lucid state whenever possible and to signal lucidity when the state was attained. He was told that he would be awak-ened by the experimenter (KPV) and asked for a mentation report:

1. When KPV saw LD signalling, presumably during REM sleep;

2. During REM without signalling; or

3. From non-REM (Stage 2) sleep.

While in the lab, five episodes of signalled lucid dreaming were recorded, each confirmed by experimental arousal and a taped mentation report. In addition, there were eight Stage 2 control arousals, three nonlucid REM arousals, and one prelucid report following a REM awakening.

The signalled LD incidents were quite interesting; in one particularly clear instance, videotaped records show the eye movement signals concurrent with the REM EEG and other polygraphic evidence of sleep. Several seconds later, the experimental arousal and interview could be observed.

Four-minute samples of EEG data were obtained as follows:

1. Immediately prior to the signalled LD arousal;

2. Prior to Stage 2 arousals; and

3. Sampled from REM without signalling and not followed by an arousal.

The samples were digitized, subjected to FFT analysis, and analyses of variance were computed. Delta, theta, alpha, and spindle frequencies were examined for pow-er and percent power. Principle comparisons were between LD and Stage 2 arousals and between LD arousals and REM samples devoid of signalling. Each of the four one-minute samples of EEG was studied in sequence. (An insufficient number of nonlucid REM arousals prevented use of that condition as another comparison.)

In the REM versus LD REM analyses, the absence of a main effect suggests that within this one individual, no remarkable EEG changes take place within REM to accompany the entry into lucidity. Only the interaction between REM condition and time was significant. There, variable amounts of alpha in the minutes before LD arousal contrasted with decreasing alpha levels in the undisturbed REM data. There were differences between LD and Stage 2 EEG in theta percent (higher theta during LD REM), though alpha percentages were surprisingly similar, differing only in the interaction between time and arousal state.

In sum, there were no important differences observed in the EEG activity of our LD signaller when LD REM and undisrupted, presumably nonlucid, REM samples were compared. As usual, there weren’t as many samples (or subjects) as one would like to employ for such comparisons, but these data do not support predictions from our earlier work that alpha levels could be expected to change during lucid dreams. From this limited sample, it seems that the increases in alpha which reach their high-est levels during prelucid dreams (Tyson, et al., 1984) do not change in any predict-able way during the lucid episode itself. Relating what is known about variations in alpha levels during wakefulness to those observed during REM sleep might prove interesting. During complex mental activity and high levels of arousal, EEG fre-quency is at its highest; beta frequencies predominate and alpha levels are relatively low. EEG recordings during relaxed wakefulness show the highest levels of alpha, and Rechtschaffen and Kales (1968) define Stage 1 sleep as beginning when alpha levels fall below 50 percent. Perhaps the lucid dreamer moves in the opposite direc-tion along the arousal continuum as s/he ascends phenomenologically from normal, uncritical dreaming, through (in some instances) a prelucid period where the reality of the dream experience is questioned, to a state wherein full lucidity (and signal-ling) is attained. Perhaps the electrophysiological correlates of the ascent along the consciousness continuum may begin with relatively low levels of alpha (typical REM dreaming), move to higher alpha levels (prelucid dreaming), and end with moderate alpha levels (lucid dreaming), while still in the REM state. More data are needed to refine this viewpoint.


LaBerge, S. (1980). Lucid dreaming as a learnable skill: A case study. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 9, 1039–1042. 6

LaBerge, S. (1981). Lucid dreaming: Directing the act as it happens. Psychology Today, 15, 48–57.

Ogilvie, R., Hunt, H., Sawicki, C. & McGowan, K. (1978). Searching for lucid dreams. (Ab-stract). Sleep Research, 7, 165.

Ogilvie, R.D., Hunt, H.T., Tyson, P.D., Lucescu, M.L., & Jeakins, D.B. (1982). Lucid dream-ing and alpha activity: A preliminary report. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 55, 795–808.

Rechtschaffen, A. & Kales, A. (Eds.) (1968). A manual of standardized terminology, tech-niques and scoring system for sleep stages of human subjects. Washington, DC: Public Health Services, U. S. Government Printing Office.

Tyson, P.D., Ogilvie, R.D. & Hunt, H.T. (1984). Lucid, prelucid, and nonlucid dreams related to the amount of EEG alpha activity during REM sleep. Psychophysiology, 21, 442–451.

Editor’s Note: This is an abstract of a paper which was presented at the annual Association for the Study of Dreams conference at the University of California, Santa Cruz and appeared in the May/June issue of the ASD Newsletter.


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8. Neurophysiological Order in the REM Sleep of Participants of the Transcendental Meditation
and TM-Sidhi Program


Lelystad, The Netherlands

Editor’s Note: Page-count constraints and the overall nature of this issue led us to de-cide, with regret, that we could only republish an abstract of this meticulously docu-mented pilot study. Readers who want detailed information including quantitative and qualitative results should contact the editor to obtain a copy of Lucidity Letter, 9(2).

Previous research has revealed that, in the course of ontogenesis, the randomly occurring, isolated, low frequency Rapid Eye Movements (REMs) of the undiffer-entiated sleep of the premature are gradually ordered in groups of high-frequency REMs, characteristic of mature REM sleep (Petre-Quadens, 1967; 1969; 1978; Petre-Quadens & De Lee, 1974; Petre-Quadens, De Lee & Remy, 1971). This obser-vation has led to the hypothesis that there exist two functionally different types of REMs in REM sleep: the high frequency (HF) REMs with an interval of less than one second, reflecting the "maturity" or "order" of brain functioning; and the low frequency (LF) REMs with an interval of more than one second, reflecting "random noise" in the brain. Subsequent research has supported this hypothesis.

TM and TM-Sidhi techniques, when practised 20–40 minutes twice a day, result in improved scores on tests of cognitive and affective functioning. Improve-ments took place regardless of the age of the subjects, even on variables like "fluid intelligence" and "field independence," which normally do not improve after the age of 17 (Aron, Orme-Johnson & Brubaker, 1981; Dillbeck, Assimakis, Raimondi, Orme-Johnson & Rowe, 1986).

In view of these findings, it seemed appropriate to test the above described hypothesis—that the brain during REM sleep carries out information-ordering pro-cesses which are reflected in the neurophysiological patterns of the REM sleep—with subjects who are practising the TM and TM-Sidhi programs. This has been done with the following REM sleep parameters: the ratio of the HF-REMs (I < 1 sec) to the LF-REMs (I > 2 sec) (as a measure for the order-creating capacity of the brain); the density of the HF-REMs (as a measure for the intensity of the information-ordering process); the density of the LF-REMs (as a measure for the intensity of the cerebral "noise" which accompanies the information-ordering process to a certain extent); the REM density, or density of all REMs regardless of their frequency (as a measure for the intensity of the stimulation of the brain); the total number of HF-REMs (as a measure for the absolute amount of ordered information over the total REM sleep time); the total number of LF-REMs (as a measure for the absolute amount of cerebral "noise" over the total REM sleep time); the REM sleep time (as a measure for the total efficiency of REM sleep); and the REM sleep percentage (as a measure for the total efficiency of REM sleep, in relation to total sleep).



Six male TM-Sidhi practitioners, aged between 31 and 39, with different educa-tional backgrounds, served as experimental subjects (Table 1). They had been prac-tising TM for an average period of 139 months (range, 94–199 months), and the advanced TM-Sidhi program for an average period of 87 months (range, 76–96 months). All but the youngest were teachers of the TM technique. The author was one of the experimental subjects. The experimental group was part of a group of 230 male TM-Sidhi practitioners, predominantly Europeans, who resided at the TM academy in Vlodrop (Limburg, The Netherlands). There, they worked full-time and, in addition, practised an extensive TM-Sidhi program collectively. Four of the six experimental subjects reported clear experiences of the TM-Sidhis and of "witness-ing" their night’s sleep, and two reported less clear experiences (Table 1).

Six male subjects who did not practise any form of meditation, yoga, or similar technique for holistic development, served as control subjects. Their ages ranged be-tween 33 and 38, and they all had had an academic education (Table 1).

All subjects were in good health. On the day preceding the measurement, none experienced intense emotions or physical discomforts, none used medicine, had al-coholic drinks, or took any additional rest in the form of sleep.

Procedure and Apparatus

Each of the subjects was measured in his own bedroom for two consecutive nights, by means of an ambulant four-channel recorder, the Medilog 4–24 of the Oxford Medical Systems. Starting two days before the measurement, the subject filled out some diary forms which were examined every day by the person who took the measurement. Measurement of the experimental group was done by the author; measurement of the control group and of the author serving as experimental subject was done by a medical student of the University of Limburg (The Netherlands). During the two months’ measuring period, the experimental and control subjects were measured alternately as much as possible. Although the subjects had been measured in their own environment, a first night effect could be noticed and there-fore only the second night was fully analyzed.


REM Ratio and the Order-Creating Capacity of the Brain: The HF-REMs/LF-REMs ratio for total REM sleep was greater in the group of TM-Sidhi practitioners in comparison with the control group, giving further support to the concept of the HF-REMs/LF-REMs ratio as an index of negative entropy in the brain. In the present study, the ratio of REMs in the group of TM-Sidhi practitioners is greater because of a greater density of the HF-REMs, which supports the concept that the development of these HF-REMs in REM sleep is indeed the result of a maturation process, in particular of the frontal cortex.

Density of HF-REMs and Clarity of Mind: A greater density of REMs during REM sleep has been found to correlate with a greater amount of information to which the subjects are exposed. Perhaps one would therefore expect in the group of TM-Sidhi practitioners of the present study a smaller REM density in REM sleep, because of the daily hours of quiet meditation practice. The fact that, on the contrary, a greater density of REMs—and in particular of HF-REMs—is found in the TM-Sidhi prac-titioners agrees with the interpretation that it is primarily the alertness or clarity of mind that makes one receptive to stimuli and capable of integrating this information.

REM Ratio and Independency of the Cerebral Integrating Capacity: Nevertheless, the density of REMs during REM sleep—interpreted as a measure for the stimula-tion of the brain—seems to remain dependent on the amount of information to which the subject is exposed. This can be deduced in the present study from the compar-ison of the experimental subject A with the experimental subject F. During the day preceding the analyzed night, the experimental subject A had been exposed to an unusually large amount of sensory information, whereas the experimental subject F had stayed in his routine of quiet, intellectual work. Consequently, the first showed an extremely high REM density during the REM sleep, while the latter scored the lowest (total) REM density of the whole experimental group. The difference be-tween the two subjects was even more pronounced with regard to the total amount of HF-REMs and total amount of LF-REMs in the REM sleep. However, when the HF-REMs are placed in relation to the LF-REMs to express the cerebral integration of information, then this difference disappears and the score of the REM ratio of both these subjects attain the highest value in the study. This agrees with their strong sub-jective experience of the TM-Sidhis and of the maintenance of pure consciousness during their sleep (Table 1). Previous research has found enhanced information pro-cessing (ideational fluency) and EEG coherence in those with clear experiences of pure consciousness and of the TM-Sidhi techniques (Orme-Johnson & Haynes, 1981). It also illustrates the independency of this cerebral integrating capacity parameter with regard to the amount of information to which the subject is exposed.

About 430 research studies on TM and TM-Sidhi practitioners have found phys-iological, psychological, or sociological data which could be interpreted in terms of greater health and maturity (For examples and summaries, see Orme-Johnson & Farrow, 1977; Wallace, Orme-Johnson & Dillbeck, 1989).

EEG Alpha Activity and Intelligence or Maturity: The subjects with a greater REM ratio have an EEG alpha activity which is more abundant and of a greater amplitude and lower frequency. This finding, again, is in accordance with the interpretation of the REM ratio as a measure for intelligence and maturity.

The TM-Sidhi group, which has the greater REM ratio, also shows a sleep spin-dle activity which is more abundant and displays a higher amplitude and a lower frequency. This finding—when taken together with the greater synchronization and coherence in the electrocorticogram and the improved cognitive and affective func-tioning in TM and TM-Sidhi practitioners—agrees with the hypothesis that both sleep spindles and REM ratio reflect the cerebral assimilation of information during sleep.

REMs and Sleep Spindles and Excitation and Inhibition: It was suggested (Petre-Quadens, 1969) that the REM activity as an excitation process is kept in balance by an equivalent spindle activity which could be considered as an inhibition process, and that therefore both activities never take place at the same time. The sleep spin-dles, observed during the REM bursts of REM sleep in the present study, indeed never completely coincided with the individual REMs.

Alpha Transition Stage and Transcendence: Immediately before and after sleep in all experimental subjects (except subject C) and in the control subject B, and imme-diately before and after each of the five sleep phases during the night in the exper-imental subject B, a kind of prolonged transition stage between normal waking and sleeping occurred which, with its almost uninterrupted, high amplitude alpha activ-ity and rhythmical eye movements, showed much similarity with Transcendental Meditation. This agrees with the reports of the experimental subjects in question that the degree to which the meditative state of restful alertness (here, integrated with waking) is experienced at the beginning of the sleep determines how "pleasing-ly" and "refreshingly" the sleep proceeds. It is also reminiscent of the vision of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1967) that Transcendental Meditation eventually develops in its practitioners a fourth major state of consciousness, termed "transcendental" or "pure" consciousness, which can be clearly experienced either in its pure form dur-ing the short transition stages between waking, dreaming and sleeping or during the states of waking, dreaming and sleeping.


To conclude, the fact that all the group results of the present study, without any exception, show coherently, according to the definitions and findings of previous sleep research, a greater neurophysiological order in the TM-Sidhi group than in the control group, adds further support to the main hypothesis that the HF-REMs/LF-REMs ratio is a measure of the cerebral capacity to structure "order" out of "noise." The fact that the experimental values on this REM ratio were far higher than the values reported in the literature could be interpreted as indicating the onset of a new dimension of consciousness: a continuum of restful alertness, serving as a back-ground of order, extending to the night’s sleep. It would, therefore, deserve further investigation. One could use larger samples of subjects, extend the measurement to four consecutive nights, and score the REMs automatically (provided the necessary software is available). Perhaps one could also use subjects as their own controls before and after their start with the TM and TM-Sidhi programs, to measure more directly the role of this practice with respect to order or intelligence. If one places the EEG electrodes in a strictly standardized manner, and measures with a low-noise apparatus, one could simultaneously analyze the EEG signals for coherence or long-range spatial order in the brain.

Selected References

Aron, A., Orme-Johnson, D. & Brubaker, P. (1981). The Transcendental Meditation program in the college curriculum: A 4–year longitudinal study of effects on cognitive and affec-tive functioning. College Student Journal, 15(2), 140–146.

Dillbeck, M.C., Assimakis, P.D., Raimondi, D., Orme-Johnson, D.W., & Rowe, R. (1986). Longitudinal effects of the Transcendental Meditation and TM- Sidhi program on cognitive ability and cognitive style. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 62, 731–738.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. (1967). The science of being and art of living. Fairfield, Iowa: MIU Press.

Petre-Quadens, O. (1967). Ontogenesis of paradoxical sleep in the human newborn. Journal of Neurological Science, 4, 153–157.

Petre-Quadens, O. (1969). Contribution à l’étude de la phase dite paradoxale du sommeil. Acta Neurol. Belg., 69, 769–898.

Petre-Quadens, O. (1978). Logic and ontogenesis of some sleep patterns. Totus Homo, 10(8), 15–19, 60–72.

Petre-Quadens, O. & De Lee, C. (1974). Eye movement frequencies and related paradoxical sleep cycles: Developmental changes. Chronobiologia, 1, 348–355.

Petre-Quadens, O., De Lee, C. & Remy, M. (1971). Eye movement density during sleep and brain maturation. Brain Res., 26, 49–56.


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9. An Estimate of Lucid Dreaming Incidence


Athabasca University and University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

Prevalence (how many people have ever had at least one lucid dream) and fre-quency (how often an individual experiences these dreams) are two ways of concep-tualizing lucid dreaming incidence. Seven surveys have attempted to ascertain the prevalence of lucid dreaming in both student (Palmer, 1979; LaBerge, 1985; Gackenbach, Rokes, Sachau & Snyder, 1984) and adult (Palmer, 1979; Kohr, 1980; Blackmore, 1984; Gackenbach, 1978; Gackenbach, Curren, LaBerge, Davidson & Maxwell, 1983) samples. Among the latter estimates of having had at least one lucid dream range from 100% (Gackenbach et al., 1983) to 47% (Blackmore, 1984). Both sample characteristic considerations and understanding of the concept clarify the pic-ture. Kohr (1980), Gackenbach (1978) and Gackenbach et al. (1983) were all dealing with highly motivated adult samples, that is, people who have an unusually high interest in dreaming and/or lucid dreaming. Thus their estimates tend to run high (Kohr, 70%; Gackenbach, 76%; Gackenbach et al., 100%). In the Palmer (1979) and Blackmore (1984) surveys, adults were randomly chosen from the telephone direc-tory in the case of the former and from the electoral register in the case of the latter. Consequently, their estimates are considerably more conservative: Palmer, 55% and Blackmore, 47%. However, there is no indication that Palmer and Blackmore at-tempted to verify that their respondents understood the concept.

LaBerge (1985) and Gackenbach, Heilman, Boyt and LaBerge (1985) have pointed out that when subjects are asked to supply a lucid dream, incidence rates drop dramatically due to the subjects’ confusion over the definition of dream lucid-ity. For instance, LaBerge reported a drop in incidence of subjects reporting at least one lucid dream during their lifetime from 85% to 77% while Gackenbach et al. (1984) lost 344 of 707 subjects because their dream transcripts were judged to be either clearly not a lucid dream, questionably lucid, or partially lucid.

As with adults, prevalence estimates for students ranges from 85% (LaBerge, 1985) to 57.5% (Gackenbach et al., 1984). In a randomly chosen sample Palmer (1979) reported 71.5 % prevalence but did not verify understanding, while LaBerge (1985) found a 77% prevalence with verification but his sample was not random (i.e., students enrolled in a sleep and dreams class). Gackenbach et al’s (1984) esti-mate of prevalence, 57.5%, in a student sample was chosen randomly from Intro-ductory Psychology classes. They verified that potential research participants understood the concept by collecting lucid dream transcripts and having them eval-uated by independent judges.

Frequency, as another incidence indicate, has been conceptualized in two ways: self-reported and percentage of lucid dreams from collected dream diaries compiled either in the laboratory or at home. Only self-report and at home dream diary esti-mates are reported herein. As with prevalence, considerations of sample character-istics and verification of understanding impact estimates of self-reported frequency. Hearne’s (1978; 1983) two samples were all lucid dreamers, so relative individual frequency in a normal population cannot be estimated from his data.

Estimates of experiencing dream lucidity more than once per month range from 13.5% (Gackenbach et al., 1984) to 28.5% (Palmer, 1979). One or more per lifetime (but less than once per month) estimates range from 36.55% (Gackenbach et al., 1984) to 60% (Gackenbach, 1978). When broken down by type of sample, high-interest dream-recalling adults were tapped by Gackenbach (1978; once per month = 16%; once per lifetime = 60%) and Kohr (1980; once per month = 21%; once per lifetime = 49%), while Palmer (1979) randomly sampled adults and found 13.5% reported such dreams once per month, while another 41% said that they had them rarely. Understandably the Kohr and Gackenbach figures are higher than the Palmer estimates with the latter being more accurate. However, Palmer did not verify under-standing so his figures may also be inflated.

Of the three student samples upon which this work has been reported, two veri-fied understanding (Gackenbach et al., 1985; LaBerge, 1985) and two were random-ly selected (Gackenbach et al., 1985; Palmer, 1979), but only one filled both criteria (Gackenbach et al., 1985). They report that 20.75% of their sample reported lucid dreaming once or more per month while 36.55% reported it more than once in a lifetime but less than monthly.

Two studies considered frequency by counting lucid dreams in a dream log. In a high interest adult sample with control for understanding, Gackenbach, Curren, LaBerge, Davidson, and Maxwell (1983) found a frequency of 13% lucid dreams in their dream logs kept for seven to ten days or an average of one in eight days. The exact same percentage was reported by Gackenbach, Curren and Cutler (1983) in a more normative sample, i.e., college students, also controlled for understanding. They note, "Of the 1601 dreams recorded by the 320 students over a 16-week period of once-weekly recordings, 349 were lucid and 1252 were vivid. However, if the dreamer did not provide a verifiable lucid dream transcript either early or late in the semester, the lucid dreams they experienced were deleted. Consequently, 211 lucid dreams remained" (p. 7).

In conclusion, the best estimate of prevalence is that about 58% of the popula-tion have experienced a lucid dream at least once in their lifetime while about 21% report it with some frequency (one or more per month). Additionally, 13% of dreams recalled on the morning after and recorded in dream diaries are likely to be lucid.


Blackmore, S.J. (1984). A postal survey of OBEs and other experiences. Journal of the So-ciety for Psychical Research, 52, 225–244.

Gackenbach, J.I. (1978). A personality and cognitive style analysis of lucid dreaming. Un-published doctoral dissertation, Virginia Commonwealth University.

Gackenbach, J.I., Curren, R., & Cutler, G. (1983). Pre-sleep determinants and post-sleep results of lucid versus vivid dreams. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Amer-ican Association for the Study of Mental Imagery, Vancouver, June.

Gackenbach, J.I., Curren, R., LaBerge, S., Davidson, D. & Maxwell, P. (1983). Intelligence, creativity, and personality differences between individuals who vary in self-reported lucid dreaming frequency. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Asso-ciation for the Study of Mental Imagery, Vancouver, June.

Gackenbach, J.I., Heilman, N., Boyt, S. & LaBerge, S. (1985). The relationship between field independence and lucid dreaming ability. Journal of Mental Imagery, 2(1), 9–20.

Gackenbach, J.I., Rokes, L., Sachau, D. & Snyder, T.J. (1984). Relationship of the lucid dreaming ability to vestibular sensitivity as measured by caloric nystagmus. Manuscript under editorial consideration.

Hearne, K.M.T. (1978). Lucid dreams: An electrophysiological and psychological study. Un-published doctoral dissertation, University of Liverpool.

Hearne, K.M.T. (1983). Features of lucid dreams: Questionnaire data and content analyses (1). Journal of Lucid Dream Research, 1(1), 3–20.

Kohr, R.L. (1980). A survey of psi experiences among members of a special population. The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 74, 295–411.

LaBerge, S. (1985). Lucid dreaming: The power of being awake and aware in your dreams. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Palmer, J. (1974). A community mail survey of psychic experiences. Research in Parapsychology, 3, 130- 133.


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10. Sex Differences in Lucid Dreaming Self-Reported Frequency: A Second Look


Athabasca University and University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

In eariler issues of Lucidity Letter it was reported that females experience more lucid dreams than males ( Volume 1, Numbers 1 & 2). Dream recall was not controlled in any of these studies. One-way analyses of covariance on various lucid dreaming frequency esimates with dream recall as the covariate for four different samples resulted in no sex differnces. Table 1 lists the specifics to these findings. It should be noted that in all four samples care was taken to insure that subjects understood the concept of dream lucidity by collecting a sample lucid dream and requiing the inclusion of a recognition phase( i.e. "then I realized I was dreaming") in the transcript before a subject was included in subsequent data analyses.


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11. Lucid Dreams and Viewpoints in Imagery:
Two Studies


University of Bristol, Great Britain

There is much evidence that the same people tend to report both lucid dreams and out-of-body experiences (OBEs) (Irwin & Blackmore, 1988), but there is no general accepted explanation for this association. One way of exploring this further is to see whether the same cognitive skills are associated with the two experiences. Previous studies have shown the vividness of imagery and control of imagery are not associated with lucid dreaming (Blackmore, 1982; Hearne, 1978), while recent studies show some association between having OBEs and certain visuospatial skills (Cook & Irwin, 1983).

In three recent studies I explored the relationship between having OBEs and the use of viewpoints in imagery and memory (Blackmore, 1983; 1985). A theory of OBEs (Blackmore, 1984) predicted that OBErs should be more likely to use an "ob-server" perspective in recall and dreams and to be able to switch easily from one viewpoint to another in imagery. I also predicted that, if the observer viewpoint is used as an escape from unpleasant situations, bad dreams should more often be re-called in observer perspective than good dreams.

Several of the predictions were confirmed. As expected, unpleasant dreams were more often recalled in observer perspective. It was found that OBErs do not more often use an observer viewpoint in recall of real life situations, but they do more often use it in dream recall. Also OBErs reported having more vivid imagery from different viewpoints and were consistently better at switching from one viewpoint to another in imagery tasks. This was especially so for the viewpoint above the head, which is common in OBEs.

It is of interest to know whether the same differences would appear for those who have lucid dreams. Therefore, the results of the second two studies were com-pared for those who did and did not have lucid dreams.

Experiment 1: Method

Subjects. There were 135 subjects, tested in four groups. The majority, 68%, were female with ages ranging from 17 to 94 (mean = 43.1 years).

Procedure. The subjects were asked to imagine the room in which they were sitting (various classrooms and libraries) from four to five different locations. They then had to rate how clear and vivid their image of the room was using a scale from 1 (no image) to 7 (a perfectly clear and detailed image). The locations were at eye level in the doorway, by the ceiling above their own head, by the ceiling above someone else’s head, by their feet and at their own eye level. The last of these was used for only 63 of the subjects.

The subjects were also asked where they normally perceive their "self" or "center of awareness" to be and were asked to try to switch their viewpoint or center of awareness form its normal position to above their head and back, and from their normal position to their feet. They were asked to rate how easily they could do this on a scale from 1 (not at all) to 7 (extremely easily). It was predicted that it would be much easier to switch to a position above the head than to the feet.

Finally they were asked whether at any time during the exercises they either saw their own body from the outside, or seemed to have another body at their imagined location. They were asked whether they had ever had a lucid dream or an out-of-body experience. The lucid dream question was worded as follows: "Have you ever had a dream in which you knew at the time that you were dreaming? If in doubt, please answer "No." They were also asked whether they had ever induced a lucid dream or OBE deliberately.


As expected the room was easiest to imagine from the subjects’ own eye level and most difficult from the feet. It was much easier to switch viewpoints to a posi-tion above the head (x = 3.7) than to one at the feet (x = 2.1). During these various exercises 22% of the subjects claimed that they saw themselves from the outside and 15% that they had another body in their imagined location.

The most common position of normal center-awareness was behind the eyes (65%). The next most common positions, the top of the head and the forehead, repre-sented only 12% of the subjects. 6

Eighty-six (64%) of the subjects claimed to have had lucid dreams. Of these, 13 (15%) claimed to be able to have them deliberately. There were no age or sex differ-ences between those who reported lucid dreams and those who did not. Subjects reporting having had at least one OBE were 22% of the sample. There was no asso-ciation between those having OBEs and lucid dreams (X2(1) = .04).

The lucid dreamers were no better than others at the imagined viewpoint exer-cises. Subjects were given a combined score for their rated vividness of imagery from the different positions. The mean score for lucid dreamers was 14.6, for others 13.8 (t = .79, n.s.)

Lucid dreamers were no more likely to see themselves or to have another body during the imagery exercises, and they showed no differences in the normal position of "self."

The one positive finding was that lucid dreamers were better at switching from one viewpoint to another, especially when switching from the normal position to one above the head (t(102) = 1.99, p < .05).

Experiment 2: Method

Subjects. Subjects were 187 students, mostly school sixth formers but also some university and adult education students. Ages ranged from 17 to 75, but most were 17 to 20. There were 98 females and 89 males.

Procedure. Subjects were given a questionnaire about their dream life and asked whether they had ever had an OBE. The lucid dream question was "Have you ever had a dream in which you knew at the time (i.e., during the dream) that you were dreaming?" Possible answers were: a. Never, b. Occasionally (e.g., 1–5 times,), c. Often (e.g., 5–20 times), d. Very often (more than 20 times) and e. Can have one whenever I like. They were then asked, in a way similar to that used by Nigro and Neisser (1983), to remember seven events and to write brief descriptions of these events, and they were then asked to say whether they imagined them as though from the observer’s position, seeing themselves in the scene, or from their current position, that is, as they would have seen it looking from their eyes. There were three "real life" situations to recall (first thing this morning, this time last Sunday and this time on Christmas Day) and four dreams (last night’s, last week’s, the best and the worst dreams they could remember). Subjects were also given the Edinburg Handedness Inventory (Oldfield, 1971).


The different recall situations differed markedly in the proportions of view-points used (see Table 1).

As predicted, the worst dreams were recalled more often in the observer per-spective than the best dreams.

Thirty-eight subjects (23%) claimed to have had an OBE, while 152 (82%) reported having lucid dreams. The frequency of lucid dreaming is shown in Table 2. There was no association between having OBEs and lucid dreams (X2(1) = .25). There were no sex differences between lucid dreamers and others.

Lucid dreamers were more likely to report vivid dreams, and to enjoy their dreams. Contrary to previous findings (e.g. Blackmore 1982; 1983b) they were not more likely to have flying dreams (see Table 3). However, none of the correlations are very strong.

The relative percentages of lucid dreamers and others who reported using an observer perspective for the different questions were compared. No significant differences were observed (See Table 4).

There were no differences in handedness between lucid dreamers and others (X2 = .45, n.s.) nor in laterality quotient, a measure of the extremeness of handed-ness (r = 0.10).


These results show that lucid dreamers differ from other dreamers in being bet-ter at switching viewpoints from one imaginary location to another. In this respect they are similar to OBErs. Indeed the ability to switch viewpoints most clearly dis-tinguished the OBErs from others. One possible interpretation is that there is one skill which underlies both experiences.

However, no other significant differences were found between lucid dreamers and others.

One drawback to this study is that the percentage of subjects reporting lucid dreams depends upon only one question. It is quite possible that the size of the lucid dreaming groups are inflated by false positives. This could be circumvented by in-terviewing the subjects, giving more extensive questionnaires, or asking them to write an account of a lucid dream. This is a general problem, applying to the survey work on both OBEs and lucid dreams. It needs to be dealt with before more definite conclusions about the cognitive skills involved in having lucid dreams can be made.


Blackmore, S.J. (1982). Out-of-body experiences, lucid dreams, and imagery: Two surveys. Journal of the American Society of Psychical Research, 76, 301–317.

Blackmore, S.J. (1983a). Imagery and the OBE. In W.G. Roll, J. Beloff and R.A. White (Eds.), Research in Parapsychology, 1982. Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press.

Blackmore, S.J. (1983b). Birth and the OBE: An unhelpful analogy. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 77, 229–238.

Blackmore, S.J. (1984). A psychological theory of the out-of-body experience. Journal of Parapsychology, 48, 201–218.

Cook, A.M. & Irvin, H.J. (1983). Visuospatial skills and the out-of-body experience. Journal of Parapsychology, 47, 23–35.

Hearne, K.M.T. (1978). Lucid dreams: An electrophysiological and psychological study. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Liverpool.

Irwin, H.F. & Blackmore, S.J. (1988). Lucid dreams and out-of-body experiences: Two views. In J.I. Gackenbach and S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain: Per-spectives on lucid dreaming. New York: Plenum.

Nigro, G. & Neisser, N. (1983). Point of view in personal memories. Cognitive Psychology, 15, 467–482.

Oldfield, R.C. (1971). The assessment and analysis of handedness: The Edinburgh Inventory. Neuropsychologia, 9, 97–113.

Snyder, T.J. & Gackenbach, J.I. (1988). Individual differences associated with the lucid dreaming ability. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain: Perspectives on lucid dreaming. New York: Plenum.

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12. Manifest Content Analysis of Sleep Laboratory
Collected Lucid and Nonlucid Dreams


Athabasca University and University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

I have addressed two questions over the last ten years in my research program into lucid dreams: who is the individual who spontaneously experiences the lucid dream, that is, to find out if there is something unique about that person; and what is unique about the psychological experience of lucid sleep consciousness, beyond the awareness itself. I’m going to be talking about the latter today. Specifically, I’m going to be comparing sleep laboratory collected rapid eye movement (REM) lucid and nonlucid dreams.

In these content analyses we used Hall and Van de Castle’s (1966) system of analysis of the manifest content of the dream, focusing on a count of the act frequen-cies. We basically counted the number of elements. This is a simple kind of concep-tualization of the psychological content of dreams but one we have used in the past because it allows comparison to normative samples and can be simplified for com-puter entry of the data. With this first look at the content of these dream experiences we can compare the data to both the classical literature on the psychological content of dreams as well as to the previous content analyses of questionnaire and dream diary collected lucid versus nonlucid dreams (Gackenbach, 1988).

The lucid dreams analyzed here are signal-verified, that is, with judge, techni-cian and dreamer concurrence. For those of you who might not be familiar with the phrase "signal-verified" it means that the subjects signaled from REM sleep by means of a prearranged set of eye movements when they knew they were dreaming. Sleep laboratory technicians "read" the signal on a polysomnogram which was fur-ther verified by a concurrent report from the dreamer and examination of the record by an independent judge.

Table 1 lists the specifics of these two samples of dreams which were collected from three different sleep laboratories, although the majority of them are from the laboratory of my colleague, Stephen LaBerge. These 50 dreams are all from the REM sleep of twelve individuals. The nonlucid dreams are collected from two sleep laboratories, the majority from a sleep laboratory study we conducted in Iowa. These 28 nonlucid dreams, also all from REM sleep, are provided by seven people, all but one of whom had experienced dream lucidity. The major procedural qualifier that I would like to bring to your attention is that the majority of the nonlucid dreams were collected from lucid dreamers. We have preliminary indications from dream diary data that lucid and nonlucid dreamers may dream somewhat differently while nonlucid in sleep.

We computed 135 analyses of covariance with the number of words in the dream transcript as the covariate. Word count is thought to provide a rough estimate of dream recall, but of course it is contaminated by verbal skills. However, because of the consistent superiority of recalling lucid versus nonlucid dreams (Gackenbach, 1988; Snyder & Gackenbach, 1988), one should always control for dream recall differences. For those of you who are not familiar with the Hall and Van de Castle system of dream content analyses I shall briefly summarize each of the scales before talking about our findings. The significant and conceptually interesting findings are summarized in Table 2.


Hall and Van de Castle list five emotions which are looked for as expressed in dream transcripts: anger, apprehension, happiness, sadness and confusion. There were no differences between lucid and nonlucid dreams. This is somewhat surpris-ing given the popular conceptualization of lucid dreams as joyful. In fact, we have data from self reports of emotions during lucid and nonlucid dreams which support this joyful aspect of lucidity (Gackenbach, 1978, 1988). What this finding points out is that the degree of joyfulness may be in the eye of the beholder, in this case the dreamer, which is not necessarily communicated vis-à-vis the written description of the dream.

Next are the four types of character scales identified by Hall and Van de Castle: number, sex, age and identity (see Table 3 for details of each character subscale). You can see in Table 2 that for most of the character subscales there were no dream type differences but that where there was a difference, lucid dreams had fewer char-acters. This is consistent with previous analyses on non-laboratory collected lucid versus nonlucid dreams (Gackenbach, 1988).

The next set of scales are achievement and environmental press, where achieve-ment is scored for success, failure and total achievement while environmental press is scored for misfortune, falling, threat, accident, injury, death and good fortune. As can be seen in Table 2 there were two differences with regards to achievement, more success and total achievement imagery in lucid than in nonlucid dreams. Again, with regards with success, this is consistent with the non-laboratory or home dream diary collected lucid dreams. These also tended to have more success imagery.

Next let’s look at the activities subscales which include: physical activities while being still, movement by the self, and location change, as well as verbal, ex-pressive, visual, auditory and thinking activities. Here we found a difference favor-ing lucid dreams (see Table 2) in the "Physical (still)" subscale, which I think is largely accounted for by the task. You’ve got to move your eyes in order to have a signal verified lucid dream! Usually there is some reference in the dream transcript to the signaling procedure, which would be scored as "physical (still)." Interesting-ly, this is consistent with the non-laboratory lucid dreams where the demand charac-teristic was not present. Probably the magnitude of the difference, but not the entire finding, is accounted for by the demand characteristic. With regards to location change, which was also consistent with the non-laboratory data, there was a small and marginally significant difference favoring nonlucid dreams. However, in the non-laboratory dreams we also found differences for auditory and cognitive activ-ities. That is, lucid dreams collected from home diaries and from questionnaires showed more cognitive and auditory kinds of activities than nonlucid dreams. This failure to emerge in the laboratory dreams is problematic, as these findings have been some of the most robust to date (Gackenbach, 1988). Perhaps the absence of a large enough sample of nonlucid dreams from nonlucid dreamers accounts for this lack of a difference.

In Table 4 we have a series of social interactions: sexual, friendly and aggres-sive. Let me point out that for the aggression subscales I summarized what I consid-ered to be the relatively physical range, not all physical but more aggressive, and the relatively less physical range, into two sum scores. We found two dream type differ-ences: friendly assistance and covert aggression were higher in nonlucid than in lucid dreams. If you don’t have many people in a dream you are less likely to get interac-tions of any kind. I would like to bring your attention to the lack of a difference in the sexual activities subscales. Contrary to what has been proposed by a few individual lucid dreamers as characteristic of lucid dreams in general (Garfield, 1974; LaBerge, 1985) in this sample of laboratory dreams and in the dream diary and questionnaire data we found no differences in sexuality (Gackenbach, 1988). Further, in personal communication with Paul Tholey, who has been working with dream lucidity for 30 years, he concurs that sexuality is not naturally inherent to dream lucidity. This isn’t to say that it isn’t possible; it’s just not a knee-jerk reaction to dream consciousness.

Table 5 lists the dream element subscales for which we totalled positive modi-fiers and negative modifiers for two further subscales. Also found here are refer-ences to time as well as the number of negative and positive words in the dream. We found lucid dreams had significantly more positive modifiers. This is certainly con-sistent with the notion that lucid dreams are experientially more joyful dream exper-iences. However, these findings are inconsistent with the non-laboratory data where nonlucid dreams were found to be more achromatic than lucid dreams. These find-ings are complex and perhaps are best conceptualized in the context that most of the elements subscales failed to evidence a dream type difference. Finally, I have listed three marginally significant findings with regards to time. Lucid dreams from this sample of laboratory dreams had fewer old, young and event date references than nonlucid dreams. These findings are consistent and support the commonly held notion of the felt timelessness of the lucid dream experience.

Let’s consider dream bizarreness next. There are four basic conceptual ways in which we have looked at bizarreness: Animate Characters, Inanimate Environment, Transformations, and Metamorphoses (see Table 6 for the details of the subscales for each). You can see in Table 2 that three of the subscales from Animate Characters, one from Inanimate Environment and one from Transformations approached or reached conventional levels of significance. In terms of the magic subscale (i.e., impossible acts or magic by animate characters such as animals or babies talking or people flying) from Animate Characters we found a difference that was consistent with the non-laboratory findings as well as for the Transformation sum score. However, for the most part we found no bizarreness difference as a function of dream type.

Finally, I am going to speak about three scales which I find particularly interest-ing and are not part of the Hall and Van de Castle system: palpable or body sensa-tions, control of dream content and emotional, physical and cognitive balance. In this sample of dreams we found that there was more dream control in lucid dreams, which is consistent with self report and dream diary non-laboratory dreams. Despite the sen-sitive issues surrounding dream control while lucid individuals reliably report being able to evidence this dream characteristic. There was also more balance in lucid than in nonlucid dreams. This is a characteristic of dream lucidity I initially identified in factor analyses of lucid dream content in my dissertation (Gackenbach, 1978) and have since shown is an individual difference variable related to the ability to dream lucidly (Gackenbach, Snyder, Rokes, & Sachau, 1986).

Summary and Conclusion

As with the non-laboratory content analyses by independent judges, the most important point to keep in mind is that lucid dreams are more like nonlucid dreams than dissimilar. The nature of the difference does not seem to be due to chance. By chance we would expect seven out of one hundred and thirty five analyses to be significant. We’ve got 17 at the .05 level. Consequently we conclude that there is a difference which is meaningful but perhaps not substantive. Interestingly if one looks at dream type differences as evaluated by the dreamer both from dream diaries and the laboratory, large dream type differences have consistently emerged (Gackenbach, 1988). It can be seen in Table 7, in a new set of this type of data which have been previously unreported, that the results of a brief questionnaire, which was given to four individuals to fill out both at home and in the laboratory after they had awak-ened from a dream, support this self-evaluation trend. Of the 183 dreams evaluated along 12 dimensions 11 showed dream type differences. Many of these scales are essentially the same ones that the independent judges were asked to use to evaluate the dream. So the extent to which lucid and nonlucid dreams differ may be largely in the eye of the beholder.

While we are looking at Table 7 let me say more about it. We are not only look-ing at lucid/nonlucid dream type differences here, but you can see that it is further broken down into the nonlucid dreams of lucid (n = 2) versus nonlucid (n = 1) dreamers and the lucid dreams of a single sophisticated TM meditator. This data is drawn from a study examining the differences between dream lucidity and dream witnessing (Gackenbach, Moorecroft, Alexander & LaBerge, 1987). Please note two things beyond what I have already mentioned. First, the nonlucid dreams of the two lucid dreamers differed from the nonlucid dreams of the one nonlucid dreamer in three ways. They were more recallable, which may be due to their greater bizarre-ness and novelty. We distinguished between these two concepts in the question-naire. Regarding bizarreness, we simply asked the dreamers how bizarre they found the dream to be, whereas with novelty we asked them to evaluate the dream in terms of how different from ordinary waking experiences they found it to be. This dreamer type difference in novelty for nonlucid dreams has also been found by Harry Hunt and myself in a larger sample of students who participated in a two week home dream diary study. The bizarreness question was not asked in that study. It would seem in order to have the propensity to dream lucidly one must dream oddly in general!

Regarding the dreams of the single TM subject, the conceptual framework for these findings can be found in the June, 1987 issue of Lucidity Letter.

We did one last set of analyses in order to try to account for dreamer type differ-ences in both lucid and nonlucid dreams. Specifically, we split the laboratory col-lected dream samples into five groups. These are delineated in Tables 8 and 9. We compared three types of lucid dreams under three different circumstances to two types of nonlucid dreams under two different circumstances. Keep in mind that the dreams of three of these groups are from one subject each and that the number of dreams available for analyses were very small for two of the groups. For these rea-sons these analyses must be approached tenuously. As before, 135 analyses of co-variance were computed on the five groups’ manifest content subscale scores with number of words in the dream as the covariate. Fewer scales reached conventional levels of significance and in fact, the differences could be accounted for by chance factors. The differences which did emerge were largely accounted for by the lucid dreams collected from the lucid dreamers. Most noteworthy, the dream control dif-ference is accounted for by the difference between the lucid dreams of lucid dream-ers and the nonlucid dreams of the one nonlucid dreamer. The lucid dreams of the TM subject and the nonlucid dreams of the lucid dreamers did not differ from these two extremes. This suggests that dream control of lucid dreams may be a function of individual difference variables, that is, of the style of dreaming regardless of the state of dreaming.


Gackenbach, J.I. (1978). A personality and cognitive style analysis of lucid dreaming. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Virginia Commonwealth University.

Gackenbach, J.I. (1988). The psychological content of lucid dreams. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain: Perspectives on lucid dreaming. New York: Plenum.

Gackenbach, J.I., Moorecroft, W., Alexander, C. & LaBerge, S. (1987). Physiological corre-lates of "consciousness" during sleep in a single TM practitioner. Sleep Research. 16, 230.

Gackenbach, J.I., Snyder, T.J., Rokes, L. M. & Sachau, D. (1986). Lucid dreaming frequency in relation to vestibular sensitivity as measured by caloric stimulation. The Journal of Mind and Behavior: Special Issue: Cognition and Dream Research. 7(2&3). 277–298.

Garfield, P. (1974). Creative dreaming. New York: Ballantine.

LaBerge, S. (1985). Lucid dreaming. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher.

Snyder, T.J. & Gackenbach, J.I. (1988). Individual differences associated with lucid dream-ing. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain: Perspectives on lucid dreaming. New York: Plenum.


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13. A Validation of Lucid Dreaming in School Age Children


Unites States International University

I’d like to begin by sharing a dream that I had fairly frequently when I was a child, between the ages of 6 and 12.

I was lucid. I would fly sometimes during the night and see the ocean glistening below me, and sometimes during the day where I would see my reflection. But the place that I went was always the same, a place called Bali. I often wondered what that could mean.

I don’t remember consciously recognizing where Bali was as a place in the world, but that is where I would go, and that’s where I would land.

Two and a half years ago, I began my dissertation, wondering what on earth I was going to study, and really wanting to do something that reflected who I was. Dreams, lucid and non, have always been close to me. I came to this study as a clinician working some ten years with children, young children, preschool to school age. I had originally intended on studying lucid dreaming as a treatment approach, particularly with children with nightmares, and children who had been molested. However, when it came time to gather a committee it became quickly apparent that there were no studies validating that lucid dreams even exist in children. So I made a leap from applied clinical work to this foreign, but very exciting and challenging area of psychophysiological study. I had hardly even stepped into a sleep laboratory before I did this study. . . .

I want to emphasize that the purpose of my study was to validate lucid dreams in school age children, not to study how to teach the skill or how to increase the skill in children who already have the skill, or even how to use it. . . . I chose to work with ten-, eleven-, and twelve-year-olds, based on Foulkes’ work. [Children of this age] are more able to define dreams as internally originating [and] show an increase in . . . seeing, talking, feeling, moving and manipulating things in their dreams. Fur-thermore, the rate of dream accessibility with respect to dream recall reaches a near-adult rate.


There were three major parts to my study. The first way that I approached this problem was conducting a survey. [Second, I conducted a lucid dream training pro-gram, and collected dream diaries. Third, I conducted four sleep studies in a lab. The survey] was comprised of two multiple choice questions along with the opportunity to share content about lucid dreams. I asked the children how often they recalled their regular, nonlucid dreams and their lucid dreams. The rate of recall could have been never, once a year, once a month, once a week, once a night, or not sure. I personally introduced the questionnaire to the children and defined lucid dreams to them as dreams where we know that we’re dreaming while we’re dreaming, and I would give them an example. I conducted the survey with 40 boys and 60 girls; there were 30 ten-year-olds, 45 eleven-year-olds, and 25 twelve-year-olds. . . .

[The lucid dream training program included] 12 girls and one brave boy. Of these, there were six ten-year-olds, five eleven-year-olds, and two twelve-year-olds. I ruled out children who had any kind of diagnosed emotional problem, any kind of cognitive deficit or learning disability and children who were on any kind of medications.

I conducted the sessions weekly for six weeks; each session lasted an hour. I did everything and anything that I thought might help increase the skill of lucid dream-ing in order to validate it. There was an opening and sharing time each week. We talked about pleasant dreams or things that I hoped would elicit their trust in both me and each other, [to] increase group cohesion and enhance the effectiveness of the group. There was also an educational component to the group. We talked about how different cultures utilize lucid dreams and the history of awareness of lucid dreams. There was also a dream review or re-creating exercise, where I utilized expressive arts to help the children become more comfortable with their dream content; helped increase their dream recall, and helped them feel comfortable with having lucid dreams.

[In] this kind of exercise we would talk about a dream that they may have had and how they would change it, similar to Patricia Garfield’s redreaming exercise. We . . . [also] used all sorts of expressive arts. We used dramatic arts, clay, paint-ings, watercolors among others. I also had a relaxation portion of the training pro-gram where I took the children through a relaxation experience. I began with helping them feel comfortable with remembering their dream, being in their dreams, and fin-ally toward the last three weeks of the training program developing lucid dreaming.

At the end of each session we talked about tasks that I had asked them to do. . . . Each child was given seven dream logs to complete [and] return to me at the end of each week. The dream log material included: content questions about the main char-acter, how active they were in the dream, what their affect was during the dream, [and] whether or not they were lucid in their dream. If they were lucid, they were asked to include that specific content.

During the first two weeks I gave them a little bracelet to wear around to remind themselves that they were to do reality testing [five to ten times a day]. Reality test-ing [involves] saying, "Am I dreaming?" and then imagining what it would be like if you were dreaming. I instructed them on how to use the MILD [Mnemonic Induc-tion of Lucid Dreaming] technique as well as redreaming. We also worked on some other ways [they could induce] lucidity like talking to themselves before they went to sleep.

The third [type of validation was through] four non-consecutive sleep studies with three girls and one boy. There were two ten-year-olds and two eleven-year-olds. The first sleep study was conducted prior to the training program. The second one was two weeks into the group then four weeks into the group, and lastly after the group was completed. During every sleep study I instructed the children how to make the prescribed left-right-left-right eye movements at thirty second intervals. We would then awaken them one minute after they stopped signaling, or in the morning.

During the second sleep study we also woke the children after each REM stage. During the third sleep study I made lucidity goggles . . . available to the children. Two of the children chose to wear them during some portion of the night, [but] we didn’t get a full night with the lucidity goggles. I considered it a positive validation of lucid dreams when we observed the eye movements during REM as a confirm in a verbal self-report by the child. In addition to these portions of the study, we ad-dressed the content of lucid dreams versus nonlucid dreams with the dream log mate-rial. I also administered, pre- and post, the Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Rating Scale [to] the children to look at whether the lucid dream training program might have a beneficial effect on their self-concept.


[About] 63% of the sample . . . reported recalling lucid dreams at least once dur-ing their lives. Of these 54% reported them . . . once a month or more. Ten-year-olds reported the highest regular recall of lucid dreams, with 63% reporting monthly. It is also interesting to note that 8% of the girls versus 17% of the boys reported never recalling lucid dreams, and 68% of the girls versus 56% of the boys reported that they had regular or monthly lucid dreams.

Recall of lucid dreams appears to go down, at least in this sample, as children age. 63% of the ten-year-olds reported monthly lucid dreams, 58% of the eleven-year-olds, and 36% of the twelve-year-olds. However, we need to remember that a lot of these children weren’t also reporting content. We have content material with the lucid dreams from the dream logs, but with the questionnaire we don’t have content on all of those dreams.

With the lucid dream training program, I wanted to mention that four of the children began the training reporting fairly frequent—once a month or greater— recall of lucid dreams. Two reported never having them, two reported once a year, two reported once a month, one reported once a week, one reported once [a] night, and five reported that they weren’t sure. Twelve of the 13 children reported at least one lucid dream in the dream logs.

During the first sleep study we had four eye movement signal observations and two reports. Two were confirmed. That was an exciting night. During the second study we had one observed and one reported [lucid dream], one being confirmed. During the third sleep study we had two observed and two reported, two being con-firmed. During the fourth sleep study we had two observed and two reported, one being confirmed. In terms of the number of lucid dreams per subject in the labora-tory, Subject Nos. 1 [and 2] had no lucid dreams, . . . Subject No. 3 had five lucid dreams, and Subject No. 4 had one. I might add that this third subject came in [every] night, sure about what she wanted to dream, dreamed it and it was lucid. . . . Two other children who didn’t have dreams in the lab did report lucid dreams in dream logs.

Specific Lucid Dreams

I want to read . . . examples of the lucid dreams . . . the children had. The first one is,

I saw a giant Mickey Mouse that was pink and orange and yellow. At first I was scared, and then I realized that it couldn’t be true and I must be dreaming. I thought it was funny then and I got to be as big as it was.

Here is an example from the little girl who had five lucid dreams in the lab:

I told myself to dream that I was in a ballet, and that I had point shoes, and that’s what I did. I had a lucid dream because I knew that I really couldn’t dance on point shoes.

Another one dreamed,

It was snowing. I realized that couldn’t be. Then I knew I was dreaming and I made it so that I was on a beach with palm trees next to an ocean.

As I recall, she wanted to go to both places for her holiday. [Here is another:]

My friends and I were in a house and some cowboys or something were trying to get some earrings, which S. and I were wearing, off of us. The way I found out that it was a dream was that I don’t have my ears pierced, and that it was an old house yet the soccer field at my house was there. My school was there. Then we went to the Del Mar Fair and I made it so that we got on all the rides for free, and got earrings free too.

This is a girl who dreamt that she was under the water, realized that she was breath-ing, and realized that she was lucid.

In conclusion, I think [this study confirms] that lucid dreams do exist among children. However, there are so many more areas to be explored, such as the devel-opment of the concept and understanding of dreams among children, especially among young children; looking at cross-cultural differences in awareness and under-standing of dreams; and the relationship between creativity and children’s lucid dreaming. I will end with my dream. Yesterday Jill Gregory came by and we . . . began to play with this dream. We turned the letters around and Bali is "I Lab."

Question: What is the earliest age you have heard . . . for a child’s lucid dreaming?

Armstrong-Hickey: Well, Stephen has had lucid dreams early in his life. I would say . . . with children in my clinical practice, the youngest age is six.

Question: I had lucid dreams around five, and I have a daughter that is nine years old. She had her first reported lucid dream at eight, and then another one at nine. Were the children in your study excited about it?

Armstrong-Hickey: Oh, they were thrilled. It was wonderful. It was a real exhil-arating experience for me. I come from working clinically with children, so I see a slanted view of children, and this was a great experience.


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