Can Lucid Dreams really help you solve problems? | Science Proven Benefits of Lucid Dreaming
Many people have had dreams which they consider to have been significant in their lives but some of the benefits of lucid dreaming comes way beyond the dream interpretation. Perhaps the dream was of a loved one who had passed away. Perhaps the dream helped the person to finally have the courage to call someone who had once been important in their life. Many people have had dreams which they feel have helped them solve important problems in their lives. What many people may not know is that many breakthroughs, in the worlds of business and science, have come during the dreaming state. This is not an anecdote. Scientific studies have revealed interesting clues to just how the dream state can help people tap into problem solving abilities which may be more difficult, if not impossible, to access during the waking state.
As we will see later, dreams are considered to be a creative state. This means that there is a higher probability that, within a dream, a person will find information and solutions to problems which involve a more creative capacity, rather than a purely analytical or logical capacity. For example, many musicians have awakened to write a song which they heard in a dream. There are actually several notable examples of creative works which came as the result of dreams, including Robert Louis Stevenson’s report of his having dreamed the plot to the book “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Elias Howe’s dream about cannibals leading to the invention of the sewing machine, and scientist Friedrich August Kekulé discovering the composition of the chemical benzene during a dream about snakes eating their own tails.
Perhaps due to their creative nature, dreams remain a very murky aspect of study in today’s scientific community. Though there have been several studies which have assessed various aspects of dreaming, including whether or not dreaming can help to solve real world problems, the findings of such studies have not been popularized at the same rate as other types of scientific studies. This is really unfortunate, as several studies have added credence to the idea that a person can purposefully use their dream state in order to better their waking lives. This can be even magnified when lucid dreaming. Take, for example, a study by Cai et al (2009) which revealed that REM sleep, the kind of sleep during which dreams occur, was found to have a 40% enhancement over non-REM sleep for the integration of unassociated information in a creative manner. Walker et al (2002) showed that a person awakening from REM sleep was better able to solve anagram puzzles than people who had been immediately awakened from non-REM sleep.
The main point of these studies was to awaken a person who had been showing signs of dreaming, REM sleep, (specifically lucid dreaming) and see if they were better able to perform a specific task than a person who had been experiencing non-REM sleep. The finding, that at least some cognitive tasks may be better done immediately when waking from REM sleep, is interesting. This line of investigation certainly deserves further study. But, these studies rely on waking the person in order to test for enhanced abilities. But, here we are more concerned with using the dream state itself in order to solve problems, in order to help better life in the waking state. This technique would involve entering into the dream state, becoming conscious that one is dreaming while in the dream, and then using this freedom in order to seek solutions to problems, issues, or situations.
In a lucid dream study, which was published in the International Journal of Dream Research (2010,) luicd dream and control participants were selected based on similar race and nationality. An equal number of self-reported lucid dreamers and non-lucid dreamers were chosen in order to test whether or not lucid dreaming could assist in solving problems. The participants were given a set of logical (analytical) tasks to perform, and a set of creative tasks, which involved producing a metaphor for certain phrases they were given. The analytical tasks were to be judged as either right or wrong, while the creative tasks were judged by a set of psychology tutors based on 4 qualitative factors. The findings confirmed that the creative tasks were better performed by the lucid dreamers, while the analytical tasks were performed on roughly the same levels by both groups. Also of note, some of the lucid dreamers used a technique of finding a guide, such as a guru or “master,” in their dreams. The use of this technique seemed to have produced some additional results in the creative arena, but not in the logical arena.
Many issues humans face involve solving creative challenges. Choice of mate, career, and other common choices, all rely primarily on our creative faculty. It can be said that there is no right or wrong answer to these kinds of situations, as in these cases the situation must be viewed as a whole. Still, people understandably become bogged down in the decision-making process, afraid of making the wrong decision. Here where real lucid dreaming benefits come into play.
In the lucid dreaming study which was cited above, the point was not to solve a real world problem which affected the participants. In this sense, the study was more of a trial to test the general effectiveness of lucid dreaming. However, there are additional ways to use lucid dreaming for problem solving; most people are more concerned with solving personal problems than an abstract, albeit creative, metaphor. Once one has tapped into their ability to become conscious during the dreaming state, they are better able to direct their dreams, and use them in order to experiment with different courses of action.
As the research relating to dreams continues to develop, each person is capable of conducting their own studies. The first step is to reference our previous article, giving practical advice on how to enter into a lucid dream. Once entering into the lucid dream state is able to be accomplished, begin to enter into the lucid dream with a particular problem or situation in mind. Use your dream to explore different aspects to the problem. In successive sessions, try different approaches and different resolutions. Remember to keep a detailed account of all of this in your dream journal. Once sufficient trials have been conducted, judge for yourself which is the best course of action to take.
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