Can You Control Your Dreams?


You may not always be in control your life, but you can control your dreams.

According to the Encyclopedia of Psych Central, “Lucid dreamers can often manipulate and otherwise participate actively in their dreams. The sensation is as if you wake up and are still in dreamland.”

When a person is having a lucid dream they are not controlling what their dream is but they are participating in their dream, manipulating their dream and they know that they are doing in it.

After doing a survey of 50 students in Mercy College, the participant’s knowledge split: half of the participants said that they knew what lucid dreaming was and the other half said they didn’t know what lucid dreaming was. Forty people out of 50 said that they have never had a lucid dream, but a lot of them would love to try it out.

Samantha Martinez, a sophomore at Mercy College, said, that she has had a lucid dream before. ““I have a lot of dreams and they are usually very vivid. I cannot control my dreams but I have had an instance where my dream feels realistic and I feel like I am actually living my dream.”

There are mixed emotions that are involved with lucid dreaming, while some people love it others hate it. “It feels weird to manipulate your imaginary life,” said constant lucid dreamer Jeanine Callahan.

Other people aren’t interested in controlling or manipulating their dreams but, they just want to know what their dreams mean.

According to Psychology Today, typical scenarios are dreams about falling, which are supposed to symbolize the dreamer’s life getting out of control. The feeling of flying through the air could be a subconscious manifestation of sexual desire, according to psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.

Losing one’s teeth is said to mean a fear of mortality. Being chased might be a sign that you are avoiding something. Dreams about your spouse being unfaithful may express emotional insecurity or low self-esteem.

How to have a lucid dream:

Research suggests that different techniques can increase the frequency of having lucid dreams.

For example, according to Deidre Barret, psychologist at Harvard University and the Cambridge Health Alliance and editor of Dreaming: The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Dreams you can remind yourself before you go to sleep that you want to be aware and “conscious” that you’re dreaming when dreams happen.

It is recommended to also do certain checks to see whether you’re actually awake or dreaming in the dream such as reading letters or numbers, and then looking at them again after a moment they will most likely change or seem weird in a dream, but they will stay the same if it is reality (hopefully!).

Dr. Steven Laberge, the most known specialist on lucid dreaming, said “The two essentials to learning lucid dreaming are motivation and effort. Although most people report occasional spontaneous lucid dreams, they rarely occur without our intending it. Lucid dream induction techniques help focus intention and prepare a critical mind. They range from millennium-old Tibetan exercises to modern methods developed by dream researchers.”

Why have lucid dreams?

Often when people think about having lucid dreams, they think of the movie “Inception” and question why they should try to have a lucid dream?

Simple answer: A large deal of the astonishing pleasure of lucid dreaming comes from the feeling of absolute freedom that accompanies the realization that you are in a dream and there will be no social or physical consequences of your actions. This can easily be described as having a great time going through adventures and fantasies without physically going through them.

Another reason would be to get over nightmares. Many people who study lucid dreaming including LaBerge, who wrote the book Lucid Dreaming in 1985, said that in order to actually get over your nightmare is to face it.

Can lucid dreaming be dangerous?

In a study of the effect of lucid dreams on mood, college students reported that realizing they were dreaming in a nightmare helped them feel better 60 percent of the time and that lucidity was seven times more likely to make nightmares better than worse.

However, another concern is that dying in a dream can cause death in reality. But if this were true, how would we know? If something happens to a person during their dream and they do not awake from it, there will be no one to recollect that event so there is no evidence of it happening.

LaBerge says, “Some people believe that dreams are messages from the unconscious mind and should not be consciously altered.”

More information about lucid dreaming:

By The Marquis d’Hervey de Saint-Denys, edited by Morton Schatzman, M.D.

Edited by Jayne Gackenbach, Ph.D. and Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D.