Can We Actually Control Our Dreams?

Guiding our dreams may appear to be farfetched; however, the phenomenon of lucid dreaming provides evidence that, even in our sleep, we can control our brains. By definition, a lucid dream is an experience  where a person is asleep yet cognitively aware they are dreaming. The person can exert some sort of control or direction over the characters, setting, and events of their dream. Frederick van Eeden devised the term “lucid dreaming” to describe this spectacle in 1913, and conducted a variety of observations to study these dreams.

During a lucid dream, a person can become enveloped in a detailed fantasy world with total control over the actions of the characters and environments. It is associated with REM sleep, or rapid eye movement sleep and “false awakenings”. This type of awakening is usually when a person wakes up suddenly and his body flails around as if he were falling. According to Neuroscientist J. Allan Hobson, the brain recognizes its dreaming through the prefrontal cortex and once the dreamer understands he is dreaming, the brain has full control over what occurs. However, some argue that lucid dreaming is not a real occurrence but simply a brief fantasy in a sleepy state.

Historically, lucid dreaming was thought to be an intellectual gift from the gods that separated certain humans from the rest. Once studies continued with a broader population, however, results showed that just about anyone was capable of lucid dreaming. The experiments conducted have evolved only slightly since the early 1900s due to difficulty testing participants. The “results” recorded are strictly subjective recounts of those being tested.

So why do some people lucid dream more than others?

Lucid dreaming is far more common in children and young adults with active imaginations rather that older generations. An article in the Huffington Post states that lucid dreamers tend to be more insightful overall because they can recognize their brain’s actions even while asleep. The Post did a study following 68 young adults who claimed to be sufficient “lucid dreamers”. A lucid dreamer must have had multiple experiences in this state and provide vivid recounts for the researchers. Following the dreams, the participants were told solve various puzzles and analogies. Those who were consistent lucid dreamers solved 25 percent more puzzles than those who have never experienced a lucid dream.  Other studies have shown that lucid dreamers perform better on psychological tasks that require “outside of the box” thinking.

Lucid dreaming proves the vast capabilities of our brains and all it can accomplish even while we are sleeping!


15 thoughts on “Can We Actually Control Our Dreams?

  1. Natalie Elizabeth Burns

    This was a great topic to write about! It’s kind of crazy to think about how we have the ability to control our dream when often you hear about so many people having “bad” versus “good” dreams. I know that night terrors are a serious issue when it comes to some people and I wonder if doctors looked into making this a way of treatment for these people because then they would be able to control their dreams.

  2. Caroline Sorrentino

    This is a great topic! I have tried to lucid dream and it has never worked..but from research in the past, I think it is for the better. Apparently, lucid dreaming can be very dangerous and attract multiple entities.A lot of people discuss their stories mentioned here I feel like sometimes I can control my dreams if im not fully asleep. Sometimes my alarm will go off with a song playing and I don’t wake up from it and rather it will go into my dream (which doesn’t help me to wake up).

  3. Jack Regar

    I found this post extremely interesting because I could relate to it. I remember some dreams during my childhood where I would fall to my death, but right when I died I would wake up. Then I would either have a cold sweat going, or my heart would be racing and it would be extremely hard to fall back asleep. Here are a couple things most people do not know about lucid dreaming.

  4. Maura Katherine Maguire

    Hey Delaney, Wow I really enjoyed this post. When I was younger I used to hate going to sleep because I was terrified of the dreams of falling off cliffs (the bed) etc. My dreams back then were much more visual which now makes sense due to your post. I can admit I was much more imaginative back then so that explains why my dreams felt so vivid. I am intrigued by the correlation between dreams and the brain and it is something kinda creepy for me to think about. This was a very interesting blog and I really found it easy and enjoyable to read due to your writing style.

  5. Jovian Ebony Osborne-pantlitz

    Wow! I am totally intrigued by your post. I have never heard of anyone being able to control their dreams. It sounds unobtainable, therefore I am not totally convinvced that this is possible. Like most people I have to experience it to believe it. When a person is in a sleepy state they’re unconscious, right? If I am able to control my brain in this state wouldn’t it be like “day dreaming”?
    I can’t totally be relucant of this theory though. I was told years ago that if a person dies in their dream, they die in real life. I beleieve it because whenever I am bring attacked in a dream, before I die i always wake up in a sweat. So, if the brain can recognize you’re in danger in an unconcious state. Maybe you can be the director of your dream as well. This link explains dreams a little more if interested.

  6. Christopher Ronkainen

    Lucid dreams have always been something very interesting to me and I found this post to be just as intriguing. I never knew that those that lucid dream can have what you described as “out of the box thinking.” I also thought that everyone was capable of having these types of dreams. After reading this post I went out and did some of my own research and came across a cool article. It turns out you can actually teach yourself how to lucid dream! Some of the steps include writing down memories from your own dreams and meditation. How cool!

  7. Alexandra Kaminsky

    This post is really interesting. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could control our dreams every night and then actually remember them when we wake up? Aside from that, I do have some curiosity as to when these dreams usually take place. If you have the ability to lucid dream, what time of the night do they typically occur? I found this cool article online and If your’e interested, take a look!

  8. Kacey Elizabeth Gill

    Hey Delany,

    This is a really cool post. I have always heard about lucid dreaming but I have never experienced it myself. It sounds like an incredible experience to be aware that you are asleep and to have control over the situation. I wonder if lucid dreamers can control when it happens to them or if it completely random. Also, I wonder what the outcome would be they were to become lucid during a nightmare and if that would have any affect on them psychologically. I think it would be cool to see if lucid dreaming is caused by something else. You wrote that a study found that the majority of the population was capable of lucid dreaming, but what is it that allows them to do it and so many others to not; is a special part of the brain unlocked? Here is an article that talks about lucid dreaming and where it may originate from.

  9. Hannah Marie Helmes

    I found this post very interesting. I learned about the hypnagogic jerk (the falling feeling) in Psychology. I find lucid dreaming interesting. I want to learn more about it because I’ve heard of people that try to train themselves to lucid dream. I personally have had dreams where I could control them before so I am curious to learn why it might come natural to some while others need to “train” themselves to do it. You can even pay for lucid dreaming workshops! Check this out if you’re curious in learning more about it because there’s even and Institute for lucid dreaming.

  10. Yinghui Huang

    This article makes me think of the movie called Inception. I was so obsessed with this movie at that time. So this article impresses me a lot. I have read a few articles about how to control your dream. It seems a little strange and mysterious to me, so I haven’t tried yet. Someone suggests one of the best way to control your dream is to dream a lot. But it’s not acceptable for most of people to spend their whole life manage illusory dreams, right? Going back to the real life after dreaming must be quite hurtful.

  11. Michael Mandarino

    This blog post was really interesting and very well-written. I’ve always found dreams to be one of the most interesting thing an animal can do – lucid dreaming is even more interesting because it seems like you have total control over everything in the dream. It’s like you’re producing a mini movie in your sleep. Very well-done article.

  12. Matthew Jacobs-Womer

    I must say, this was an extremely well written blog post. You kept it very interesting, without being too wordy, and hit on a lot of good information. I was never aware that lucid dreaming could be that common; it would be fun to do. It is understandable how this is such a hard phenomena to test, making it a controversial subject. I think it would be very interesting and fun to have a lucid dream, so here is an article on ways you can induce lucid dreaming. (Not sure how legit any of these ways are)

  13. Joe Garrett

    I have always found lucid dreaming to be very fascinating. It seems amazing to be able to control your dream because you can make anything happen. My roommate last year said he could lucid dream fairly regularly and the way he described it I definitely believe it is possible and anyone is capable of doing it. Below is a video that explains the process of lucid dreaming and how you can do it.

  14. dms6679

    I loved reading this article because lucid dreaming has always intrigued me! I think you did a great job at explaining the phenomenon. I also found your mention of dream memory to be really interesting as well. Your post was very insightful, and thorough as you explained data!

  15. Francis Patrick Cotter

    Wow. I actually wrote something very similar to this discussing its relation to the movie inception. This article does a good job of providing data and explanation for lucid dreaming and dream memory. Another theory that you didn’t mention is the relation between video gamers and lucid dreaming. They put themselves in an alternate state of mind similar to a dream for so long that they can begin to control their own dreams.

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