Clinical Studies Using lucid dreaming to help alleviate PTSD nightmares | VetsWhatsNext 

What is lucid dreaming?

Lucid dreaming is a dream in which one is conscious and aware of one’s dreaming status. On the contrary, in a normal dream one is not aware of the fact that a dream is occurring. This lack of awareness can make one’s dreams feel real worsening nightmares. 

Studies on lucid dreaming and PTSD

This study resulted in a lower frequency of nightmares in participants with PTSD after taking a two hours class on LD techniques. 

How to develop a lucid dreaming practice

Keeping a dream journal- This practice allows you to expand your ability to recall dreams. The journal allows a narrative to identify cues or recurring signs in your dreams to help promote lucidity on recognition. 

Reality checks- Dreaming can be very realistic, reality checks allow you to test your current state.

Mirrors. Check your reflection to see if it looks normal.

Solid objects. Push your hand against a wall or table and see if it goes through. Some people push their fingers into their opposite palms.

Hands. Look at your hands. Do they look normal?

Time. If you’re dreaming, the time on a clock will constantly change. But if you’re awake, the time will barely change.

Breathing. This popular reality check involves pinching your nose and seeing if you can breathe. If you can still breathe, you’re dreaming.

Mnemonic induction of lucid dreams

This technique can be used by reciting a phrase multiple times mentally before bed, such as “when I fall asleep tonight I will remember my lucid dream”. This repetition increases your chances of entering a dream and remaining aware. 

Wake back to sleep method 

This method can be used in conjunction with the previous technique. Set an alarm for five hours after your usual bedtime. Wake up for 30 minutes and do light activities such as reading and then go back to sleep. This allows your brain to enter into a REM state much faster. The REM state is the sleep cycle where dreaming occurs with the most frequency. 

Wake-induced lucid dreaming

This is the most difficult technique as your going from an awake state to a lucid dreaming state well-remaining continuous through the process. This can be accomplished with much practice, you must lay in bed relaxed. As you lay you will start to experience hypnagogic hallucination or a hallucination that occurs when you’re just about to fall asleep. You must remain aware thought the process as you enter the dream.