Rebecca Turner: Asperger Syndrome (AS) was defined relatively recently and so there are very few sleep studies of it in the scientific literature. The condition is now considered a form of High-Functioning Autism and is marked by altered social interactions, restricted interests, and repetitive and stereotyped behaviors.
My own research into Asperger Syndrome and dreams has thrown up a curiously mixed bag of results. On the one hand, clinical observations suggest patients have a harder time with sleep and dream recall. On the other hand, first-person accounts on blogs and forums suggest dream recall - and even the ability to lucid dream - is largely in line with the general population.
On the clinical front: studies suggest that children with AS are more likely to have sleep problems, including difficulty falling asleep and frequent awakenings all night long. Further clinical observations suggest that patients may suffer from similar sleep disorders as autistic patients, including abnormal REM sleep and poor dream recall.
One EEG study called A Laboratory Study of Sleep and Dreaming in a Case of Asperger Syndrome was performed on a 25-year-old male AS patient over two nights. It found low levels of Slow Wave Sleep (deep sleep), high levels of Stage 1 (light sleep) and lots of awakenings. His REM (dream) sleep was typical. However, when he was awoken on three occasions during REM sleep, he couldn't remember any dreams just prior.
Now compare those findings with personal accounts: Gavin Bollard, creator of the blog Life with Asperger's, did an impromptu survey of 52 "Aspies" asking about their dream recall. He found:
Based on Gavin's survey it appears people with Asperger Syndrome have a similar dream recall rate to the general population.
Gavin, who was diagnosed with AS as an adult in 2006 while investigating his son's behavior, noted: "I've always had fairly vivid dreams and surprisingly, I've remembered quite a few of them. My childhood dreams are still clear as crystal, it's my adult dreams that I don't remember as well." You'll note from Gavin's blog post on Asperger's and Dreams that he describes controlling his childhood dreams, if not actually realizing he was lucid dreaming: "...if I made swimming motions with my hands and feet, I would actually be able to float in the air and control my direction. This particular dream was so vivid that I remember being anxious to rush outside and try it, just in case it really worked."
He also recalls recurring nightmares from his childhood, as well as vivid and lengthy daydreams that could even turn into day-nightmares: "Arguably the worst daydream I'd ever had was one where I clearly saw a nuclear payload drop from a plane. The daydream was so vivid that I felt heat on my face..."
Posts from online forums also show that people with Asperger Syndrome are fully capable of lucid dreaming. One user writes: "I have Asperger's Syndrome, too and I think I don't have more difficulty with dream control than other people do. I sometimes do have difficulty interacting with dream characters but I don't know if that has something to do with being an Aspie (maybe because I have also some difficulties interacting with people in the waking life)."
How can we account for this difference between clinical and real-world observations? Perhaps those who respond to dream polls and are active in dream forums represent a portion of the spectrum whose sleep and dream lives are less severely affected. It could be that the more severe the condition, the more severe the effect on your sleep and dream life.
If you have Asperger Syndrome and are interested in lucid dreaming, my advice would be to keep at it. Because as one Aspie pointed out, this could provide a major advantage: "...[people with AS] can obsess about their special interests... having Asperger's could in fact be helpful as one will then be thinking about it [lucid dreaming] much of the time. Note with my Asperger's I'm unable to fantasize at all in my head... but that don't affect me from doing stuff like WILD."
Visit our lucid dreaming forum to read these quotes in context and discuss dreams with other people who have Asperger Syndrome.
For a personal account of living with Asperger Syndrome, see Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robinson. Ever since he was young, Robison longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits - an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother in them) - had earned him the label "social deviant." A born storyteller, Robison has written a moving, darkly funny memoir about a life that has taken him from developing exploding guitars for KISS to building a family of his own. Strange, sly, yet always deeply human.
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In Ask The Experts, readers have the opportunity to probe the minds of long time lucid dreamers, Daniel Love and Rebecca Turner. With a combined 40 years of lucid dreaming experience, they aim to candidly answer your lucidity questions on demand.
Note: The opinions expressed here are our own, based on our scientific understanding of consciousness exploration. The pursuit of lucid dreaming often leads to personal interpretations, with which you may or may not agree, but we hope to unveil the most objective and best-fitting explanations available. We hope you find this segment to be informative, educational and inspirational for your dream life.
Rebecca Turner is the creator of World of Lucid Dreaming where she offers valuable first-hand insights. Learn more about Rebecca. Take her home study program. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and the lucid dream forum.
I was walking down a hallway with my dad when it happened. A dark, pointy figure grabbed me by the ankles and flung me down the hall. I was shocked and in pain. But before I knew what was happening, he marched over to me and did it again. He was furious. He was going to destroy me. And I had nothing. Except for my lucidity.
Members of our lucid dream forum have been asking how to create dream characters in lucid dreams. The most common problem is having characters who look nothing like they should. Or they seem disinterested in your company. Or they fail to show up on command altogether. So, how to combat this? It's a matter of finding creative solutions that bypass logical expectations.
To lucid dream, I recommend being able to remember at least one vivid dream per night. That will boost your self awareness in dreams (making lucidity more likely) and also means you can actually remember your lucid dreams. Which is nice. Here are four detailed tips on how to remember your dreams more frequently. And if you don't think you dream at all - trust me, you almost certainly do. It takes an extraordinarily rare sleep disorder to deprive someone of dream sleep.
It is estimated that these wise and wily Indians have been using mugwort in their healing and ritual practices for 13,000 years, where it is known as the ‘dream sage’. They use the herb to promote good dreams, which they consider an essential aspect of normal human functioning! But that’s not all...
Silene Capensis has been used for millennia by the Xhosa shaman of the river valleys in the eastern cape of South Africa, where it is known as Undela Ziimhlophe or 'white paths'. It's fragrant white flowers open only at night, when they emit a fragrant and almost hypnotising aroma. Also known as African Dream Herb or Ubulawu, Silene Capensis induces spectacularly vivid dreams - yet has never entered the mainstream and remains a fringe taste within western culture.
Experts agree that everyone is capable of having lucid dreams. Dreaming itself is a normal function of the mind. We all dream every night, even if we don't remember. And we all achieve conscious awareness while awake every single day. So what does it mean to combine these states? Why, the amazing ability to have conscious - or lucid - dreams. Sounds simple, doesn't it? So why do I keep hearing from people who say they can't achieve their first lucid dream?