If you're a lucid dreamer, you probably already know that becoming lucid is a powerful way to deal with nightmares. Now, in a 2015 study, researchers have validated this theory by teaching nightmare sufferers how to lucid dream - with significant findings.
The 10-week study combined the practice of lucid dreaming with Gestalt therapy - a form of psychotherapy which emphasizes personal responsibility and uses role playing to resolve past conflicts. The participants were split into two groups: one group received Gestalt therapy alone, while the other group received Gestalt therapy and were trained in lucid dreaming for one hour per week.
Over a period of 10 weeks, 12 out of 16 (75%) were able to learn to dream lucidly. This supports the idea that lucid dreaming is a learnable skill and accessible to the general population.
Both groups kept dream diaries throughout the experiment, as well as reporting on their sleep quality via questionnaires at 5, 10 and 12 weeks.
The result? Both groups reported significantly fewer nightmares at the three-month follow-up. However, the group who learned lucid dreaming reported a reduction in nightmares that was both sooner and higher...
In Gestalt therapy sessions, the dreamers were encouraged to describe and confront their nightmares by role playing the main characters and images with the two-chair technique.
This is where one chair represents the dreamer, and the other chair represents the nightmare character or image. Through improvisation, the dreamer then swaps between chairs and role plays the nightmare figure vs themself.
Gestalt therapy is successful in treating nightmares because it helps to:
The addition of lucid dream training to the study had a noticeable impact. Though both groups reported fewer nightmares after three months of treatment, the lucid dreamers were reporting results before the Gestalt therapy had concluded at 10 weeks.
Here's what the researchers did for the group who learned lucid dreaming:
Interestingly, the 12 people who were exposed to both Gestalt therapy and successfully learned to lucid dream during the study reported improved sleep quality to a statistically significant degree.
Another finding was that lucid dreamers got much better that remembering their dreams after 5 weeks, while those in the Gestalt therapy only groups found no difference on their dream recall.
About The Guest Author
Jenny Casale is a teacher with a passion for learning - about everything. She is a grandmother of two and lives in New Zealand.
Rebecca Turner is a science writer, illustrator, explorer of consciousness - and founder of World of Lucid Dreaming. She is currently studying for a biology degree in Auckland and blogging at her site Science Me.
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