Lucid Dreaming Essay

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Lucid Dreaming

Austin based filmmaker Richard Linklater recently released a movie that is a dream. By that I mean both that it is about a dream, and that it is dreamlike. "Waking Life" received mixed reviews, but it also sparked new interest in an idea that has actually been around a long time: lucid dreaming. In this paper I intend to explore the concept of lucidity in dreams, and to concentrate on the research of Stanford University's Stephen LaBerge, who has used lucid dreaming as a tool to better understand the biological phenomena of sleep and dreams.

Basically, "lucid dreaming" is being aware that you are dreaming(1). In the late 19th century, Frederik van Eeden published his observations about his own lucid
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You can't fall asleep, or be asleep, if your waking self is still regulating and reflecting upon your conscious mental state." La Berge claims that the existence of lucid dreamers disproves that statement(2) (5).

Scientists in the 1970's cited the "frequent transitory arousals" common during REM sleep as important to the occurrence of lucid dreams, either because they were the lucid dreams themselves (and thus not really dreams at all) or because they initiated them. Around this time some scientists began to alter their thinking concerning the validity of lucid dreams. Researchers looked for a way to identify in a laboratory the physiological patterns associated with lucid dreams. The idea was that subjects should signal the beginning of lucid dreams by performing a 'dream action,' such as eye movements or fist clenching, that would show up on a polygraph. In 1981 scientists experimented with this and were able to demonstrate the occurrence of lucid dreaming for five different volunteer test subjects. Because they were observing the subjects' sleep patterns, there was little question of whether the dreamers were actually asleep during the lucid dreams. As La Berge points (presumably in response to assertions by Foulkes and other similarly thinking scientists), "it is embarrassingly awkward to assert (as some critics have done) that subjects who reported being certain that they were asleep while showing

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