Choose What to Dream Tonight

I like to post interesting articles I read in the WSJ.

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Choose What to Dream Tonight Some strategies to try: Write down what you want to dream. Say a mantra as you drift off.

I recently chatted with a friend about dreams. I said I long to sail in my sleep. My friend was more specific. “I want a day of fly fishing, then a 1970s-style night on the town with Farrah Fawcett,” he said. “Oh, and to fly, like Superman.” Is it possible to direct our dreams? Scientists who study dreams say the answer may be yes. They point to a small yet emerging body of research that shows that we most likely can, at least sometimes, decide what to dream before we go to sleep and then take some control of our dream while it’s happening. The most compelling research in the field is on lucid dreaming, which is when a person is aware that a dream is happening and can sometimes influence events within it. Ever noticed you’re having a nightmare and told yourself to wake up? That’s a lucid dream. Scientists once thought the idea was a sham. But in recent years, they’ve used MRI machines to show that some people do become aware of their dreams while they’re asleep. They scanned the brains of lucid dreamers while they were awake, asking them to repeatedly clench their right and left hands. Then they let them fall asleep in the scanner, with instructions to use eye movements to signal when they became lucid and to then dream about moving their right and left hands. It worked. People get excited about the idea of lucid dreaming because they believe it will allow them to do what they want while they’re asleep, such as visit with loved ones, work on a creative project or have sex, says Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology and director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley. “They view their dreams as a kind of virtual reality that’s under their control,” he says.

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