Last night I had a dream I did not enjoy. In it I was having a conversation with a particularly irrational person who insisted on things that were so illogical that I simply thought to myself: “This is impossible, I’m just going to wake up now because there’s no point to this conversation”. So I did. When awake I realised that by telling myself to wake up I must have been aware of my dreaming state. A lucid dream in other words. How long had I been aware of the fact that I was dreaming I wondered. The whole night? I kept thinking about the subject of lucid dreaming as I stared up at the ceiling unable to fall back asleep. Eventually I got up. Some late-night (or rather early-morning) browsing of the Internet showed me that “hardcore” gamers (characterized in part by regular playing sessions of more than 2 hours, several times a week) are more prone to lucid dreaming than the average person. Could this be true? It’s a captivating thought indeed.
Psychologist Jayne Gackenbach and her colleagues found many effects that gaming seem to have on our dreams in their research. These effects all speak of an enhanced experience of control. For an example the ability to toggle between first and third-person point-of-view is far more common amongst gamers as well as taking charge over, and even enjoying, frightening dreams which would intimidate and scare others. What they also found was that “hardcore” gamers are much more likely than their peers to experience lucid dreaming. After seeing that gamers and lucid dreamers exhibited similar traits (like intense focus and “superior spatial awareness”) in their waking lives 125 gamers and non-gamers were surveyed on how often they experience lucid dreams. Gackenbach found a strong association between gaming and lucid dreaming.
Aristotle said “Often when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream”. A lucid dream is just that, a dream in which you find yourself aware of the fact that you are dreaming. So why is this more common amongst gamers? We are obviously used to switching between alternate realities by immersing ourselves into the games we play. When we then enter the world of dreaming, do we then recognize the signs of fiction and fantasy more easily than others? It is indeed an intriguing idea and the philosophical implications of this is fascinating to me. But more on that another time.
Have you ever experienced lucid dreaming? Do you do so often or is it a rare occurrence? Let me know in the comments below. Goodnight everyone.
Photo attribution: “Um Carta” by Alone in the Dark licensed under CC by 2.0