We spend about 8 hours a day sleeping, 56 hours a week, 240 hours a month and 2900 hours a year. This time represents about a third of life! So a third of our lives are spent sleeping, and less dreaming, and only a relatively small percentage of us manage to dream lucidly!
However, what happens during sleep? Even if it seems that we do nothing during sleep, the brain has a very intense activity.
Sleep follows a regular cycle every night, so there are two basic forms of sleep: REM sleep ((rapid eye movement) and NREM sleep (non-rapid eye movement). REM sleep is also known as "paradoxical sleep". Children spend about 50% of their sleep time in the REM phase and the remaining 50% in the NREM phase. Adults instead spend more in the REM phase, about 80% and only 20% in the REM phase. As we age, the REM phase shrinks, so older people spend only 15% of their time sleeping in the REM phase.
What happens in the REM phase? That's when I dreamed the most. During REM sleep, a person's eyes move back and forth at a rapid pace. Sleep researchers discovered this when they woke up people during REM sleep; they said they were in the time of a dream. The characteristics of an EEG (electroencephalogram) during REM sleep are similar to those of an EEG during wakefulness. However muscle activity is silent during REM sleep, muscles are inactivated to prevent us from interpreting dreams. Which means that those who go into sleep (sleepwalkers) are not in the REM phase.
NREM sleep has 4 different phases of sleep, each with different EEG characteristics. Phases 3 and 4 are also called slow wave sleep phases (tetha and delta).
While we sleep, our brains follow a roller-coaster-like route through different stages of sleep, as can be seen in the picture below. Which means that for an interval of 8 hours, the brain goes through these stages 3-4 times.
But what happens to dreams? We enter the REM phase of sleep about 5 times in an average sleep period of 8 hours. If we assume that we dream during each REM period then, in a year, we will have1,825 dreams! Of course, we do not remember all these dreams. A 75-year-old person would have about 136,875 dreams!
Although we dream so much, we do not manage to remember much of what we dreamed of during the night. Some people say that they do not dream anything, however we all dream, but only a very small percentage of us can remember what he dreamed of.
How can we remember our dreams, but even more importantly how can we have a lucid dream?
For starters we should remember our dreams right after we woke up, possibly keeping a Dream Diary
. It is even advisable to stay in the position where we woke up and begin the process of remembrance. As we become better and better at remembering dreams, we will also try to have lucid dreams, which unlike the normal ones are clear and real. During lucid dreams, sensations are exactly like those in the real world. Because the mind is conscious in the dream, we can fully guide and control the dream. During lucid dreams, we can fly over sensational places, or wherever we want, or we can do things that are impossible in real life.
In order to succeed in having a lucid dream, we must trust that we will be able to do this, and then establish a clear intention to have a lucid dream, before falling asleep, every night.
As in yoga, pracation is the most important thing, so those who want to achieve results must first of all practice. As we well know a sustained practice, but which also requires a little personal effort will reward us to the fullest!