Lucid dreaming is a well known way of experiencing your deepest desires and in a world that feels as real as everyday life. Like Virtual Reality on steroids, lucid dreams offer a whole world of possibilities that are only limited by your own imagination. But, what about the more practical applications of this skill? For instance, can lucid dreaming help you study?
Lucid dreaming can be used to help you study. Although you can not learn new information nor develop new skills within a lucid dream you can practice existing skills and easily recall previously digested information for review. This means you can use your dream time to study and reinforce your understanding of concepts while simultaneously practising recalling important information.
Can lucid dreaming really help you study better?
We have all heard of the fantastic experiences that lucid dreaming can offer. Want to fly like Superman or swing from skyscrapers like Spiderman? Easy. Want to captain a rebel spaceship in deep space and battle against the evil Empire? Go for it. Perhaps you want to spend some personal quality time with your favorite Hollywood star or pop icon. Not a problem!
The simple truth is that there are no restrictions imposed on the dreamer within a lucid dreamer. You are limited only by the poverty of your imagination. Nothing is impossible to the lucid dreamer while they sleep and dream. They have complete autonomy over their dreamworlds and everything in them, as long as they remain in the state of dream lucidity.
But what about the more practical side of life – can your time in lucid dreams be used more effectively to help you improve your real-world waking-life?
The short answer is, yes!
Lucid dreaming is a powerful tool that has many real-world applications. As I covered in a previous article lucid dreaming can be used to affect reality in a number of really cool ways. One of those ways involves study.
How does this work?
Let’s delve into the subject a little deeper to see how you can use your lucid dreams to help you study more efficiently and effectively in order to get better academic results in the waking-world.
How lucid dreaming can help you study
Just as you can practice real-world skills, such as shooting baskets or dribbling a soccer ball, you can also practice more mundane (and dare I say, boring) skills that will benefit you in the academic and employment sectors. There is also strong evidence to suggest developing lucid dreaming skills can make you smarter.
It has been demonstrated many times that, because lucid dreams feel like the real world, it is possible to use your time spent in them to help you improve your existing skills. Just as visualization has been shown to dramatically help improve a person’s skills, lucid dreaming performs a similar function, albeit at a much more dramatic level. Let me explain.
NASA astronauts, and later Olympic athletics, were taught how to use a specific set of mental techniques for improving their physical skills. By first performing a set of actions in real-life and then later imagining themselves performing the same actions, only better, NASA and their astronauts discovered what mystics and ancient cultures have been preaching for years, that persistent mental practice of a skill has the same (and often even better) effects than practicing those skills in real life.
This set of mental techniques is known as visual motor rehearsal. Most of us know it simply as “visualization”.
It seems that by visualizing ourselves performing certain actions we can train our mind and body to perform that action correctly, as if we were actually practicing that action (and performing it correctly every time) in the real world.
So what does this have to do with lucid dreaming and using it to help you study? I’m getting to that. I need to lay this basic ground work first 🙂
Just as visual motor rehearsal can positively affect your ability at any chosen skill, so too can lucid dreaming. Except, lucid dreaming can do it much, much better!
In a visualization session you are merely imagining performing a skill, while in a lucid dream you are actually performing it. Because lucid dreams feel just as real as the real world, performing an action over and over again in a lucid dream helps to train your mind and body to do it in the same way in the waking-world.
Just as lucid dreaming can help you improve real-world skills, it can also help you to study and improve your academic results.
It is important to note that there are specific ways to study in your lucid dreams if you want the time spent to be effective and not just an experience in wish-fulment.
How to use lucid dreams to help you study
Using your lucid dreams to help you study is a great way to utilize the normal “down time” that is sleep. As we have seen, just as you can improve skills in lucid dreams you can also enhance your knowledge and understanding of your academic studies.
There is a caveat to all this, however.
Although there is a lot of argument about whether you can learn new things in lucid dreams or not, it is my experience (and the experience of thousands of other lucid dreamers) that you cannot use your lucid dreams to acquire new knowledge or acquire new skills that you know nothing about in the real world.
Let me give you a simple example of what I am talking about: if you have never flown an airplane in real life you can certainly do it in a lucid dream, and you can thoroughly enjoy the experience, but it is highly unlikely you will be performing the actual actions that are required to fly a real plane. Your subconscious mind just fills in the blanks and makes it feel like you are really flying a plane. That’s just what lucid dreaming is like.
However, a trained pilot will have a very different lucid dreaming experience.
If a trained pilot has a lucid dream about flying a plane he/she will likely perform all the usual actions that are required to fly a plane in the real world unless they deliberately suspend the need for those actions through an act of will.
How does this relate to your lucid dreaming studies?
Well, let’s say you are studying to become a lawyer. You cannot simply go into a lucid dream and start studying for the bar exam if you have never actually researched in real life any of the topics that exam covers. Your subconscious mind cannot magic up books and reference materials on topics that you have never studied or even come into contact with. Sure, it can create a facsimile of them but they will not be the real thing and will almost certainly be filled with information that you “think” should be in them instead of the information that is in the real thing.
Having said that, your subconscious mind notices and records just about every piece of information that you encounter while both awake and asleep. So, if you have actually read a specific book in the waking world your subconscious mind will be able to replicate that book in its entirety (or at least the parts you read) in a lucid dream.
Can you see the advantages and benefits of this?
Within a lucid dream you can therefore reinforce your understanding of specific concepts and improve your retention of information by simply recreating that information within a lucid dream and reviewing it. But, you can only do this if you have already some experience of those things in the real world.
Therefore, lucid dreaming is not a magic bullet for replacing real-world study but it is a very effective way of enhancing your studies and also giving you extra study time. But there’s more! You can delve even deeper into your studies using specific lucid dreaming techniques as I am about to demonstrate.
Getting more from your studies through lucid dreaming
Using lucid dreams to help you study is not just a clever way of extending your study time. You can actually use your lucid dreams to enhance your studies in a few different and very creative ways and it’s all because the world of dreams is the domain of the subconscious mind.
The subconscious is truly a powerful part of the human mind.
Your subconscious mind is much more powerful than your conscious mind in just about every way. As well as being responsible for regulating all your internal body functions without you being aware of it, your subconscious mind is also acutely aware of your external environment.
It is estimated that while your conscious mind can only hold its attention on up to 5 things at any one time your subconscious mind can process many millions. The cocktail party effect is a striking example of this.
We have all had experience with the cocktail party effect in one way or another. This is a phenomenon that occurs when you suddenly become aware of stimulus that is of relevance to you, stimulus that went previously unnoticed because it was mixed-in among countless other stimuli.
Let me simply this is simpler terms using the cocktail party analogy.
You are at a cocktail party talking with friends while dozens of other conversations are going on in the room at the same time. Suddenly you become aware that somewhere across the room someone has just mentioned you by name. Your attention is immediately centered on that area of the room.
This phenomenon demonstrates that the subconscious mind is processing all those multiple conversations at once, while you are consciously focused only the one that you are having. It immediately informs your conscious mind when something of relevance occurs i.e. it heard your name mentioned and brings you attention to it.
There are important psychological reasons for the existence of the cocktail party effect which go way beyond the parameters of this article. So I won’t go into the reasons behind it. However, it does demonstrate the truly awesome processing power of the subconscious mind and it is this amazing subconscious processing power that we can use to our advantage in our studies.
As I previously pointed out, you cannot learn anything new while you sleep, even in a lucid dream, but you can recall and review information in a lucid dream that you have previously been acquainted with in the waking world. This means if you read a book while awake you will be able to reconstruct that book, and all of its contents, within a lucid dream so you can review it again because your subconscious mind retains all that information.
This is where things get very interesting.
It has been demonstrated by many lucid dreamers that you do not have to read a book in a traditional way in order to reconstruct it correctly in a lucid dream. Because your subconscious mind can process information at much higher speeds than your conscious mind can, you can present information to it that you wish to study later in a lucid dream, at a rate which is too fast for you to consciously comprehend while you are doing it.
How do you do this?
One technique that you may have heard of, which has entered many mainstream discussions, is speed reading. Although there is contrary evidence to back-up the wild claims of many speed readers (who claim they can speed read text and recall everything 100% accurately later), this technique does work quite well with lucid dreaming. There is trade-off though!
Although speed reading will help you to pass information quickly to your subconscious mind for later recall in a lucid dream, you will still have to consciously review the information in the dream in order to gain full understanding and clarity of the information. It’s still a pretty cool way to help you study though.
A similar “mind technique” known as mental photography may also be beneficial when used in conjunction with lucid dreaming. I have to state here though that I have never tried mental photography so I cannot attest to its efficiency. I have had a lot of success with speed reading and lucid dreaming, especially when I actually read the text again after I awoke – my understanding and level of recall tripled doing this. However, I have never used mental photography though the concept seems like it might well work.
There is one last way you can use your lucid dreams to help you study.
You can call for a helper in your lucid dream to discuss subjects and concepts with, such as a lecturer or teacher. Although these will obviously not be real people it is a way for you to allow your subconscious mind to help you enhance your understanding of certain topics and concepts. Additionally, you can also call for a study partner within your lucid dream to perform the same role as a study partner would in the waking world.