“Lucid dreamers report being able to freely remember the circumstances of waking life, to think clearly, and to act deliberately upon reflection, all while experiencing a dream world that seems vividly real” (LaBerge, 1990). In lucid dreaming, people become conscious enough to realize what they are dreaming, and therefore can change the dream they are having.
A theory widely accepted by many researchers, is “That lucid dreams are not typical parts of the dreaming thought, but rather brief arousals” (LaBerge, 1990). The researchers came up with the fact that the arousals were frequently happening during REM sleep and this became the platform for lucid dreams. In the late 1970’s, evidence started showing up that lucid dreams occur during REM sleep. To test this hypothesis out, 4 scientists by the names of: LaBerge, Nagel, Dement and Zarcone got together and set up an experiment. In this experiment, the scientists had to use some sort of signal or response to determine the exact time the lucid dream was occurring. In the experiment, the scientists used five subjects and studied each from two to twenty nights, depending upon how long the scientists thought they needed. All in all, they studied the subjects a total of 34 nights and came up with a total of 35 lucid dreams from various stages of sleep. Of the 35 lucid dreams, 32 occurred during REM sleep, and the other three took place during other stages of the sleep cycle. “A later analysis extending these data with two additional subjects and 20 more lucid dreams produced identical results” (LaBerge, 1990). This led LaBerge and the three other scientists to believe that lucid dreaming usually occurs during REM sleep.
Many other researchers were also studying lucid dreaming and the time of their occurrence. Two such researchers, named Keith Hearne and Alan Worsley, designed a study of lucid dreaming. In their experiment, the subject spent 50 non-continuous nights in the Hull University sleep lab while the experimenter monitored the polygraph. From their studies, there was a total of eight lucid dreams and they said all of the dreams occurred during REM sleep. Another researcher, named Olgilvie, also studied lucid dreaming. “Olgilvie reported the physiological state preceding 14 spontaneous lucidity signals as unqualified REM in 12 (86%) of the cases; of the remaining two cases, one was ambiguous REM and the other appeared to be wakefulness” (LaBerge, 1990). According to Olgilvie’s research, lucid dreams normally occur during REM sleep, but there is always a slight chance they occur at other times. Many other laboratories that study lucid dreaming agree with LaBerge, Hearne and Worsley, and Olgilvie that lucid dreams take place during REM sleep.
Lucid dreams come about in two different ways. In the usual type of dream, people are right in the middle of REM sleep, when suddenly something unusual happens causing enough image and representation for them to slow down and become aware that they are dreaming. This is also known as a Dream-initiated Lucid Dream (DILD). In all of the lucid dreams people have, 80% are said to be dream-initiated. In the other less common type, people are briefly awakened during a dream, but fall directly back to sleep going into the dream again. This all happens very quickly with no or very little break in consciousness. This type of lucid dream is commonly known as a Wake-Initiated Lucid Dream (WILD). “LaBerge’s data indicates that while lucid dreams do not take place during interludes of wakefulness within REM periods, a minority of lucid dreams (WILDs) are initiated from these moments of transitory arousal, with the WILDs continuing in subsequent undisturbed REM sleep” (LaBerge, 1990).
Out of body experiences (OBEs) are experiences when people feel like they are seeing the world from somewhere other than their physical bodies. The out of the body person will feel like they are in a world like the one they are in while awake. Even though they are said to be out of body, the person still has the feeling of having a body. OBEs can many different things to humans. Sometimes, they are highly moving, but they can also be very disturbing.
There are many explanations for what exactly OBEs are. One explanation is that the human consciousness separates from the body and travels in a separated form in the physical world. “Another idea is that they are hallucinations, but this requires an explanation of why so many people have the same delusion” (LaBerge and Levitan, 1991). Others think the OBEs are natural happenings coming from normal brain processes and they happen to healthy people. There has been much support by many psychologists for this explanation because they say people who experience OBEs are ‘the average healthy Americans.’
OBEs are similar to dreams, but they seem more real than dreams and they occur less frequently. “Common aspects of the experience include being in an out ‘out-of-body’ body much like the physical one, feeling a sense of energy, feeling vibrations, and hearing strange loud noises” (LaBerge and Levitan, 1991). Many scientists say that OBEs take place at the beginning of sleep when people lose input from their organs but are still conscious. OBEs occur to people when they are resting, sleeping, dreaming, ill, and sometimes even when people are on medication or drugged up. Many researchers say that people who have OBEs also have lucid dreams as well as flying and falling dreams.
Lucid dreams and OBEs have many differences. OBEs occur much less frequent than lucid dreams. In a lucid dream, the dreamer is for sure the event is a dream and in OBEs, the person is convinced that the happening is real and not a dream. In OBEs a person typically dreams about being in their bedroom, while lucid dreamers do not. After a person has awakened from a lucid dream, they accept the fact that the dream was not real and after a person who had an OBE wakes up, they believe the experience was real. Many lucid dreams have sexual content and it feels the same as real sex, while OBEs hardly ever have sexual content. Lucid dreamers have a terribly hard time remembering their dream, but on the other hand OBEs are clearly remembered. Lucid dreams usually happen form DILDs while OBEs are initiated from WILDs. Lucid dreams are much more common that OBEs where 50-70% of the population says that they have had at least one lucid dream in their life. Only 14-25% of the population claim to have had an OBE. By their definitions, a lucid dream is said to occur during sleep while an OBE is said to take place while awake. In lucid dreaming, the dreamer and their physical body are still together, and in OBEs the person sees theirself as separate from the physical body. A lucid dreamer’s physical body is not visible while a person who has an OBE usually has visibility of their physical body. People who have OBEs usually have greater and more common positive feelings than do people who have lucid dreams.
In conclusion, lucid dreams and out-of-body experiences are very different. One big reason for their difference is that in lucid dreams the dreamer and the physical body are still together, and in OBEs the person sees himself or herself separated from the physical body. Although, lucid dreams and OBEs are very different there are also some similarities between them. Many researchers say that OBEs are a type of lucid dream. Many lucid dream studies that scientists conduct have experiences like OBEs. Despite being somewhat similar, OBEs and lucid dreams are definitely two separate things.
LaBerge, S. (1990). Lucid Dreaming: Psychophysiological Studies of
Consciousness during REM Sleep [On-line]. Available: www.lucidity.com
LaBerge, S. and Lynne Levitan. (1991). Other Worlds: Out-of-Body Experiences
And Lucid Dreams [On-line]. Available: www.lucidity.com
Wilson, I. (1994). A Look at Lucid Dreaming and Out of Body Experiences
[On-line]. Available: www.spiritweb.org/Spirit/obe-wilson.html