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Mini Review ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02618

My dream, my rules: can lucid dreaming treat nightmares?

  • 1Department of Psychology, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil
  • 2Department of Philosophy, Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil
  • 3Onofre Lopes University Hospital, Brazil
  • 4Institute of Neurobiology (BAS), Bulgaria
  • 5Brain Institute, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil

Nightmares are frightening dreams, usually involving threats to survival, security, and self-esteem. Intense and recurring nightmares cause significant distress and impairment in occupational and social functioning, as have been commonly observed in post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. By contrast, during lucid dreaming (LD), subjects get insight that they are dreaming and may even control the content of their dreams. This possibility opens a way to help those who suffer from recurring nightmares through the re-signification of the dream scene, i.e., knowing that they are dreaming and having control over the dream content, lucid dreamers might be able to turn their nightmares into normal dreams, thereby assuring a restoring sleep. The aim of the present study is to review the literature on the use of LD as an auxiliary tool in the treatment of nightmares. We searched for original research articles in scientific databases using the keywords "lucid dream(s)" or "lucid dreaming" and "nightmare(s)" or "recurring nightmare(s)". We observed that whereas LD may be a feasible aid in the treatment of patients with nightmares through minimizing their frequency, intensity and psychological distress, the available literature is still scarce and does not provide consistent results. We conclude therefore that more research is clearly warranted for a better estimation of the effective conductance and therapeutic outcome of LD treatment in clinical practice.

Keywords: Lucid dreaming, Nightmare, REM sleep, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Depression, Anxiety

Received: 23 Jul 2019; Accepted: 06 Nov 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Macedo, Ferreira, Almondes, Kirov and Mota-Rolim. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
Miss. Taina Carla F. Macedo, Department of Psychology, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, Brazil, tainacarlafreitasdemacedo@gmail.com
Dr. Sérgio A. Mota-Rolim, Brain Institute, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, Brazil, sergioarthuro@neuro.ufrn.br