What do dreams and psychedelics have in common?
New research is finding that the association between psychedelics and a type of dreaming referred to as lucid dreaming, is surprisingly similar.
Lucid dreaming is a rare type of dreaming in which the dreamer is aware he is dreaming. About 55% percent of people experience lucid dreams at least once in their lives, and about a quarter say they have lucid dreams at least once a month.
Recently, researchers have found that is actually possible to communicate with people during lucid dreams. And the dreamers, in turn, could sometimes respond through eye movements and facial muscle contractions. Brown says this so-called “interactive dreaming” could be used to help people work through psychological trauma in much the same way psychedelic medicine can.
Both lucid dreaming and tripping on hallucinogens “can help us access material in the unconscious, and are powerful tools for exploring hidden dimensions of the mind,” David Jay Brown, author of 16 books on dreaming and consciousness, told Green Entrepreneur. He said that both states can evoke “spiritual awakening,” “mystical experiences,” and “boundless unity.”
“Imagine that you suffer from terrible nightmares from whatever trauma you have. Somebody can go in and teach you how to deal with those, in a safe space that won’t physically harm you,” said dream expert Jennifer Dumpert, founder of the Oneirinauticum International Dream Group, an organization that explores substances, practices, and experiences that enhance the dream state.
Brown agreed that communicating with people during lucid dreaming could help the dreamer “work through emotional traumas, encourage psychological insight, or … remind them to set intentions.”
Coincidentally, this is the same practice being studied with psychedelics. Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, which involves sessions during which a therapist guides a patient through their psychedelic experience, has been shown to relieve symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) much faster and effectively than prescribed antidepressants.
There’s also another possible connection between psychedelics and lucid dreaming, Brown added. “Although there haven’t been any scientific studies into this yet, many people have noticed that simply having a psychedelic experience makes it more likely that one will have a lucid dream in the days following the journey.”