How do we create a scientifically useful set of dream statistics

I put it in pretty much every article I post that there isn’t a really big peer reviewed set of statistics for dreaming. There are a lot if very good reasons for this. Some are obvious and others are not so easy. We can examine each in turn and perhaps find some solutions.

Collection
Collecting isn’t as hard as it used to be. Apps for dreaming already do this. There is a few around and I am going to stick to my policy of not naming any in this blog for now. I have strong views on most of the crowd sourced dreaming app as a large number have piss poor security measures or don’t guarantee anonymity. One I tried used stock images from a source page to give your dream a bit of colour or something (I have no idea really why) and when I put in a dream I had about being transgender it sourced a extremely Transphobic image. Suffice to say I deleted all my data and dreams from the app ASAP.
So collection is now easy the issue is doing it well and with respect to the users. Sure the idea is to have the data in a place you can use to see patterns and make useful scientific conclusions but doing the collection right has to be as big a priority as the data collection itself.

Reward and bias
Bias is a big issue. Collection in a app can mean that people lie about dreaming content. You can also make assumptions about what patterns you will find. One must be aware of as many of the biases as possible and have a way to alleviate them or make them into useful hypothesis.

People as need a reward system for long term collection, nothing to fancy as it introduces bias and people are encouraged to lie if they get a lot. The system for collection should also have an advanced SPAM filter just in case. The reward system should be something like a online sticker or badge system giving the long term users a physical incentive to continue using long term. Of course people will still lie or create false dreams but there is little that can be done. The majority will record real dreams and that false ones will be a noise factor that can be taken into any analysis.

making it easy
Being a online tool makes it easy for

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Making your own dreams

There are a lot of people who want to make a dream. Some want to re-dream they have had before. Some want to dream about a particular thing. Some want to not dream about a particular thing. They all have one thing in common. Lucid dreaming.

Write it down
The main stay of dream control before anything else is writing your dreams down. This is essential. The more recall you have the more you will be able to see what LeBarge and other lucid dreaming advocates call dream signs. This is basically about recognizing what your doing right now is dreaming. You will know as you spot a dream sign or you will do a reality cgeck out of habit. Reality checks are things you do when your dreaming. There are heaps of apps out their for mobile users (no I am not endorsing one or the other). For fans of pen and paper you can use that too. I put my dreams into my journal I use for day to day entries, but I will also voice record them to write later as I have limited time on weekdays (like most of us). I find the best time to do a reality check is every time I look at a clock or every time I look at my phone. Making it habitual is not an issue for this method. There are others, but most fall back on reality checks as a first line of defense for lucid dreaming. The only exceptions are Ophiels little system, the “light body” method (which is also in his book but it’s in pretty much every book I have read on the subject of lucid dreaming/astral projection). Ophiels symbol method is just a very specific reality check method. LeBarge is a much more modern and down to earth writer and his methods are both easier and don’t patronize you. I recommend his texts as being a better source for beginners.

Sleep
Ok this sounds stupid but it’s not. The number of times someone has told me they don’t get recall or can’t get started and I have worked out that they are not sleeping properly is pretty huge. The best thing for making your own dreams is making sure you have a good sleeping pattern. It’s possible that this is really hard or impossible for you. Maybe for medical reasons, maybe for work reasons. Either of these can mean using a method like LeBarge’s Wake Back To Bed (WBTB) method is better for your circumstances. Seeing a Sleep Doctor may also be a good idea.

Write down your day
This I find is pretty essential to recall. When I am slack about journaling, I slack in dreamland recall. So writing down your day is important to get better recall for me. You may find it’s not the case for you though. I think it’s a pretty good habit to get into as a lot of what you dream ends up coming from your day. You will also find writing your fantasies and desires really useful as well. The dreams you have that relate to those will increase with the amount you write about them.

Visulistions
The next step is making what you want to dream about possible. You want to make it as real as you can. As you learn your dreams you will learn what your dreams think is possible. It may be highly based on reality or highly based on fantastic worlds. Don’t feel disappointed if your one who dreams the first. This does not mean your not creative and you can’t make your dreams yours.

You need to write about the thing you want in the dream. In your dream journal. This is important as your mind will associate it with dreaming. It needs to be as well described as possible. Draw it. Paint it. Make a model of it of you can. Imagine what it smells like if it has a smell. Imagine what it tastes like if it has a taste. As much as possible you need to see it clearly in your mind. When you do a reality check imagine it in your next dream. When you go to bed imagine it next to your near your sleeping place. Eventually it will be there in your dream. It will have as much reality as you can give it.

I know quite a few people who imagined lucidity potions. They did things like drawing the flask is was in, then they imagined it’s taste and look and so on. Some even made a drink like it and drank it before bed (if you do this don’t make it contain a stimulant or other drug). They soon had this drink in their dreams and as soon as they drank it, they were lucid. Others imagined warrior figures who helped them fight their nightmares away. Some imagines dream rooms, painted a door in their bedroom and pretended to open it every night until they dreamed it and could go into their dreamworld through it. Still others took a clue from literature and went into their wardrobe every night, even sleeping their sometimes till they had a dreamlike space beyond.

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For the night is dark and full of fiction

It’s been a very long time between posts on my dreaming interpretation blog. I have written quite a bit of poetry over at my other blog (http://enigmagarden.wordpress.com/) though, so if you feel like some poems / fiction sometimes inspired by dreams head over there.

My counsellor asked me the other day how common it is to have dreams influenced by popular culture. I.e. Game of Thrones (title for the reference).

Again, and again I come back to these sorts of questions “how common is it?” Well no one knows for sure. The complete lack of properly done, authorative peer-reviewed statistics on dreams is clearly the biggest issue. It’s probably also really hard to do. New “Apps” such as SHADOW and the like try to help, but either fail the ethics test so hard it’s not funny or are clearly not independent of commercialism, lack basic privacy tests or even worse contain upfront bias. The good stats on “commonality” of dreams are a long way off.

Being the massive cynic I am, it’s probably better just to answer “generally it’s very common”.

Putting aside any other inputs, fiction is a pretty big one, and readings, watching, listening to fiction will make it appear in your dreams. Your brain will use fiction to create dreams. Why? Well from my theory of the evolution of dreams, animals started dreaming because it was a safe way to practice hunting or surviving when you had this otherwise useless downtime. The creatures that got creative with this and used it to help them work out problems as well did even better. Sure enough with enough evolution stories would replay in dreams pretty easily as you could use the lessons from the stories as learning. It would help imprint the lesson into your memory and make it even more useful to you. It helped a lot if you could relate to the story.

This is why stories that show even pretty nasty aspects of humanity like Game of Thrones will be replayed in our minds. We can relate to the characters, even the nasty ones. We can learn what they learn and work out how to do better. So that’s why fiction replays happen in our dreams very commonly.

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A reality of dreams

Originally posted on Mind Hacks:

The journal Sleep has an interesting study on how people with narcolepsy can experience sometimes striking confusions between what they’ve dreamed and what’s actually happened.

Narcolepsy is a disorder of the immune system where it inappropriately attacks parts of the brain involved in sleep regulation.

The result is that affected people are not able to properly regulate sleep cycles meaning they can fall asleep unexpectedly, sometimes multiple times, during the day.

One effect of this is that the boundary between dreaming and everyday life can become a little bit blurred and a new study by sleep psychologist Erin Wamsley aimed to see how often this occurs and what happens when it does.

Some of the reports of are quite spectacular:

One man, after dreaming that a young girl had drowned in a nearby lake, asked his wife to turn on the local news in full expectation that the event would…

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How sleep makes your mind more creative

Originally posted on Mind Hacks:

It’s a tried and tested technique used by writers and poets, but can psychology explain why first moments after waking can be among our most imaginative?

It is 6.06am and I’m typing this in my pyjamas. I awoke at 6.04am, walked from the bedroom to the study, switched on my computer and got to work immediately. This is unusual behaviour for me. However, it’s a tried and tested technique for enhancing creativity, long used by writers, poets and others, including the inventor Benjamin Franklin. And psychology research appears to back this up, providing an explanation for why we might be at our most creative when our minds are still emerging from the realm of sleep.

The best evidence we have of our mental state when we’re asleep is that strange phenomenon called dreaming. Much remains unknown about dreams, but one thing that is certain is that they are weird. Also…

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List of reality checks

1. Try to draw a yellow circle on your hand. Do three circles on your palm or the back of your hand. Do a circle in the air or on any surface. Say or think “I am in reality” as you do so.

2. Pinch your nose as you try to breathe in. Say or think “I am in reality” as you do so.

3. Pick a spot in your line of sight not right in front of you, look at that spot then any other place taking note of its color and shape. Look back at the first spot. Look back again and say “I am in reality” (note needs to be inside a car/bus/etc if on the move).

4. Pinch yourself. If it hurts say “I am in reality”.

Others to be added as I hear of them.

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Sex dreams

Christmas gets me the usual and annoying Turkey Dreams questions (http://dreamsandbass.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/turkey-dreams/) and then just after that it seems people ask me sex dream questions. Having not actually talked about sex dreams ever here, I thought it was time.

The reasoning behind sex dreams is easy, we in general as species desire sex. There are some whom do not desire sex, and as a consequence may not have any sex dreams.

Some dreams about sex are great. Fun. Happy. It’s also good practice for our mind when we get the real thing. Sex dreams often start to occur in the teenage years, before we generally have it. Please note these are general terms.

Having sex dreams is perfectly normal for all genders and sexualities. They also may step us out of our usual genders and sexualities. The normality of this is unknown. If your worried about your dreams about sex being normal a counsellor or psychologist would be a good place to seek help. (please, please do not send me your sex dreams asking if they are normal )

The basic gist is we are sexual beings. Having sex, seeing sex, being sexual in dreams is a normal thing.

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