Dreaming A dream is a succession of images, sounds, ideas and emotions that we experience involuntarily while sleeping. Everyone has dreamed at least once in their life, even if they don’t remember it. As a matter of fact everyone experiences six to eight dreams per night, and out of the eight hours of sleep we’re supposed to get each night, two of them are spent dreaming. People aren’t the only animals that can dream. Actually, every mammal is known to have dreams at night, and even some birds. Dreams usually occur during the “rapid eye movement” stage of our sleep, when brain function is high, almost as high as when we’re awake. We most likely remember the dreams that we have during the REM stage because the brain is functioning at such a high rate, but we also dream during other stages of sleep. Those dreams are just harder to remember because the brain is not functioning at the level that it would be during the REM stage. As we all know, dreams can range from exciting and pleasurable, to scary and terrifying. I know that I personally have woken up terrified from a dream, and didn’t want to go back to sleep because I didn’t want to encounter what I was dreaming about again. Usually, we can’t control what we dream about. However, it is a proven fact that a person can induce lucid dreaming if they work at it. Lucid dreaming is when the person who is dreaming is aware of the fact that they are dreaming, and can therefor control their dreams. Anyone can be a lucid dreamer, they just have to practice. There are a few steps that one needs to take in order to become a lucid dreamer. The first and possibly most important step is to keep a dream journal. This helps you recognize your common dream elements (people from your past, specific places, etc.), and also tells your brain that you are serious about remembering your dreams. It will also help you to recognize things that are unique to your dreams. These will be recurring things or events that you may notice in your dreams. The next step is to realize what time is the best to have a lucid dream. By learning your personal sleep schedule, you can figure out what time would be the best for you to be able to have a lucid dream. Scientists say that a nap a few hours after waking up is the best time to have a lucid dream. The next step is to get into the habit of performing reality checks. Although this may seem a little ridiculous because most of us can tell the difference of whether we’re dreaming or not, it is important to perform reality checks if you want to become a lucid dreamer because the habit will carry over into your dreams. This way, when you actually are dreaming, you can perform a reality check in your dream, and realize that it is in fact a dream, therefore being able to control it from there on. The final step is to keep telling yourself that you will have a lucid dream right before you go to sleep. By repeating “I will have a lucid dream”, you are convincing your brain that you can control your dreams and you’re ready to do so. The idea of lucid dreaming may sound cool and exciting, but there are drawbacks. People who learn to dream lucidly can become addicted, causing their natural sleep patterns to change and eventually affecting their health. People who partake in lucid dreaming also experience dissociation. They have a hard time telling what’s real and what isn’t while they are awake. Another risk is sleep paralysis. When people practice lucid dreaming, they are playing on the border of being awake and being asleep. Sometimes people can experience sleep paralysis, which is when their mind is awake, but their body is asleep. Many people wonder whether or not dreams actually have meaning to them. This is a topic that has had scientists arguing back and forth for years. We do know that dreams are useful in learning more about the dreamer's feelings, thoughts, behavior, motives, and values.