virtual dreamer

nextI have written extensively over the years about the process of falling asleep and have sorted my journal into four areas of interest.

Sleep, Lucid Dreams and the Prefrontal Cortex

 

The simple process of visualization, combined with naturally relaxing sounds, will induce sleep onset. This technique has worked wonders for me and is the central idea behind our website. While this site is dedicated to helping people relax and sleep there is one interesting side effect that occasionally happens. Every blue moon; while listening, relaxing and visualizing, I find myself aware that I am dreaming. I am awake, yet in a dream. I am lucid dreaming. 

 

A scientific fact:

 

Visualizing and dreaming occur in the same area of our big human brain. They both occur in the secondary visual cortices (collectively called the cortex) that are found in the occipital lobe of our gray matter.

 

Now, I am a relatively savvy dreamer. Lucid dreaming and I go way back.  I was lucid dreaming before lucid dreaming was cool. Last night, however, I had a dream that should have made me LD (lucid dream). In the dream I was at a sleepover with a bunch of folks. We were packed into a small room. We were in sleeping bags. I noticed someone breathing heavily on me, from above. I looked up and saw Dick Cheney (yes, the former V.P.) , head in hands, leaning over me. He was in distress. He was very thin as I helped him lay down. I felt his heartbeat. It was racing. Someone came over to me and said 'he will be okay now'. Keep in mind that I don't give a rat's gobblie-goop for Dick Cheney. This dream was so outrageous that I would have normally recognized it as such and proceeded to have some lucid dream fun. But I did not. This is because my Prefrontal Cortex was inactive.

 

The Prefrontal Cortex

 

The part of our big human brain that handles cognitive thought is called the Prefrontal Cortex. It exists in the gray matter directly behind our forehead. Normally this area of our brain is off during dreaming, as was the case in my Dick Cheney dream. If this area did not deactivate during dreams then we would all be quite insane. However, when one is lucid dreaming the prefrontal cortex is still active. Although there are certainly transcendental and spiritual implications to lucid dreaming, they could be considered as an accidental look into the mechanics of human perception. LD's are a dream anomaly... and quite exhilarating.

 

the brain's dreaming codeThink of your prefrontal cortex as your Internet browser. If you 'right click' on this web page and select 'view source'  you will see HTML code that probably looks like a bunch of gobblie-goop to most people. That is akin to a dream with the prefrontal cortex turned off.  When you are awake and aware your mental browser; decoding HTML and putting it into a format you can understand, sees things in their proper format.  When you are asleep and dreaming your brain sees gobblie-goop and tries to make of it as much sense as it can with the prefrontal cortex inactive.

 

I do not know why lucid dreams occur. Why the prefrontal cortex occasionally remains active during sleeping and dreaming is beyond me. But it sure is fun when it happens. Click here for our page on How to Lucid Dream.

 

P.S. If you are writing a scientific or college paper, and reference the prefrontal cortex, you might want consider leaving out the term 'gobblie-goop'. smiley