Practicing sports in lucid dreams – characteristics, effects, and practical implications
In a lucid dream the dreamer is aware of the dream state and can carry out actions deliberately. Lucid dream practice (LDP) is the rehearsal of movements during lucid dreams and constitutes a specific form of mental practice. Previous studies demonstrated that LDP can enhance physical performance. To gain deeper insight into LDP on a qualitative level, sixteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with lucid dreamers from different countries. Inductive content analysis revealed that many different sports and movements can be practiced in lucid dreams. LDP experiences were very realistic, including kinesthetic perception. Required equipment or sparring partners usually were available or could be created and adjusted by the athletes. Thirteen interviewees (81.3%) reported positive effects of LDP. In particular, 10 participants reported to have improved their physical performance through LDP, confirming findings of previous studies. Other positive effects were, for example, strengthened confidence, insights for physical practice (PP), improved flexibility, and positive emotions. The results also demonstrate the special possibilities of LDP like deliberate manipulation of practice conditions, speed, and perspective. Furthermore, problems occurring during LDP are described and how they can be dealt with. Based on the results, practical advice for interested athletes is provided. In conclusion, the present study demonstrates the great potential of LDP for sports practice. LDP could also be applied in other areas that involve motor learning, like rehabilitation, music, or surgery. The present study complements previous LDP findings and provides input and new ideas for future LDP studies. Furthermore, it is an important contribution to general MP research. Findings from LDP research–a small but growing field–should be incorporated into conceptual discussions on MP. Also, by extending LDP research, athletes and coaches could become more aware of this unique and effective method and could start to integrate it into sports practice.
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