Questions for ‘Lucid’ dreamers could solve mysteries about sleeping minds’ 

an illustration of a woman sleeping, her dreams of space are spilling out behind her as she sleeps

Lucid dreamers are like astronauts exploring other worlds. But instead of trekking through outer space, they trek through the inner spaces created by their sleeping minds.

Natalia Misintseva/iStock/Getty Images Plus; adapted by L. Steenblik Hwang

To accompany Lucid’ dreamers could solve mysteries about sleeping minds’  


Before Reading:

  1. Have you ever realized you were in a dream while dreaming? If not, how would you feel to know you’re in a dream? If you have already experienced this, what was it like?
  2. Describe a weird dream you had at some point in your life. What do you think made it particularly memorable? For example, was the dream’s story memorable? Or its images? Or perhaps it was the feelings in the dream that you remember best?
  3. Dream-related stories appear in the mythology of many ancient cultures. For example, the ancient Egyptians made sense of the dream world as being a place halfway between the world of the living and the dead. Norse mythology tells the story of Queen Ragnhild, who dreamed that from a thorn in her palm grew a great tree with many strong branches and blood-covered roots. From this dream, she believed her children would ascend to the throne, and she would have many descendants. (The bloody roots suggested to her that there would be much bloodshed in the process.) Why do you think dreams have intrigued people so much throughout history? What about dreams might explain why so many cultures have searched for meaning in dreams?

During Reading:

  1. How does the experience of a lucid dream differ from a typical dream?
  2. According to this story, what fraction of people have experienced a lucid dream? What fraction of people report experiencing lucid dreams more than once a week?
  3. What does the acronym REM stand for? What is the relationship between REM sleep and dreams?
  4. Describe one “crude” way that people having lucid dreams can signal to researchers from their dream.
  5. What conclusion did researchers draw from the experiment in which lucid dreamers tracked thumb movements with their gaze?
  6. Describe the technique Michelle Carr used in 2020 to coax people into lucid dreaming.
  7. Describe one problem some dreamers encountered while trying to throw darts in their dreams.
  8. List three potential theories for why people dream.
  9. When Christopher Mazurek heard and responded to scientists’ questions during a lucid dreaming session, what was the setting of his dream?
  10. Some data suggest that lucid dreamers access parts of the brain that normal dreamers don’t. But Arnulf Dresler doubts that lucid and non-lucid dreams are profoundly different. What is one observation made by Dresler that supports his belief? 

After Reading:

  1. If you were to try one of the techniques in this story to attempt to bring about your own lucid dream, which technique would you try? How likely are you to attempt this technique? Explain your answer.
  2. What is a question about dreams that you’d like to know the answer to? Consider the many scientific techniques and tools described in this story. Which might best help to answer this question? (It need not answer the question entirely. Just consider which would address the question best.) Explain your answer.