Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 10 December 2013 | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00836

Dream characteristics in a Brazilian sample: an online survey focusing on lucid dreaming

  • 1Brain Institute, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, RN, Brazil
  • 2Physiology Department, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, RN, Brazil
  • 3Sleep Laboratory, Onofre Lopes University Hospital, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, RN, Brazil
  • 4Computer Science Department, State University of Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, RN, Brazil

During sleep, humans experience the offline images and sensations that we call dreams, which are typically emotional and lacking in rational judgment of their bizarreness. However, during lucid dreaming (LD), subjects know that they are dreaming, and may control oneiric content. Dreaming and LD features have been studied in North Americans, Europeans and Asians, but not among Brazilians, the largest population in Latin America. Here we investigated dreams and LD characteristics in a Brazilian sample (n = 3,427; median age = 25 years) through an online survey. The subjects reported recalling dreams at least once a week (76%), and that dreams typically depicted actions (93%), known people (92%), sounds/voices (78%), and colored images (76%). The oneiric content was associated with plans for the upcoming days (37%), memories of the previous day (13%), or unrelated to the dreamer (30%). Nightmares usually depicted anxiety/fear (65%), being stalked (48%), or other unpleasant sensations (47%). These data corroborate Freudian notion of day residue in dreams, and suggest that dreams and nightmares are simulations of life situations that are related to our psychobiological integrity. Regarding LD, we observed that 77% of the subjects experienced LD at least once in life (44% up to 10 episodes ever), and for 48% LD subjectively lasted less than 1 min. LD frequency correlated weakly with dream recall frequency (r = 0.20, p < 0.01), and LD control was rare (29%). LD occurrence was facilitated when subjects did not need to wake up early (38%), a situation that increases rapid eye movement sleep (REMS) duration, or when subjects were under stress (30%), which increases REMS transitions into waking. These results indicate that LD is relatively ubiquitous but rare, unstable, difficult to control, and facilitated by increases in REMS duration and transitions to wake state. Together with LD incidence in USA, Europe and Asia, our data from Latin America strengthen the notion that LD is a general phenomenon of the human species.

Keywords: lucid dreaming, dreams, nightmares, REM sleep, dream features

Citation: Mota-Rolim SA, Targino ZH, Souza BC, Blanco W, Araujo JF and Ribeiro S (2013) Dream characteristics in a Brazilian sample: an online survey focusing on lucid dreaming. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 7:836. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00836

Received: 30 June 2013; Accepted: 18 November 2013;
Published online: 10 December 2013.

Edited by:

Nikolai Axmacher, University of Bonn, Germany

Reviewed by:

Michael Schredl, Central Institute of Mental Health, Germany
Ursula Voss, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms University Bonn, Germany

Copyright © 2013 Mota-Rolim, Targino, Souza, Blanco, Araujo and Ribeiro. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Sérgio A. Mota-Rolim, Brain Institute, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Av. Nascimento de Castro 2155, CEP 59056-450, Natal, RN, Brazil e-mail: sergioarthuro@neuro.ufrn.br

These authors have contributed equally to the work.

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