Virtual reality training of lucid dreaming

Jarrod Gott, Leonore Bovy, Emma Peters, Sofia Tzioridou, Stefano Meo, Mahdad Jafarzadeh Esfahani, Pedro Reis Oliveira, Thomas Houweling, Alessandro Orticoni, Anke Rademaker, Diede Booltink, Rathiga Varatheeswaran, Carmen van Hooijdonk, Mahmoud Chaabou, Anastasia Mangiaruga, Erik van den Berge, Frederik D. Weber, Simone Ritter, Martin Dresler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Web of Science)


Metacognitive reflections on one's current state of mind are largely absent during dreaming. Lucid dreaming as the exception to this rule is a rare phenomenon; however, its occurrence can be facilitated through cognitive training. A central idea of respective training strategies is to regularly question one's phenomenal experience: is the currently experienced world real, or just a dream? Here, we tested if such lucid dreaming training can be enhanced with dream-like virtual reality (VR): over the course of four weeks, volunteers underwent lucid dreaming training in VR scenarios comprising dream-like elements, classical lucid dreaming training or no training. We found that VR-assisted training led to significantly stronger increases in lucid dreaming compared to the no-training condition. Eye signal-verified lucid dreams during polysomnography supported behavioural results. We discuss the potential mechanisms underlying these findings, in particular the role of synthetic dream-like experiences, incorporation of VR content in dream imagery serving as memory cues, and extended dissociative effects of VR session on subsequent experiences that might amplify lucid dreaming training during wakefulness.

This article is part of the theme issue 'Offline perception: voluntary and spontaneous perceptual experiences without matching external stimulation'.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20190697
Number of pages7
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-biological Sciences
Issue number1817
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • lucid dreaming
  • virtual reality
  • metacognition
  • consciousness
  • REM sleep
  • dissociation

Cite this