Science writer says our dreams are more important than we may think

Writers and artists have long drawn inspiration from their dreams, but science writer Alice Robb argues that we should all be paying more attention to what happens when we're asleep, because dreams can help us to process new information, work through our anxieties, and confront our worst fears.

Lucid dreaming is the ability to be consciously aware you are dreaming while asleep

Author Alice Robb says confronting you fears and anxieties in your dreams can have a positive impact on your waking life. (Prachaya Roekdeethaweesab/Shutterstock)
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Most people get bored listening to someone explain what happened in their dream the night before, but one writer argues we should all be paying more attention to what happens when we hit the sack.

"We don't really think dreams are important. I mean, if we were treating them as the key to understanding ourselves, then I think [we] would be more willing to listen to other peoples' dreams," author Alice Robb explained to The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

Robb explores why people dream in her book Why We Dream: The Transformative Power of Our Nightly Journey.

She said dreams can take an active role in helping people overcome trauma. She practices lucid dreaming, which is the ability to be consciously aware you are dreaming while asleep.
"You become aware within the dream that you're in a dream," explains Robb. 0:29

Robb was first inspired by Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming, co-written by Howard Rheingold and American psychophysiologist Stephen LaBerge, to begin her own training and learn how to experience her dreams.

She says that some people can naturally engage in lucid dreams, while others can train themselves to induce lucid dreams through practice and meditation. 

One exercise Robb suggested is to close your mouth, plug your nose and try to breathe. While awake it won't be possible.

If done throughout the day, she said, the practice can become a habit that transfers into your dreams where you will be able to breathe and therefore recognize that you are in a dream and can begin exploring from there.

Robb says there are numerous ways lucid dreams can be beneficial.

"There are some applications for mental health and anxiety that if you can summon up your demons in a lucid dream and confront them, then that can have a powerful impact on your waking life and relationships."