Lucid dreaming treatment for nightmares: a pilot study

Psychother Psychosom. 2006;75(6):389-94. doi: 10.1159/000095446.


Background: The goal of this pilot study was to evaluate the effects of the cognitive-restructuring technique 'lucid dreaming treatment' (LDT) on chronic nightmares. Becoming lucid (realizing that one is dreaming) during a nightmare allows one to alter the nightmare storyline during the nightmare itself.

Methods: After having filled out a sleep and a posttraumatic stress disorder questionnaire, 23 nightmare sufferers were randomly divided into 3 groups; 8 participants received one 2-hour individual LDT session, 8 participants received one 2-hour group LDT session, and 7 participants were placed on the waiting list. LDT consisted of exposure, mastery, and lucidity exercises. Participants filled out the same questionnaires 12 weeks after the intervention (follow-up).

Results: At follow-up the nightmare frequency of both treatment groups had decreased. There were no significant changes in sleep quality and posttraumatic stress disorder symptom severity. Lucidity was not necessary for a reduction in nightmare frequency.

Conclusions: LDT seems effective in reducing nightmare frequency, although the primary therapeutic component (i.e. exposure, mastery, or lucidity) remains unclear.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Dreams / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Polysomnography
  • Recurrence
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors