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The lucid dreaming ability and parasympathetic functioning

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female, male, dreams

Abstract (summary)

The thesis of the present inquiry is that superiority in parasympathetic functioning, especially in women, will be related to lucid dreaming. The hypothesis is based on several lines of evidence. First, age leads to a progressive decrease in sympathetic reactivity and an increase in parasympathetic reactivity (Gelhorn & Loofburrow, 1963). Correspondingly, Gackenbach (in press) reports that among adults, older women were more likely to report experiencing lucidity of dreams. Sympathetic functioning as evidenced by the release of adrenaline has been associated with feelings of anxiety (Cohen & Silverman, 1959). The data on anxiety for women is consistent with the hypothesis whereas for men data are mixed. Specifically, adult women who frequently have lucid dreams reported less covert and overt anxiety (Gackenbach, in press) and less social anxiety (Gackenbach, et al., 1983) while men reported less overt anxiety (Gackenbach, in press) but more social anxiety (Gackenbach, et al., 1983). Finally, the lack of neuroticism has also been related to parasympathetic functioning (Lester, 1980) and the lucid dreaming quality (Gackenbach, in press).

Publication Information

Gackenbach, J.I. Walling, J. & LaBerge, S. (1984). The lucid dreaming ability and parasympathetic functioning. Lucidity letter, 3(4), 101.



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