Q: How might you be awake and asleep at the same time?
A: By waking up in your dreams, which is how researchers describe “lucid dreaming,” in which the dreamer becomes aware it's only a dream even as the dream unfolds, New Scientist magazine says. It appears that lucid dreamers' brains are in a penumbral state between waking and sleeping, affording opportunities for the study of consciousness. Perhaps confronting our demons in lucid dreams could help us overcome phobias; further, practicing a motor task in a dream, such as dancing or playing an instrument, may hone skills for the waking world. The lucid dream amounts to a sort of secondary consciousness — not only aware of events but aware that we are aware — a quality thought to be unique to people, journalist Jessica Hamzelou says. Ursula Voss at the University of Frankfurt in Germany trained a group of students to signal while asleep and dreaming, by moving their eyes in a pre-agreed pattern, measurable with an electro-oculograph. After weeks of reality checking, Hamzelou herself finally had her first lucid dream.