Some people realize they are dreaming and are able to control their dreams. Lucid dreamers have helped researchers answer some questions about dreaming and one of the answers seems to be, "We dream in slow motion."
Daniel Erlacher, University of Bern in Switzerland, checked the areas of the brain that light up when we run, sing or eat and discovered that the same areas of the brain light up when those actions occur in a dream, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
Erlacher asked the lucid dreamers to perform tasks during their dreams, like walking 30 steps or doing a gymnastics routine. Though their bodies were paralyzed, their eye movements signaled the start and end of the task. Erlacher also monitored brain activity and muscle movements so no one could just pretend to be asleep, according to BBC Future.
The dream tasks took 50 percent longer than they would have in real life, which suggested to Erlacher that the tasks happened in slow motion despite the lucid dreamers being unaware of the time lapse. "They reported that it felt exactly the same as in wakefulness," Erlacher said, according to BBC.
That might be why a short dream can feel like it takes up an hour of sleep. Erlacher is not sure why the slow motion process occurs, according to BBC, but he hypothesized that the sleeping brain might take longer to process information.
Erlacher hopes that athletes can use lucid dreaming to get extra practice in, according to BBC, which would be especially helpful to athletes who are out due to injury. "Of course, there are limits - you can't improve endurance, but if you have good simulator in brain already, can use it to enhance and stabilize the techniques," Erlacher said, according to BBC. "I see it as a lot of potential for disciplines with a high technical level."
"It seems to be very effective - it's a bit worse than real practice but better than [conscious] mental rehearsal," he said, according to BBC.
Does that mean we should all dream-rehearse getting up for work on a Monday morning?