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Video Gamers Have Better Dreams and Are More Creative

By Fruzsina Eordogh / Source: Motherboard

The studies proving video games are changing your brain for the better just keep coming. To date we know playing video games increases the size of your brain and improves your cognitive function by making you better at multitasking and problem-solving. If those little factoids aren't convincing you, how about this one: gamers have better dreams.

In fact, the dreaming life of gamers are vastly superior to the dreams of non-gamers, according to various studies done by Jayne Gackenbach, a dream researcher and psychologist at Canada's Grant MacEwan University.

Since her work began in 2006, Gackenbach has determined gamers have more exciting and adventurous dreams than non-gamers and exert a greater level of control during their dreams. This also means gamers aren't as frightened by dreams that many would consider to be nightmares, like alien invasions, zombie apocalypses, giant killer beasts, or someone trying to hurt you. This holds especially true for males, and people who play first-person-shooters.

All this dreaming prowess has waking life implications: Gackenbach found gamers are more creative in the real world, and have greater focus and spatial awareness too.

Gackenbach's latest study, published last week in Dreaming, determined gamers have more lucid dreams (where they know they are in a dream) than the regular population as well. This allows them to toggle between a first-person-view and a third-eye-view, another level of control not found as frequently in the dreams of non-gamers.

"The major parallel between gaming and dreaming is that, in both instances, you're in an alternate reality, whether a biological construct or a technological one," Gackenbach told the Verge. "Gamers already know what it's like to be in control in an alternate reality, [so] it makes sense that a gamer would notice, ‘hey, I'm in a dream,' and know how to manipulate that situation."

I reached out to Gackenbach to find out if there were any triggers that would induce a lucid dream in a gamer like myself, using my own series of lucid dreams as an example.

Back when I was on my first Skyrim binge, I had lucid dreams over three consecutive nights where I fought a dragon in armor in some Venice-inspired city. The first night, I was clumsy in my armor and lacked any real fighting prowess (though, I was good at dodging). By the third night, however, I knew exactly what to do the second I heard a dragon's roar overhead, having remembered my previous two dreams. After helping civilians find shelter I ran into a phone booth a la vintage Superman and transformed into my fighting gear. My shield arm was no longer sore and I was able to hit the dragon on the nose with my sword that night. Like the previous two nights, in my waking life I had been drinking red wine.

Could alcohol be a factor in triggering a lucid dream in a gamer? "Could be," wrote back Gackenbach. Her studies don't explicitly factor in alcohol, but there is a link between alcohol and lucid dreams. An unscientific post on the online forum Dream Views had users chiming in alcohol and other drugs made them more likely to have lucid dreams as well and actual scientific studies have shown alcohol consumption before sleeping can result in the sleeper having vivid dreams or nightmares.

Related Article: How to Experience the Dream of Life

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