Can video games make nightmares more enjoyable?

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Nightmares are never a treat for the people who get them.  They cause many sleepless nights with the television blaring away, the lights turned on, or in my wife’s case kicking and punching me until I wake up…Anyway, a recent study has suggested that people who play games frequently can actually make those terrifying nightmares fun.

It seems odd I know, but the research being conducted by Dr. Jayne Gackenbach (a psychologist at the University of Canada) is showing some strong results that point to the fact that playing games frequently and before bed can actually give people an unusual amount of awareness during their dreams.  Basically they are able to control/effect their own dreams.

Distorted Video Game

The idea behind it is since both video games and dreams represent alternate realities a gamer would be able to exert more control over themselves in a dream state.  The study took used both non-gamers and more hardcore gamers and analyzed their sleep.  The results showed that those who played games more often, were prone to having more lucid dreams (where are aware they’re in a dream and can control things).

In lucid, or observer dreams, the person feels as though he is watching himself through the dream and moving himself around in it, which is not so dissimilar from gamers watching and controlling a character on the TV screen.  But here’s the cool part…during further study Gackenbach discovered that during “threat simulation” (or nightmares) many gamers either had far fewer of them, or they were actually able to reverse the threat.  Instead they themselves became the threatening presence in their own dreams.  So in other words, gamers were able to make their nightmares fun by essentially turning their dreams into games.

Just consider this training

This is all still in the early stages of research but the results so far are pretty incredible.  The exciting part of this, and the real goal of the research, is if games can help form a protection against nightmares, it’s possible they can also help war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.  It’s just a theory for now, but since PSTD victims have 96% higher chance of suffering nightmares there’s a good shot it could work.

It’s an amazing research, a tip in the game industries favor (especially after that cocaine nonsense) and I think it has a lot of merit.  I myself was once diagnosed with a sleep phobia (yes I had a fear of sleeping) because of the nightmares I endured.  But when I started gaming more frequently it wasn’t as much of an issue.  Now, I couldn’t even tell you the last time I had a bad dream.

Hey with you in charge of your dreams, crazy things are possible…

While definitive results are probably still a little ways off, it’s a great start.  So be sure to cuddle up with your games before going to bed and sleep tight tonight.

-Jordan