The Dream World

EP72: Lucid Dream Research Lab in Bern, Switzerland

May 17, 2024 Amina Feat. Emma Peters Season 3 Episode 2
EP72: Lucid Dream Research Lab in Bern, Switzerland
The Dream World
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The Dream World
EP72: Lucid Dream Research Lab in Bern, Switzerland
May 17, 2024 Season 3 Episode 2
Amina Feat. Emma Peters

Emma Peters is a PhD student at Universität Bern, Switzerland. She is working on the development of a reliable and effective lucid dreaming induction strategy using different types of bodily stimulation together with traditional lucid dreaming strategies. Before working at the University of Bern, Emma spent 3 years at the Sleep and Memory lab in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, working on lucid dream induction and longitudinal sleep research.

Lucid Lab Bern is actively researching lucid dreaming. They are always looking for people interested in dreaming and/or frequent and skilled lucid dreamers in and around Bern. If you are interested in helping out or in having a sneak peek into the lab and research, feel free to email

Lucid Lab Bern Instagram
About the lab team 

Catch Amina LIVE on the radio on the Dream Journal podcast with host Dr. Katherine Bell from Experiential Dreamwork talking about some of her favorite dream-related topics. You can tune in to the live conversation on Saturday, May 25 at 10 AM Pacific Time (1pm EST). It will be broadcast in the Santa Cruz area at 90.7 FM or can be heard streaming live at

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Emma Peters is a PhD student at Universität Bern, Switzerland. She is working on the development of a reliable and effective lucid dreaming induction strategy using different types of bodily stimulation together with traditional lucid dreaming strategies. Before working at the University of Bern, Emma spent 3 years at the Sleep and Memory lab in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, working on lucid dream induction and longitudinal sleep research.

Lucid Lab Bern is actively researching lucid dreaming. They are always looking for people interested in dreaming and/or frequent and skilled lucid dreamers in and around Bern. If you are interested in helping out or in having a sneak peek into the lab and research, feel free to email

Lucid Lab Bern Instagram
About the lab team 

Catch Amina LIVE on the radio on the Dream Journal podcast with host Dr. Katherine Bell from Experiential Dreamwork talking about some of her favorite dream-related topics. You can tune in to the live conversation on Saturday, May 25 at 10 AM Pacific Time (1pm EST). It will be broadcast in the Santa Cruz area at 90.7 FM or can be heard streaming live at

Send us a Text Message.

Support the Show.

Follow The Dream World Podcast
Visit Our Website
Instagram @TheDreamWorldPodcast
Tik Tok @aminasdreamworld
Lucid Dreaming Online Course

Lucid Lab Bern

Amina: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome back to another episode of the dream world podcast some fun updates I'm going to be on the radio appearing on the dream journal podcast with Dr. Katherine Bell from experiential dream work. This podcast will be broadcast in the santa cruz area at 90. 7 fm, but you can also hear it online Streaming live at ksqd.

org. We'll be talking about some of my favorite dream related topics. You can tune into the conversation next weekend, Saturday, May 25th, 10 a. m. Pacific Time or 1 p. m. Eastern. So depending where you are in the world, you might have to do the math, but it's gonna be next weekend. As for today's episode, I'm here with Emma Peters, who's here on behalf of Lucid Lab Bern, a small and dedicated dream lab in Switzerland.

They are actively recruiting lucid dreamers in the area, and Emma is here to share a bit about what they study in the lab. They're a really awesome research lab creating a community of lucid dreamers interested in exploring their dreams and helping science move forward. I'm [00:01:00] excited to hear about your studies with the neuroscience and lucid dreaming.

How did you get interested in lucid dreaming to begin with? 

Emma: I know a lot of other lucid dream researchers were like, Oh, I know this phenomenon, lucid dreaming, and now I want to get really into it. For me, it was. More not by accident, just coincidence. Um, I guess in high school we had to read some science books and I read Oliver Sacks's book, the man who mistook his wife for a hat.

And at this point I'm 14 or something. So, and then I read about all these bizarre brain states and I was like, okay, yeah, this might be, this might be something. So I go to study biology, which obviously includes like also biodiversity, microbiology, all this stuff. And then I had my first brain course and then I was already like, yep, yeah, this is, this is it.

And then I needed to find an internship. So I looked around and wanted to find the weirdest subject I could find near me, kind of, whether [00:02:00] it was like hallucinations or drugs or whatever it was that is a little bit more Like strange, bizarre brain states. And I was at the time located or studying in Nijmegen in the Netherlands.

And there is Martin Dresler's lab, which is a really cool lab and pretty big and in this great Institute. Um, yeah. And then I saw lucid dreaming. I was like, okay, this. Sounds pretty strange. Let's give it a try. And, um, well, I never left pretty much. So I did my bachelor work there and then I stayed research assisting and do my master's thesis.

And this was the first job where I was excited for it to be Monday, you know, where, you know, I was like, okay, you need to pay attention now because this is something that fits me very well. And I, and I'm still doing this work today. I'm doing exactly the same as I did during this bachelor internship. And that's what I wanted.

So I'm very happy that I'm still doing this. It didn't, [00:03:00] um, spawn with lucid dreaming. It spawned with. Okay, I want, I want something strange. I want something weird. And then Martin's Lab happened to be next to my campus or in my campus. And I was like, Yeah, yeah, let's do it. And then I fell in love. So yeah, 

Amina: I love that.

Yeah. If you were excited for Monday, then you're definitely passionate about it. Exactly. 

Emma: And then I was like, Okay, you need to remember this. You need to save this. Because yeah, that feeling obviously you don't have that easily with like, whatever restaurant jobs or Like, I've never had that before and I was like, okay, it's almost Monday, I can return back to work.

I can work more on this project. Yeah. And that's all you want in a job, I guess. 

Amina: Yeah, definitely. So have you had lucid dreams after that? Or since then? No, actually, I talked about 

Emma: this with other dream researchers at the conference last year, that I've never had a lucid dream before. I think I'm the only one who's still, well, actually three weeks ago, I [00:04:00] think I had my first one, but I always joke like I'm the only lucid dream researcher who has no idea what they're talking about.

Obviously, I've been working on this subject. When did I start this internship? 2017, I think. So it's been a while. And I think about this the whole day, you know, this is all I do. And even then I don't get lucid dreams. Like there's nothing more you can do. Wow. I mean, 

Amina: you definitely know what you're talking about.

You're still a professional. 

Emma: But I've had dreams. I've had many dreams where it's very strange and it feels like my dream character is playing as if it would be lucid. So obviously I talk about lucid dreaming all the time. I have to instruct participants. Like, what is it? What do you need to do? La la la.

What do dream signs look like? All that stuff. And I have dreams where my dream character is acting like, Oh, it's reading a piece of text and then the letters change while I'm reading it, like the language changes. And then I say, I'm like, look, this is a dream [00:05:00] sign. This is what we were talking about. But it doesn't feel like a real lucid dream.

It just feels like my character is like acting as if it would be in a lucid dream. And I've had this a couple of times where I'm like, Hmm, I don't know. It may be a pre lucid dream or something somewhere on the spectrum, but not fully. 

Amina: But that's awesome. Yeah, you'll definitely have more lucid dreams eventually.

I mean, you said you had one were you kind of aware the other day? You said three weeks? Yeah. 

Emma: Yeah, the first one I was like, Okay, this is this felt different. And while I was dreaming, I had these experiences. And for instance, I had this big floating, croissant in the air and I took a bite and I remember the feeling on my lips and my mouth as you it was so realistic and I remember I have to think about this I have to remember this for my dream journal like yeah and I was very very aware that I wanted to to observe everything perfectly and like note everything down what what it was like.

But [00:06:00] yeah, it was, it was very fun, but I don't have a lot of lucid dream experience. 

Amina: Oh no, it's okay. No need to apologize. I mean, you do have experience. It's, it's just different. Yeah, exactly. And you know, I, I'm a hundred percent confident that you will eventually increase in lucid dreams with time eventually.

I mean, I know you've been doing this for a while, but it's just bound to happen. Everybody has different journey with it. So do you write your dreams down anyways? What's your recall? Like 

Emma: My recall is very good. It's always been very good. Yeah, usually I have definitely one. Like my dreams are very vivid, very long.

They're very fun. I enjoy dreaming a lot. Then I have at least one dream recall per night, obviously, when I only wake up once. But when I, for instance, have to test in the lab and I sleep in the lab and they, then I can easily like produce like four to five really extensive dreams. So that's already a good, good start, I guess.

Amina: Yeah, that's great. You're still a good dreamer. What are you [00:07:00] studying in the lab? And how did you come across the lab that you're currently at? Yeah. So, 

Emma: uh, like I said, before I was in Nijmegen with Martin Dresler, I was doing my masters thesis and that was during COVID. So before COVID we were thinking of the subject I'm doing now, but as a master's thesis and then COVID hit and I could do nothing.

And then I just resorted to old data and some sleep. But that made the possibility that I could do this idea in a PhD. Uh, format, which is very lucky for me because otherwise I wouldn't have had this. But, um, yeah, he, uh, he knew Daniel, uh, with whom I'm working now. And he said, well, do you, would you move to Switzerland?

I was like, yeah, sure. And then, um, yeah, we came up with this. With this four year project, we wrote the proposal together with the three of us. So it was already a good bonding experience and then we got the money. So then it was done and then I moved here and yeah, really lucky and nice. 

Amina: So what, what is the [00:08:00] project?

What different things are you looking into researching and experimenting on? 

Emma: The main goal is to induce lucid dreaming, you know, like everyone else. We're working on it and I'm actually at the Sports Science Institute. So everything is very body focused there. Um, obviously the motivation there is, is very sports focused.

I'm not specifically sports interested. Um, I like dreaming and lucid dreaming more for towards like clinical applications, but it is a, uh, it took me into a corner that I really like now, which is very much focused on sports science. The connection between the physical and dream body on a like physiological level, which is super interesting.

And I'm very happy that I ended up exactly here. So yeah, like many people we work on many, I mean, many in the field, in the very small field that we're in working on lucid dream induction, um, using a very physical approach. So we use stimulation techniques, like physical body [00:09:00] stimulation techniques. To induce lucid dreaming and a way to do that.

So you have this targeted lucidity reactivation idea where you couple a stimulation, whatever it is. It could be light. It could be audio, whatever you can think of. You couple this to doing a reality check during wakefulness, and then you represent this stimulation during REM sleep or not during REM sleep, but mostly during REM sleep.

And then the aim is to. Kind of reactivate this this connection to reality checking, and this has been done in many different ways before we're just looking into a more physical aspect. So, um, we did first a study where we need some kind of way to access this dreamer in the dream world. So, first, we needed to see, okay, what kind of method reaches the dreamer the best.

Um, so we used muscle stimulation, so an electrical shock to the forearm muscle, which create this little finger movement. We also used stimulation on the vestibular system. [00:10:00] So you create some kind of imbalance or like a vestibular effect. And we also used the vibration on the finger, on the wrist, sorry.

And then we compared those and see how, how do they affect dreams. Now we've done that study. And now we drop the vibration and now we're working on the vestibular simulation and the muscle simulation and then coupling this to some kind of reality checking training for a couple of weeks. And then presenting this during a morning nap and then hopefully inducing lucid dreaming.

And then we also have some side projects. We have a lot of bachelor and master students also that have to do their, their thesis and they do it with us. And then there's nice. It's nice that we have space to do. kind of niche weird things. Last year, I had a bachelor student who did also this two way communication thing with the, with the muscle stimulation.

So it was like a counting task. So you present the stimulation while people are already lucid dreaming. So when you have lucid [00:11:00] dreamers in the lab, they sleep. Um, and when they become lucid, they can signal to us with their eyes, some kind of signal that you, you, uh, agreed on before. And you can see this in the EEG recording.

So you can timestamp when they become lucid. So they can signal to us, hello, I'm, I'm there. And then you can do all kinds of tests. Um, and I think I thought, okay, this, this muscle stimulation is, is quite, I think it's quite promising. So let's use that in, uh, in frequent and skilled lucid dreamers.

Stimulate them a couple of times, have them do like a counting task where they signal to us how many times they felt it, uh, which worked, which is very cool and very interesting. And I want to publish this soon, but I would like to have some more data because obviously it's very hard to find people who are good enough and yeah, that everything aligns kind of, but it was possible.

It was very interesting. So these like niche smaller projects, we have also space for, which is very nice. because I also know other labs who are very restricted. They don't have [00:12:00] students available and they just have their funded projects, but we can do some extra stuff on the side, which is very nice.

Amina: When you do like the muscle stimulation, the finger movements or the vestibular sensation, does the dreamer like feel it in the dream? They, their, their dream body, you know, twitches or whatever. 

Emma: Yeah. A lot of, um, the vestibular one is very challenging. I have to admit, and I now have a. master student who's going to look a little bit more into that because just the methodology alone is very challenging and I haven't figured this out very well how to optimize it so that's still a little bit unclear but the muscle the muscle um stimulation one I really like it's very straightforward and people really report very straightforward dream incorporation I saw that This has not been published yet, but from the preliminary data, I saw that people, when you compare these different stimulation techniques, the muscle stimulation gets [00:13:00] incorporated the most, but also wakes them up the most.

So it's very, it is quite arousing and it may sometimes a little bit too arousing, but people definitely incorporate this into the dream. And especially, um, when they're already dreaming about the lab. So we have a lot of lab dreams. In our, in our population, let's say, which is also something I want to get into more because I think it's, it's could be also some kind of lucid dream technique where you couple being in the lab to doing a reality check and really training people to when every time they're in the lab, really focus on like, is this real?

Yeah. And I really hear that because we have so many lab dreams where people say, Oh, I was in the lab and always something is broken, which sometimes is the case with us. So it's not completely off, but, um, especially if they're in there for the first time, like I would, I'd say like 70%, it's not proven proven numbers, but for my feeling, like a lot of dreams.

are like, Oh yeah, I was in [00:14:00] the lab and then you came in and the electrode broke or the device broke and I had to go outside. And sometimes it's very realistic, but sometimes also they say, I went outside and there was an elephant and I had to pet it and all kinds of stuff. And we have this all the time.

So often it's not even, I think the, the stimulation that does the trick. It's the lab experience itself. Just this whole, this whole experience of for, for people who are not in science or maybe not in like some kind of medical field, it's very, it can be very not overwhelming, but very stimulating to be in a lab with all these cables.

And then there's like a camera and there's a microphone and there's this device and dah, dah, dah. It doesn't even really matter what you stimulate. So I have this feeling that this, this lab effect is, is much stronger than. Then the stimulation itself sometimes. So I do want to get also into this and see, like, can I use this to my advantage?

But yeah, people definitely say, Oh, my [00:15:00] arm went off or something. They say, or, uh, it vibrated and dah, dah, dah. But I thought I had already woken up. And it's still vibrated. And I thought, Oh, should I say something like it's all of 

Amina: the same, like stories all the time. Interesting. That makes a lot of sense, you know, because being in a lab for an experiment, you're probably thinking about it a lot.

There's a lot of like emotions and newness. to it. It's very new. So it makes sense that because you're there, you would dream about being there. It's kind of like for me, when I have something really big and important to do the next day, I am most likely going to dream about it, dream about something going wrong or missing it or something.

Because you're just thinking about it so often. And I'm curious, when you have people come into the lab, is it usually like a daytime nap? Or is it like a nighttime sleep? So for our previous study, we did 

Emma: overnights. So the participant will come in the lab at nine, we would have to set up take like an hour.

[00:16:00] And then they at some point, like around 11, they fall asleep. And then you would wait Weighed out like the first REM period is so short. You can't really use it that well. If you do REM awakenings, which we did, so you target like second, third, fourth, how many you can get. Um, so you put an alarm, you woke up, you wake up at two ish or something, and then you wait the whole night and do your stuff and then at seven, they're gone.

Already. But this was very, obviously very tiring. And also for, we use a lot of students who have internships and stuff. It's just very hard on them. Also, and on, on me personally, it's just. Last year I was in, in Canada, in Montreal with Michelle Carr and Claudia Picard Delon. And she, they said, if we never do overnights anymore, just do morning naps.

And I was like, yep, I'm not going to debate this for sure. So now I'm really over the overnights. I'm not doing it anymore because you don't get that much more data, I think. So now we just do morning naps. So they come in at seven, they [00:17:00] sleep at eight, um, until 11. So they have also like four, four hours.

They can sleep at least until 11. Yeah, so morning naps are a much better, 

Amina: much 

Emma: better approach. 

Amina: That makes sense. You know, personally, most of my lucid dreams happen between 6 and 10 a. m., like 90 percent of them. When I'm waking up, if I wake up around 7 and go back to sleep, that's when I get lucid the most.

Emma: Yeah, the magic of the snooze button. 

Amina: Yeah, exactly. Wow, that's cool. I wish I could participate. I mean, I will, I will be in Netherlands for the conference, so I'll see you there. I know you won't be doing lab stuff, but 

Emma: it's very fun because we have our own little lab and we're just, it's just the three of us.

So Daniel, my professor, and then me, and then we have another PhD student, Xinling, from China, and it's just the three of us and we have the whole lab to ourselves. It's, we are in a very lucky position. to have all the stuff ready for us. We can do whatever we want, kind of. Yeah. Yeah. 

Amina: Wow. That's great.

When it comes to lucid [00:18:00] dreaming, what are some of the clinical and like therapeutic applications that you're excited about? 

Emma: Yeah. So probably the main theme is nightmare therapy. So that's what I'm most excited about. So be able to help people with recurring nightmares, um, overcome them, battle them, but also having a safe.

simulation environment for, for instance, exposure therapy for, uh, for PTSD or for phobias. Uh, yeah, it's just like a safe environment where, where you could be in full control and you could just test stuff, place, play, play out scenarios, change them if you, if you don't like them. That's what I'm really interested in.

So yeah, those are, I think the main the main application. So really nightmare therapy, changing the nightmare, taking control over whatever is haunting you, let's say. And then the simulation of whatever you want to practice. And [00:19:00] then in more like a clinical sense, if you're have social anxiety or whatever.

Um, did you practice public speaking or, you know, or yeah, PTSD stuff or for those types of therapies. 

Amina: Yeah. There's so many, so many things you can use lucid dreaming for. So I love it. I'm excited to just see how the research develops over time. And yeah, you know, it's just like you said, it's still so niche, you know, I feel like.

A lot of people in the research and neuroscience field haven't really taken interest on lucid dreaming yet, which is crazy to me because it's so cool. 

Emma: Yeah. It's really, it's, it's in its baby, baby, you still, it's a, I don't know if that's also in English. Yeah. Yeah. 

Amina: Yeah. 

Emma: I know 

Amina: what you mean. 

Emma: Yeah. Yeah. So I'm very excited where, where it's going to go.

I feel like we're really at the beginning. We're, we're, I feel like we're now, we're, This lucid dream induction is the main theme. Everyone is working on the induction. And I'm so curious to see what's going to [00:20:00] happen if we, if we somehow, you know, move 

Amina: on to the next stage. What's that going to be? I mean, you're at the forefront.

You're like the pioneers of this research, the research you're doing now in 10 years, people are going to be like, yeah, you know, Emma and Martin and all these people, one of the first people to research lucid dreaming, and it'll be like in history. 

Emma: Yeah. I'm so, I'm really curious how it's going to develop and which, which route it's going to take.

Amina: Yeah. So with the induction, there's a lot of people doing like, you know, things like Like you said, the muscle stimulation and the electrical signals and they have headbands and some new technology coming out mostly for the lab, but also some people working on some things that are going to be like for the general public.

What are your general thoughts on like this emerging dream related technology? I think 

Emma: most of them, I mean, They obviously need verification studies, but I am a little bit um, I'm on the fence because I feel like, you know, the, [00:21:00] the researchers who, who create this kind of perfect, perfectly cultivated environment to, To do the lucid dreams, don't even have the skills to, to, to get them super reliably and with the high percentage of certainty.

So I'm a little bit hesitant, uh, how this works in a home setting with, with a device that is not perfectly, I mean, it's made obviously for the purpose of lucid dreaming, but, um, I'm, yeah, I'm hesitant, but it is cool. And I, but I also think, you know, everyone is very excited about lucid dreaming. We're all doing the.

the induction stuff. So it's also cool to, to maybe be able to work together with people at home or some kind of, some kind of collaboration between in lab, um, there's a dream cultivation and, and people who do it at home. But I am, I am hesitant because we're all still so new to it and we're all still finding ways to, to.

To optimize it, how reliable any induction method is. And that, that [00:22:00] includes my own research that includes also headbands or sleep wearables or wristbands or whatever it is. But I like the idea of, of coming together with researchers, but also people at home who can use whatever wearable they choose and, uh, help, help the search, but I'm critical of all methods because so that includes also at home methods or wearables or.

Amina: I think there's definitely, you know, going to be pros and cons like with anything, and I think it's inevitable, you know, for the technology to develop, but I do think that it would be cool to do, be able to study at home. I think that the results would be great. Much more significant if people are in their home environment versus in a lab I actually just got this headband that is like a at home EEG reader headband that I've been testing out So which one is it?

Enchanted wave 

Emma: Never 

Amina: Yeah, so I've been testing it out and it has like a mobile app that you know, shows you the data and stuff stuff. [00:23:00] Um, so I have to get better at reading EEG data, but I really want to see, yeah, yeah, definitely. I mean, I'll be bringing it to the conference, so if you want to test it out and see how it works.

Yeah. Cause I want to see if I'm having REM lucid dreams, non REM lucid dreams, and you know, what, what kind of brainwaves I'm getting. So what was the name again? Enchanted. Enchanted wave. Yes. You can look it up. It's pretty cool actually. It's very small and lightweight and I surprisingly I slept pretty good with it.

Oh yeah. That's also big 

Emma: pro. 

Amina: Yeah. It's not like the big cat head caps with all the wires and stuff. Yeah. 

Emma: Yeah. Very nice. Yeah. I'm, I'm excited for it to also yeah. Spread to a wider audience where people can try it out. Maybe upload. They're not upload their data, but their experience and would be super cool to have to broaden the kind of our little niche group of, of researchers.

Amina: Yeah, exactly. I mean, I'm definitely trying [00:24:00] to get in the field and do research. So especially as a lucid dreamer, I feel like it would be cool to just get involved. So, you know, I'd want to help out as a participant because I have so many lucid dreams. I'm like, I can use this for research. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Emma: Your brain is very valuable to us. 

Amina: Right. Exactly. And to me too, because I love research and I love lucid dreaming. So I might as well do that. You know, I might, I have some listeners in Europe and in Netherlands or Switzerland. So maybe, you know, are you looking for participants currently? 

Emma: Always. Always.

Cool. Yeah. So, uh, we are always looking for, for skilled and frequent lucid dreamers there, rare gems among us. So, um, absolutely. We have, yeah, also an Instagram page. Yeah, and, and we're, like I said, we're pretty flexible with, with experimenting. So also if people want to do something by, or say, Hey, I would like to be measured and I have this, I can lose a dream and I want to try out this, or we [00:25:00] have a lab to our disposal.

It's, it's ours and we can do whatever we want pretty much. So we can just play around. 

Amina: That's awesome. I love it. So yeah, I'll definitely put the Instagram and your email in the links so that people can reach out if they're in the area. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Emma. It's been so nice talking to you and I'm excited to meet you this summer.

Yeah, me 

Emma: too. 

Amina: Awesome. Well, I will see you soon. Okay. See you 


Introducing Emma Peters from Lucid Lab Bern
Exploring the Lab: Techniques and Experiments
Muscle stimulation as an induction method
The Future of Lucid Dreaming: Clinical Applications and Beyond
Join the Research: How You Can Get Involved