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How video games can affect dreaming patterns

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Heavy or "hardcore" gamers are more likely to experience lucid dreaming or be less disturbed by nightmares, according to a recent interview from The Verge with researcher Jayne Gackenbach.

Gackenbach, a psychologist at Grant MacEwan University in Canada, studies how gaming can impact dreaming. While the types of dreams gamers have tend to be more outrageous than the average person's, this can help make them more creative in the real world. It also enhances a person's ability to lucid dream. Speaking with The Verge, she explained that in both dreams and gaming, the individual is exploring an alternate reality.

"Gamers already know what it's like to be in control in an alternate reality," Gackenbach said. "So it makes sense that a gamer would notice, ‘hey, I'm in a dream,' and know how to manipulate that situation."

Gackenbach's findings also suggest that gamers are more likely to find nightmares less threatening or to even take control.

"At least for male gamers, gaming seems to be sort of protective against nightmares," Gackenbach said. "That can largely be seen as a good thing, the threat is less upsetting, and doesn't wake you up ... Maybe games can actually remove the ‘need' for nightmares and the threatening feelings that come with them."

You can read more about Gackenbach's research on The Verge.