Hypnos and Thanatos, Sleep and His Half-Brother Death, an 1874 painting by John William Waterhouse

Hypnos and Thanatos, Sleep and His Half-Brother Death,
an 1874 painting by John William Waterhouse

Oneironautics refers to the ability – or the purported ability –  to travel consciously within a dream. Such a traveler in a dream is an oneironaut.

When you do this within one of your own dreams, it is usually referred to as “lucid dreaming.” That is a dream in which you are aware that you is dreaming.

Good old Aristotle observed that “often when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream”.

The nice thing about a lucid dream is that you have some control over what happens in you dream. You can manipulate the dream environment.

As much as I have read and tried to be a regular lucid dreamer, the phenomena only has occurred a few times in my life and never when bidden.

Lucid dreams can be very realistic and vivid and research shows that there are higher amounts of activity in the parietal lobes when people are having a lucid dream. That means lucid dreaming is a more “conscious process” or perhaps not even a state of sleep, but of brief wakefulness.

But what I recently discovered is that there is also the idea that an oneironaut might be able to consciously travel or interact within the dream of another person.


This is sometimes referred to as “dream telepathy,” “telepathic lucid dreaming” or “telepathic dreaming.” It is something that has been explored in science and fantasy fiction more than in scientific studies.  In the films The Cell, and Paprika the travel is done via computers. In Inception, or Dreamscape, the oneironaut(s) actually enter someone else’s dream.

It sounds intriguing to enter the dreamscape of another person. It sounds frightening to think of someone else entering my dreams.

I’m not sure that reading a book (like A Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming: Mastering the Art of Oneironautics) is enough to get you traveling into other people’s dreams, but you can certainly practice the techniques of lucid dreaming including starting out by keeping a dream journal.

For example, studies seem to suggest that taking a nap a few hours after waking in the morning is the most common time to have a lucid dream. Lucid dreams are strongly associated with REM sleep which is more common before you awaken for the last time.  Have you ever noticed that vivid and the best recalled dreams most commonly occur right before waking up.