Last night, I was researching hypnogogic hallucinations and found the following lecture at Stanford University. This podcast by Ryan Hurd, a sleep researcher and lucid dreamer: http://dreamstudies.org/ touches on a variety of sleep topics.
Hurd contends that we can control our dreams even when we are unconscious and that lucid dreaming (the ability to direct your dreams into positive experiences, rather than terrifying nightmares, while you are sleeping) is possible with the right training. I went to a sleep therapist earlier this year and she subscribed to this line of thought, instructing me to write down my dreams/nightmares and then “rewrite” the most persistent themes (being chased, falling, being abandoned in an unfamiliar place, etc.) with a positive outcome. The theory of this exercise is that it will allow you alternative endings to your most terrifying dreams if you consciously think about the alternate ending before going to sleep. With practice and determination, just like meditation, people can attain lucid dreaming, eliminate the fear of sleep paralysis and, open the gateway to out-of-body experiences. (????)
Stanford University conducts numerous sleep studies every year and if you are looking for quantitative sleep research, this is the place. http://www2.ucsc.edu/dreams/ OR http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38266663/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/real-science-dream-research/#.UECltNZlRcQ
for more scholarly research try: