Dream lucidity is awareness that you are dreaming. This awareness can range from a faint recognition of the fact to a momentous broadening of perspective. Lucid dreams usually occur while a person is in the middle of a normal dream and suddenly realizes that they are dreaming. This is called a dream-initiated lucid dream. A wake-initiated lucid dream occurs when you go from a normal waking state directly into a dream state, with no apparent lapse in consciousness. In either case, the dreams tend to be more bizarre and emotional than regular dreams. Most importantly, you will have at least some ability to control your “dream self” and the surrounding dream.
EditUsing Dream Awareness Techniques
- Keep a dream journal. Keep it close by your bed at night, and write down your dream immediately after waking, or the emotions and sensations you experience right when you wake up. This will train you to remember more of your dreams, which is important for lucid dreaming. Plus, there’s not much point in controlling your dreams if you forget the experience before the morning.
- Alternatively, keep a recording device by your bed.
- You might remember more of your dream if you stay still for a few minutes concentrating on the memory, before you start writing.
- Use reality checks frequently. Every few hours during the day, ask yourself “Am I dreaming?” and perform one of the following reality checks. With enough practice, you’ll start following the habit in your dreams as well, cluing you in to the fact that you’re dreaming.
- Read a page of text or the time on a clock, look away, then look back again. In dreams, the text or time will be blurry or nonsensical, or will be different each time you look.
- Pinch your nose, close your mouth, and test whether you can still breathe.
- Simply look at your hands and feet. These are often distorted in dreams when you inspect them closely.
- Repeat “I will be aware that I’m dreaming” each time you fall asleep. Each night as you fall asleep, repeat to yourself “I will know I’m dreaming” or a similar phrase until you drift out of consciousness. This technique is known as Mnemonic Induction to Lucid Dreaming, or MILD. Mnemonic induction just means “using memory aids,” or in this case using a rote phrase to turn the awareness of your dreaming into an automatic habit.
- Some people like to combine this step with a reality check by staring at their hands for a few minutes before they go to sleep.
- Learn to recognize your personal dream signs. Read through your journal regularly and look for recurring “dream signs.” These are recurring situations or events that you may notice in your dreams. Become familiar with these, and you may recognize them while you dream, and therefore notice that you’re dreaming.
- You probably know some of these already. Common dream events include losing your teeth, being chased by something large, or going into public without clothes on.
- Drift back to sleep when awakened from a dream. When you wake up and remember your dream, write it down in your dream journal, then close your eyes and focus on the dream. Imagine that you were in the dream, noticed a dream sign or reality check, and realized it was a dream. Hold on to this thought as you drift back to sleep, and you may enter a lucid dream.
- Note that most lucid dreams occur while the person is fully asleep, usually because he notices a bizarre event and realizes he’s in a dream. This is just an alternate trigger that starts off about 25% of lucid dreams.
- Consider purchasing a light alarm. Go online and purchase a light-based, instead of a sound-based alarm, or even a specialized “DreamLight” designed to induce lucid dreaming. Set it for 4.5, 6, or 7 hours after you fall asleep, or set it to go off every hour if possible. While sound, touch, or other stimuli during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep can also make a dreamer aware of the fact he’s dreaming, one study shows that light cues are most effective.
- You don’t want to actually wake yourself up (unless you try the Wake Back to Bed method below). Keep the light alarm more than arm’s reach away from your bed, and/or cover it with a sheet to dim the light.
EditUsing the Wake Back to Bed Method
- Know when lucid dreams most commonly occur. Lucid dreams, and vivid dreams in general, almost always occur during REM sleep, the deep sleep phase characterized by Rapid Eye Movement. The first REM phase typically occurs ninety minutes after you first fall asleep, with additional phases roughly every ninety minutes afterward. The goal of this method is to wake up during a REM phase, then fall back asleep and continue the dream aware that you are dreaming.
- You won’t be able to time your phases exactly unless you visit a sleep lab or have a very dedicated night owl watching your eyelids all night. More realistically, just keep repeating the method below until you catch yourself in REM phase.
- Encourage your body to get more REM sleep. There are many ways to increase the amount of REM sleep you get, as described in the linked article. One of the most effective, and the one that causes REM sleep to appear at regular times, is to stick to a daily sleep schedule, and to sleep long enough that you wake up well-rested.
- This can be difficult to balance with the step below, which interrupts your sleep in the middle of the night. If you have trouble falling back asleep, try a different method instead, or limit your attempts to once or twice a week.
- Wake up in the middle of the night. Set one alarm to go off either 4.5, 6, or 7 hours after the time you fall asleep. You’re more likely to be in REM sleep during these times, although it’s difficult to predict in advance. The six or seven hour times are the most likely to work, because later REM phases last longer, and are more likely to contain vivid or lucid dreams.
- Stay awake for a while. Write down your dream if you were having one, make yourself a snack, or just get up and walk around for a while. Your goal is to get your conscious mind active and alert, while your body is still full of sleep hormones.
- One study shows that staying awake for somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes gives the highest chance of a lucid dream.
- Concentrate on the dream and fall asleep again. Close your eyes and fall asleep again. If you remember the dream you were having, recall it and fall back asleep, imagining yourself continuing the dream. Even if this takes quite a while to happen, you’ve got a decent chance at a lucid dream.
- Try other concentration techniques. If your mind wanders while trying to “catch” the dream, or if you don’t remember the dream at all, instead try focusing on the movement of your fingers. Use a pattern of small movements, such as “index finger up, middle finger down, middle finger up, index finger down.” Repeat this rhythmic movement until you fall asleep.
EditUsing Additional Techniques
- Meditate. Before going to sleep, meditate in a quiet, dark room. Taking a meditation training course may give better results, but to start out, just pay attention to your breathing, or imagine ascending or descending stairs. The goal is to stop thinking and enter a quiet, comfortable state, and from there slip into a lucid dream.
- Keep in mind that “Wake Induced” lucid dreams are rarer and more difficult than dreams that become lucid after you’re already asleep.
- There are many meditation guide videos online specifically designed to help you lucid dream.
- Prolong a lucid dream as it starts to fade. One common experience among first-time lucid dreamers is waking up due to the excitement of having a lucid dream! Usually, you’ll get some warning before hand as the dream feels “unstable” or you begin to notice sensations from the real world. These techniques can help you keep the lucid dream going:
- Spin your dream body around or fall backwards. Some people report that this helps, although the reason is unknown.
- In the dream, rub your hands together. This can distract you from the sensations of your actual body.
- Continue doing whatever you were doing before the dream became unstable, asserting that you are still in the dream. This is much less effective than the techniques above.
- Listen to binaural beats. If you send a different sound frequency to each ear, your brain will interpret the two sound waves’ overlapping pattern as an audio beat even though no beat is included in the sound. This definitely changes the brain’s electrical activity, but so far scientists are unsure whether this can actually stimulate lucid dreaming. There are many websites out there with collections of binaural beats, so it’s easy to try it out if you can sleep with ear buds in. Most would-be lucid dreamers use beats that mimic Theta brain waves, which occur in REM sleep, but some swear by Gamma or Alpha beats instead, or a progression through several types.
- Binaural beats can come with soothing background music, or just the beat itself.
- Play video games. Gamers report a much higher rate of lucid dreaming than the general population. While more studies need to be done, it’s possible even a couple hours a week could increase your chances of a lucid dream. The type of game played does not appear to make a difference.
- Consider taking galantamine. Galantamine, a drug synthesized from the snowdrop plant, may be the most effective drug for inducing lucid dreaming. Take 4 to 8 mg in the middle of the night for best results; taking it before bed can worsen sleep quality and cause unpleasant dreams. Due to this possibility and the unpleasant side effects listed below, galantamine is only recommended as an occasional supplement.
- Talk to a doctor first if you have any medical issues. Galantamine can worsen existing conditions such as asthma or heart problems.
- This drug also increases the chance of sleep paralysis, a harmless but often terrifying experience of being awake for several minutes without being able to move your muscles.
- Consider the occasional vitamin B supplement. Vitamin B5 or Vitamin B6 supplements can increase dream vividness, weirdness, and emotional intensity, which can lead to lucid dreaming. However, you may need to take a dose of 100 mg for this effect to be noticeable. This dose is much higher than recommended for daily intake, and if you take it regularly over a long period of time, it can lead to unwanted side effects. Use this only for a special lucid dreaming occasion, and at your own risk.
- Check with your doctor first if you are taking any medications, or if you have a disorder involving bleeding, the stomach, the intestines, or the heart.
- This drug sometimes causes people to wake up in the night, so it may be counterproductive if you’re a light sleeper.
- Lucid dreaming is a skill that must be learned, and even people who lucid dream regularly may only do so once or twice a month. Be patient and continue using these techniques, and the chance and frequency of lucid dreaming will gradually increase.
- If you sometimes get “false awakenings” while dreaming, get in the habit of performing a reality check (such as trying to read a book) as soon as you wake up. Otherwise, a false awakening can turn a lucid dream into an ordinary one.
- When you do lucid dream, consider waking up intentionally after a few minutes. This increases your chance of remembering the dream.
- Do not drink any fluids for one hour prior to sleeping. The last thing you want is to wake up from successfully lucid dreaming just because you had to use the bathroom.
- If you find the dream is not going how you want it to, “close your eyes” for a bit in the dream, then open them forcefully. Repeat until you wake up.
- If you think you are losing control, shout out what you want to happen next very loudly until you regain control or it happens.
- Another way to do reality checks while your in the dream is to look at a clock, look away, and then look back. If the hands are extremely different, than you know you are dreaming.
- When you’ve decided to sleep, start a story in your head. Eventually, this would drift off into a dream and you can take it from there. However, this method usually works with people who play games.
- Another way to really check is to pinch yourself. Even though it’s stereotypical, pinching yourself while asking yourself “Am I in a dream” can help you to gain Lucidity.
- Lucid dreaming can cause sleep paralysis, in which you remain conscious and aware of your surroundings during the transition from sleep to wakefulness, but are not able to move your muscles. This is harmless, but often terrifying, especially as it can be accompanied by hallucinations of a strange presence in the room. Some muscles are often less affected than others, so concentrate on wiggling your toes or swallowing and stay calm until the hallucinations stop.
- If you get very excited during your lucid dream, you might wake up suddenly. To attempt to return, shut your eyes and focus on your dream. If you are caught partway through waking up, but still “in” your dream self, spin around or rub your hands.
- Remember Dreams
- Interpret Your Dreams
- Adopt a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule
- Cope with Sleep Paralysis
- Sleep Better
- Make a Dream Board
- Fly in Your Dreams
- Get People to Dream About You
- Start a Dream Diary
- Sleep in Zen Relaxation
- Use Super Powers in a Lucid Dream
- Get the ‘Feel’ of Dreams
EditSources and Citations
- Robert Waggoner, Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self, (Needham, MA: Moment Point Press) pp. 269-270
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