- What Is Lucid Dreaming?
- How to Lucid Dream
- Lucid Dreaming Devices and Accessories
- Relevant and Related Searches
What Is Lucid Dreaming?
It’s been around for as long as humans have been around, and it’s said to have a number of benefits. Lucid dreaming refers to the state where, while sleeping, you’re aware that you’re having a dream – and may be able to influence or control all or part of it. It’s like being awake while you’re actually deep asleep, and watching (or directing) the show inside your head.
You’ll likely have encountered the idea in popular culture – lucid dreaming is an integral part of movies like Inception, The Good Night, Waking Life and Vanilla Sky, and crops up in a range of literature, songs and other sources. Perhaps you’ve experienced it yourself – it’s thought that most people will have a lucid dream at least once in their lifetime.
While lucid dreaming may seem like the stuff of science fiction, numerous sleep studies have confirmed that the phenomenon exists and is something that can – with a good amount of practice – be cultivated. The precise mechanisms behind it, though, are not yet entirely understood.
In addition to offering a way to indulge in fantasies like soaring through the sky or turning those who annoy you into rocks, rats or anything else that takes your fancy, lucid dreaming is thought to be able to help alleviate recurring nightmares, as well as facilitate explorations of the depths of the mind – with benefits, if the practice of dream yoga is anything to go by – that could extend into the realms of spiritual growth.
It may be possible to use the dream space for reflection and meditation, and some oneironauts (explorers of the dream worlds) even practice real-world activities like upcoming presentations and sports performances. Others find inspiration for creative endeavors, solve problems that have been challenging them in waking life, or work on overcoming their nerves in social situations.
Whether you’re wanting to try lucid dreaming for personal development or purely for fun (or both), it’s something that’s generally quite safe and manageable for most people.
How to Lucid Dream
When it comes to lucid dreaming, practice makes perfect – sustained practice is thought both to increase the chances of having a lucid dream and the degree of influence you have within it. The following tips and techniques may help you to achieve lucidity in the dream sphere.
Set an Intention
The first – and perhaps most important – step in developing the ability to dream lucidly is the intention to do so. It may be useful to make a verbal or mental statement to that effect, and repeat it daily before you fall asleep. Saying something along the lines of “Tonight, I want to realize that I’m dreaming” may help the process happen.
Get Enough Sleep
One of the most overlooked ingredients for lucid dreaming is making sure you get sufficient sleep. Dreams are most likely to occur in the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, and sleep deprivation cuts down on the amount of REM we get. It’s believed that you enter REM every 90 minutes at night, with each period becoming longer. If you’re only grabbing a few hours of sleep, instead of the recommended 7-9, it may put you at a disadvantage for lucid dreaming.
Unwind Before Bed
To help your mind get into sleep mode, it’s a good idea to decompress before bed. It may be helpful to avoid stimulants (including caffeine), put your phone away and try to meditate for around 20 minutes before summoning the Sandman. Practicing good sleep hygiene may be beneficial.
Keep a Dream Diary
Keeping a dream journal, or diary, is a key part of the process of learning to dream lucidly. Place a pen and notepad next to your bed, and try to record your dreams as soon as you wake up (even before checking your phone). Do this every day, and if you travel, remember to take your dream diary with you.
If you have difficulty recalling a dream, it’s recommended that you scan your emotions and see if you feel anything in particular – this can help bring back your nighttime visions.
Perform Regular Reality Checks
It’s recommended that you train your brain to do “reality checks” frequently the day, with the idea that the habit will carry over into your dreams at night. Looking down at your hand to see if you’re still wearing your wedding band, checking that the hand itself is solid and real, counting your fingers, flicking light switches, examining reflections in mirrors, trying to see the time on clocks and even directly asking yourself whether you might be dreaming are all ways of performing reality checks – and alerting yourself to the possibility of a dream if anything seems a little off.
Look for Dream Signs
It’s also a good idea to be on the lookout for obvious signs that you’re in your personal dreamland – patterns and peculiarities that are common in your dreams. For example, you may find that you’re never able to type or write in your dreams, or that your teeth often fall out. You may visit the same dreamscapes again and again, or find yourself speaking to people who are no longer in your life. Reinforcing your daytime awareness of these dream signs can help you to achieve lucidity at night.
Wake Up and Go Back to Bed
Many people have success waking up a bit earlier than usual (say 30 minutes to two hours), staying awake for 15-60 minutes and then going back to sleep with the strong intention of waking up in and remembering their next batch of dreams. This is sometimes referred to as the Wake Back to Bed (WBTB) technique combined with Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD). One small caveat here is to be careful to avoid sleep deprivation by doing this, as that could have the opposite effect!
Ground Yourself in the Dream
Once you become lucid, especially in the early stages of your practice, the trick is to ground yourself in the dream so that you don’t wake up in your excitement. Suggestions include spinning in a circle, concentrating on the sensation of an object, focusing on your breathing or counting backwards from ten (all in the dream).
And from there, the (dream) world is your oyster.
Lucid Dreaming Devices and Accessories
A number of gadgets and accessories can purportedly assist you in becoming a lucid dreamer. These include smartphone apps that track your sleep and play a tune or pre-recorded audio cue to alert you when you enter REM sleep, masks that do the same thing with lights or sounds, special alarm clocks that wake you slowly and transcribe your dreams, and more.
A device called the iBand+ is getting attention for its claims that it can help induce lucid dreaming; it’s a headband (packaged with an app) that measures electrical activity while you sleep and uses audiovisual stimuli to encourage lucid dreams.
And, while there doesn’t appear to be a safe home device for this yet (though the LucidCatcher may have potential), a group of scientists have found that they can induce lucid dreaming by delivering fairly mild (25-40 Hertz) electrical stimulation to a sleeping person’s brain for 30 seconds (don’t try this yourselves, though).
Galantamine and Supplements for Lucid Dreaming
Some lucid dreaming practitioners recommend the use of galantamine, choline bitartrate, huperzine-A and other supplements to promote dreaming. There are claims that these may enhance dream recall, increase the intensity of dreams, and help you to become lucid.
Galantamine, choline and huperzine-A are believed to influence acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter associated with REM sleep and memory.
Before taking any supplements, it is advisable to consult a medical practitioner – particularly if you have a health condition or are currently on any medication. Some supplements may cause side effects and have potentially dangerous interactions.
Illegal Drugs and Lucid Dreaming
Under no circumstances is the use of illegal drugs recommended or necessary in the practice of lucid dreaming.
Binaural Beats and Music for Lucid Dreaming
You might come across the idea that binaural beats can help induce lucid dreaming. While studies on the effects of this “brainwave entertainment” are limited and a conclusive link has yet to be established, some people seem to find the use of binaural beats conducive to relaxation and meditation – which may help with training for lucid dreaming.
Some lucid dreamers seem to like listening to other types of music before bed – recommendations abound on community forums, but it looks like it really boils down to personal preference.
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Vice. “The Strange Subconscious Fantasy Worlds of Lucid Dreamers.” January 28, 2015. Accessed October 22, 2017. ↩ ↩2 ↩3
Sleep Health. “National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary.” March, 2015. Accessed October 22, 2017. ↩
National Geographic. “Seeking Roots of Consciousness, Scientists Make Dreamers Self-Aware.” May 11, 2014. Accessed October 23, 2017. ↩
World of Lucid Dreaming. “Lucid Dream Pills: Galantamine, Huperzine-A and Choline.” Accessed October 22, 2017. ↩ ↩2