Have a Lucid Dream
Edited by Yuliya, Eng, Brian, Maria Quinney
What is lucid dreaming?
Dreams can be anything from a wonderful trip into an imaginative landscape, to a nightmarish world. Whatever dreams you have, there is a way to transform the experience from watching a movie, to taking part in an interactive performance - and it's called Lucid Dreaming.
Lucid dreaming is when you become aware that you're dreaming. It takes a fine balance between being conscious enough to know you're in a dream, but not conscious enough to wake up.
If you've never experienced a lucid dream, there are some ways you can bring one on. You may get it right away, or it might take you a while. Give these tips a try - lucid dreaming can be an incredible experience once you master it!
When do we dream?
When you sleep, your brain and body go through several stages of sleep. Dreams occur during the 4th stage of sleep, also called REM - Rapid Eye Movement - after the visible eye movement that happens while you dream.
To get to REM sleep, you must go through the rest of the stages. Most people reach their first REM sleep within an hour and a half after falling asleep, and it lasts about 10 minutes. Each consecutive REM stage after that lasts longer and longer, with the last one sometimes lasting up to an hour.
Tips for having your first lucid dream
- 1If you remember your dreams often, you're halfway there. Remembering your dreams is the first step towards becoming aware of them. If you don't often remember your dreams, there are a few things you can do:Advertisement
- Change the time you wake up. You may just need to catch yourself during the REM stage of sleep.
- Don't get up right away. Spend a few minutes in bed after you wake up. Don't even change the way you're lying down. Try to linger in the barely-awake stage, and let your mind remember your dream.
- Keep a dream journal. Put a notebook right next to your bed, so that you can write down whatever you remember of your dream as soon as you wake up.
- Don't force it. Trying to forcefully remember your dream usually doesn't work. If you can't remember a dream, it might come back to you over the course of the day if you're not thinking about it. If you remember a snippet, try to let your mind naturally wander, and you may remember more.
- 2Take naps. A study in the 70s found that taking a nap early in the day increases your chances of lucid dreaming. One suggestion is to wake up an hour earlier than usual, stay awake for half an hour, then go back to sleep.Advertisement
- 3Get enough sleep. Not sleeping enough messes up your sleep cycle, forcing your body and brain to make up lost deep sleep and changing your REM schedule.
- 4Conduct "reality checks" throughout the day. Decide on an action that you can use to check if you're dreaming. A good one is to check the time twice. Dreams change a lot. Check the time on your phone or watch, then look away and back at the time. If the numbers don't change, you're probably awake! If you do this regularly enough, you may eventually find yourself doing it in a dream, giving you a better chance of realizing that you're dreaming. Another option that works is text - many people find that they can't read text in their dreams.
- 5Use the power of suggestion. One of the simplest tips is also the most effective: tell yourself that you will lucid dream. Before you go to sleep, verbally or mentally tell yourself that tonight when you dream, you will be aware of it.
- 6Meditate. This is not a proven method, but it can help relax your mind enough to give you access to your dreams. It can also help you relieve stress and be calmer in general, so there's no harm in trying! Take 10-20 minutes a day to sit in a quiet spot, breathe deeply, and try to empty your mind.
- 7Remain calm in your dream. The first few times you realize you're dreaming, you might get excited and wake yourself up. So remember to keep calm and try not to get too excited.
The MILD method of lucid dreaming
The Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams was created by Dr Stephen LaBerge of The Lucidity Institute. It's designed to help people achieve lucid dreaming, and uses some of the tips mentioned in the section above.
- 1Dream Recall. Remembering your dreams is the first step towards becoming aware of them.
- 2Reality Checks. Conduct reality checks regularly throughout the day, and they will carry over into your dreams.
- 3Lucid Affirmation. Simply telling yourself that you'll remember your dreams before you go to sleep can help you actually achieve it.
- 4Visualize your Dream. The purpose of this step is to have you thinking about lucid dreams before you fall asleep. Wait until you're relaxed and ready to drift off. Imagine that you're in a dream you had recently. But instead of seeing the ending you had, imagine a different ending for the dream. You may fall asleep while doing this - that's fine. Conducting this part of the steps increases your chances of getting a lucid dream later that night, or even right away after you fall asleep.
This method works before naps as well.
Using technology to lucid dream
There are a few technologies available to purchase that claim to improve your chances of lucid dreaming. Certain external stimuli - blinking lights or sounds, for instance - can help signal to the dream you that you're in a dream. It's up to you if you try these; there's no harm in it but it also hasn't been proven to work.
Using natural herbs to induce vivid lucid dreams
Certain drugs and herbs can bring on vivid dreams, or increase the amount of time you spend in REM. Using any drugs or herbs should be done with caution. Ask a doctor before you ingest any herb you aren't familiar with.
- Lucid dreaming is not the same as controlling your dreams. It's the first step towards actually controlling your dreams, but the lucid dreaming itself it just the awareness of being asleep and in a dream.