Many people do not pay that much attention to their dreams. Those who do are often thought to be weird or superstitious.
However, lucid dreaming is not some mystical or fictitious ability associated with magic or illusion.
It is a totally normal ability, and really anyone can do it. Lucid dreaming is associated with psychology and self-awareness.
When you go to sleep at night you will usually end up dreaming and then pay no mind to it as you get on with your day, unless it was a really fun dream or a really unpleasant one.
However, lucid dreaming is when you enter a dream state and realize that you are actually dreaming.
Most of us will experience this every now and again on a one off experience.
Yet, some people can do this at will after much practice. When you are aware you are dreaming you have more control over what can happen in a dream.
When you enter a lucid dreaming state, you are aware of your conscious state. For the most part you can control what happens in your dreams.
For some people lucid dreaming can help to deal with trauma, mental health issues, or just get away from the struggles of life.
People who do lucid dreaming even report that it can feel very vivid and dream, but for others it is hazy. It is a personal experience, and yours may feel different or unique to those of others.
If this is something that is of interest to you then read on to find out more!
Lucid dreaming happens when someone is simply conscious within a dream state.
This awareness of them being asleep and dreaming can even allow a person to be in control of their dreams, allowing them to manipulate them in some ways, but not always.
While this concept was actually brought up by Aristotle in the 4th Century BCE, lucid dreaming was not actively studied at length by science until the 70s.
Since uncovered by science in more depth lucid dreaming has been viewed as a sort of hybrid conscious state that has measurable difference from being awake and even from REM sleep.
REM sleep is the stage of sleep in which we dream. As we fall asleep we first enter light sleep, then deep sleep where our bodies heal the most, and then we enter REM sleep which helps with memory, and of course, is the stage in which we dream.
REM actually stands for ‘Rapid Eye Movement’.
The ability to lucid dream does open a doorway to a lot of fun opportunities for dreamers. However, it is not just the fun possibilities of being able to control your own dreams that is on the positive side of things.
You may find that lucid dreaming will also allow you to be able to access unlimited potential inside the dream world and into your own consciousness.
This will open up opportunities to broaden and access further creativity, and for you to be able to strengthen some of your skills more. It can also assist you in working on emotional issues and help you to heal traumas.
The ability to lucid dream has also been reported to help in aiding you to get rid of nightmares, especially for those who suffer from them chronically.
If you become lucid during a bad dream or nightmare then you are granting yourself the ability to change what is happening in a way that is not so scary or may even be able to empower you.
Being able to do this can help people to gain more flexibility and adapt better to the changes in life. For those who have trauma stemming from no control over their lives, may also find that this can aid in healing trauma and mental health problems that stem from this.
Being able to lucid dream can help us to bring you further in touch with yourself, help you understand yourself better and connect with your inner self on a more spiritual plane.
For those who are especially afraid of death, dreaming lucidly can help to fend away those fears.
Lucid dreaming not only allows you to step into your own consciousness, but it grants you control over what is happening around you in your dreams.
We dream in our REM sleep cycle, this is not only the deepest stage of sleep and the stage of sleep where our brain works to preserve memory and log the information that has happened throughout the day, but also to dream.
REM sleep is when the activity levels in our prefrontal cortex is highest, however, the muscles in our body are paralyzed for the most part. Not that this is a bad thing, as our dreams can allow us to feel like we are flying, running, falling, or even swimming.
In some cases, when we step into a lucid dream, you may even be able to control the whole narrative. This means that not only can you change the course of events in a dream, but you could control the dream altogether.
It may seem like a nearly impossible feat for some of us, but it is actually very common to experience. You just need to better attune your body and mind to it in order to make it a more common occurrence.
Some people can even dream every time they sleep.
Lucid dreaming has not been as thoroughly researched by scientists as we would like as of yet. However, there is much that we do know. And what we do know is that you can easily use many different methods to help include you into lucid dreaming.
Aside from the five techniques we have listed below, you can also do much else. Good sleep hygiene is very important for one, and getting enough sleep is also very important.
You should also consider validation. There is a saying ‘I believe, therefore, I am’, and while this is not always true, it certainly is for lucid dreaming. If you believe that you can then you can do it.
Many people still have disbelief in lucid dreaming, however disbelief will not help you to do so. You can use as many techniques as you like, but if you do not really believe in it, or that it is possible, you will be thwarting your own efforts.
In some ways being able to lucid dream is an act of manifestation, if you believe in it, you will be able to get there, however if you are overly skeptical then you will be making it harder for yourself. It is simply the power of suggestion.
Dream journals may seem like something that only a teenage girl will do, or something we only do when we are trying to psychologically analyze ourselves to get to the root of a deeper problem.
However, dream journals are great for more than just this, in fact, keeping a dream journal can help you to better understand and track your sleeping brain, and can assist you in achieving your lucid dreams.
You see, lucid dreaming is something that needs metacognition, which is self awareness of your own thoughts.
Thus, continually making a note of your dream journals is a brilliant way to enhance your brain’s self-awareness.
Increasing your self awareness, may then in turn, help you to increase the frequency that you have lucid dreaming experiences.
It is worthwhile to keep a notebook, or pad and pen next to your bed, and try to maintain the habit of writing down your dreams when you wake.
It is ideal to write them down as soon as you wake up before you forget the dream and what happened.
The more you do this the more self-aware you become, and this can actually help over time too.
Over time your brain will become attuned to this, and by making note of these occurrences by hand, you will be training your brain to be more aware of your dreams.
It is also good practice to review your dream journal entries too. Doing so can give you insights into any patterns or signals into your consciousness, and can help you to stop patterns in your dreams.
If you are dealing with problems in your life, regular patterns in your dreams can actually tell you something.
Our brains sometimes come up with the answers to our concerns in our dreams, instead of telling us directly.
If you have any traumas, or are going through help for mental health, keeping a dream journal is also a good idea as it can help you keep track of how your mind is acting over time. Thoughts you may be repressing can crop up in dream form.
So, not only can keeping a dream journal help you to train your brain, but it can also help you understand yourself more, and help you to build your self awareness up and resolve any emotional issues, or life problems you may be encountering.
A good sleep routine is not only sleeping at regular hours and maintaining your circadian rhythm, but it is also maintaining good sleep hygiene.
Getting a constant and consistent sleep schedule will help your brain ‘gear-in’ to sleep and dream at regular times.
Regularly, consistency, and stability are all things that will help you to achieve lucid dreaming.
Not only this, you should also keep your sleeping environment ideal as well, keep your bedroom dark and cool, and avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evenings to ensure your brain is properly adjusted for sleep.
Similarly, it is best to avoid blue light devices, this means screens such as laptops, computers, mobile phones, tablets, and even your television. It is actually best to read a book before bed as it will help your eyes get tired and your mind relax.
If you can maintain a consistent schedule before you go to bed you will see a great deal of improvement, not only in your quality of sleep but how you feel outside of sleep.
A good sleep routine will ensure that you get enough sleep each night, and having consistently good sleep will help your mind regularly experience REM sleep, which is a very important part of being able to lucid dream.
The simple point behind this is that getting enough REM sleep will help you to experience dreams of all kinds, lucid or otherwise.
As a result, being able to spend more time in your dream stage of sleep will help you to increase the chances of lucid dreaming.
To be able to ensure that you achieve enough REM sleep, you need to make sure that you are getting enough overall sleep.
This means setting a consistent sleep schedule, sleeping at the same times, and ensuring you always get the same amount of sleep.
This is true for both early birds and night owls, and you can even do this if you work night shifts, it does not matter what time you are sleeping at, just that when you do sleep it is consistent.
You should aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, while 6 hours is okay, it is the bare minimum to get, really every adult should be having between 7 and 9 hours sleep each night, with 8 being ideal.
When you sleep enough your body is able to cycle throughout the sleep stages easier and you can achieve more REM sleep. If you do not, you can interrupt your REM sleep, which makes it harder for you to be able to lucid dream.
If you enjoy testing yourself mentally and using psychology on yourself to improve your brain, you will like this technique.
Reality-testing may sound bizarre, but it is just a form of mental training. It helps to increase your metacognition by training your brain to be aware of your own awareness, noticing it, and logging it.
The levels of metacognition in your brain will be similar when you are awake and when you are dreaming.
Thus heightening your metacognition when you are awake can lead to overall higher metacognition, and thus increase this in your dream state too.
As we previously said, this is still an area that requires more research, but it is theorized that this might be related to the prefrontal cortex in our brains, which play the role of testing reality and having lucid dreams.
Thus, in order to increase the metacognition in your brain, you should be doing reality tests while you are awake to help alert your brain and keep it on the ball.
There are some tests you can do to help to improve this in your day to day life.
An example of this would be asking yourself, “am I dreaming?” repeatedly throughout the day.
You could also practice checking the environment around you to confirm if you are awake, or if you are actually dreaming.
You can also try to be hyperaware, noticing your own consciousness and how you engage with your surroundings.
This might seem a bit strange, and kind of like you are gaslighting yourself into questioning if things are real or dream, but it is not, instead you are noticing things around you, and are getting your brain to be more aware of your waking moments in comparison to dreaming moments.
It can be useful to do these checks on a regular basis, perhaps every 2 or 3 hours or so, set alarms or reminders to remind yourself to do these.
You can also use other checks to help them achieve lucid dreaming.
You can use a mirror to check your reflection, push against a table, wall, and such to see if it is firm or if you go through it.
Check your hands to see if they look as you expect, and check the time, in life we are used to the speed of a clock, however, in dreams time in fickle, and it will constantly change.
Be aware of your own breathing as well. If you pinch your nose, and you cannot breathe you are awake, but if you can then you are dreaming.
The best thing you can do is to pick one, or at most, two reality checks, and do these on repeat throughout the day.
Over time this will train your mind to do these, and you will do these reality checks in your dreams.
Eventually this can then trigger lucid dreaming!
While we previously said that a good sleep schedule will ensure that you have a better sleep, more REM sleep, thus more dreams, and an increased likelihood of achieving lucid dreaming, there is another technique you can use, which may seem counterintuitive.
However, you can actually use WBTB as a technique. In this technique you get someone to wake you 5 hours after you went to sleep.
As you have woken up in the middle of your sleep, the theory is that when you go back to sleep you will enter REM sleep.
However, entering REM sleep immediately means that you will also still retain consciousness as you have only just woken.
It is possible that with this technique you will enter a lucid dreaming state. Although it is not guaranteed.
That is the gist of it.
This is closely tied to another technique called WILD, which is wake-initiated lucid dreaming. In this state your mind stays conscious while your body goes to sleep.
Although it is not the same.
A good system to use for WBTB technique is as follows;
- Go to bed and set an alarm for five hours.
- Sleep as usual.
- The alarm will go off, and you should wake for 30 minutes or so, read a book if you wish to do something. Ignore anything with a blue light.
- Go back to sleep after this time.
As you go back to sleep your likelihood of entering a lucid dream state is increased. Remember that in your time awake you do an activity that requires your mind to be fully awake. Reading is a good activity for this as it stimulates the brain.
However, this area has been further studied, and it shows that the chances of having a lucid dream after this practice depends on the level of alertness and not the specifics of the activity you choose.
Thus, if you do not wish to read, select an activity that will stimulate your brain and keep you alert, even if you are very tired. It is the alertness that will keep your mind conscious as you go back to sleep which will trigger lucid dreaming.
Finally, the last technique you can use to induce lucid dreaming is MILD.
This is a technique created in 1980 by LaBerge. This technique was actually one of the first methods used to research this type of dreaming.
This may actually sound familiar to you, as it is one of the most discussed methods for lucid dreaming.
It is based on behavior known as prospective memory, this is a behavior that involves setting intent.
Remember we said ‘I believe, therefore, I am’. This is all about training your mind, and willing things into happening.
You could call it manifestation, but in a way it is simply training your mind and setting intent in your brain. Utilizing its memory power.
MILD is simply the act of intending to remember that you are dreaming when you are dreaming.
This may sound difficult, although it is not really, it just takes practice and determination.
Here is how you use this technique;
- As you are drifting off to sleep, think of a recent dream. It can be any dream, ideally though, it should be one that you liked. We do not recommend nightmares.
- Consider then, identifying a ‘dream sign’, this means something that is irregular or strange inside the dream. A good example you can use would be the ability to fly, or perhaps an item that is severely out of place, maybe a physical symbol.
- Then, think hard about returning to this dream, and acknowledge that a dream sign will only happen when you are dreaming.
- Tell yourself, speak to your brain, that the next time you dream, you want to remember that you are dreaming. ‘ The next time I dream, I want to remember I am dreaming’
Hopefully with practice and avid determination, you will end up achieving a lucid dream state.
You could also practice this technique after you wake up in the middle of a dream. This is especially ideal, if you did not want to leave the dream behind, as many of us do not.
If you need a good place to start, this is ideal. Once you wake up from a dream and wish to return to it, the dream is still fresh in your mind, so you have a higher likelihood of returning to it.
Combining this MILD technique with WBTB has been proven in research to be the most successful means of achieving lucid dreaming.
So, knowing how you can achieve this now, why should you? What do you have to gain from it, aside from the obvious fun you can have when you are in the driving seat of your own dream realm?
Well, there are a few. Let’s go through the benefits of being able to do this.
The odd nightmare here and there is no need for concern, it is usually just our brain releasing stresses from our lives. However, if you suffer with recurring nightmares this can be a cause of anxiety and stress.
Recurring nightmares are actually a sign of; PTSD/ c-PTSD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, medicine, substance use, and stress.
Learning how to lucid dream can help you control your dreams, and you can drive the dream away from the nightmare topic. Similarly, if you know you are dreaming, then you know it is not real, and it becomes less ‘nightmarish’.
Lucid dreaming has been found to also be useful in relieving anxiety. A lot of research into the topic has been focused on PTSD, and related anxiety brought on by nightmares.
However, it has also been found that lucid dreaming can also help to ease anxiety in other ways too.
It has been claimed that people do find lucid dreaming helps them to face situations which cause them anxiety.
As we have previously stated, lucid dreaming can be very beneficial for aiding mental health.
Finally, Lucid dreaming can also be a benefit for those going through rehabilitation after accidents, surgeries and so on.
Research conducted shows that lucid dreaming can help, as you mentally perform motor skills, which can increase the physical ability to do so.
This means that those who have physical disabilities may actually be able to practice their motor skills while they are lucid dreaming.
It is also speculated that it is not entirely impossible that lucid dreaming may even help to improve the motor skills of those who are without any physical disabilities.
The Pitfalls Of Lucid Dreaming
Nothing is without problems, and even lucid dreaming can have a bad side.
However, that being said, there is less of a danger to lucid dreaming in the actual lucid dreams than there is in the techniques to induce lucid dreaming.
By this, we mean that lucid dreaming can have consequences in how you get yourself into it through the techniques we have mentioned above.
Let’s look at some of the problems it can cause and how you can work to prevent these when you are trying to induce lucid dreaming.
- Using WBTB and MILD has the potential to create sleep problems. As these techniques require you to wake in the middle of the night it is entirely possible that these interruptions could make it hard for you to get a significant enough amount of rest.
If you already have a sleep disorder, or an irregular sleep schedule this can make things even harder.
- Similarly having your sleep disturbed can lead to derealization. This will mean that you feel that people, environments and objects are not actually real.
- Any sleep interruptions can also lead to depression. The induction techniques that require you to be interrupted in your sleep can bring upon depressive symptoms.
- Lucid dreaming can also occur with sleep paralysis, a very unpleasant experience. Sleep problems and disturbances can also increase the risk.
It is important that if you want to try any of these techniques, that you monitor yourself and do not put your health and your sleep quality at risk in order to achieve lucid dreaming.
To conclude, lucid dreaming is not only fun, giving you power over your own dreams, but it also gives you the ability to heal emotional traumas, improve your motor skills, and help to ease anxiety.
You can avoid nightmares, or face them knowing they’re not real by using lucid dreaming too. However, it is wise to be cautious of the techniques that you use to induce lucid dreaming.
Some techniques that you can use such as WBTB and MILD do have the potential to mess up your sleep schedule, create sleeping problems, and thus result in derealization and depression.
Be cautious of these issues and practice methods such as dream journaling, reality testing, and so on to be more cautious. Use WBTB and MILD, but do not use them too often, or you can end up doing more damage to yourself.
Lucid dreaming can be a great way to build on your control over your mind and consciousness, empowering yourself and gaining more confidence and control. It is a great skill to have, and can really help you in many ways. Why not try it?