Lucid dreaming is awareness of the fact that you are dreaming. This awareness can range from very faint recognition of the fact to something as momentous as a broadening of awareness beyond what has ever been experienced even in waking life. Lucid dreams usually occur while a person is in the middle of a regular dream and suddenly realizes that he or she is dreaming. However, you can elicit a lucid dream using the methods that follow.
- 1During the day, repeatedly ask "Am I dreaming" and perform some reality checks whenever you remember. With practice, if it happens enough, you will automatically remember it during your dreams and do it.
- 2Keep a dream journal. This is perhaps the most important step towards lucid dreaming. Keep it close by your bed at night, and write in it immediately after waking. Or you can keep a recording device if you find it easier to repeat your dream out loud. This helps you recognize your common dream elements (people from your past, specific places, etc.), and also tells your brain that you are serious about remembering your dreams! It will also help you to recognize things that are unique to your dreams. You will be able to recognize your own "dream signs." These will be recurring things or events that you may notice in your dreams.
- 3Learn the best time to have a lucid dream. By being aware of your personal sleep schedule, you can arrange your sleep pattern to help induce lucid dreams.
- Studies strongly suggest that a nap a few hours after waking in the morning is the most common time to have a lucid dream.
- Lucid dreams are strongly associated with REM sleep. REM sleep is more abundant just before the final awakening. This means they most commonly occur right before waking up. (Sleep-onset REM is a symptom of narcolepsy. If you have lucid dreams right after falling asleep, you may wish to consider seeking medical advice from a sleep medicine specialist. However, there are studies which show people can recall dreams after being awakened during non-REM sleep).
- Dreams usually run in 60-minute (Weiten Psych book 2004) cycles during sleep. If you are working on dream recall, it may be helpful to try waking yourself up during one of these cycles (interrupted dreams are often the ones we remember).
- 4Try Stephen Laberge's mnemonic induction of lucid dreaming (MILD) technique.
- Set your alarm clock to wake you up 4 1/2, 6, or 7 1/2 hours after falling asleep.
- When you are awakened by your alarm clock, try to remember the dream as much as possible.
- When you think you have remembered as much as you can, return to your place of rest, imagining that you are in your previous dream, and becoming aware that you are dreaming. Say to yourself, "I will be aware that I'm dreaming," or something similar. Do this until you think that it has "sunk in." Then go to sleep.
- If random thoughts pop up when you are trying to fall asleep, repeat the imagining, self-suggestion part, and try again. Don't worry if you think it's taking a long time. The longer it takes, the more likely it will 'sink in,' and the more likely you will have a lucid dream.
- 5Attempt the WBTB (Wake Back To Bed) Technique. This is the most successful technique.
- Set your alarm clock to 5 hours after you fall asleep.
- Fall asleep.
- After you wake up, stay up for an hour with your mind focused on lucidity and lucidity only.
- Go back to sleep using the MILD technique.
- 6Try attempting the WILD (wake initiated lucid dream) technique. Basically what it means is that when you fall asleep you carry your awareness from when you were awake directly into REM sleep and you start out as a lucid dream.
- The easiest way to attempt this technique is if you take an afternoon nap or you have only slept for 3-7 hours.
- Try to meditate into a calm but focused state. You can try counting breaths, imaging ascending/descending stairs, dropping through the solar system, being in a quiet soundproof area, etc.
- Listening to Theta binaural beats for an amount time will easily put you into a REM sleep.
- See the warnings at the bottom, as these are very important.
- 7Another technique for overall "dream awareness" is the Diamond Method of meditation, which can shortcut the overall learning curve, of Lucid Dreaming.
- When one meditates, try to visualize your life, both awake and dream-life as facets on a diamond. Some choose to call this "diamond" the Universe, others God, and even "your Spirit." The point here is to begin to recognize that life is happening all at once. It is only our "Perception" that arranges our dramas into linear or "timed" order. So just as a diamond just is, each facet if viewed as an individual experience, still is going on at the same time the "Dream Body" experiences as well. This method is also known by Remote Viewers. Remember it is just a slight shift in awareness that this exercise calls for.
- 8Try marking an "A" (which stands for "awake") on your palm. Every time you notice the "A" during your waking hours challenge whether you are awake or asleep. Eventually you may see the "A" in your sleep and become lucid.
- 9Get into the habit of doing reality checks. Do at least three reality checks every time something seems out of the ordinary, strongly frustrating, or nonsensical, and that habit will carry on into your dreams. In a dream, these will tell you that you are sleeping, allowing you to become lucid. In order to remember to do reality checks in dreams, you need to establish a habit of doing reality checks in real life. One way to do a reality check is to look for "dream signs" (elements that frequently occur during your dreams, look for these in your dream journal), or things that would not normally exist in real life, and then conduct the reality checks. When these actions become habit, a person will begin to do them in her or his dreams, and can come to the conclusion that he/she is dreaming. Frequently doing reality checks can stabilize dreams. This is also known as DILD (Dream Induced Lucid Dreams). Some tactics include:
- Looking at a digital clock to see if it stays constant;
- Looking at a body of text, looking away, and then looking back to see if it has changed;
- Flipping a light switch;
- Looking in a mirror (your image will most often appear blurry or not appear at all in a dream). However, your figure can be horribly disfigured in a mirror, frightening you into nightmare or a dream.
- Pinching your nose closed and trying to breathe;
- Glancing at your hands, and asking yourself, "am I dreaming?" (when dreaming, you will most often see greater or fewer than five fingers on your hand);
- Jumping in the air; you are usually able to fly during dreams
- Poking yourself; when dreaming, your "flesh" might be more elastic than in real life; a common reality check is pushing your finger through the palm of your hand;
- Try leaning against a wall. In dreams, you will often fall through walls.
- 10Prolong lucid dreams by spinning your body or falling backwards in the dream (suspected of prolonging REM), and rubbing your hands (prevents you from feeling the sensation of lying in bed). Take care while spinning. Remind yourself even as you spin or fall that you are dreaming, as you will find yourself in a completely different location when you stop spinning or hit the ground and may lose lucidity otherwise. If you feel a dream 'shakes' or is about to fade out, look down to the ground and visualize your surroundings, reminding yourself you are dreaming.
- 11Look through previous dreams in your Dream Journal. If you start to notice patterns in your dreams, you will notice dream-signs, or certain things that continue to reappear in your dreams. This may be as basic as all dreams are in your backyard, or all your dreams have fans in them. Get into the habit of doing dream checks every time you see your dream sign, and eventually you'll see your dream sign IN a dream, do a check and realize you're dreaming.
Modified Look at Hand Method
A Modified Version of Gritz's "Looking At Your Hands"
- 1As you prepare for sleep each night, sit in your bed and take a minute to relax. look at the palms of your hands for 30 minutes, and repeat to yourself, "I will dream about", "your own dream."
- 2Continue to repeat this phrase, "I will dream about", "your own dream" as you look at your hands.
- 3After the thirty minutes, or whenever you get tired turn off the light and go to sleep.
- 4When you wake during the night, Look at your hand, and say the same phrase. If you did not see your hands, remind yourself of your intent to see your hands in the next dream.
- 5With consistent practice of this phrase each night before sleep, you will suddenly see your hands pop up in front of you when dreaming, and consciously realize, "My hands!" Oh my gosh! This is a dream.
- What a dreamer does with lucidity reflects personal tendencies and levels of skill attained usually through experience and practice. Although a lucid dreamer can influence the dream's structure, characters, course, etc., it is not a given that a lucid dream is about what the dreamer wants it to be about. Seasoned lucid dreamers who are more often lucid than not will continue to encounter psychological and developmental challenges in the dream scape. The agreeable and the distressing, the easy and difficult, beautiful and horrifying, are all occasioned much as they are in regular dreaming. But whereas a regular dream is filled with the convoluted subtleties of the subconscious mind enumerating its issues before a largely unconscious dreamer, a lucid dreamer has the opportunity to consciously explore at any level.
- Listen to Binaural Beats. Binaural Beats are often used to induce lucid dreams, and many assure this method dramatically improves success rate. Theoretically, listening to Binaural Beats lowers brain frequencies, triggering different effects such as relaxation and dream induction. Look for Theta bin-aural beats, as they use the same brainwave frequency used in dreams. You may also want to listen to Alpha and Delta binaural beats as they help you relax and fall into non-REM sleep.
- There can be special cues to lucid dreams to find. For example, you may find colors or walls shifting and changing in unnatural ways, try to pick up these changes and you may realize you are lucid dreaming.
- Lucid dreaming may be helpful for people who frequently experience nightmares, as it gives them a chance to take control of their dreams.
- It is fun to fly in lucid dreams. To start flying try bouncing higher and higher after each step (while "walking" in the dream.) Some find that they need to train themselves, while others can just think that they want to fly, and therefore lift off the ground, and start to hover. You can also try walking on walls or the ceiling, as flying for the first time can be intimidating if you are not totally convinced that you are dreaming. Many people experience flying as being very natural and very exhilarating.
- It is also cool to teleport. Close your eyes, spin your dream body, and envision a brand new landscape and open your eyes.
- You can also try shape-shifting. It is hard to do it on command, but you can also make an 'excuse' to transform by making a transformation machine or a magic assistant that can change you into an animal.
- These aren't the only things you can do. You can create anything you want, be whatever you want, do whatever you want. Of course, you need experience in lucid dreaming, or else it will be more difficult to dream.
- Performing reality checks upon awakening can help you to detect "false awakenings" within dreams, wherein you dream that you have woken up, and thus lose lucidity.
- If you want to dream about something or someone specifically, as you slip into a light sleep, think about that person or that object. The way it feels, the way it looks, the way it smells, etc.. This will cause your mind to focus on that object or person and chances are your dream will reflect upon it.
- If you have recurring dreams, then aspects of these dreams can act as reality checks. If you notice something happening that is part of a recurring dream, think to yourself, "this only happens in my dreams, I must be dreaming."
- If you notice something happening that is impossible in real life, such as being able to breathe underwater, this can act as a reality check to alert you to the fact that you are dreaming.
- If you ask people in your dream "Am I dreaming?"... most of the time they'll say "No."
- When recalling a dream upon waking, try not to move. Activating your muscle neurons can make it more difficult to access the parts of your brain that allow you to recall your dream.
- If you cannot remember the dream, focus on the feelings that you felt. Trying too hard to remember the dream will only take your mind away from it. Chances are your mind will think of everything but the dream.
- When you wake up naturally - that is, without an alarm - focus your gaze on the first object you see as you open your eyes. Look at the object; focus on it. That object will most often take the vague recollection of your dream to a place mark in memory where it is easier to recall details. A doorknob, a light bulb, a set of car keys, or a nail in the wall, for example, will quell your urge to begin your day, and will help you to settle into memories of what you had experienced while sleeping.
- Do not use a radio alarm clock. If you hear talking or a song, it will distract you and may clear the dream out of your head. If you have to use a radio alarm clock, don't think about what is playing and quickly turn it off. Alternatively, change the radio setting to a non-assigned frequency so the alarm creates static (white noise).
- To end sleep paralysis (which is not dangerous) try wiggling your toes or swallowing. When you are in sleep paralysis, your brain is sending a signal to the rest of your body to immobilize your muscles so you don't thrash around while you sleep. The larger muscles are usually more affected than the smaller ones. So trying to wiggle your toes tends to wake you up during a state of sleep paralysis.
- Pre-determine what you want to achieve in a lucid dream while you are awake. When you become lucid in a dream, you will already know what you want to do.
- It is a good idea to purposely wake a few minutes after becoming lucid, once you have experienced what you wanted to experience. This way, you can wake up with the dream very fresh in your mind, and have excellent recall. If you do not wake up, the dream may simply fade away into the night, and could be forgotten.
- Some people find it helpful to take a low dose of caffeine (a caffeinated tea, for instance) shortly before sleeping. They claim that this keeps them mentally aware while the body is going to sleep. For other people caffeine may postpone or disrupt sleep.
- 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.
- As you get older, it will be harder to lucid dream, and it starts getting difficult during the teenage years of puberty.
- Before you go to sleep, think really hard about getting up without actually doing so. You will be able to lucid dream at the beginning of your dream.
- If you find the dream is not going how you want it to, "close your eyes" for a bit and then open very forcefully. It might not work the first time but you will eventually end up actually opening them.
- Be careful about looking in mirrors - it can often help you determine that you are asleep, but be prepared to see how you feel about yourself.
- Try not to worry about what might happen in the dream. Try to remember it's only a dream, and nothing there can hurt you. If you worry a lot about the people in your dream attacking you, for example, quite likely they will.
- Write down what you remember when you remember it. Most people remember dreams from nights before If you write down whatever you remember, your brain will get used to remembering instances from your dreams.
- When you are aware you are dreaming, make sure you know it is a dream at all times. Remember, there are no social consequences, everything, even the characters are just part of your imagination, you cannot get hurt, you need make to keep your dream stable, and you have total control of everything, including your actions, other characters actions, the environment, even physics with a few thoughts. Remember that and you will have total control over dreams at all times.
- You can try visualizing something in your hand, or in your pocket. Trying to feel its weight, shape, and texture may help. In case of a nightmare, or other frightening dream, if practiced, this can become a self-defense system against any of those perils. Of course, they will not really harm you, but it IS fun to blast a horribly disfigured monster at point-blank with a rocket-launcher of some sort...
- Galantamine used with Choline bitartrate or Alpha-GPC can dramatically increase your odds of becoming Lucid.
- An Amino Acid Blend made up of 2000mg L-aspartic acid, 4000mg L-glutamine, and 300mg L-theanine can substantially increase your odds of having a Lucid Dream.
- 5-HTP is the immediate precursor of serotonin, and can increase your odds of having a Lucid Dream greatly.
- Vitamin B6 can increase dream vividness. (Bananas, Most fish)
- Fish Oil helps recall dreams.
- Ginko Biloba may have a similar effect to B6.
- Melatonin makes dreams seem extremely vivid and usually only on one subject.
- Please note that attempting WILD has a very small chance of causing you to suffer from sleep paralysis, rapid vibrations and noises that don't really exist, floating and other out-of-body experiences, and hypnagogic hallucinations/images, and anxiety. There is no reason to be afraid, as Sleep Paralysis happens every night - you just sleep through it. Hypnagogia is just your mind being overactive. Remember that with lucid dreaming you are aware and can always wake yourself up if you feel overwhelmed.
- Remember if you get very excited during your lucid dream, it might cause you to wake up suddenly. At this point, focus on your dream, rub your hands, or spin around and concentrate.
- If you lucid dream, remember to make it a great experience, and do not be disappointed when you wake up.
- Do not watch pornographic material before going to sleep, it will keep you from focusing on your dreams.
Sources and Citations
- Wikipedia entry on lucid dream
- Research and studies on lucid dreaming:
- Lucid dreaming: Evidence and methodology. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23(6), 962-3
- Lucid Dreaming: Psycho physiological Studies of Consciousness during REM Sleep In Bootzen, R. R., Kihlstrom, J.F. & Schacter, D.L., (Eds.) Sleep and Cognition. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 1990 (pp. 109-126)
- Robert Waggoner, Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self, ( Needham, MA: Moment Point Press ) pg. 269-270