You must’ve heard about the phenomenon of lucid dreaming at least once in life. Whether you’ve heard it from a friend who did it successfully, or through media and the internet, it must’ve intrigued you to try it out.
The good news is that everyone experiences lucid dreaming at least once in their life, and on most occasions wanted to repeat it too. In this article, we’re going to reveal all the details of how to lucid dream successfully.
Dreaming of real-life situations and acting within them can prove beneficial for a lot of things. A lot of psychologists and other mental therapists suggest lucid dreaming as a means to treat PTSD, anxiety, depression, or another ongoing mental condition.
A lot of people with recurring nightmares may also be suggested to try out lucid dreaming to help with coping mechanisms.
About 20% of people in total have ever mastered the art of lucid dreaming. You can do it too, however, before we list all the methods to successfully perform it, let’s define what lucid dreaming is, as well as potential risks that may come with experiencing it.
What is a Lucid Dream?
The best way to explain a lucid dream is to say that it happens when we’re sleeping and dreaming, but we’re aware of what’s happening within the dream we’re dreaming, with both elements of sleeping and awake consciousness. Just like the regular dreams, lucid dreams occur in the REM sleep phase, where our brain is more active, nearly the same as active as we’re awake, but the vast majority of our muscles are paralyzed. However, our eyes can still move as we dream, which is why we can experience this consciousness where we’re aware we’re dreaming.
Nearly everyone has experienced lucid dreaming at least once in their life. Some reports say that between 50 and 82% of people that participated in different studies confirmed experiencing lucid dreaming at least once.
You can learn more about lucid dreaming here.
Know More: What Is Lucid Dreaming?
Benefits of Lucid Dreaming
As mentioned above, there are certain benefits of lucid dreaming, let’s discuss them.
- It is fun – A lot of people engage in lucid dreaming to entertain themselves because they can’t catch up on that due to a lot of obligations.
- You can use it to meditate – A lot of people see lucid dreaming as a tool to communicate with their true selves and resolve conflicts from within.
- It encourages creativity – People who like to draw can use lucid dreaming to learn and harness the creativity from their mind.
- They relieve anxiety
- They increase motor skills – People who practice lucid dreaming and experience with a dance move or acrobatic maneuver are more likely to perform them because the certain part of the brain known as sensorimotor cortex activates. It’s in charge of controlling motor skills so if it’s active during lucid dreaming, it can help memorize certain movements. Another benefit of lucid dreaming is also that it may encourage physical rehab in people who’ve gone from a traumatic injury and want to regain physical movement.
Risks of Lucid Dreaming
How to Lucid Dream?
Now that we’ve distinguished between the benefits and risks of lucid dreaming, let’s see how to do it, or at least practice getting close to it.
1. Practice More REM Sleep
All dreams are generated through the REM sleep phase, and that way practicing more REM sleep will result in lucid dreaming if you practice it enough. People who get enough sleep every night will get the proper distribution of sleep phases through the night, one of which is the REM sleep.
Remember that getting too much REM sleep can make you tired when you wake up due to increased brain activity in the night.
Here’s how to induce REM sleep
- Create a sleep schedule that will help you get restorative sleep.
- Have frequent exercises through the week
- Don’t use too many electronics before bed (And most cases we recommend turn off them 1 hour before bed).
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine just before you go to bed.
2. Practice Healthy Sleep Hygiene
One of the most important things to do to achieve deeper forms of dreaming, including lucid dreaming is to follow a healthy sleep schedule and regulate it frequently. That means going to bed at reasonable times, sleeping between 10 pm and 6 am. Additionally, exercising daily, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, and reducing the use of electronics before bed will increase the potential of reaching a lucid dream.
Even if you don’t succeed at lucid dreaming, you’ll feel more rested and be able to put up with daily tasks.
Make a to-do list where you’ll list all the things you’ll do through the day, noting the important parts which may induce the lucid dream. For example, avoid drinking coffee in the evening, or exercising, as it may awake your metabolic system.
3. Create a Relaxing Sleep Environment
To dream with a higher level of consciousness means creating a quiet and dark sleeping environment that will stimulate your brain to fall asleep as you’re resting and enter the REM phase first. In addition to keeping your bedroom quiet and dark, it’s also important to keep it cool as both mind and body need to be at ease.
If some source of noise is absolutely necessary for you to fall asleep and you take the silence difficultly try using a white noise machine, allowing the white frequency coupled with the sound of rain, waves or thunderstorm help you fall asleep.
4. Make Sure You Know What’s Real
Make reality checks constantly so that you can know whether you’re awake or sleeping. It’s a great practice to train your brain to recognize when you’re dreaming and when you’re awake, and it’s a great approach to mental hygiene. A lot of sleep experts who specialize at lucid dreaming recommend the following things frequently through the day:
- Rub the index finger of one hand into the palm of another hand, and then push it. Make sure to ask yourself whether you’re dreaming or not before and after performing that. Answering your questions helps your brain to be trained and recognize in case you’re sleeping.
- Look at your hands, fingers, legs, and feet, check your hair because usually in our dreams, they may differ slightly because of our subconscious representation of ourselves.
- If you’re at home inside a lucid dream, take a look at objects like mirrors, books, clock, or a page of text and see whether they seem distorted or not. Such things are usually different in dreams compared to real life.
Make sure to repeat the process frequently and train the brain to memorize the routine you’re practicing to enter the lucid dream easier. If you feel like you have consciousness inside your dream, perceive the objects we mentioned above as soon as possible.
5. Try Falling Back Asleep
Sometimes, people wake up through the night after a deep dream, and instead of going back to sleep, they either check their phone, window or go to use the bathroom. If you don’t feel a need for any of those and you’re trying to learn lucid dreaming, try going back to sleep quickly, while trying to remember the contents of your dream. There’s a high chance that you’ll come back to the dream you already were dreaming, and seize the control over it.
Using chill pills to fall asleep faster is not an effective thing to do as they will induce the deep sleep phase. However, if you use devices like sleep tracker you’ll know what sleeping phases you entered when and try to find the pattern.
That way you’ll know whether it’s worth trying to fall asleep again or wake up completely. Sleep trackers are available in the vast majority of smart mattresses and beds, many of which we reviewed. However, they can also be found on more affordable devices, such as smart bands and watches.
6. Write in a Dream Journal
Dream journals are an amazing way to keep track of your dreams even when you’re not practicing lucid dreaming. A lot of people want to unveil the hidden meaning of their dreams by analyzing the psychological implications behind them. One such way is to write the dream diary or journal. It’s also a valuable asset for tracking lucid dreaming. It will help you recognize certain signs inside a dream that will help you realize that you’re dreaming and take control over it.
There are a lot of apps that can help you keep track of your dreams, but nothing replaces the good old pen and paper, as they allow you to easily access them without checking electronics, and you can keep track of more detailed notes and drawings of elements from your dreams.
This method may not be as effective as the others, but it’ll help you memorize important dreams and track the signs that will potentially result in lucid dreaming. Another way to enhance the effect is to draw the elements you write in your sleep journal, memorize, colors and potential numbers that could be the clue.
Is There a Scientific Way to Experience Lucid Dreaming?
Use MILD Technique
Mnemonic Induction to Lucid Dreaming, also known as the MILD technique helped a lot of people fall asleep and hop into a lucid dream. The technique works by having a person choose a certain phase that they will consistently repeat before falling asleep.
The phrase should be something to encourage sleeping in a lucid dream and self-awareness during sleep, something like “I’ll be conscious while dreaming” or “I will remember that I’m dreaming.” Repeating this technique frequently increases the odds of succeeding.
Another way to keep the idea of awake dreaming going is to write the same phrases on important places like your daily planner, notes, phone’s background, desktop’s sticky notes and more. That way, you will instill the idea of lucid dreaming in your subconsciousness, making falling asleep easier.
WBTB As Another Method to Experience Lucid Dreaming
Achieving a state of mind where inducing into lucid dreaming and awake dreaming is considerably rare on a constant basis. However, aside from the MILD technique, scientists also approve the well-known Wake Back to Bed technique, or WBTB. We already said that waking up and falling back asleep gives us a potential to re-enter our dream and scientists have a proof that this technique may work too.
The idea is to use an alarm that will be set four, five, six, and seven hours from the moment you go to sleep. It involves a lot of waking up forcedly which could lead to sleep deprivation.
However, between the sixth and seventh hours, scientists say, is the highest probability of entering the lucid dream.
The reason for that is that as our sleep stages changes, we’re more likely to have REM sleep last longer in the second half of the night, meaning four, five, six, and seven hour mark.
The whole idea behind this method is to allow the body to sleep while your mind will be awake. Nevertheless, this method has its downsides like the potential to enter sleep paralysis or feel sleep-deprived through the day.
Reality testing that we mentioned above also falls under the scientifically-proven methods, but it’s less effective than the two and serves mostly to train our brain to make a difference between reality and a dream when a therapist prescribes lucid dreaming.
Use an alarm ringtone that will make the sound more soothing. It needs to be strong enough to wake you up, but gentle enough to keep you dreamy enough for you to sail into the dreamland again.
Don’t use too loud or aggressive ringtones because chances are you will get startled and forget what you dreamed about.
How to Avoid Sleep Paralysis?
Sleep paralysis can be extremely unnerving to some people, lead to sleep deprivation and even insomnia. Sleep paralysis happens when our brain wakes up before the rest of our body. However, we’re more conscious than we’d be in a lucid dream, while our brain reproduces the images we see in our dream, causing unnerving hallucinations and imagery. It may take some time before the person completely wakes up, and it can leave a toll for the rest of the day.
To avoid sleep paralysis make sure to reduce the amount of stress you take through the day, not eat too late in the evening or drink caffeine-rich drinks, and avoid using electronics just before sleep.
Lucid dreaming is a great tool to deal with your hobbies, have fun and even resolve certain problems from your real life. In healthy amounts, there shouldn’t be any problems with lucid dreaming. However, for unstable people, it can become a source of derealization and dissociation, which is why it should only be practiced in moderation.
A final method used for lucid dreaming is called Wake-Initiated Lucid Dream (WILD) which is a situation where we directly start dreaming from conscious life. Our body goes to sleep as a result. It happens as a result of hypnagogic hallucination, which happens just the moment before we fall asleep. Finally, this method is harder to learn but its foundations get stronger by practicing other lucid dreaming methods.
It’s worth noting that there are some other ways to induce lucid dreams, although they can easily lead to sleep paralysis, which can be unnerving and we don’t encourage that. This article only focuses on conventional methods, often recommended by sleep experts and therapists who need help accessing some traumatic events or overcoming fears and anxieties.
Have you ever experienced lucid dreaming? Please leave a comment and let us know!