How to lucid dream? There are many ways to do it, but before you try anything, it’s important that you have a good understanding of what it actually means.
What is lucid dreaming? To define it simply, lucid dreaming happens when you become aware that you’re dreaming. You are able to recognize that what you’re seeing is not actual life. For some lucid dreamers, they have the ability to actually control the dream itself.
In what way can people control their dreams? It depends on the degree of their ability. Some can change the people they encounter in dreams. On the other hand, there are those who can completely alter the dreamscape or the environment, and even influence the “storyline” of their dream!
When Does Lucid Dream Occur?
There are two basic types of sleep that our brain cycles through every night.
- Non-REM Sleep: When you’re in non-REM, your eye movements, heartbeat, and brain waves begin to slow down.
- REM Sleep: This is when your brain becomes very active. When you reach REM, your eye movements and heart rate increase. Like most of our dreams, lucid dreaming starts once you reach the REM stage of sleep.
How to Lucid Dream – Factors to Consider
Not everyone is capable of achieving lucid dreams. There are certain factors that can either decrease or increase a person’s ability to do it. A 2017 study published in Imagination, Cognition and Personality: Consciousness in Theory, Research, and Clinical Practice suggests that people are most likely to experience lucid dreams in childhood, starting at around three to four years of age. The frequency of these dreams tend to decline as children begin to reach early adolescence.
The same study also looked into the correlation between personality traits and an individual’s susceptibility to lucidity when dreaming. They found that an openness to the experience can positively contribute to the frequency of lucid dreams. The same goes for neuroticism, which manifests in depression, strong moods, and anxiety in some people. Those who have this personality trait have a higher chance of experiencing lucid and vivid dreams.
The Benefits of Lucid Dreaming
We all know that sleep is important when it comes to our health, but did you know that dreams can provide similar benefits? This is especially true if you’re a lucid dreamer.
Decrease in Nightmare Frequency
Are you prone to having recurring nightmares? If this is the case then you’re aware of how it can disrupt the quality of your sleep. If kept unchecked, the lack of proper sleep can eventually affect your help. It also raises stress levels and may even lead to disorders such as anxiety and depression.
How does lucid dreaming help? The ability to recognize when you’re only dreaming can also apply to when you’re having nightmares. If you can control what happens during your dreams, you would be able to turn what frightens you into something more pleasant. Getting chased by vampires in your dream? Go ahead, turn all of them into furry rabbits!
Boost Motor Skills
By visualizing physical movements when you’re having vivid dreams, you can actually increase your ability to do them when you’re awake. When you perform physical activities while having lucid dreams, your brain’s sensorimotor cortex is actually activated. This is no different from when you’re doing motor skills while awake.
So, going back to our vampire example. If you’re being chased in your dream, jumping over hurdles, or even fighting them off—you are practicing motor skills that can be useful to you in real life. Great, right?
Creative people are more likely to experience lucid dreams and in effect, it can also help boost their imagination and inspiration even more. This is attributed to the fact that lucid dreamers tend to recall their dreams better.
These memories of lucid dreams can help them visualize various scenarios, whether they are grounded in realism or lean toward more fanciful things.
Lucid Dreams Meaning – Interpreting Your Dreams
Most people want to learn how to lucid dream, while there are those who seek meaning in theirs. It is possible to interpret lucid dreams in the same way you would a normal dream. In fact, it tends to be easier since you’ll remember more of what happened.
Experienced lucid dreamers suggest keeping a dream journal. Write down any significant or recurring themes you experience when you dream. You’ll likely start seeing patterns after a while and find connections in your daily life.
By becoming more observant, your dreams can also help you work through different real life issues.
How to Lucid Dream – Understanding the Risks
While lucid dreaming is generally safe, it can pose a potential risk if the person experiencing them suffers from a mental health disorder.
- Depression and anxiety: Given the fact that vivid dreams can disrupt sleep, those experiencing it might suffer from sleep issues. These can further intensify the symptoms of both mental health disorders.
- Derealization: In some cases, people might experience difficulty telling reality and dreams apart. An individual might begin to act recklessly, believing that they are still dreaming, and cause harm to themselves and those around them.
- Dissociation: In connection with derealization, the constant overlap of reality and dreaming can eventually lead an individual to completely disconnect from their surroundings.
If you’re a beginner when it comes to lucid dreaming and using techniques to induce it, keep the above in mind. Many of these techniques purposely interrupt, which can lead to a whole other set of issues. As with any practice, do it moderately and make sure you have a proper understanding of it.
How to Lucid Dream for Beginners
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s move on to the techniques you can try to induce lucid dreams. For beginners, it’s best to start off slowly.
Make Your Room More Conductive to Sleep
Since dreams happen during the REM stage of sleep, you would want to make sure you get restful sleep in order to prolong your REM as much as possible. Note that it happens during the second half of the night, so if your room isn’t providing you the best environment for sleep, then you might wake up before you even start lucid dreaming.
Simple things you can do include: using blackout curtains, ear plugs, setting your thermostat to a comfortable degree, and sleeping at an appropriate time.
Tune in to Your Dreams
This basically means paying more attention to what happens in your dreams, aside from simply being aware that you are in one. As we have established earlier, a dream journal is very useful for this purpose.
To use it, follow this simple guide:
- Do your best to write in your journal as soon as you wake up. This ensures that your memory of lucid dreams is still untainted. If you think faster than you write, use a recorder instead!
- Try and recall as much of the details as possible. This includes the environment, what is in it, the weather, what you felt, the other figures in your dream, and so on.
- Remember, no detail is too small! You’ll be fascinated by how your subconscious weaves things into your dreamscape.
There are also dream apps that will provide you more guidance on what to write and how to properly organize your journals. Give those a try as well!
Recognizing Your Dream Signs
Aside from recording your lucid dreams, you also should review them regularly. Look for any patterns since these can give you an insight into your psyche. These can also serve as your dream signals—the details that will help you recognize when you’re dreaming. Choose something that is unusual and cannot be easily found in real life.
Dream signs can come in the form of buildings, streets, dream characters (people you don’t know in real life), and so on. These signals will vary for every individual, so familiarize yourself with them and you should be able to quickly identify when you’re in a lucid dreaming state.
Performing Reality Checks
Simply using dream signals can be tricky. This is why you should also perform reality checks often, whether you’re awake or asleep. How to lucid dream fast? This is the technique you should practice often to achieve that. Basically, it helps your brain become more used to separating when you’re dreaming and when you’re awake.
Lucid dreaming experts suggest doing any of these about ten times a day:
- Push the index finger of one hand through the palm of the other. Do this expecting it would happen. Ask yourself, before and after, if you’re in a dream. If you’re lucid dreaming, you will be able to push your finger through your palm.
- Observe your hands and your feet. If you’re dreaming these will appear distorted—as if you’re looking at something underwater.
- Open a book. In dreams, what is written on it will change if you look away. If you’re awake, it will stay the same.
For some people, pinching themselves also works as a reality check. If you feel pain, then you’re awake. However, there are instances in dreams when you can feel pain (or some semblance of it) so it might not be as accurate.
Use the MILD Technique
MILD stands for Mnemonic Induction to Lucid Dreaming. To do this technique, you will have to repeat a phrase or mantra every night. Keep repeating the words until you fall asleep. Keep your phrases short, but clear. For example: “I recognize that I am dreaming” or anything similar.
This encourages your brain to stay aware, even when you are in deep sleep and dreaming.
Meditating is meant to help clear your mind and give you more control over your thoughts. This is helpful not just for inducing restful sleep, but also as practice on how to control your dreams. The more mindful you are, the better you will be at recognizing when you’re dreaming. Here’s our article on how to meditate that should help you get started!
Try the Wake Back to Bed Technique
This one takes a bit more effort. You would have to start scheduling alarms, which should help maximize your chances of waking up while in REM sleep. It sounds counterproductive, but here’s the clincher: once you wake up, you go immediately back to sleep and re-enter your dream. Hopefully, when you do, you’ll enter lucid dreaming.
Set an alarm for four, five, six, or seven hours after you initially fall asleep. Only choose one, though! Experts recommend you opt for the sixth or seventh hour mark, which is when REM sleep usually happens.
After the alarm goes off, try to stay awake for half an hour to a full hour. Write in your dream journal if possible. You want your brain awake, but your body should still feel heavy and sleepy. After the hour mark, try to fall back asleep.
Warning: Do not do this as a long-term practice. It can result in sleep deprivation.
Lucid Dreaming Music
Did you know that while asleep, our brain still remains aware of our surroundings? This includes any sounds that might be in the environment. In fact, these sounds can also influence our dreams. This is why music has been said to trigger lucid dreaming. You don’t need a special playlist to make this happen, but it does involve a bit of training to work. The idea is to train your brain to associate the song with wakefulness.
How to lucid dream using music? Here’s a quick guide:
- Pick a song that you like. Make sure it’s a song you’ll recognize instantly.
- Use this as your morning alarm. Doing so will teach your brain to associate it with wakefulness.
- Do this for about a week (or more). After the week mark passes, set your song to automatically play at a low volume while you’re asleep.
- If the training worked, the song will start playing and trigger your brain to wake up. This allows you to enter a lucid dream.
Remember, it will take some practice so if it doesn’t work the first time, just repeat the process again.
Take Up Video Gaming
Unless you are already a gaming enthusiast, then this might be a great hobby to get into. Frequent video gaming is associated with an individual’s ability to remember their dreams. There is also a correlation between it and the frequency of vivid dreams!
This is because most gamers are used to being immersed in a fictional, highly dynamic world—while also maintaining control of the story’s plot. Basically, you can train your brain to recognize when you’re dreaming and when you’re not.
Try to Keep Your Dream Going
In the beginning, you will experience a lot of false starts. This is common among first timers, since lucid dreaming requires both practice and patience. How to lucid dream better? Be more proactive when it comes to prolonging your dream state.
Here are some tips from expert lucid dreamers:
- Try falling backward or spinning in your dream.
- Rub your hands together.
- If you feel as if you might wake up soon, do your best to focus on what you’ve been doing in the dream. Convince yourself that you are still dreaming.
When learning how to lucid dream, it’s always good to be more knowledgeable about what it entails. Some people have a natural affinity for it, while there are those who might experience negative side-effects because of it.
The more you understand the process, the more effective it will be. So read up and don’t forget to practice what you have learned. Good luck!