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Imagine being able to travel the world while you sleep. You can try every food on the planet free of charge, try on expensive, designer clothes, hang out with celebrities or lost loved ones, and maybe even have an existential conversation with your dog.
All of this is possible once you learn how to have lucid dreams.
Most people have had a lucid dream at least once in their lives. Maybe they were in the middle of a nightmare that was especially horrific, and something alerted them that their situation was a dream and not real. In that moment of awareness, magic happens. You realize you are in a whole new world that you can control. You can walk through it without harm or consequence.
The problem is that as soon as we come to that realization, many of us are jarred awake as our brain works to tether us to reality.
In this article, we’ll share proven tips to start having lucid dreams. While it is a skill that you’ll get better at over time, we’ve got some tricks that can help you have a conscious dream as early as tonight!
What is Lucid Dreaming?
A lucid dream is a conscious dream. You are aware that you are dreaming, yet you remain asleep. When you’re in this state, you can control yourself in a dream and explore a whole new world. The amount of control you are able to exert over yourself during lucid dreaming varies, but a minimum, you’ll be walking through a world painted by your subconscious mind totally aware that you are in a dream. Incredible, right?
There are two types of lucid dreams:
- Dream-initiated – this is when you become conscious during your dream state and know that you are dreaming.
- Wake-initiated – you go from being awake directly into a lucid dream. This type is more controllable and can be planned for with a little bit of practice.
Lucid Dream Benefits
Choose Your Dream
You are no longer bound by nonsensical dreams about seemingly random occurrences throughout your day. Instead, you choose what visions you want to see when you go to sleep. Our subconscious is a powerful system, so even if you’ve never been to Paris, you’d be surprised by the level of detail your mind will be able to architect for you. Bon voyage!
The only limit with this type of dreaming is your imagination. When your conscious and subconscious minds work together to create a new land, you’ll be amazed at what you can do. Maybe you’ll even think of a remarkable, life-saving invention.
Reunite with Lost Loved Ones
If you’ve lost a loved one and are missing them terribly, you may find comfort in meeting them in a dream and having a conversation that you’ll be an active part of, rather than a mere observer. Many of us have had fleeting dreams of people we love before.
The conversations don’t often make sense, and we feel helpless when we wake up, wondering why we talked to them about emptying the dishwasher when we could have had a much more stimulating conversation.
This is an ideal time to confront your fears because there are no consequences. Nothing can hurt you during a dream. If you’re afraid of heights, have a dream about skydiving! If public speaking makes you break out in sweats, create a reality where you give a speech that receives a standing ovation.
Communicate with Your Subconscious
Our subconscious mind is more powerful than our conscious one, and its programs are always running in the background. If you have patterns of addiction or self-sabotage that you’ve tried to break with no success, that’s your subconscious at work. During a lucid dream, you can communicate with your subconscious and even reprogram it!
If you want to get better at something like playing a musical instrument, dreaming about the activity is an effortless way to “practice” and improve. By dreaming about the skill you’d like to learn, you’ll find that you master it much faster if you incorporate practice time into your dreams.
Instead of being startled awake by dreams you may not be prepared for, being in a lucid state means you can enjoy them fully without waking up. Fewer sleep interruptions translate to a better night of sleep.
Your subconscious mind is like a giant database of everything you’ve experienced, whether you remember it or not. You may not have even been aware of much of what’s gone on around you, but your subconscious keeps track and logs that information.
If you’re in a creative field and struggling for inspiration, a lucid dream may be just what you need to spark the imagination and synthesize ideas you already had. You just didn’t have access to them in your awake state!
If you’re being chased by a fire-breathing dragon, you no longer have to play the role of victim. Instead, conjure up your sword, turn around bravely, slay that dragon, and rescue the princess.
No matter how horrific a nightmare you’re having, once you master the art of lucid dreaming you’ll be able to either control the situation or at least find comfort in knowing that nothing can hurt you.
Steps to Become Lucid Tonight
Learn about Lucid Dreams
The first step is to learn everything you can about how to have a lucid dream. Fortunately, you’re in the right place. There’s a lot of in-depth information and tutorials available, but this article has everything you need to get started on your conscious sleep journey.
Perform at least ten reality checks every day. As you’re learning how to lucid dream, start with 25 each day, and you can decrease them as you get better at this skill. Don’t worry; they only take a second to do.
Here’s one to try, and we’ll share why this works after we explain the activity:
- Look at one of your hands (See? It’s not hard).
- Using a finger from your other hand, try pushing it through your palm.
- If you’re awake, your finger will touch the surface of your palm, but if you’re dreaming, it will go through it.
The purpose of a reality check is to perform a simple action that proves you’re awake. The outcome of the action will be different whether you’re awake or asleep. By repeating this action multiple times each day, it becomes a habit that your dreaming mind will pick up. Then when your body does this task in a dreaming state, you’ll be primed to pick up on the fact that you’re asleep.
Turn off All Screens
At least one hour before bed, turn off all electronic devices that have lit screens. This means televisions, tablets, smartphones, etc. You need your bedroom to be as dark as possible to encourage sleep, and you also want to make sure that your body produces enough melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep. Since light interrupts melatonin production, it’s important to keep your environment dark.
Set an Alarm
This next step is one that beginning lucid dreamers tend to get wrong, so by following this guide, you’ll be able to fast track your progress. Set an alarm from five hours after you go to sleep. Ideally, the alarm should be set to go off between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m.
The idea is that the alarm will wake you during REM sleep, and you’ll fall right back asleep. You’ll use the techniques in the next steps to make sure that you enter a lucid dreaming state.
Two things to note on this step to ensure success:
- The alarm sound should be soothing. While it needs to wake you up, a blaring noise, incessant buzzing sound or obnoxious ring tone are too jarring. Opt for nature sounds or something pleasant.
- Do not open your eyes when you turn off the alarm. Keep the alarm close enough to you that you can reach it without having to struggle.
Wake up with Your Eyes Closed
This is important. Even though you’re waking up for a moment, keep your eyes closed. You’re preparing your body to go back to sleep even though your mind will still be semi-awake and active.
Perform a “WBTB”
This abbreviation is short for “wake back to bed.” As you wake up from a deep sleep, you’ll be training your body to fall back asleep while still keeping your mind alert. It may seem impossible to do that, but trust us, you’ll be able to do it with just a little bit of practice.
So, now that you’ve turned off your alarm and you’ve kept your eyes closed, the magic begins to happen. You’ll start to feel your body drift off to sleep. Your body is going to try to trick you into revealing to it that your mind is awake. It will do this by performing a sleep test. It will send a powerful message to your brain that you need to roll over, touch your stomach, scratch your nose, etc. Resist the urge to move.
Once your body is sure you’re asleep, it will relinquish control, and you’ll begin to see colors, shapes, and even glimpses of scenery. It will slowly take shape, and voila! You’re in a lucid dream.
Additional Tips & Techniques
In the last section, we alluded to the separation between mind and body. Meditation, when done correctly, helps you practice this skill.
For example, you’ve seen Buddhist monks meditate for hours on end. They sit still without moving. No bathroom breaks, no hunger, no sneezing, and not a single muscle in their body moves. Yet, they’re seeing wondrous visions and experiencing reality in a whole new way.
How are they able to achieve that? It’s because their bodies have gone to sleep, yet their minds are awake. Lucid dreaming is very similar and requires the same skill set.
Listen to Binaural Beats
You might have listened to binaural beats to help you focus, study, concentrate and even sleep, but they can also help with lucid dreaming, too. The two frequencies being played at the same time enter each ear individually and are processed by your brain as a single frequency that merges the two.
You can find binaural beat tracks for free on YouTube, or you can purchase an app for more variety. The trick to making these work for lucid dreaming is to match the HZ (frequency) to the appropriate brainwaves to encourage the activity. In this case, you want Theta waves, which are between 4HZ and 8HZ.
Play Video Games
When you play video games, you immerse yourself in a whole new world. You can explore the edges of this new universe. If you’ve played racing games, you’ve probably wondered where you would go if you veered off the track, and maybe even you’ve tried it.
If you’re in an RPG (roleplaying game), you may have ventured off your known path to see what lies beyond. Push yourself to explore new lands while you’re in play mode, and you’ll be more primed to do it while you’re sleeping.
Galanatamine is a natural supplement often recommended to Alzheimer’s patients to improve brain and memory function. The substance is commonly found in plants like dandelions, and it’s commercially extracted for oral use from flowers like the spider lily.
Studies have shown that this supplement is helpful lengthening REM sleep and encouraging sleep recall. In this study, it was shown that the likelihood of having a lucid experience was 5.8 times higher than when the study participant took a placebo.
Take Vitamin B Supplements
Before you load up on Vitamin B supplements, the variety associated with lucid dreaming is Vitamin B6. The link between ingesting this vitamin and entering a conscious dream hasn’t been fully developed yet, but this study suggests that the increase in serotonin levels from this supplement make nightly visions more vivid and colorful.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there dangers with lucid dreaming?
While you won’t be in any physical danger, you may need to prepare yourself for feeling new emotions and having experiences that aren’t familiar to you. Again, none of it will hurt you. It’ll just seem a bit odd at first.
Can beginners achieve a lucid state?
Like anything, practice makes perfect, but many people experience their first lucid dream within the first few nights of trying the techniques mentioned in this article.
What is a lucid nightmare?
It’s the same as a lucid dream, but instead of being pleasant, it’s a nightmare. The good news is that since you are aware of the situation, you’ll be able to take a more active role in the situation, and then confront whatever is causing the nightmare.
It’s also a puzzle trail in World of Warcraft, but that’s an entirely different topic.
Being able to control and actively participate in your dreams sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it? You can become whoever you want to be and explore lands that may not even exist in the real world. Many people are eager to try lucid dreaming because it means they can do whatever they want, and the possibilities in a lucid dream are only limited by you and your imagination.
Author: Sleep Advisor
Our team covers as many areas of expertise as we do time zones, but none of us started here as a so-called expert on sleep. What we do share is a willingness to ask questions (lots of them), seek experts, and dig deep into conventional wisdom to see if maybe there might be a better path towards healthy living. We apply what we learn not only to our company culture, but also how we deliver information to our over 12.7M readers.
Sleep research is changing all the time, and we are 100% dedicated to keeping up with breakthroughs and innovations. You live better if you sleep better. Whatever has brought you here, we wish you luck on your journey towards better rest.