Have you been having troubles in dealing with anxiety, honing problem-solving skills and inducing creativity over the last few weeks, months or years of your life? You may or may not have heard about this technique yet, but in the last few decades, people have proved that this technique– lucid dreaming is effective in attending to those concerns.
It is said that every person will experience having lucid dreams at some point in their lives. This can be a once in a lifetime thing or a recurring event, regardless, lucid dreaming can give benefits to the person experiencing it. This is the reason why it is recommended to those who are seeking treatment for depression, recurring nightmares and post-traumatic stress disorders.
Dr. Stephen LaBerge, the pioneer of learning the art of lucid dreaming has led numerous scientific studies on how lucid dreaming happens and how it can be maximized by anyone. Thanks to him, everyone including you can learn how to lucid dream any time.
The Goal of Lucid Dreaming
This concept has sparked the interests of many for varied reasons. But above all those remain the number one cause and that is giving in to the peak of their curiosity as to how they can remain in a state of dreaming while being able to explore and control their actions. When you lucid dream, you will know that you are dreaming and the rest that follows will be solid proof that the brain is indeed an astonishing part of the body.
Lucid dreamers who intently put the time to practice it mostly want to gain more control over their minds. They train their brains to achieve goals while in their state of sleep. The motives may be different but the process remains the same. You enter first stage of sleep which is the non-REM sleep until you progress to the REM stage.
The REM stage is the phase where your brain becomes very active as your heart rate and eye movements increase too. This is the same stage where dreaming happens, the only difference between the two would be that you are aware of your dream state. If you happen to be curious and fascinated with the possible benefits you can get from lucid dreaming, you can read on the following information.
Learning How to Have Lucid Dreams
Though the chances of having frequent lucid dreams are low, a person can always try to make them more frequent. Stated below are useful measures to initiate lucid dreams. Use them to train yourself of being in control of your dreams while improving your reality.
- Facilitate Good Sleeping Habits
Firstly, you have to understand that lucid dreaming is hard to achieve if you have trouble falling and staying asleep. Since lucid dreams happen in the REM phase, it is important that you have less interruption at night. So before you start learning how to lucid dream, focus on establishing a setup that is conducive for dreaming first.
A good place to start with would be your room. Keep it clean, comfortable and free of disturbances such as noise and unnecessary light. You can choose to wear an eye mask or put thick and dark curtains to block out any type of light that may awaken you.
Prepare to calm your body before sleeping in ways such as listening to relaxing music, meditating, having aromatherapy or taking a warm bath. Invest on comfortable sheets and make sure to keep your room temperature comfortable so you do not wake up in the middle of dreaming.
- Create a Dream Diary
Just like any other record, a dream diary is meant to be a documentation of everything that happens in your dream state from the biggest down to the smallest details. Before you can start lucid dreaming, you have to be aware of all the things that make up your dream patterns and themes. By looking at all the information of your daily dreams, you get the cues and you master the art of distinguishing dreams from reality. You create this by keeping a notebook or a memo pad at bedside. The first thing you do after waking up from a dream would be to write down everything that you remember in as detailed manner as you can.
- Take Note of Your Dream Symbols
There is a reason why psychologists ask you to record your dreams. These have signs, characters, themes and patterns that may indicate or may be related to some thoughts and events that are occurring in your real life. These are effective indications of possible issues that you may be dealing with consciously or subconsciously. And most importantly, getting a grasp of all the things that are naturally occurring repetitively in your dreams can help you determine whether you are in a dream state or back to reality.
- Do Reality Checks
Reality checks are important because they make you aware of whether you are in a dream or reality. It is recommended to perform reality checks at least about 5 to 10 times in a day. The goal of this is to make it a habit and to have your body used to doing reality checks in dreams as much as it does in reality. If you are new to this, you may be wondering how to do them.
There are a lot of ways to do reality checking. We have prepared a list of some of the easiest and most popular ones that you can try. Perform at least one or more ten times a day on a regular basis and you will be good to go.
Some of the basic points to look at would be looking at the smallest details. Look at your extremities as they will more likely be blurred and disproportionate. Check out mirrors in your dreams as your reflection will not appear normal. Take a glimpse of your tattoos and birth marks because these usually look different in dreams. These are just some of the visuals that you can check when dreaming.
As for some easy to do tests, you can try to pinch your nose and see if you are able to breathe. If you are able to breathe and you do not experience any type of struggle when doing so, then you are definitely in a dream. On the other hand, you can also try to place your fingers against your palm. If they surpass and go through your palm, then you are dreaming.
- Trigger Lucid Dreaming Through Induction Methods
Usually, lucid dreaming comes naturally and in unexpected times. But if you are trying to learn how to lucid dream often, then you may need to learn about the following induction techniques. These are effective ways to trigger lucid dreaming.
- MILD Method
This stands for Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams. This is an excellent method for those with excellent prospective memory or those who remember future goals. This is done by falling asleep with the thought of wanting to remember that you are dreaming. Reciting a mantra to help you remember this will come in handy as you go.
This is ideal for those who are inclined to practicing meditation or hypnosis. This is performed by proactively thinking and imagining that you are about to have a lucid dream. This is usually done by people who are experiencing recurring nightmares. This enables them to create a lucid dream where they are able to intervene to lessen the stress of their usual dream.
- WBTB Method
Also known as the “Wake-Back-To-Bed” method, this is ideal for those who want to rise in the middle of the night or those who want to combine other techniques for lucid dreaming. This happens when a person wakes up from sleep and then stays awake for about 30 minutes to 3 hours and then going back to bed after.
- WILD Method
We refer to this as the “Wake-Initiation-of-Lucid-Dreams”. This technique involves keeping your sense of consciousness as you fall back to sleep and into a dream state. A bit of warning for this one would be that it can be challenging and a bit frightening to learn. This is ideal for those who aggressively want to have the most vivid lucid dreams.
The process starts by trying to keep your eyes closed and going back to sleep right after you wake up. In this state, you have to focus on your intent to go back to dreaming and turning it into a lucid one. Be prepared for this part as you are to experience sleep paralysis which is essential for the transition.
Some people find this terrifying as their minds are still awake but their bodies are immovable. When this happens, you have to remember that you are transitioning to a lucid dream and that you are safe. This is a method used by many artists because this is where they come up with dreams of their greatest work of art.
- VILD Method
This is also called “Visual Induction of Lucid Dreams”. This is ideal for people who have excellent visualization skills. The drawback for this method would be that it has the tendency to keep you awake. This is done through constant visualization. You visualize the type of dream that you want to have. By constant rehearsal, you train your mind to give you the same dream scene that you visualize before sleeping easier.
- CAT Method
Also referred to as the “Cycle Adjustment Technique”, this is one of the easiest techniques that you can do because it requires very little effort on your side. All you have to do is adjust your sleep cycle to give you a sense of familiarity of the different REM sleep phases. Those who do it correctly usually have weekly lucid dreams.
- Sleep Masks
The use of sleep masks are utilized in the process of external stimulation. The process works by using sleep masks to generate light stimuli that serve as a trigger for lucid dreaming. There are different kinds of masks available in the market, so you can choose among the many variations available.
- Engage in Video Games
There have been recent studies that propose video gaming as an effective way of helping you get better in remembering normal and lucid dreams. Since video game players are immersed in a fictional world where they are in control, this gets a person familiar and similar to lucid dreaming. So if you want to start practicing for your lucid dream, start by checking out video games.
- Keep It Going
Since lucid dreaming requires tons of practice and perseverance, those who finally experience it end up waking up from excitement. While this is a common occurrence, there are a couple of tips from expert lucid dreamers to keep the dream going. They suggest that you try to rub your hands together, do a full spin or continue with the task at hand to make your brain believe that you are still in the dreaming state.
How to Wake Up From Lucid Dreaming
At this point, you already have the basic knowledge to prepare yourself for lucid dreaming. With proper execution and constant practice, you will be able to achieve your goal faster than you can ever imagine. But what happens if you want to wake up from a lucid dream and you can’t?
A lucid dreamer who knows how to initiate it should also know how to wake up from it. There are a couple of techniques that you can do to get you back to reality in no time. Make sure to remember them as you venture out to your lucid dreaming adventure.
By stimulating senses and parts of your brain that are not utilized in REM, you easily wake up from a lucid dream. You do this by trying to read a book or recognize a sign. Another method would be to try to fall asleep in your dream because the usual result of doing so would be waking up to reality. You can also resort to blinking your eyes as much as you can. This signals the brain that you are about to wake up. And when things get too overwhelming, you can always call out for help. Make sure to yell or speak as loud as you can to give a message to your brain that it is time to wake up.
Things to Look Out For
Truly, lucid dreaming has a lot of benefits to the dreamer. However, along with these come possible complications that everybody should look out for. When trying out techniques to induce lucid dreams, you may end up with interrupted sleep. This makes it harder to get quality sleep at night so make sure to keep track of your sleeping schedule in case you have to take a break and catch up on rest.
Sleep deprivation can lead to depression or aggravation of an existing depressive condition. It can also lead the dreamer to think that the people and everything in his environment is not real. This is called derealization. And lastly, this comes with sleep paralysis that may be frightening and distressing to the dreamer.
When to Consult a Doctor
It is important that you remain in control of your body and health while you try to learn how to lucid dream. Apart from the things that you should look out for, there are a couple of situations where you need to seek professional help as it may indicate possible existing mental health problems and sleep disorders.
Consult with a doctor if you experience memory troubles, inability to sleep, fear or sleeping, sleep disrupting nightmares, flashbacks that are traumatizing, changes in your mood and emotional state, and frequent night terrors. These professionals can assess your current state and tell you whether lucid dreaming is appropriate for you.
Lucid dreaming is not a walk in the park, however, when you learn how to use it to your advantage, you get tons of benefits for your overall health. You can use this to improve your problem-solving capabilities, relieve anxieties, and bring out your most creative side. Though with all the good you get from it comes the responsibility of knowing when to pause, stop and seek for help.
After reading through all the information above, you are now ready to start your lucid dreaming venture. Just remember to stick to the methods mentioned above and execute them properly. With regular practice and perseverance, you will be able to experience lucid dreaming personally.