Lucid Dreams: Tips To Becoming Your Own Sleep Hero
Lucid dreaming is something that most people experience at some point in their lifetime. It is a vivid and poignant sleep experience that can have a lasting effect on the dreamer. This unique type of dreaming causes many people to pursue a path of trying to enter a lucid sleep again and again. There are several benefits to learning how to lucid dream, something that many people can learn to experience and control with some practice.
What is lucid dreaming?
Lucid dreaming is the act of having a dream where the dreamer is actually aware of the fact that they are asleep and dreaming. This awareness gives them the ability to have a say in what happens in the dream, as opposed to a non-lucid dream where the dreamer is not an active participant. 82% of people report that they have had a lucid dream at least once in their lifetime.
The beauty of lucid dreaming is that people can stay in their dream state with awareness, and take the time to explore what is happening within the dream. Dreamers can make choices within their lucid dreams and exercise control over the actions that they take in their sleep state. Consciousness in a lucid dream typically occurs during the dream stage of deep sleep which is called rapid eye movement, or REM sleep.
How does lucid dreaming happen?
Although much remains unknown about how lucid dreaming occurs, researchers have discovered some factors that contribute to the experience. They believe that activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain affects lucid dreaming. In lucid dream studies, researchers have observed that the level of prefrontal cortex activity is similar to the activity level that subjects exhibit in a waking state. This explains how people have a heightened state of awareness and control in lucid dream states. Researchers also believe that since lucid dreams take place in REM sleep, which is the final stage of the four stages of sleep, that lucid dreams build upon non-lucid dreams in the other three sleep stages.
Lucid dreaming tips
- Keep a dream journal
It is very helpful to keep a dream journal by your bedside. You should record everything you remember from the previous night’s dreams as soon as you wake up, as this is when you have the best chance of remembering details. It is also important to re-read your dream journal as this will increase your awareness of your dreams in general and help your mind to focus on the dreaming process.
- Follow good sleep hygiene practices
In order to create the best possible opportunity to have a deep and restful night’s sleep, you should make your bedroom feel as comfortable and welcoming as possible. Keep the room dark and cool, and consider using a sleep aid app such as BetterSleep during your pre-bedtime routine. Listening to a guided meditation or sleep sounds as you fall asleep can help to promote deeper sleep and lucid dreaming. Practicing meditation in general can be helpful as well, as it trains the mind to focus. A focused mind is essential for staying within a lucid dream.
- Wake-initiated lucid dreaming
Wake-initiated lucid dreaming (WILD) is a challenging process to learn, but if mastered, it will allow you to enter a dream state directly from a state of wakefulness. The key to learning the WILD technique is to lay down and relax until you experience a hallucination right before you are about to fall asleep.
- Play more video games
Although playing video games and the stimulation of screen time seems counterintuitive when considering how to get a good night’s sleep, a 2017 study indicated that playing more video games actually helped people better remember both their regular dreams and lucid dreams.
- Do your best to prolong your dreams
As soon as you realize you have some awareness and control in your dream, do your best to keep the dream going. Focus on whatever you are doing in the dream, and try to make a conscious decision to stay within the plot of the dream. You can also attempt to perform actions in the dream such as rubbing your hands together or spinning around to keep your mind focused on the dream. This can help you avoid the temptation to respond to stimulation from the waking world that may pull you out of the dream state.
Having control over the lucid dream process takes concentrated time and practice. Some people are more likely to have success with this than others, but the following tips can provide you with the best possible chance at both having a lucid dream and staying in this unique sleep state.
Benefits of lucid dreaming
Although it takes time and practice to master the ability to have lucid dreams, it is worth the effort. There are many benefits to lucid dreaming. For example, awareness in lucid dreams can increase your creativity. By making choices in your dreams and learning to remember these lucid dreams, your ability to be creative in waking life can really flourish. Lucid dreaming can also help you combat your fears. When you have control in your lucid dreams, you can choose to face the things that scare you and conquer them within the dream state. This process can help you feel empowered in both your waking and dreaming life. In the same vein, lucid dreaming has been used to treat depression and PTSD.
It is a fascinating prospect to learn to control our dreams. Lucid dreaming can help people learn more about themselves. It is an opportunity to grow as a person by increasing awareness of our hopes and fears, as well as an experience that can allow us to tap into new levels of creativity. Although there will always be mysteries that lie in the depths of who we are, learning to lucid dream can be a big help to us evolving and reaching our potential.
Charise Rohm Nulsen writes about parenting, education, and living a healthy and natural lifestyle. Charise earned her degree in English and Women’s Studies from Boston College, as well as her graduate degree in English Education from Boston University. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her chasing adventure with her children, reading, hiking, snowboarding, and volunteering.