We can exercise conscious control over both our thoughts and actions while we are awake. When we are asleep, our alertness decreases, and our minds are free to wander into the realm of our dreams.
The concept of lucid dreaming was initially from Frederik van Eeden in 1913. It brings together many realities that at first glance appear to be unrelated to one another.
In lucid dreaming, the dreamer is aware that she is dreaming at some point during the dream. During their lifetimes, approximately half of all people will have at least one lucid dream. The remaining percent, meanwhile, will consistently experience lucid dreams (usually once a month).
It is important to remember that metacognition, which encompasses activities such as self-reflection, internal commentary, and decision, can take place in both lucid and non-lucid dreams.
Lucid Dreaming Meaning
A lucid dream, in its most basic definition, is a dream in which the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming while the dream is taking place. In regular dreams, you are unaware that you have been dreaming until you awaken. Lucid dreams, meanwhile, is the presence of lucidity inside the dream itself. It’s vital to keep in mind that lucid dreaming comes first. Then the capacity to influence your dreams is something of an afterthought that develops later on.
The realization that you are dreaming is a separate but crucial step that must come before you can exercise control over your dreams. This is similar to existing on a spectrum.
History of Lucid Dreaming
Whilst research into lucid dreaming is relatively young, the practice itself has a long and rich history. Bön Buddhists in Tibet have been engaged in “dream yoga” for centuries, if not millennia. In his treatise “On Dreams,” which was probably written around 330 B.C., the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle mentioned lucid dreams.
However, the word “lucid dream” wasn’t used until 1913, when Frederik van Eeden wrote an article titled “A Study of Dreams” in which he used the term. Celia Green began her scientific investigation of lucid dreaming in 1968. She classifies it as a distinct form of sleep-related to REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
However, in the 1970s and 1980s, Dr. Stephen LaBerge was the one who popularized the study of lucid dreams. Electrooculogram (EOG) technology, which monitors eye movement, greatly aided this endeavor. This allowed observers to “know” if someone could be lucid dreaming.
Since then, researchers have looked into every aspect of lucid dreams, from how to induce them to what goes on in the brain while having them. Researchers found that lucid dreaming can help with things like nightmare prevention and other forms of therapy.
Where do lucid dreams come from?
The conscious awareness and introspection of lucid dreams are the result of processes happening in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. This is when the boundary between your awake and asleep selves becomes increasingly porous.
While in a normal, non-lucid dream state of sleep, your prefrontal cortex (the “conscious human thought machine”) is not functioning. When you’re having a lucid dream, your prefrontal cortex is working at a somewhat higher level than usual. Even if it’s not as active as when you’re awake, it still helps. You may call it a semi-active condition.
Technically, lucid dreaming occurs during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, which often begins an hour or so after we go to sleep. This is when most people experience dreams. Thus, it stands to reason that this is also when they have lucid dreams. However, scientists have just recently begun to investigate the possibility that lucid dreaming is a distinct mental state distinct from “regular” REM sleep.
The brain’s activity during lucid dreams is similar to that of being awake. However, it is not quite as high as it is when we are wide awake. Increased brain activity compared to regular REM sleep suggests a variant of the REM phase. If we must classify it as REM or non-REM sleep, however, the latter is more accurate.
How to Know If Your Dream Is Lucid
In most cases, people are unaware that they are dreaming when they are not having lucid dreams. One trait that is shared by many of these dreams is the sensation that one is in the midst of reality even though extremely bizarre things are taking place within the dream. People don’t know that what they experienced was merely a dream until after they wake up.
However, when one is having a lucid dream, one is aware that what is happening is not real and that it is taking place within a dream. Lucid dreams allow one to take control of their dreams. This frequently gives the dreamer the ability to exert some degree of control over the events that are taking place.
The following are some indications that you may have gone through something similar in the past:
- You were conscious of the fact that you were dreaming when you were asleep.
- Your dream was quite clear and distinct.
- In your dream, you were able to exercise some degree of control over the events that took place or the setting.
- Your feelings were really strong and powerful.
Benefits of Lucid Dreaming
As mentioned earlier, lucid dreaming can help with preventing nightmares and other forms of therapy. However, researchers and people who had lucid dreams discovered the following benefits:
- You can control how/what you dream.
You may change the way you dream so that instead of having bad dreams, you enjoy nice and interesting dreams while you sleep. With the help of lucid dreaming, you can safely experience any of your wildest dreams.
- Your deceased family members and friends may return to you.
In a dream, you may find a way to communicate with a loved one who has passed on. Even after losing control of their dreams, many people say they continue to have nightmares about their departed loved ones. When you’re in charge, your loved ones’ creativity is at your beck and call.
- Dreaming in full consciousness can be a source of inspiration.
Lucid dreams provide a perfectly clean slate on which the creatively restrained can unleash their full potential. You never know when you’ll come up with your next big idea.
- You can communicate with your inner self through lucid dreams.
The power of the mind to aid in physical recovery is real. Some therapists advocate using lucid dreaming as a means of communicating with the subconscious to overcome phobias and end bad habits. Lucid dreams help rewire the brain to avoid pessimism.
Dangers of Lucid Dreaming
Is it possible to die in a lucid dream and have it translate into an actual death?
There is no truth to this old wives’ tale. If you die in your lucid dream, you won’t perish in real life. You may awaken in the actual world or a deeper level of a dream. But is lucid dreaming dangerous?
Yes, lucid dreaming has its dangers as well, such as:
- Feeling Real Panic and Fear.
Dreams aren’t always in your hands, especially at the outset. But you won’t be able to avoid feeling things like grief, worry, and anxiety while dreaming, just as you would while awake. Nightmares can be managed by lucid dreamers with experience, but mastery comes with practice. In the beginning, you may find it difficult to maintain control over your dreams. If you wake up with high anxiety levels, we recommend to read this Gellati Weed Strain Review and learn about it.
- Sleep paralysis
Sleep paralysis can be induced by specific methods. Although frightening, sleep paralysis poses no health risk and affects everyone at some point. It is the body’s natural defense mechanism to prevent the transfer of dream movements into the waking world.
- Feeling tired upon waking.
One possible side effect of having several intense dreams is mental fatigue when you wake up. Some persons who only dream consciously (perma-lucid dreamers) say they are exhausted and stressed because their minds never rest. Some methods even call for you to get up in the wee hours of the morning. If you decide to try out one of these methods, make sure you give yourself at least seven and preferably nine hours of sleep.
Techniques for Lucid Dreaming
Did all of this information about lucid dreaming piqued your curiosity and you are prepared to give it a shot? There are a variety of tried-and-true methods that can assist you in initiating lucid dreaming for the first time. These can also help in boosting the frequency of lucid dreams you already experience naturally.
Here is a list of eight possible strategies on how to lucid dream for beginners. All of these are supported by empirical research.
The odds of having a lucid dream can be improved by reality checks. This is because dreaming brings you to a state of consciousness not dissimilar to being fully awake.
Training your brain to be more alert while awake might have a positive effect on your consciousness. Reality checks, performed at various points during the day, can help with this metacognition (or self-awareness). Reality checks come in many forms, such as:
- Put your palms together and press your fingers together; if they go through, you’re dreaming.
- Try pinching your nose shut; if you can still breathe, you must be dreaming.
- If the words in a book you’re reading appear different when you look away and then back, you’re probably dreaming.
It’s possible that none of these grounding and lucid dreaming techniques will work, or that some or all of them will. These are only clinical recommendations. What helps one patient may not help another. Most likely, you will need to experiment with a variety of approaches before you settle on one that is most successful for you.
If you’re having trouble inducing lucid dreams, keeping a dream journal (or dream diary) might help. We’ve all had the experience of waking up after a very vivid dream, then finding that we can’t remember any of the specifics of the dream at all merely minutes later.
You can train your brain to become more aware of dreaming by keeping a dream journal. With this lucid dreaming technique, you can train yourself to recall your dreams. If you want to keep track of your dreams, you can do so in just about any format you like. This can be a notebook, a wall of sticky notes, a smartphone app, or anything you fancy.
It’s a chance to stretch your imagination while also teaching your conscious mind to pay closer attention to the world of sleep. Keep a dream notebook and read it often to help your mind become used to the dream content.
More REM Sleep
As is well known, lucid dreaming occurs during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This is the stage of the sleep cycle during which humans experience all types of dreams. This means that the longer time you spend in this phase, the more likely you are to achieve lucid dreaming.
To do this, you should strive to get at least seven hours of sleep each night. You can do this by either going to bed earlier or sleeping in later.
If this happens, you’ll have an easier time transitioning between the four stages of sleep, which will result in greater REM sleep. If you wake up too early, for instance, you will disrupt your REM phase, reducing the likelihood that you will experience a lucid dream.
There are some practical steps you can take to guarantee you’re getting enough shut-eye each night.
- Make your bedroom a soothing place to rest and get some shut-eye (comfortable mattress, absence of loud noises, etc.)
- Consistently wake up and go to bed at the same hour each day.
- Exercise regularly or almost daily.
- You should not consume any alcohol or caffeine within six hours of bedtime.
- Avoiding electronic devices the hour or so before bedtime. The blue light from screens suppresses melatonin (a hormone secreted at night to make you feel sleepy) and keeps you up for longer.
Mnemonic Induction to Lucid Dreaming, or MILD
Every time you go to sleep, tell yourself, “I will be conscious that I’m dreaming.” Repeat this phrase until you wake up. Repeat the phrase “I will know I’m dreaming” or something similar to yourself over and over again as you drift off to sleep each night. Do this until you lose consciousness.
Mnemonic Induction to Lucid Dreaming, also abbreviated as MILD, is the name given to this method. Mnemonic induction is simply another term for “using memory aids. ” Or in this case, employing a rehearsed phrase to transform conscious knowledge of dreaming into an ingrained routine.
Before going to bed, some people find it helpful to perform this step in conjunction with a reality check by focusing their attention on their hands for some time.
Wake-initiated lucid dreaming (WILD)
When you enter your sleep state immediately from waking life, this is known as a wake-initiated lucid dream or WILD. It’s been stated that doing WILD before bed will keep your mind alert while your body is sleeping.
You can do this by getting comfortable on your bed and waiting it out until you have a hypnagogic hallucination. This is a type of hallucination that happens right before you nod off to sleep. Although easy to use, WILD can be challenging to master.
If you want to boost your chances of having a wild lucid dream, you should practice WILD along with other strategies that induce lucid dreaming.
Using this method, the dreamer awakens in the small hours of the morning. She stays awake for 30 to 120 minutes and then falls back to sleep.
If you find yourself awake after a dream, try to fall back to sleep. If you remember your dream when you wake up, jot down the details in your dream diary and try to put yourself back to sleep. Picture yourself inside the dream before you discover it’s just that: a dream, thanks to some kind of dream sign or reality check. If you can keep this idea in mind while you drop off again, you might experience a lucid dream.
Keep in mind that most lucid dreams happen when the dreamer is already asleep. This Is usually a result of a strange dream occurrence that prompts the dreamer to question whether or not they are dreaming. About a quarter of all lucid dreams begin with this alternative trigger.
Before going to sleep, meditate in a calm, dark environment. It’s possible that participating in a meditation training course would yield better results. But to get started with meditation, all you need to do is focus on your breathing or visualize walking up or down stairs. The objective is to force oneself to stop thinking and attain a calm, relaxed condition so that one can then drift off into a lucid dream.
There are a lot of meditation tutorial videos on the internet, and many of them are made expressly to help you lucid dream.
Listening to binaural beats
If you can fall asleep with headphones in, then giving binaural beats a try is as simple as visiting one of the many websites that feature collections of binaural beats. Theta-like beats are used by the vast majority of lucid dreamers because they are most similar to those produced by the brain during REM sleep. However, some people swear by Gamma or Alpha beats, or even a combination of different types.
Even if there is no actual beat in the sound, your brain may perceive one if you play two slightly different tones to each ear at once. The electrical activity of the brain is altered, but whether or not lucid dreaming is one hundred percent prompted remains an open question.
Consider taking galantamine
The snowdrop plant’s synthetic chemical galantamine shows promise as the most potent medicine yet discovered to induce lucid dreaming. For optimal results, take 4-8 mg in the middle of the night, rather than before bed, when sleep quality is already poor and nightmares are more likely to be disturbing. However, the potential risks and the unpleasantness of galantamine’s side effects make it a supplement best used sparingly.
If you have any sort of health concern, you should consult a doctor first. Asthma and cardiac disorders, among others, can become more severe when galantamine is present.
The risk of experiencing sleep paralysis also increases while using this medication.
Lucid Dreaming Shifting Method
After you have achieved the ability to have lucid dreams, you can then go on to your DR (dream reality). You can approach this procedure in a variety of ways, choosing the one that works best for you. Choose the option that seems the easiest to understand and put into practice for you. You have the option of using a gateway or portal, a TV screen/computer monitor or book, or coming up with your own DR scenario.
Take into consideration that lucid dreaming is not the same as reality shifting. The difference between these two altered states of consciousness is that reality shifting involves actively transporting one’s mind to a different universe.
Research on several of these methods for inducing lucid dreams is scant. No one has yet determined which of these methods is superior. Although the first four cognitive strategies mentioned above have received the greatest attention, the strongest empirical support lies with the prospective memory strategy MILD.
Many people find their first lucid dream to be a profoundly illuminating and exciting experience. If you’re content with your life, you probably won’t have any problems trying the practice provided you go into it with the appropriate attitude. May your dreams be pleasant!