Some people claim to never remember their dreams. And then there are those who claim to be able to control their dreams - like inception, but less confusing.
The latter sounds magical, doesn’t it? But it’s not magic, it’s called lucid dreaming, and many people are trying to master the art of lucid dreams to access the impressive therapeutic benefits that come with it.
Whether the concept is new to you, or you are a dream expert - lucid dreaming is becoming increasingly popular. Comprehensive sleep studies and dream research estimate 55% of adults have had lucid dreams at least once, and over 20% have lucid dreams every month.
Picture this: you are having a vivid dream that feels real, you know it’s a dream, and you are controlling everything that happens. This ability to have conscious awareness when you’re dreaming is exactly what lucid dreaming is.
Most often, when people experience these types of dreams, they can control the story. Want to fly or walk on water? Lucid dreaming could let you do that.
Want to feel confident about a huge job interview or overcome nightmarish fears? Lucid dreams may help.
The history of lucid dreaming goes as far back as the eighth century when Tibetan Buddhists used a style of dream yoga to tap into the power of lucid dreaming. The Tibetan Buddhists of this era believed that the lucid dream state is the highest level of conscious awareness one can achieve.
Other notable pivotal events in the study and practice of these dreams include Marquis d'Hervey de Saint-Denys 1867 book ‘Dreams and the Ways to Direct Them: Practical Observations’ and Dutch psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden’s 1913 book ‘A Study Of Dreams.’
Early dream research identifies lucid dreaming as one of the best ways to increase self-awareness. It can help people identify what makes them unique in the world, and how to harness this to live a happier and healthier life. By now, you’re wondering if you can lucid dream - we’ve got some tips for you below.
So how do you differentiate between normal dreaming and dreams that become lucid? Dream lucidity is a skill, one that can be developed over time as long as you have the right techniques for the job.
Modern science suggests you can learn the art of lucid dreaming and reap the many benefits that come with it. The key trick to get these dreams right is to understand how your sleep cycle works. Here are a few things you can try:
Lucid dreams happen during the REM stage of sleep, therefore, it’s important you have the perfect bedroom setup so that deep sleep occurs every night. Sleeping on the best mattress possible will help your body enter a deep relaxation zone.
Another key reason why sleeping on the most comfortable mattress will help get the body in the perfect mood to lucid dream is that beds like memory foam mattresses have advanced motion isolation. This means if you are trying to lucid dream, you’ll be undisturbed if your partner moves around.
Once you are really comfy there are a range of tricks that can train the mind to lucid dream. A simple hack is to write down the dreams you have. Keeping a dream journal triggers recall, helping the brain become more conscious of the dreams you are having.
It is said that if you wake up 5 hours after falling asleep, you’re at the perfect stage of your sleep cycle to enter REM sleep with a conscious mindset. Understanding how lucid dreaming can impact the various phases of your sleep, especially REM sleep, is vital to balancing your well-being and sleep quality.
The WBTB method has been used by many, but it may take a little getting used to if you are someone who rarely wakes up during the night. Timing is key!
The MILD (mnemonic induction to lucid dreaming) is really simple which makes it very popular for beginners who are just starting out on their dream-catching journey.
Before bedtime, lay on a comfortable pillow, and spend a minute repeating to yourself that you will remember when you are dreaming. This repetition can help condition the brain to become alert when you dream so you can enter a lucid dream state.
Normally, people accept that what they are dreaming about is ‘real’ because they do not have awareness and control over the narrative of the dream. Performing reality checks throughout the day is a quick and easy way to train your mind to identify dreams from reality.
Reality checks are useful when you are having strange dreams or nightmares - once you become aware that you are dreaming, you can have control over what is happening.
To practice reality check, experts suggest you perform 10 actions throughout the day that are difficult to do in dreams. Conscious actions such as pulling your finger, checking the time, reading text are examples of realistic actions that don’t happen while you dream.
The more you practice reality checks in the day, the easier it will be to do them while you dream.
Lucid dreaming is said to have many benefits that can increase the quality of life and promote more self-love and self-control. We’ve listed some of the key benefits below.
It’s hard to focus on self-awareness during the day when you’re bombarded by distractions. Endless phone notifications, conversations, work, kids, family - the list goes on. It’s hard to focus in the modern world.
Practicing awareness when you’re dreaming can help make you more receptive to yourself. Lucid dreaming could help with this. During lucid dreams, people are able to focus on themselves and the world around them, leading to a heightened awareness about strengths and weaknesses.
Most people who experience nightmares feel like they don’t have control. Lucid dreaming techniques allow dreamers to become aware when nightmares strike. The awareness can trigger reflexes of control and diminish the fearful impact of nightmares.
A recent research paper reveals the many therapeutic benefits of lucid dreaming, including a reduction in stress levels and treatment of conditions such as PTSD.
The practice of lucid dreams allows for the mind to differentiate between reality and fantasy which can create more confidence when faced with an unusual or uncomfortable situation.
Imagine being the director of your dreams. You’re walking on the clouds, then are greeted by a magic carpet, the carpet takes you to your favorite beach in Italy. You pick up a gelato and board a submarine, and within minutes you are in Australia, dancing with kangaroos. Magic!
When you have awareness and control over your dream state, you can let your imagination run wild and cultivate more creativity in everything that you do.
When we call our dreams lucid, it essentially means we’re conscious of being in a dream state. This means you remain in a state of consciousness while dreaming, and control the events taking place in your dreams. There are a few steps involved in making sure your dreams become lucid. Lucid dreams findings suggest that the practice can have potential health benefits.
Lucid dreams could potentially disrupt your sleep, and those with mental health disorders should be particularly careful when testing this out. For some lucid dreamers, it can become increasingly challenging to differentiate between reality and their dreams, which can further result in some issues.
Getting into a habit of lucid dreaming every night can hinder your overall sleep quality, and affect your REM sleep overall. While lucid dreaming can be an interesting way to experiment with your sleep habits and consciousness, it’s best not to make it a staple of your bedtime routine.
Lucid dreaming occurs through a number of different methods, so trialing a couple of different ways will help you figure out what works best for you. To experience lucid dreams more effectively, you’ll need to make your dream environment, that is, your bedroom as hospitable as possible.
Maintaining a dream diary, performing reality testing, and practicing frequent lucid dreaming can all help contribute to more effective control over your dreaming.
Lucid dreams could be the solution to improving your creativity, mental health, and even problem-solving skills. While lucid dreams may not be the most conventional solution to a good night’s sleep, they’re an interesting experiment to try out.
Whether you’re trying to stop recurring nightmares, stress less, or give your creativity a boost - the wonderful world of lucid dreams might allow you to wake up with more confidence.