You will likely experience lucid dreaming at least once in your life. However, to lucid dream consistently requires practice and diligence. The work may be well worth it. Lucid dreaming is thought to provide benefits such as boosting creativity, reducing anxiety, and helping you work through a particular problem. Furthermore, it has been known to help with recurring nightmares, depression, and PTSD.
What is Lucid Dreaming?
In simple terms, lucid dreaming is a dream where you are aware that you’re dreaming. It is believed that between 51% and 82% of people experience a lucid dream at least once in their life. However, the practice of lucid dreaming requires that you remain in the dream state and explore it.
The practice of lucid dreaming can also involve using specific techniques to influence your dreams so that you can dream about a particular idea or problem. This involves concentrating on a specific idea while you fall asleep. In this way, you’re able to train your brain to work towards particular goals while you sleep. This can include things like improving your confidence or increasing your athletic ability. For example, if you have social anxiety, you might use lucid dreaming to practice engaging with others. In playing out different social situations in your dreams, you will feel more confident and capable of trying out these same techniques in the real world.
Lucid dreamers can also open up their minds so that they’re more creative. By exploring your dreams and making active decisions in the dream, you can make creative connections and test how things work rather than experiencing them passively.
How to Control Your Dreams
Lucid dreaming requires time and practice to learn. By regularly following the techniques we’ve outlined below, you can learn how to control your dreams and experience lucid dreaming,
- Create a Hospitable Dreaming Environment
Dreaming occurs during the last stage of your sleep cycle, called the REM cycle. To experience more dreams, you need to increase the amount of time you spend in your REM cycle. This means that you need to get a better night’s sleep.
To sleep better, you need to practice proper sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to practices that lead to better sleep, such as keeping your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet. To accomplish this, you may want to use blackout curtains or an eye mask to keep out any ambient light. You might also consider employing earplugs or a white noise machine. Finally, you should set your thermostat to a cool mid-60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another part of sleep hygiene is your pre-bedtime routine. Before going to bed, you should engage in restful activities like taking a warm bath, practicing meditation, or engaging in aromatherapy.
- Start Keeping a Dream Journal
A big part of lucid dreaming is remembering your dreams. To help you do this, you should keep a dream journal.
A dream journal works best if you record your dreams the moment you wake up. Therefore you should make sure to keep a notebook next to your bed. As soon as you’re awake, write down everything you remember about your dream. Alternatively, you can also keep track of your dreams by stating them out loud and recording them as voice memos on your phone. You can also use a dream journal app, such as DreamKeeper, Awoken, or Dream Journal Ultimate. These apps let you record your dreams and allow you to search your dream notes for recurring themes, symbols, and characters.
- Learn to Recognize Your Dream Signs
Further to helping you to remember your dreams, a dream journal also allows you to identify patterns and themes that frequently occur in your dreams. For example, do you continually dream about a specific place, like your high school, or a particular activity like skiing? Identifying recurring themes, people, or symbols in your dreams will provide insights into the types of issues that your inner psyche focuses on. Furthermore, they will help you to recognize when you’re dreaming. The more cognizant you are of your dream signs, the faster you’ll be able to recognize when you’re in a dream state.
- Execute a Reality Check
Performing a reality check will help you identify whether you’re awake or sleeping. The purpose of this is to train your brain to get used to the idea of identifying when you’re dreaming, so you’re better able to do so when you’re asleep. This training requires that you do any of the following about ten times per day:
- Attempt to push your index finger through the palm of your opposite hand. Do this with the expectation that you can make your finger go through your palm while asking yourself both during and after whether you’re dreaming. In a dream, you can make this happen. In reality, this will be impossible. By keeping an open mind and examining your reality both during and after, you’re helping yourself to recognize when you’re truly awake and when you’re dreaming. Furthermore, by making this a regular habit, you might be able to repeat this exercise in your dream, and when your finger goes through, you’ll know that you’re dreaming.
- Your hands and feet tend to appear distorted in dreams. By closely observing your hands and feet, you can identify whether you’re awake or asleep.
- Look at a clock, then quickly look away. If you’re dreaming, the time will have changed, but in the real world, it will be the same.
- Employ the MILD Technique
MILD stands for Mnemonic Induction to Lucid Dreaming. The MILD technique requires that you repeat the same phrase to yourself every night as you fall asleep. The phrase should be something along the lines of, “I will know that I am dreaming.” Say this repeatedly until you fall asleep.
Repeating this phrase encourages your brain to be aware of when you start dreaming. This will improve the likelihood of having a lucid dream.
- Try to Fall Back Asleep
If you wake up in the middle of the night, write down anything you remember about your dream, then close your eyes, and as you try to fall back asleep, focus on the dream you just had. Let the dream play out in your mind, but this time imagine that you were aware you were dreaming. Focus on this until you go back to sleep.
- Prolong Your Dreams
Once you become aware that you’re dreaming, it’s time to take control. The best way to gain control is to prolong your dreams. This is because one of the side effects of becoming a lucid dreamer is inadvertently waking yourself up.
To prolong your dream, try to distract your mind from the physical sensation of waking up. To do this, you might fall backward or spin around. You could also try rubbing your hands together. Lastly, you can try to continue doing what you were doing in the dream and try to convince yourself you’re still dreaming.
Lucid dreaming occurs when you’re aware that you’re dreaming. Once you know that you’re dreaming, you can control what happens in your dream. Lucid dreaming occurs during your sleep’s REM cycle, so it’s essential to practice good sleep hygiene to boost the amount of REM sleep you get, thereby increasing the amount of time you spend dreaming. To learn how to lucid dream, you should prepare a good sleep environment, keep a dream journal, identify your dream signs, perform reality checks, and practice the MILD technique. You should also work on falling back to sleep with the memory of your dream firm in your mind. Lastly, you should practice prolonging your dreams. If you do these things, you will be able to lucid dream.