Dreaming LifeDreaming Life

For some people, lucid dreaming comes naturally. It's something that they have always done since they have been dreaming as children. They may have spent a long time without realizing that many other people don't dream the same way that they do.

Many people who don't have lucid dreams naturally also want to have lucid dreams. They may think that lucid dreaming will increase their creative powers, or they may want be able to control events in their dreams. They may want to endow themselves with great powers in their dreams or to confront frightening dream creatures and turn nightmares into pleasant dreams.

Even if you aren't a natural-born lucid dreamer, you can still learn how to have lucid dreams. Here are some techniques that can help you to develop your lucid dreaming ability.

Practice being lucid when you are awake

Usually, we don't think about what it means to be awake. When we are awake, we just assume that we are awake and that everything around us is real.

If you want to be able to distinguish between sleeping and waking in your dreams, you should get into the habit of asking yourself whether you are asleep or whether you are awake.

This is known as reality testing.

You can determine whether you are asleep or awake by thinking about the differences between your waking world and your dreaming world.

Are colors brighter, sounds louder or sharper, or smells and tastes more intense in your waking world?

Do objects seem to be more solid and more three-dimensional in your waking world?

How does time flow in your waking world and in your dreaming world?

Do clocks and watches always run forwards? Do they sometimes run backwards?   Do they move at a steady pace? Do they sometimes slow down or speed up?

Is the morning followed by the afternoon, and the afternoon by the evening?

Is it light outside during the day and dark outside at night?

Is cause followed by effect?

If you stub your toe, do you feel pain afterwards, or do you feel pain, and then stub your toe?

If you climb up a flight of stairs in a building, do you end up on a different floor?

Can you remember how you arrived at wherever you are, or did you just suddenly show up there?

Think about what you can control and what you can't control.

If you press a button on the remote control, does the TV turn on, or does it turn on and off all by itself?

If you are on driving on a highway and you think another driver is driving too slowly, can you make them speed up just by thinking about it?

Pay attention to how your body works.

Can you feel your heartbeat?

Can you feel yourself breathing?

How long can you hold your breath?

If you normally wear glasses or contact lenses, does your vision get worse when you take your glasses off or remove your lenses,  or can you see just as well without them?

How high can you jump? How fast can your run? Can you fly?

Ask yourself "Am I awake or am I dreaming?" several times during the day.

If you teach yourself the differences between your waking world and your dreaming world, you will learn to recognize these differences when you are asleep.

Reality testing will become a habit when you are dreaming as well as when you are awake.

Learn to recognize your common dream themes

Keep a dream diary or dream journal, with a pen or pencil, next to your bed.

As soon as you wake up from a dream, write the dream in your dream diary.

After you have been maintaining your dream diary for a while, you will start to notice that, in your dreams, particular images appear repeatedly and  certain events occur frequently.

For example, you may frequently dream of seeing a woman in a red coat, of being in the house where you grew up or of taking an exam at your old school.

Once you begin to recognize your own personal dream themes, when one of them appears in a dream, the message "This could be (or is) a dream" will be triggered in your mind.

See the section on Dream Recall  if you need help remembering your dreams.

Practice remaining mentally alert while being physically relaxed

It is common to "zone out" and stop paying attention to the things around you when your body is feeling physically relaxed, for example, when you are sitting on a comfortable couch after having eaten a delicious, filling meal.

Taking up meditation will help you learn how to maintain the state of awareness that is necessary for lucid dreaming.

There are a number of meditative techniques that require you to let your body become completely relaxed, while you retain complete control of your thoughts.

Before you fall asleep, remind yourself to remain lucid

When you are in bed, preparing to fall asleep, tell yourself that you are going to have a lucid dream.

Studies have shown that people who plan to have lucid dreams before they fall asleep are more likely to have such dreams.

 If you wake up from a dream, try to stay in that "dreamy" state

If you wake up in the middle of the night, and you have just been dreaming, try to hold on to the feelings that you had in the dream. Keep the imagery of the dream in your mind.

When you fall asleep again, you may return to the dream again, but in a lucid state.

When you wake up from a dream, you may experience some hallucinations.  Focus on the hallucinations. Try to avoid forcing them away.  Instead, relax and allow these hallucinations to become clearer and more vivid, so that they may become transformed into dream imagery.  See if you can "step into" these hallucinations, so that your hallucinations become a dream in which you are the main character.

A lucid dream which takes place after you have woken from another dream is known as a "wake induced lucid dream" or WILD.

Some practitioners of dream yoga attempt to have lucid dreams by extending the N1 Sleep Stage -  the stage in which you are falling asleep and may hallucinate, but are still partially awake. They use yogic techniques to enable themselves to retain partial consciousness as their hypnagogic hallucinations become more vivid. This is supposed to help them retain lucidity when they do fall fully asleep, in a process that is similar to the process that occurs when WILDs are induced.

If you can, sleep late

People are most likely to have lucid dreams just after dawn.

This is probably because they are more likely to experience REM sleep at this time.

During the night, you go through a number of sleep cycles, each of which consist of some REM sleep and some non-REM (NREM) sleep.

As the night progresses, the percentage of REM sleep in each sleep cycle increases.

Some lucid dreamers reschedule their activities in order to take advantage of early morning sleep.

They get up in the middle of the night to perform activities they would otherwise do in the morning (such as cleaning, reading the newspaper or working on a report) and then go back to sleep.