How to Lucid Dream: The Complete Guide for Absolute Beginners

Learn how lucid dreaming can help you to control your dreams and live a different fantasy every night. If you're a beginner, this guide is for you.

Updated: April 18, 2020

Did you know that your real-life problems can be influenced if you learn how to lucid dream?

Recent studies are proving the unbelievable power of these vivid dreams, and if you can master the techniques, you might be able to change your life in more ways than you’d think.

In this comprehensive, lucid dreaming guide, I’m going to show you EXACTLY how to have a lucid dream tonight and start seeing results in your daily life.

The best part?

Controlling your dreams is easier than you might think, with the right methods, tools and practice, it can happen in as little as 10-15 minutes.

So let’s get on with it.

Contents show

What is Lucid Dreaming (LD)?

They are dreams that feel real, and you are fully aware it’s a dream.

Man floating above his bed in a dream.

Think of them like dream stories that YOU have full control over. Everything from characters and narrative to the environment itself.

Most people have no idea that they can control their dreams. They just fall asleep and let the process happen. They also have very little dream recall frequency (DRF), so forget their dream entirely when they wake up.

Even though 51-82% of people have reported having experienced at least one lucid dream. It still happened by “accident” and wasn’t something they tried to induce or even knew they could command.

If you take the time to train your brain and use the lucid dreaming tips in this guide, you’ll quickly see that you can conceive any type of dream imaginable and remember it in great detail.

Creating your own dreams is impressive in its own right, but being able to see changes in real-life because of what you dreamt about the night before is nothing short of incredible.

The majority of people (including you) have had one or more lucid dream, and a further 20% have reached mastery level. Meaning they can force a state of dream-psychosis regularly.

But you’re here to take advantage of this fantastic tool and use it in your own life, right?

Ok, so now you know what it is, let’s take a brief look at the history and where it began.

The History: Where did the term “lucid dreaming” come from?

Timeline of most influential lucid dreaming people.

Ancient times

The earliest mention of LD can be dated back to ancient times and found in Greek writing. Aristotle, the great philosopher, wrote:

“often when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream”.

Dream lucidity and awareness of dreams was also practised by Tibetan Buddhists, they used a method called Dream Yoga, as did the ancient Indian Hindus with a very similar approach, called Yoga Nidra.

17th century

Sir Thomas Browne, an English polymath, was very intrigued by dreaming and could craft a perfect life during sleep. He said in his book Religio Medici:

“…in one dream I can compose a whole Comedy, behold the action, apprehend the jests and laugh my self awake at the conceits thereof”.

In other words, during sleep, he was the master of his own fate.

19th century

In 1867, a book called “Dreams and the ways to direct them; practical observations” was published anonymously by a sinologist called Marquis d’Hervey de Saint Denys. The book goes into detail about how he used lucid dreams and said that anyone could learn how to apply them.

20th century

A Dutch writer and psychiatrist called Frederik van Eeden wrote the article “A Study of Dreams” which mentioned the term “lucid dreaming”. He was referring to a person in temporary remission from a psychosis.

21st century

Psychophysiologist Dr Stephen LaBerge specializes in the area of lucid dreaming and began researching it for his PhD at Stanford University. He’s most known for developing the MILD technique which allowed him and his colleagues to enter a lucid state quickly.

The history is excellent and all, but how can LD help you exactly?

8 Powerful Therapeutic Benefits

Believe it or not, your dreams may help and in some cases, resolve problems you’re facing in your life. Both physical and mental. So what exactly are the benefits of lucid dreaming?

Woman meditating outside during sunset.

Here are the most popular ways in which it can help:

  • Reducing anxiety/depression and stress – Struggle with meeting new people or feel an overwhelming sense of distress? LD has shown to help depressed individuals and those who also suffer from anxiety.
  • Boosting creativity – Need to infuse some creativeness into your work or project? In a study that looked at creativity on 334 participants, 23.8% experienced frequent LD and scored higher on the creative personality scale.
  • Problem-solving – Have a problem you just can’t seem to figure out? An exciting study used an experimental group of 18 candidates over 10 consecutive nights to test creative problem solving with LD. Another report mentions participants who napped after learning a new task improved their memory performance significantly.
  • Treat recurring nightmares – Various studies have shown the positive effects of LD on recurring nightmares, including this one that revealed 4 out of 5 test subjects did not have any more nightmares after correctly implementing LD. Proving it to be a possible mental health tool.
  • PTSD management – Lucid dreaming therapy (LDT) is being heavily explored by researchers in conjunction with cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). A study testing 33 Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans concluded that LD can contribute to a therapeutic change in repeated post-traumatic nightmares.
  • Phobias – Although there is no conclusive evidence to support curing phobias with LD, the possibility of it working is quite high. For example, you could use imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT) within your dreams to gradually, numb yourself to the irrational fear.
  • Sleep disturbances (primarily insomnia) – Dread going to bed at night because you’ll be wide awake for hours? Try and reframe the way you look at sleep by using LD to construct a story that you will be excited to dream about. The best LD technique for insomniacs is DILD.
  • Physical rehabilitation – A Medical Hypotheses article reports that LD can enhance physical motor skills just by practising them inside a dream. This could prove to be a breakthrough in treatment for people with physical limitations. Neuroscientists and researchers are still in the early stages of understanding the potentialities of lucid dreaming, which makes it all the more exciting.

The 4 Stages of Sleep Cycles and Why they Matter

Illustration of the different phases of sleep.

There are four distinct natural stages of sleep which are also commonly referred to as sleep cycles. The first three stages are Non-REM (NREM) cycles, and the remaining phase is called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

Lets’ look at each stage:

Stage 1 – NREM Alpha

The lightest form of NREM sleep. You can wake at any moment, with minimal effort and feel next to no drowsiness, just a relaxed mood.

Your muscles are beginning to decompress, brain activity and eye movements also decrease. The recommended stage for napping, so that you feel the benefit of being relaxed, but not groggy because you haven’t entered a cycle yet.

Length: 5-10 minutes

Stage 2 – NREM Theta

You are now asleep and will find it harder to wake up, even though it’s light. Your slow eye rolls begin to stop almost entirely, and brain activity continues to decrease, along with a reduction in body temperature.

Research has shown that your brain will experience something called sleep spindles which are small eruptions of accelerated activity intermingled with K complexes (sleep structures). These can be seen on Electroencephalogram (EEG) chart readings and are thought to play a role in sensory processing and long term memory consolidation. It’s been stated that our memories are formed in this stage.

Length: 90-100 minutes

Stage 3 – NREM Delta

Referred to as ‘slow-wave sleep’ due to your brain emitting delta waves or deep NREM sleep, this phase makes it increasingly difficult to wake up from and is often called ‘deep sleep’. Your muscles are completely relaxed, heart rate is much slower, as is your breathing, body temperature and blood pressure.

Growth hormones are produced, regulating a healthy immune system and muscle tissue repairs take place. This stage is crucial for your overall health and recovery from injuries – hence why doctors recommend plenty of rest!

Length: 100-120 minutes

Stage 4 – REM

The final stage is REM sleep, this is where lucid dreaming takes place with a multitude of physiological and neurological responses similar to you being awake. Unlike the previous stages, where your heart and blood pressure decreases, REM sleep increases these bodily functions along with breathing, which can vary from shallow to heavy or even erratic at times.

Eye movements are incredibly active, and brain waves are steady, very much like you see in the alpha stage. REM sleep will affect you differently through life. Younger people enter this stage much more regularly and with shorter cycles, whereas older people experience more extended cycles and less REM sleep.

Analysis of REM sleep has mystified neuroscientists, who continue to study the effects this phase has on processing, merging and storing knowledge in the long term memory.

Length: 100-120 minutes

The average night’s sleep is between 6-8 hours, and you will enter each of the above stages multiple times throughout the night. If you track your sleep patterns with a sleep cycle app, you’ll see the way you fall into each phase, giving you a great insight into how you sleep.

Sleep Hygiene and Creating a Healthy Sleeping Environment

Find it hard to fall asleep or feel dazed and mentally drained when you wake up?

That’s a sign that your sleep is out of whack and something needs to change.

Photo of a bedroom or typical sleep environment.

One of the best things you can do to get a great nights sleep and increase your chances of entering a lucid dream state is by planning a healthy sleep environment, sticking to a sleep hygiene routine and using tools to help you drift off faster.

Let’s go over the ideal tools and environment conducive to sleep:

  • Clean sheetsAccording to The National Sleep Foundation, 92% of Americans prefer sheets with a fresh scent. Having clean sheets will form a positive association with bedtime because you will feel clean and comfortable when climbing into bed.
  • Caffeine before bed – Sounds obvious right? Caffeine is a synthetically produced stimulant that promotes alertness. But it’s not just coffee that’s the culprit. Although coffee consumption is around 54%, tea is close behind with a consumption rate of 43%, not to mention medication, chocolate, and yes, even decaffeinated drinks contain up to 12 milligrams of caffeine. The drug will reside in your body for hours, sometimes days and has a typical half-life of 4-6 hours!
  • Blackout curtains – Usually, the darker your bedroom, the better for sleep. Your brain will know it’s time to rest when darkness is present for extended periods as it directly correlates to your circadian rhythm. If you can’t get any decent blackout curtains, the next best thing is a quality eye mask.
  • Pink noise – You may have heard of ‘white noise’ which is often associated with helping promote sleep, however, more recently pink noise has been gaining notoriety, and a study found that it increased deeper levels of sleep and had a profound effect on memory. Both are ‘colors of noise’ which refers to the power spectrum of each signal noise has.
  • Temperature – Have you ever been on vacation and you just couldn’t get to sleep because it was so hot? Well, that’s because the core temperature of your body is too high. The ideal level on your thermostat in adults should be between 60-67 Fahrenheit or 15-19 Celsius, giving the room a neutral feeling.
  • Earplugs – Some people have the magical ability to sleep regardless of the noise that’s going on around them. If you’re not one of those folks and wake up at even the sound of a dog barking from a mile away, then you need to invest in earplugs or at the least listen to something like color noise with noise-cancelling headphones to drown out any unwanted sounds.
  • Lighting – Wait a minute, light is detrimental for sleep, right? Well, yes, when you are asleep. But not when you’re trying to doze off. Ambient mood lighting can help you unwind (unlike blue light), and you can actually set a timer, so the lamp gradually turns off until you’re sleeping in complete darkness, mimicking a sunset.
  • Bedtime routine – When you were a child, did your parents send you to bed at the same time every night or did they let you run wild until you passed out at 3am? There’s a reason why children have set bedtime routines. They work! Start recording your sleeping patterns and see which specific times are best for you to sleep and wake-up from, based on your energy levels and alertness.
  • Ban distractions – Start taking note of everything that distracts you from sleeping and staying asleep. Then try and eliminate those disturbances from your life. Dog constantly scratching throughout the night? Move him/her into another room. Can’t stop binge-watching Netflix on your phone? Leave it in the other part of your house/apartment and turn your WIFI off at a particular time. Be serious about eliminating distractions!
  • Sleep meditation – Not too different from regular meditation, except the objective is to sleep directly after. Using it in conjunction with lucid dreaming, however, can be very powerful. Start with the body scanning technique, which is the easiest to apply.
  • Sleep oils – Why are oils so excellent for sleeping and specifically with LD? Because they have a significant influence on feelings due to the olfactory nerves in your nose, sending signals to your limbic system and amygdalae (essential for decision-making, processing memories and triggering emotional responses). All of which are pivotal parts of LD.
  • Binaural beats – If you’ve tried pink noise and it didn’t work for you, or you’re a misophonic (hates certain sounds) then try binaural beats. They can help your brain to tune in to a new frequency tone measured in hertz, that may induce a mood change, lower anxiety and help you to drop off.
  • ASMR – Autonomous sensory meridian response is known to most as ASMR. It exploded in popularity in early 2017 and continues to adopt new interest due to its intriguing nature. On the surface, it’s someone whispering into a strange-looking rubber ear microphone, but after listening for a minute. One of two things will happen. You either become incredibly relaxed and conk out, or you want to punch the wall in a fit of rage.
  • Hot shower or bath – Preparation is critical when it comes to sleeping. The aim is to wind down and rest your mind and body. One of the easiest ways to do this is by artificially controlling your core body temperature with a hot bath or shower. Aiming for a temperature of between 104 -109 degrees Fahrenheit for around the 10-minute mark will prepare you for a great nights sleep and interestingly keep you in a deep sleep.
  • Avoid disruptive foods – You’ve heard the saying “cheese gives you nightmares” right? Well, there’s no convincing evidence to support that claim as of right now. That’s not to say that foods can’t have an impact on your mood, they absolutely can. Having said that, eating anything within 2-3 hours before bed is considered a bad idea from a digestive perspective. Waking up from heartburn or being unable to catch forty winks because of stomach pains from food is very annoying. Mental or physical it doesn’t matter. Don’t eat before bed!

The Importance of using Dream Journals

One of the quickest ways to achieve something is by measuring specific results. In doing this, you can see what’s working and what’s not, allowing you to progress swiftly.

Photo of a journal with blank pages opened up.

The reason that so many people give up with lucid dreaming isn’t that it didn’t work for them at all. It’s because it didn’t happen after one or two tries.

So how do you combat impatience and start understanding what’s going on in your mind when you sleep?

Two ways:

  1. Start journaling your dreams from the moment you wake up.
  2. Try to see any signs, patterns or themes.

Let’s walk through how to keep a dream journal.

A dream journal is basically a log of your visions you’ve just had and gives insight into how you can start controlling them.

Step 1: Log the dream

Some people like a physical journal to write in, some prefer using a specific app or note on their smartphone, whereas others think a voice recording is best.

It doesn’t matter how you log your dreams, just pick a method and stick to it. Consistency is the key here.

So from the moment you awake, begin logging everything you can remember from the dream.

Date the log and answer the following questions:

  • What happened? (a quick synopsis)
  • Was it fun or sad?
  • Were there any unknown characters?
  • Are these characters recurring?
  • Were there any family members, friends or acquaintances?
  • What problems or challenges did you have?
  • Did you have one or several dreams?

Provide as much detail as you can. This will help to build a theme (more on that shortly).

Step 2: Look for signs or patterns

After about a week of logging your thoughts, you should start to look for signs or patterns that emerge. People are showing up regularly, problems you keep having, a specific scenario that continues playing out.

Even down to the smallest thing, take note of it as a sign. You want to do this journal review weekly because it helps you to understand your dreams and gives you an anchor point as a reference so you can tell if you’re in a trance-like state or not.

Reality Checks: Are you Actually Dreaming?

Experts in LD recommend that you do something called ‘sleep confirmation’ which is also known as a ‘reality check’. Basically, you want to run a series of tests/checks to see if you’re in fact dreaming or wide awake.

Guy using a virtual reality headset.

You can and should perform these metacognition checks at any time. To begin, always doubt your reality by asking a simple question.

Am I dreaming?

Then perform the below checks:

  • Physical limitations “matter” test – Are you a superhero with special powers that can run through walls? No, me neither. Don’t start running into walls, just see if you can put your hand through it. Does it pass through? Another simple test is to try and push your index finger through the palm of your opposite hand.
  • Breathing test – are you able to breathe underwater or hold your breath for longer than ten minutes? Not in the real world, you can’t.
  • Distorted body parts – in most dreams, large chunks of details are left out, so things like your hands or feet may be distorted, fuzzy or hard to focus on.
  • Mirrors and reflections – go to the nearest mirror and look at yourself. Look away and look back. Does anything change? If it’s exactly the same, the laws of physics will keep your reflection intact, whereas a dream will misrepresent something almost always.
  • Clocks – look at a clock or your watch, look away momentarily and look back again, is it still the same time? If there’s been a skip in time, then that’s a surefire sign you’re not going about your normal life.
  • Text change – similar to the clock check, grab a book or read something. Look away and look back at the text. If it changed, then unless you’re a wizard, you’re in a dream. Each of these checks is tried and tested by regular lucid dreamers, so they work. Choose one or two and stick with those checks whenever you feel as though you may be dreaming.

How to Lucid Dream using the 5 Most Popular Techniques

So far in this guide, we’ve covered:

  • What LD is and can be used for
  • How it’s been documented over the years
  • How to prepare for a good nights sleep
  • Why you should be keeping a journal

With the fundamentals covered, we can now move onto the most essential part.

Photo of a man sitting on the edge of a building (How to lucid dream).

Learning the routines to have a lucid dream tonight using one of the five most practised methods by experienced experts.

Are you ready?

Let’s begin:

Method #1: Mnemonic Induction to Lucid Dreaming (MILD)

The most straightforward approach to LD is MILD, which was conceived by Stephen LaBerge and has a very high chance of success. So practice this first before moving onto the more advanced methods. Every night that you lay in bed, repeat in your head the following phrase:

“When I fall asleep, I know that I am dreaming and will remember everything.”

Keep repeating that phrase over and over until you finally get drowsy and dose off.

By repeating this mantra in your head, your brain will start to understand that you are dreaming, giving you a chance to take control.

Pro tip: If you can’t focus on the words and your mind keeps wandering off. Record your voice with the mantra above and listen to it on repeat until the same effect happens.

Method #2: Wake Back To Bed (WBTB)

As you know, REM sleep is where lucid dreaming happens. The WBTB technique takes advantage of this fourth stage in the sleep cycle by increasing your chances of falling back to sleep quickly and causing a dream event much faster.

For this method to work, you need first to track your sleeping patterns, so you know when you’re likely to enter REM.

Use an app like Sleep Cycle to do this for the first night, note down the specific times you entered REM. Then on the second night, you can begin using WBTB.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to use an app, simply set the alarm to wake you up at 6, or 7 hours after you’ve fallen asleep. This period is most likely when you’ll be entering a REM cycle.

As soon as your alarm goes off, force yourself to write in your dream journal so you can remember everything and set a timer to stay awake for 30-60 minutes. This will be hard, but it’s worth it.

Pro tip: If you can, play a video game. A study in 2017 showed that playing video games regularly is strongly linked to being able to remember your lucid dreams. The study suggested that dream recall was one of the positive effects, which is perfect for your journal.

After the time is up, read through what you wrote down in the journal and go back to sleep.

Warning: Using WBTB can cause sleep deprivation if you use it for too long. So it’s advised that you stop after a couple of nights.

Method #3: Wake Induced/Initiated Lucid Dreaming (WILD)

Similar to MILD, the WILD technique is used to induce sleep paralysis, so that your mind is active, but your body is fully relaxed. It may be scary for some people, so once you’re awoken by your alarm during REM, keep your eyes shut and repeat the following phrase 100 times:

“I am safe and fully aware I’m lucid dreaming”.

You will begin to lose conscious awareness of your body at which point your body is in paralysis (the frightening part). Rest assured you’re completely safe, and nothing will happen, it just means your muscles are completely relaxed.

The benefit of WILD is that you are conscious that you are falling back to sleep, and this lets you influence clarity in your dreams at will. On the downside, it will take longer to master and can be a disconcerting occurrence.

Method #4: Auto-suggestions

This technique is more related to self-hypnosis and works best on people who are suggestible, meaning hypnosis has an impact on them. The idea is to list down between 1 and 8 different auto-suggestions that will do two things:

  1. Train the mind to be open to lucid dreaming
  2. Put you in a trance-like state that helps you fall asleep

Some auto-suggestions that work are:

  • “I find it easy to lucid dream.”
  • “I will be fully aware that I’m dreaming.”
  • “I have full control over my dreams.”
  • “My imagination is amazing.”
  • “My dreams are fun, exciting and positive.”
  • “When I wake up, I will remember everything I just dreamt.”
  • “I can easily wake up from a lucid dream if I need to.”

Either use the above or come up with your own. Either way, the key is to state an auto-suggestion in the present, keep it positive and keep repeating them until they stick in the subconscious.

Other Methods You Might Want to Try

There are other techniques such as CAT (Cycle Adjustment Technique), VILD (Visual Induction of Lucid Dreams) and DILD. However, the above methods are tried and tested by numerous people, so just practice those.

Try each one for a full week and see how you get on. Be sure to write down your experiences in your journal so you can track your progress. After you’ve tried each one, choose the technique that worked best and repeat it, so that LD becomes second nature.

How to Wake up from a Lucid Dream

One of the most common problems that you might come across is your lucid dream turns into a nightmare. This can be terrifying, especially if your mind is more on the negative side.

Here’s how to wake up if you need to:

  • Call out: shout as loud as you can “WAKE UP!” over and over. This jolts your brain into waking from a slumber.
  • Fall asleep: try falling asleep in your dream. A counter-intuitive approach, but some people say it can help you to wake up in real life.
  • Read something: by reading a book or something similar in your dream, you will trigger parts of your brain that aren’t utilized for REM.
  • Set an alarm clock: an alarm will always wake you up from a heavy sleep, so be sure to set it to go off before or after your REM stage, so you don’t feel groggy when you wake up. 
  • Fall backwards: the motion of falling and hitting the floor behind you will jolt you out of your snoozy state VERY quickly.

Best Lucid Dreaming Supplements

As of now, there are no clinically tested drugs that will specifically induce a lucid dream, but there are supplements that can help with facilitating a deeper, more restful sleep which in turn can promote LD.

Photo of generic pills.

Here are the most widely used supplements on the market:

Note: Always consult a doctor before taking any type of supplement, vitamin or herb that you believe will help with sleep.

  • Mugwort – A common species of several aromatic plants. Comes in tea form, perfect for drinking before bed and has nothing to do with Harry Potter! It’s been said that this plant can help with chronic insomnia. However, no studies have proved this so far.
  • Valerian Root – Various studies have shown that this simple herb may indeed improve sleep quality, from reducing the time it takes to enter stage three of a sleep cycle to staying in a deeper phase of sleep for longer.
  • Calea Zacatechichi – A flowering plant native to Mexico known for its hallucinogenic properties and often referred to as the “dream herb”. Usually consumed as a tea and utilized for its effects on lucid dreaming.
  • Peppermint – a hybrid mint indigenous to Europe, Peppermint should be ingested as a tea and is perfect before sleeping as it’s caffeine-free, so can help to relax you. Evidence is lacking supporting the effects it has on sleep.
  • Vitamin B6 – taking pyridoxine (B6) before bed has been shown to enhance dream recall and vividness. The evidence is anecdotal but promising as deficiencies in Vitamin B6 can lead to sleep disturbances, thus suggesting an active link.
  • Melatonin – a handful of studies have revealed that the hormone Melatonin when supplemented, can help treat common sleep disorders like delayed sleep phase, insomnia and jet lag.
  • Galantamine – a fascinating study showed 75 participants who took Galantamine before sleeping saw an increase in lucid dreams, 57% of them reported multiple LD occurrences over several nights. More importantly, the results revealed an explicit awareness of being in a dream.
  • Dimethylethanolamine – when increased amounts of DMAE (an organic compound naturally found in your brain) are used, its thought that more ACH (Acetylcholine) is produced, helping to regulate REM sleep, relax your muscles and boost mental clarity.
  • 5-HTP – an amino acid (5-Hydroxytryptophan) that creates serotonin, which can be converted into melatonin, consequently assisting to regulate your sleep. There’s no conclusive evidence that 5-HTP is a direct reason for a better nights sleep, but it may help.
  • Ginkgo Biloba – a herb that could reduce stress, promote sleep and relax you, based on this study which shows 10 volunteers who took 250 mg of Ginkgo Biloba 30–60 minutes before bed.
  • Huperzine A – this compound is naturally occurring in the brain and works similarly to DMAE and Galantamine. It’s has been used to aid memory-impaired individuals and insomniacs.

Pro tip: Take each of the above supplements, herbs and vitamins, but test them over several weeks one by one and write down the effects (good or bad) in your journal. Then create your own sleep stack that is proven to work for you.

Dangers and Possible Risks: Who Should Avoid Lucid Dreaming

There are no known documented physical dangers associated with LD, such as death or being injured in your dream and waking up with that injury.

Photo of a dark hallway.

However, there are dangers and side effects you should be aware of before attempting anything.

  • Sleep problems – During the early stages, you will be fine-tuning your sleep cycles, to reach REM sleep and LD. This naturally causes sleeping issues. Be careful with messing around with your sleep too much.
  • Derealization (DR) – Your dreams may become so vivid and real to you that your everyday life could eventually seem unreal. People who experience DR feel that their life lacks any depth or vibrancy, so it begins to look a little, well dull, which can lead to depression.
  • Hallucinations – Known as Hypnagogia, which is a collective term used to describe every sensation, sight and sound you have during a dream, hallucinations are prevalent between the times you drift in and out of sleep. If you’re having a nightmare, they can be particularly frightening.
  • Difficulty waking up – You will find it difficult to wake up sometimes. This can be due to numerous reasons and may cause you to panic in your dream.
  • Sleep paralysis – As you know, it’s crucial for your body to be completely relaxed for your conscious mind to take you into a vivid dream-like state. But there’s no question that sleep paralysis is a worrying occurrence that can cause some emotional discomfort.

Warning: You should see a doctor if you experience the above side effects for longer than a month. Again, it’s essential to write everything down in your notebook so you can track your progression.

7 Beginner Mistakes: What NOT to do

Mistakes will happen when you’re starting out, and they will hinder your progression. The key is to recognize the errors you’re making, fix them quickly and keep experimenting, that’s the only way you will begin to see results and not get frustrated.

Photo of a man holding his head sitting down.

Let’s look at these mistakes in detail:

Mistake #1: Not committing

Undoubtedly the biggest by far, most people give up too quickly. They set their alarm clock, get their journal ready and practice one of the techniques mentioned above, then a week later they quit, saying it doesn’t work for them.

You need to remember that nothing worthwhile will happen quickly, LD is just like any other skill. You need the practice and exposure to make it work. One or two nights, just won’t be enough.

Mistake #2: Not using a journal

Journals are, for some reason, considered silly or not taken seriously. The reality is, your journal will unlock everything you need to know about your own mind and dreams, allowing you to progress at a faster rate.

No matter how lazy you are or believe that writing everything down won’t benefit you, force yourself to log your thoughts, ideas and feelings. It will save you a serious amount of time from not having to second guess your dreams and provide you with insights that no app or technique can.

Mistake #3: Not using supplements

Using supplements can have a dramatic impact on your sleep, dreams and recall after you wake-up. Studies are proving the effects of certain supplements like Galantamine, so don’t make it any more difficult for yourself by not using them.

It’s essential to sample them over time, as everyone is different. So you may react adversely to a supplement than another person does.

Mistake #4: Not using reality checks

If you don’t know you’re inside a lucid dream, then you’ll never know how to control them. Always use reality checks to see if you are in fact dreaming, or you’re IRL (in real life). The “matter” technique is best as it’s quick.

Mistake #5: Overdoing it

Some people take LD too far, and this can end up causing sleep issues for you in the short term. When you’re deprived of sleep, your health will quickly deteriorate, so be conscious of getting a quality night’s rest every few days during your experimentation period.

Mistake #6: Not sticking to one technique

Many curious beginners bounce from one technique to another in the hope that LD will work. When it doesn’t work instantly, they get discouraged and move on.

Don’t do this! Stick to one technique only for a least a week, recording everything in your journal and examine the results at the end of the week. Then move onto the next and repeat the process until you find a method that works way better than the rest.

Mistake #7: Not using sleep apps

A sleeping app can tell you two important things, 1) when you enter the REM stage, which is vital for LD and 2) the quality of your sleep. The more REM rest you get, the more rested you will feel.

Also, waking up at the right time, so you don’t feel groggy is another significant benefit of using an app. A common mistake is people try to guess or wing it and never truly enter REM.

Recurring Problems in your Dreams

There are a handful of problems that you might face during your dream, which can damper the experience. These are the most common and how to deal with them:

  • No voice – you find it hard to shout or even speak no matter how hard you try. This is a common scenario during nightmares.
  • Blurry or bad eyesight – you can’t see, or particular objects become blurry in the distance. Even if you rub your eyes, the same blurriness is there.
  • Cannot run or walk – you’re trying to run away or walk towards something, but your legs aren’t working as they should, causing you to feel stuck or like you’re walking through mud.

These problems are nothing but “dream-blocks” or psychological barriers. You just need a crutch or to reframe them slightly, so you flip them into a positive experience.

The simplest way to get around these issues is by following two simple rules:

  • Rule #1: Make a note of the same recurring problems you keep having when asleep and markdown when it happened on specific days. This will help you to determine if it’s theme-related and/or a pattern.
  • Rule #2: Create several affirmations or auto-suggestions that command your subconscious to overcome these obstacles with ease. For example, if you can’t walk or run, read aloud the following before you sleep:

“I command my brain and subconscious to let me walk or run as I wish when I’m dreaming. I am free to walk or run wherever I want and can do so easily.”

The more you repeat this statement, the more it will resonate in your subconscious and slowly filter through to your dreams, allowing you to run and walk without any issues.

Advanced Techniques for Creating Incredible Dreams

After a few weeks of practising, writing in your journal and tweaking your own process for inducing LD, you will be able to fall into a lucid trance-like state quicky. Well done, you’re ahead of 95% of people who have given up.

Man levitating on a huge rock.

This is the point where things begin to get interesting, now you’re ready to use advanced techniques that will enhance your dreams, allowing you to create any type of story that you choose.

Here’s how to do just that:

Advanced technique #1 (Story structure)

Take 10 minutes a day to develop stories that you want to play out. These are custom designed narratives that you want to immerse yourself in based on your goals with LD.

Is there a problem you want to overcome? Or a fantasy that you want to fulfil?

Whatever you can conceive, you can make it happen just by writing down every detail. Once you have your story, title it. This will help you to direct your mind into entering that narrative.

It will take some discipline, but after a while, you will get the hang of creating your own dream reality. It’s actually enjoyable too!

Pro tip: It’s helpful to have a goal or conclusion to your stories so that you know when it’s time to wake up, also to feel a sense of accomplishment.

Advanced technique #2 (Characters)

Developing a character or cast that you can use in your stories is very important. The characters can represent hindrances in your life that you want to gain control over, or they can just be there for entertainment purposes.

Character construction will help you to create compelling, helpful and fun dream narratives that you won’t want to wake up from.

Pro tip: Go into great detail on each character. Everything from their physical appearance, to their personality traits and the role they play in your dream stories.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this pseudoscience?

No, far from it. There have been several studies by accredited neuroscientists into the area of LD. Breakthroughs in psychiatric issues such as PTSD and depression are some of the leading reasons why health professionals are exploring LD further.

Can you die in real life from a lucid dream?

Absolutely not. If you die during a dream, you will in most cases, wake up in a state of shock. There have been no related deaths to date, so don’t worry or trick yourself into believing; this will happen, as it will hurt your ability to LD.

Is it quite rare to have a lucid dream?

In the beginning, yes. But this is because you’re not familiar with the process and trying new techniques that take some time to get used to. Once you can consistently use a specific method that puts you in a REM state phase, then it will become more natural and less rare.

Can you get stuck inside a lucid dream?

No. Films like inception will make you think it’s possible, which is alarming. But the facts are clear, it’s impossible to get stuck inside a dream. It may feel like you’re trapped or it’s never-ending, but you’ll eventually wake up and realize it’s only been a few minutes.

What should I do if my dream turns into a nightmare?

Use a reality check to confirm you are dreaming and force your subconscious to wake you up by using one of the 4 “wake-up” techniques above.

Is there anything I shouldn’t do during sleep paralysis?

Don’t panic. Aside from that, there’s nothing else you can do. Your mind is active, and you are consciously aware that your body has entered a sleep paralyzed state. Panicking will just make you scared and unable to LD.

How can you have a dream with a specific person in it?

Write down in your dream journal every possible detail about the person you want to see during LD. Then before entering REM sleep, read aloud the following statement:

“I am going to fall asleep now and lucid dream about [CHARACTERS NAME]”.

Can I feel pain or pleasure in a lucid dream?

Yes, but that pain is not transferred into real life. So if you get punched in the face while dreaming, you will feel that pain, and it may seem very real, however the moment you wake up, there won’t magically be a bruise on your face from the punch. It’s all in your imagination.

Can I change the scenery?

Absolutely. You can change every thinkable aspect of your dreams. Scenery, characters, storyline, anything down to the smallest feature is up to you.

Are there any lucid dreaming pills I can buy?

Yes, but they are not FDA approved, nor have they been clinically tested by medical professionals or neuroscientists. However, supplements have been studied on, showing some incredible benefits for LD.

Is lucid dreaming safe?

It’s safe in the respect that you won’t die or have any real-life physical injuries. But it can impact your emotional state too. If you are mentally unstable or have a mental disorder which you’re seeking treatment for, you should consult a doctor before exploring LD. The same negative feelings you’re having in your real-life can be 10X more potent in a dream, so it can seriously harm your mental well being if not done correctly.

Can anyone learn to lucid dream?

Yes. They are uncommon, but very possible for everyone. LD is an entirely learnable skill that anybody can use, so it’s not exclusive to a particular type of person.

What is astral projection?

It’s being able to have an out-of-body experience (OBE) intentionally, mostly during meditation, but can happen during a dream too. It’s closely related to LD, but not the same thing.

How to Lucid Dream Conclusion: What to do Next

Let’s recap and run through everything again, so you know precisely how to lucid dream and have an idea of what to do next:

  1. Track your sleeping habits using an app or alarm clock, so you can choose most likely times you’ll enter REM sleep.
  2. What do you want to achieve from LD? Look over the benefits above to see what LD can help with. It’s best to start with a specific goal in mind.
  3. Get a dream journal so you can log your thoughts, problems, dreams and experiences. Make sure you do this every day.
  4. Choose one of the lucid dreaming techniques and begin testing for a full week.
  5. Experiment with supplements and see if they can help you enhance your experience.
  6. Develop characters and stories. Once you do this, there really are no limits to what you can dream about.
  7. Don’t give up! Practice will allow you to master LD, and it will happen for you, just give it time.