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.
What is Lucid Dreaming (LD)?
They are dreams that feel real, and you are fully aware it’s 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.
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?
“often when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream”.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Here are the most popular ways in which it can help:
The 4 Stages of Sleep Cycles and Why they Matter
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.
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:
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.
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?
- Start journaling your dreams from the moment you wake up.
- 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.
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:
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.
Learning the routines to have a lucid dream tonight using one of the five most practised methods by experienced experts.
Are you ready?
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:
- Train the mind to be open to lucid dreaming
- 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:
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.
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.
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.
However, there are dangers and side effects you should be aware of before attempting anything.
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.
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:
“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.
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:
- Track your sleeping habits using an app or alarm clock, so you can choose most likely times you’ll enter REM sleep.
- 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.
- Get a dream journal so you can log your thoughts, problems, dreams and experiences. Make sure you do this every day.
- Choose one of the lucid dreaming techniques and begin testing for a full week.
- Experiment with supplements and see if they can help you enhance your experience.
- Develop characters and stories. Once you do this, there really are no limits to what you can dream about.
- Don’t give up! Practice will allow you to master LD, and it will happen for you, just give it time.