This morning, I woke up at 6:30 A.M. to use the bathroom. It was then that I realized throughout the night, I had been lucid dreaming again.
I lucid dream quite often. About once every three months is normal for me, but some months—like August 2020 (two months ago)—I lucid dreamed about four times.
I’m still unsure what causes me to lucid dream because I rarely go to sleep intending to do so. But I’ve also had several out-of-body experiences and occurrences of sleep apnea over the last three years.
As a result, I couldn’t help but notice that lucid dreaming has begun to gain a bit of popularity nowadays.
It’s often thought to be a paranormal experience, while others bargain that there’s nothing abnormal about it.
The truth is, there’s a ton of science to back up lucid dreaming, and you can even do it on purpose.
In this blog post, we’re diving deep into the topic of lucid dreaming—what it is, the benefits, the risks, and finally, how to lucid dream.
What Is Lucid Dreaming?
Lucid dreaming occurs when you’re asleep and you know that you’re dreaming, so you use that knowledge to control the narrative.
For example, if you’re standing on top of a building in your dream, instead of falling, you can purposely make yourself fly.
Lucid dreaming most often occurs in scenarios like this—when the dreamer suddenly becomes aware that they have a dream and then decides to take control over it. Perhaps you’ve experienced this while having a nightmare. Instead of waking yourself up, you realized you were dreaming and changed the dream to something more comforting.
According to SleepFoundation.org, surveys found that about 55% of adults have lucid dreamed at least once in their life, while 23% lucid dream once per month.
People who lucid dream also frequently report being able to feel everything that happens in the dream in real life.
This happens to me every time I lucid dream. If someone hugs me or touches me in my dream, I can feel it in reality.
Some people use lucid dreaming this way to their advantage, to experience things they can’t on earth.
For example, if you’re lucid dreaming, you recognize that if you jump off of that building, you indeed can make yourself fly. And since you feel everything in lucid dreams in real life, you feel like you’re actually flying, even though it’s humanly impossible.
Perhaps the biggest reason why lucid dreaming is becoming so popular is for that reason.
People try to escape reality all the time, and by lucid dreaming, you can. And not only can you escape your reality, but you can also create it in a lucid dream and do things that aren’t possible on earth.
The Benefits of Lucid Dreaming
Although lucid dreaming can sound quite scary, confusing, or even dangerous, there are several benefits that scientists believe lucid dreaming brings.
According to WebMD, lucid dreaming has the ability to lessen anxiety due to the feeling of control that the dreamer experiences.
Being able to control what happens in our dreams is empowering, and being able to form our own creative narratives is like treatment from our realities. Lucid dreaming can even serve as therapy for people who struggle with nightmares, as they can learn how to control them, and people with post-traumatic stress disorder.
It’s no secret that it takes a creative mind to lucid dream. As humans, we’re all creative in some shape or form, and lucid dreaming allows us to unleash that power.
With the ability to control our dreams’ narratives comes the ability to create another world we can enter when we sleep. WebMD also reports that people who lucid dream were better at coming up with new ideas or insights, sometimes with the help of characters in their dreams.
Improved motor skills.
Medical Hypothesis found that by mentally performing motor skills, our ability to perform them improves physically. In fact, by lucid dreaming, people with disabilities can perform motor tasks they physically can’t.
Feeling more connected with your dreams.
To give you a break from the science side of lucid dreaming, the greatest benefit I’ve received from it is feeling more connected to my dreams.
Although many of my lucid dreams happen randomly or without my intention, they remind me that my mind and dreams are extremely powerful.
In the past, dreaming has been an escape route from stressful realities and a magical doorway to new worlds for me.
For example, when I was younger, I’d have dreams of the older brother my mom miscarried, and I’ve also had several premonitions.
The Dangers and Risks of Lucid Dreaming
Although lucid dreaming is an exciting and almost magical experience, anyone seeking to practice it must also be prepared for the risks.
First and foremost, lucid dreaming might cause sleep issues. Two of the most commonly practiced methods for entering lucid dreams include waking yourself up in the middle of the night, interrupting your sleep cycle.
If you have a sleeping disorder, this can be quite the challenge to overcome and should definitely be avoided. But even for those without sleep disorders, consistent lucid dreaming can lead to not getting enough rest.
Detaching from reality.
Since lucid dreaming entails feeling like your dreams are real life, it can be difficult to differentiate between dream and reality while being awake.
To combat this, avid lucid dreamers perform reality checks often, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.
But many health journals report that lucid dreaming can lead to derealization, which is the feeling that the people, things, and environment around you aren’t real.
I’ve personally never experienced sleep paralysis, but I’ve read the stories of many people who have after lucid dreaming.
Although sleep paralysis is almost always brief, it’s still a terrifying experience. Plus, if you have a sleep disorder or have been experiencing sleep issues after lucid dreaming, your chances of sleep paralysis are higher.
How to Lucid Dream in 7 Simple Steps
Now that you know what lucid dreaming is, its benefits, and the risks, let’s get into how you can practice it.
1. Keep a dream journal.
By keeping a dream journal, you focus more on your dreams, especially smaller details you’d normally forget. When you focus on your dreams, scientists believe you increase your chances of dreaming lucidly.
Even if your dreams aren’t lucid, keep a log of them every night. Soon, you’ll begin to notice that you’ve become more aware of what’s happening in your dreams and can recall them better.
Not only does this help for dreaming lucidly, but it’s also a great way to start feeling more connected with your dreams and even interpreting them.
2. Reality test while you’re awake and asleep.
We talked about how derealization is a risk of lucid dreaming, and that avid lucid dreamers use reality tests to combat it.
For best results, do reality tests both in your sleep and while you’re awake.
Reality testing when you’re awake helps prime your mind for lucid dreams, and after you’ve started lucid dreaming, reminds you that you’re awake.
Similarly, you can reality test in your dreams if you can’t tell whether you’re asleep or not.
Try doing something physically impossible to do a reality test, like pressing your finger into your hand. If your finger goes through your hand, you’ll know that you’re dreaming. But if it doesn’t, you know you’re awake and in “the real world.”
3. Wake-Back-to-Bed Method (WBTB)
When we sleep, our minds and bodies enter several different sleep stages. Lucid dreams occur in the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep stage.
By using the wake-back-to-bed (WBTB) technique, you wake yourself up during the REM stage and then fall back asleep to increase your chances of lucid dreaming.
There’s debate about how long you need to sleep before waking yourself up, but the typical time is anywhere between 4-5 hours. WebMD suggests waking yourself up after 5 hours and then falling back to sleep to enter a REM cycle.
4. Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams Technique (MILD)
With this technique, wake up after five hours of sleep. After waking up, tell yourself that the next time you dream, you’ll remember that you’re dreaming several times.
This method has worked for people because it uses prospective memory—remembering to do something in the future. The prospective memory then triggers a lucid dream.
5. Use supplements.
Believe it or not, there are actually supplements and medicinal plants that help you lucid dream. One supplement is the “Lucid Dreaming Supplement” from Dream Leaf.
The bottle contains a total of 60 capsules—30 red and 30 blue.
The blue pills use only two ingredients: valerian root and mugwort, and the red pills use three: Huperzine-A, Choline Bitartrate, and Alpha GPC.
Not only does this supplement induce lucid dreams, but it also enhances dream recall, promotes balanced sleep, and creates longer dreams.
One final note about this supplement is that Dream Leaf recommends not taking them for more than five nights per week.
6. Set an intention to lucid dream.
The power of intention is strong, and it’s no different in your dream state.
If you’re familiar with practices like meditation and manifestation, you likely already know the value of intentions and how to set them.
But if you aren’t, an intention is simply what the name implies—your purpose or desired outcome for an action you take.
So if you want to lucid dream, then state out loud or write down that you intend to lucid dream when you fall asleep.
It might sound silly at first, but as I said, the power of intention and self-talk is stronger than we think as humans. I’ve never used the wake-back-to-bed method or the MILD technique—I don’t even keep a dream journal or take pills—but when I decide to lucid dream, I always do.
It’s the only method I personally need.
Obviously, everyone’s different, and what works or doesn’t work for me might not ring true for you, but it’s worth a shot.
7. Encourage lucid dreams throughout your day.
Like setting intentions, by focusing on lucid dreaming throughout the day, you’re more likely to actually do it at night.
This has also happened to me several times before. My “accidental” lucid dreams are usually a product of thinking about, listening about, or reading about lucid dreams during the day.
So to encourage yourself to lucid dream tonight, buy a book, read an article, or listen to a podcast about lucid dreaming. And throughout the day, remind yourself that you’re going to lucid dream tonight.
And there you have it—everything you need to know about lucid dreams, plus a simple seven-step guide to start having them.
Lucid dreaming is a practice, but it doesn’t have to take long to hone.
If you set the intention, you can lucid dream tonight if you ever so wish.
Brooke Bagley is the founder and owner of Ayurveda Angel. She’s a freelance content writer for holistic health and wellness companies, a content creator on YouTube and Medium, and a passionate lifestyle blogger.