How to Start Lucid Dreaming
Take control of your dreams, starting tonight
As we go through the day, every experience we have is recorded in our brains, into our short term memories.
When we go to sleep, our brains sort through the memories made that day, categorising what we learned and deciding whether to send each lesson to long term storage or simply discard it.
Our brains sort through our memories by dreaming, creating imaginary situations and placing us in them. Sometimes these situations are directly influenced by the things that happen to us, but more often than not it can also be a way for our minds to metaphorically deal with situations we wouldn’t otherwise face.
Because dreams are our brains way of processing emotions and learning to deal with difficult situations, lucid dreaming can be an effective tool for understanding and transcending the limits of our mind and emotions.
By finding out exactly what our minds subconsciously deal with, we can see the underlying patterns in our lives and more easily divert and take control of them.
That’s lucid dreaming …
Being aware of (and remembering) your dreams.
Some people fall into this naturally. For those who normally have vivid dreams, it’s possible that sometimes something in the dream will be distinctive enough that your mind takes note of it and you become aware that you are dreaming, and that what you’re going through isn’t real.
Whilst lucidity doesn’t necessarily lead to being able to control your dreams, a lot of people find that learning to be more aware of what they dream about also naturally gives them more control.
So if controlling your dreams is an ambition of yours, learning how to lucid dream is an important first step.
1) Keep a dream journal
The first thing that helps massively when it comes to lucid dreaming: keeping a dream journal.
Recommended by every resource and practitioner of lucid dreaming, not only does dream journaling allow you to look back over your dreams and find links and common threads you otherwise might not… the act of writing down your dreams after you wake up primes your memory and makes it both easier and much more likely that you will remember your dreams in the future.
So when you wake up, make sure the first thing you do is journal your dreams. It’s best to do this without even getting out of bed, as that psychological distance you create when you go through the physical act of getting out of bed can easily force your dreams to slip your mind. So make sure you keep the journal somewhere close by.
It’s also not possible to force this step. You can only ever give yourself the space to remember, so if you’re sitting there with your journal and nothing is coming to mind, dont get frustrated. It’s possible you just didn’t dream last night.
When you’re journaling, feel free to be as open and creative as possible. When you dream is when your mind is the most free, so write, draw, craft poems, anything that seems appropriate and will help you to bring back the feelings and emotions that your dreams consisted of.
Helpful lucid dreaming apps
Considering how many people are interested in lucid dreaming, it’s not surprising that there are a number of apps that can prove really helpful in your quest.
If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, we recommend DreamZ. It’s 3 dollars, but it comes with REM sleep detection and a sleep log built in, as well as a dream diary and a suite of audio triggers that help to guide and control your dreams.
If you’re on Android, Awoken is excellent. Crisp and clean, with an easy to use interface and everything you need to track and monitor your dreams, it also comes with a pattern analyser so you can pick out common threads and links in your dream journal. Best of all, Awoken is free to download, but does offer in app purchases.
Another great app for Android is Lucidity. Check it out.
2) Strategic napping
This technique is more involved, and probably not suited for a night where you expect to get up early the next day. Remember: your health is always more important than anything else, so make sure you’re always getting enough sleep at night.
The technique is deceptively simple. When you go to bed, set an alarm for 5 hours time. When the alarm sounds, stay in bed, and stay awake for 30 to 60 minutes. As you begin to fall asleep, gently tap your fingers against the bed as if you are playing a piano. This sends nerve signals to the brain to stimulate its activity and helps to assert your control over your own mind state.
Continue trying to tap your fingers until you fall asleep. Try not to focus on the movement, just let it happen in the background as you drift off.
One study on lucid dreaming showed that just adopting this technique makes it 20 times more likely that you’ll experience lucid dreams.
Tips for Lucid Dreaming
Make sure you’re sleeping well. If you aren’t getting enough sleep lucid dreaming is almost impossible, because for the first few hours of sleep, your body rarely goes into an REM dream state, instead focusing on resting and recovery.
It’s only after your body is recovered that you can easily enter REM sleep. This is when you’re most likely to dream, and the time you’ve got the most control over your dreams, making lucid dreaming much more likely.
REM sleep patterns get longer through the night, giving you more time to dream during each one. This means lucid dreams are most likely to happen on days where you’ve given yourself the mental time and space for it.
Some foods can also have dream stimulating effects. Cheese is high in tryptophan, a chemical that helps in dream stimulation, emotional impact and vividness. You can also find it in milk, eggs, chicken and salmon, or if you’d prefer to take a supplement, Vitamin B6.
Follow the process for a few weeks and you’re bound to become more aware (and in control) of your dreams…
• Get to bed early, and get a restful nights sleep
• Make sure you journal your dreams, physically or with an app
• Try the nap technique for near guaranteed results