The moment you realize you're in a dream, you have started lucid dreaming. Roughly 50% of people have had a lucid dream and ~20% have them frequently (Saunders, Roe, Smith, & Clegg, 2016). Waking limitations don't apply so many people use this opportunity to literally explore their wildest dreams. Flying...transforming...the only limitation is one's imagination! Science has shown lucid dreaming to be a skill (LaBerge, 1980b) and that means basically everyone can learn to do it with practice. However, it's like physical training so if you don't do the exercises then you won't get the results. There's more information below on different practices and induction techniques to help sharpen those skills.
image credit: The Wormwood Saga
"Dreams are a part of us whether we remember them or not, thus lucid dreaming is a journey of self-discovery." -Anonymous
Benefits of Lucid Dreaming
Lucid dreaming is an amazing self-help tool with a wide array of benefits that science is just beginning to understand. It is basically a free and fully-immersive virtual reality system, plus more! We sleep through roughly 1/3 of our lives and are dreaming much of this time. Get the most out of your life by learning how to dream lucidly. Carpe Noctem!
more positive mood/affect/emotions
reduce nightmares, especially recurring like in PTSD
(Doll, Gittler, & Holzinger, 2009; Dyck, Kummer, König, Schredl, & Kühnel, 2018; Koesler, 2015; Rosenbusch, 2016; Stumbrys, & Erlacher, 2016; Thomas, Pollak, & Kahan, 2015)
(Abramovitch, 1995; Been & Garg, 2010; Harb, Brownlow, & Ross, 2016; Lancee, van den Bout, & Spoormaker, 2010; Spoormaker & van den Bout, 2006; Zadra & Pihl, 1997)
improve motor skills (e.g. for sports)
(Erlacher & Schredl, 2010; Schädlich, 2018; Schädlich, Erlacher, & Schredl, 2016)
(Bogzaran, 1989; Esser IV, 2013; Kuiken, Ming-Ni, Eng, & Singh, 2006)
increase creativity (e.g. for art, music, writing)
(Albert et al., 2014; Gackenbach, Curren, LaBerge, Davidson, & Maxwell, 1983; Johnson, 2006; Schädlich & Erlacher, 2018; Zink & Pietrowsky, 2013)
assisting the grieving process
(Puhle & Parker, 2017; Shorter, 2010)
elicit inner healing resources
(Gackenbach, Curren, LaBerge, Davidson, & Maxwell, 1983; Tanuvasa, O’Loughlin-Brooks, Smith, & Fortney, 2011)
(Banerji, 2017; Brylowski, 1987; Kellogg III, 1999; Zappaterra, Jim, & Pangarkar, 2014)
more creative problem-solving
(Stumbrys & Daniels, 2010)
increased levels of insight
(Bourke & Shaw, 2014)
(Soffer-Dudek, Wertheim, & Shahar, 2011)
alleviate anxiety and fears/phobias
"Lucid dreaming is a powerful opportunity to solve problems, create new possibilities, heal, transform
nightmares, and explore reality." -Clare Johnson, PhD
How to Induce Lucid Dreaming
All lucid dreaming begins in one of two ways:
1) From inside a dream, known as a Dream-Initiated-Lucid-Dream (DILD) dreaming ---> lucid dreaming
2) Straight from waking, known as a Wake-Initiated-Lucid-Dream (WILD) waking ---> lucid dreaming
Techniques that have scientifically shown to induce lucid dreaming:
Wake-Back-To-Bed (WBTB) technique
(Aspy, Delfabbro, Proeve, & Mohr, 2017; Edelstein & LaBerge, 1992; Hickey, 1988; LaBerge, Phillips, & Levitan, 1994; Levitan, 1989; Levitan, 1990a; Levitan, 1990b; Levitan, 1991b; Levitan & LaBerge, 1994; Levitan, LaBerge, & Dole, 1992)
(Aspy, Delfabbro, Proeve, & Mohr, 2017; Dyck, Schredl, & Kühnel, 2017; Edelstein & LaBerge, 1992; LaBerge, Phillips, & Levitan, 1994; Levitan, 1990b; Levitan, 1991b; Levitan, LaBerge, & Dole, 1992)
(Aspy, Delfabbro, Proeve, & Mohr, 2017; Dyck, Schredl, & Kühnel, 2017; Gish, 2014; Levitan, 1989; Levitan & LaBerge, 1994 Purcell et al., 1986; Taitz, 2011)
(Gackenbach, Cranson, & Alexander, 1986; Gackenbach, Swanston, & Stark, 2015; Gish, 2014; Kjellgren & Taylor, 2008; Sparrow, Thurston, & Carlson, 2013)
(LaBerge, 1987; LaBerge, 1988; LaBerge & Levitan, 1995; LaBerge, Levitan, Rich, & Dement, 1988; Levitan & LaBerge, 1994; Paul, Schädlich, & Erlacher, 2014)
(Dane, 1984; Hickey, 1988; Malamud, 1979; Purcell et al., 1986; Purcell, 1988; Schlag-Gies, 1992)
Tholey’s combined technique
supplements that increase acetylcholine
(Gish, 2014; Paulsson & Parker, 2006; Tholey, 1983; Zadra, 1991; Zadra, Donderi, & Pihl, 1992)
(Kern, Appel, Schredl, & Pipa, 2017; LaBerge, 2004; LaMarca & LaBerge, 2016; Sparrow, Hurd, Carlson, & Molina, 2018)
prefrontal cortex stimulation
(Schlag-Gies, 1992; Spoormaker & van den Bout, 2006; Zadra & Pihl, 1997)
(Blanchette‐Carrière, Carr, Paquette, Nielson, 2016; Stumbrys, Erlacher, & Schredl, 2013; Voss et al., 2014)
(Dane, 1984; Galvin, 1993; Levitan & LaBerge, 1994; Purcell et al., 1986)
autosuggestion, aka self-hypnosis
(Levitan, 1989; Schlag-Gies, 1992)
(Leslie & Ogilvie, 1996)
(Kueny, 1985; LaBerge, Owens, Nagel, & Dement, 1981; Ogilvie, Hunt, Kushniruk, & Newman, 1983)
(Hearne, 1978; Hearne, 1983; Paul, Schädlich, & Erlacher, 2014)
(Dyck, Schredl, & Kühnel, 2017)
FREE systematic review of induction techniques published in 2012 (click here)
For more FREE info on how to induce lucid dreaming, check out these Websites
Odds are 1 to 10 you are dreaming right now!
Everyone (barring brain damage) has multiple dreams every night, even if they can't remember them in the morning. Most dreams, especially the vivid ones, occur during the REM stage of sleep. During 8 hours of sleep, we spend roughly 2 hours in
the REM stage. This means that each day 2 out of the 24 hours are spent in a dream. Thus far, a majority of the recorded lucid dreams have occurred within the REM stage, so if you are trying to induce lucid dreaming then it's wise to aim for this stage.
credit: Luke Mastin
However, dreams happen in the NREM stages of sleep, too. These NREM dreams are more difficult to remember and are not as detailed as REM dreams, but they do exist. And anytime there are dreams, there can be lucid dreams. In fact, there have been a couple reported cases of lucid dreaming in NREM stages (click here), but they seem much more rare than REM lucid dreams. So if 1 out of 12 hours are spent in REM, and even more so in NREM, the odds are roughly 1 to 10 that you're in a dream right now!
"...[reality-testing] could perhaps be considered the defining behavior (and mindset) that distinguishes
a lucid dreamer from the population at large." -Daniel Love
How do I tell if I'm dreaming or not?
Simple. Start by asking yourself, "Am I dreaming?" Most of us never question whether or not we are dreaming during our waking lives and this mental habit carries over to our dreaming lives as well. To change this mental habit, start frequently questioning whether
or not you are dreaming and soon you will start asking yourself this question during your dreams. Although to become lucid in these dreams, you must answer this question correctly! There are a few quick "reality-tests" you can do to help determine if you're in a dream, but no test is reliable 100% of the time so you should always use more than one each time you check. On the right side are some of the most reliable reality-checks.
triple-take = look at a word or number, look away, & look back. If you're dreaming, chances are >75% that it will have changed. Do it again. If it changed, then chances are >95% that you're in a dream
nose-pinch = pinch your nose shut & try to inhale through your nostrils. Can you? If you can, then you're dreaming, but this doesn't work every time
blast-from-the-past = try to trace back what you've done for the past 24 hours. Can you remember the sequence of events & details? If you can't, then there's a possibility you might be dreaming
Check out the Websites section for more FREE info & other induction techniques
"If you can become lucid in your daytime experience, this will greatly facilitate lucidity when you're dreaming." -B. Wallace, PhD
Have you ever been bored and started to fantasize? We all mentally drift off and daydream at various times, showing that awareness fluctuates.
One's level of awareness could also be called one's level of lucidity. The word lucid at its root means clear, so lucid awareness essentially means clear awareness. This type of awareness is similar to mindfulness (a non-judgmental awareness of the present moment) and it can happen at anytime, day
or night. When this lucid awareness happens during dreaming, the result is lucid dreaming. Check out the section below for more information on all how all these concepts interconnect with one another.
"Meditation when practiced intensively will also benefit a lucid dreamer's capacity to prolong the lucid dream"- Dr. Michael Katz
Mindfulness, Meta-Awareness, and Lucidity
Mindfulness is generally described as a non-judgmental awareness of the present moment, and meta-awareness as an awareness of awareness. This means that mindfulness practices are, at their core, practices of meta-awareness. Lucid dream practice is, in essence, about practicing mindfulness and meta-awareness with only a slight twist.
Lucid dreaming is different from meta-awareness because it goes beyond to include an insight into one's awareness. It is also different from mindfulness because lucid dreaming is an insightful awareness of the present moment during dreams. To become lucid while dreaming, the person must have enough insight to realize that all of the current experiences are a dream.
Self-awareness is a type of meta-awareness, but focused on the self.
Lucid awareness is a type of self-awareness but goes a step further by incorporating insights. Am I lucid? How lucid am I? Like awareness, lucidity changes constantly so levels of lucidity and levels of lucid awareness are the same concept. There are meditation practices aimed at increasing and maintaining lucid awareness throughout sleeping and dreaming states. For more info on these practices, look into Tibetan Dream Yoga using the Library section below.
image credit: Tevaprapas
mindfulness = awareness of present moment
meta-awareness = awareness of awareness
self-awareness = meta-awareness of self
lucid awareness = self-awareness + insight
lucid dreaming = lucid awareness + dreaming
lucidity = lucid awareness
"Lucid dreaming, dream yoga, and sleep yoga have a common outcome: increasing awareness." -Andrew Holecek, DDS
Lucid Dreaming Day - April 12th
A day by lucid dreamers, for lucid dreamers, to celebrate the phenomenon and help spread knowledge about it to the rest of the world. It started with an idea from lucid dream educator, Daniel Love, to raise awareness about the topic. April 12th was chosen because this is the date that lucid dreaming was scientifically validated as being real. Before then, people argued that lucid dreaming was just a figment of one's imagination. However, in 1975, Dr. Keith Hearne demonstrated otherwise by having a lucid dreamer send a message to the outside world.
Hearne accomplished this by using an electrooculograph (EOG) to track eye movements. He gave the lucid dreamer a specific pattern of eye movements to follow once lucid within a dream, then watched the machine all night. The assigned pattern emerged! On the other end was a lucid dreamer communicating his thoughts back to the waking world through eye movements. This study confirmed scientifically what people had been saying for a long time: lucid dreaming really exists (Hearne, 1978). But Dr. Hearne wasn't the only scientist at that time to have ambitions about verifying the lucid dream experience.
“Let your dreams change your reality, don’t let your reality change your dreams.”— Unknown
Dr. Stephen LaBerge had the same goal in mind at Stanford University. To complete the task, he used the same study design as Dr. Hearne. By using an EOG with a specific pattern of eye movements and a lucid dreamer to signal, Dr. LaBerge confirmed the existence of lucid dreaming in his lab as well (1980a). He was also the first to publish about it scientifically, as well as being the first to show that lucid dreaming is a learnable skill (1980b). Afterwards, he became a strong public advocate for the phenomenon. He founded The Lucidity Institute and has dedicated his career to conducting research on lucid dreaming, in addition to teaching others the skills to do it themselves.
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