Ever have a dream so good that you wake up wishing it was true? While bringing your wildest dreams into waking life might not always be possible, there is a way you can get a realistic experience while still being asleep- it’s called lucid dreaming.
What is Lucid Dreaming?
When the dreamer becomes aware of the fact that they are dreaming without leaving the dream state -that’s a lucid dream. This awareness translates into sensory experiences which means that everything you hear, see, smell, touch, taste in your dream will feel as authentic as real life. Want to eat a mountain of doughnuts without the weight gain? Have a whirlwind romance with your celebrity crush? Fly to another planet in your spaceship for an alien battle? You can do all of this and more, the possibilities are endless.
“A lucid dream feel more intense and vibrant than an ordinary dream. When you realize you are dreaming, it’s as if the whole scene becomes richer, the colors more brilliant, and the whole scene imbued with a sense of aliveness. Of course the dream is also much easier to recall in all its detail than a non-lucid dream where the details get lost and there is a sense of having forgotten many pieces of it. Depending on the dreamer, you can also control what happens in a lucid dream, at least to some degree.” says Dr. Leslie Ellis who is the vice president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams with a PhD in clinical psychology.
How to Lucid Dream?
Approximately 55% of the population has had at least one lucid dream in their lifetime. For some, it may come naturally, while for others it could take quite a lot of practice. The main idea is to train your subconscious mind to recognise a trigger that will make you realise that you’re dreaming. Here are some methods you can try:
1. Keep a dream journal
Writing down your dreams as soon as you wake up can improve your ability to remember them. This can in turn help you identify underlying patterns. The next time you’re caught up in a similar situation in your dream world you’ll probably realise that you’re dreaming and wake up in your sleep.
2. Reality checks
Simple things like mirror reflections, spellings, hands, time on the clock etc look different in dreams. Check to see if these look normal multiple times during the day, and when it becomes a habit, it will filter into your dreams as well. As soon as you notice that things don’t quite look the same while you’re dreaming, you’ll become lucid. Other reality checks include constantly asking yourself if you’re dreaming, pinching your nose to see if you can still breathe and trying to push your fingers through solid objects.
Wake back to bed (WBTB) is a technique used to induce lucid dreams that involves entering REM sleep while you’re still conscious. For this, you would be required to set an alarm to wake you after about 4-5 hours of sleep, stay up for a brief amount of time to increase your alertness and then fall back to sleep.
Mnemonic induction of lucid dreams (MILD) involves setting an intention. Repeatedly telling yourself, “the next time I’m asleep, I’ll remember that I’m dreaming” as you hit the hay will increase your chances of having a lucid dream.
Dr Leslie Ellis says “Lucid Dreaming is a skill that can be cultivated, but with caution. If you use the sleep-disrupting techniques, don’t do so every night as the effects of sleep deprivation are cumulative.”
What are the benefits of Lucid Dreaming?
Experiencing a lucid dream can be more than just for fun, it is a safe space to self-reflect, face fears, overcome phobias and try new things. There have been instances where musicians have composed a new tune while lucid dreaming, mathematicians have solved complex problems, dancers and athletes have practised their skills etc. It can be a great way to dive deeper into your subconscious mind and understand yourself better. “For most people, it brings a sense of vitality, freedom, creativity and joy”, shares Dr Ellis.