How to Lucid Dream in 10 Steps
Control your dreams with these simple techniques.
May 2nd, 2022 •
Although some people cannot remember their dreams upon waking, everyone spends time dreaming each night. A smaller portion of the population, however, experiences what is known as lucid dreaming, a dream state during which you are conscious that you are dreaming and have the ability to control the events that occur.
If you would like to learn how to lucid dream, you should first understand the foundation of lucid dreaming and the potential benefits and risks you may experience.
In a lucid dream you maintain an awareness that you are dreaming. Instead of passively observing your dreams, you become an active player who can control the events. There are various techniques that can help someone enter a lucid dream, which are grouped into two main types of lucid dreaming:
- Dream-induced: this occurs when someone is already dreaming and utilizes a technique to induce lucidity within their dream
- Wake-induced: this occurs when someone keeps their mind conscious while their body falls asleep so they remain lucid while dreaming
Each of these strategies has many supporting techniques that can be utilized to enter a lucid dream, which we will discuss below.
Because many people do not fully understand everything about lucid dreaming, there are some common misconceptions and myths around the practice. Lucid dreaming is completely safe, though there are some noted benefits and risks to consider.
The Benefits of Lucid Dreaming
- Choose Your Own Dream: Instead of experiencing nightmares or boring and unpleasant dreams at night, you have the ability to take control over your sleeping experiences. Conscious dreaming allows you to live out any of your wildest fantasies in a completely safe way.
- Reunite with Lost Loved Ones: In a dream, anything can happen, including reconnecting with one of your lost loved ones. Many people report dreaming of their loved ones after passing even without the ability to control their dreams. When you hold the reigns, you can call on the imaginations of your loved ones whenever you choose.
- Spark Your Creativity: For those in need of unleashing their creativity, dreams become a blank canvas on which you can express your innovation and originality. You might just stumble upon your next great idea.
- Connect with Your Subconscious: The mind has a way of helping heal the body. Some therapists suggest you can use your conscious dreaming time to connect with your subconscious and conquer your fears, break addictions, and reprogram your mind to avoid negative thinking.
The Dangers of Lucid Dreaming
- Will I die in real life if I die in a lucid dream? This myth does not hold truth. Don’t worry—if you die in a lucid dream, you will not die in real life. You will likely wake up in the real world or wake up into another layer of a dream.
- Experience Strong Feelings of Fear: When first beginning, you may not have total control over your dreams. That being said, you will still experience the full range of emotions that you experience while awake, which can include sadness, fear, and anxiety. Though seasoned lucid dreamers can take control over their nightmares, in the beginning this may be challenging and your dreams can be frighteningly realistic.
- Sleep Paralysis: Certain techniques may initiate sleep paralysis. While this can be scary to experience, it is not dangerous, and it should be noted that everyone experiences sleep paralysis as the body’s way of preventing our dream movements from crossing over into reality.
- Waking Up Tired: Experiencing multiple vivid dreams could leave you feeling mentally drained in the morning. Some people who only experience conscious dreams (known as perma-lucid dreamers) report feeling tired and overwhelmed as a result of never being able to shut off their brain. Also, some techniques require you to wake up in the middle of the night. If performing one of these techniques, be sure you allow yourself a full seven to nine hours of sleep.
Related: What is Sleep?
If you have never tried before, it may be difficult to experience a lucid dream tonight, but with practice it should not take very long to pick up. These 10 steps will have you lucid dreaming like a pro in no time.
1. Set Yourself Up for Deep Sleep
Dreaming occurs during the deep stage of sleep known as REM sleep. In order to reach deep sleep, you need to be sure you properly prepare yourself for a night of rest. This starts by monitoring your daily habits. Are you maintaining a healthy diet? Do you exercise daily? Are you avoiding technology in the hours before bedtime?
Next you should create a bedroom environment that is conducive of a good night’s sleep by setting up a dark and quiet space which you can find comfort in. Consider blackout curtains, a white noise machine, and essential oils to create a calming bedroom space for deep sleep.
2. Record Your Dreams
Start a dream journal in which you write your dreams down every morning when you wake up. Try to recall as many details as possible and physically write them down in your journal as soon as you wake up. This is a critical step in helping a beginner get started. When you record your dreams, it trains your mind to be more involved in your dreams and makes it easier to gain consciousness in the dream state.
3. Detect Patterns
Finding patterns in your dreams has similar benefits to keeping a dream journal. If you start to notice patterns of events or symbols that often appear in your dreams, you will help your mind learn to recognize when you are in a dream instead of reality.
Related: Why Do We Dream?
4. Perform Reality Checks
Reality checks are also a key part of your toolkit. These checks are intended to help you differentiate whether you are in the real world or in a dream. Experts recommended that you perform your reality check 10 times per day.
Reality checks are rituals you perform during your waking hours that have different outcomes in a dream. This way, you can test whether you are dreaming or not. Common techniques include:
- Index Through Palm: While awake, try to push your index finger through the palm of the opposite hand, with the intention that it will be able to break through. Ask yourself if you are dreaming. Then, when you perform this task while dreaming, if your finger shows up on the other side of your hand, you will know it is a dream.
- Distortion Checks: When you think you are dreaming, you can check a few places for distortion that would not occur in reality. Look at your hands or feet, the sky, or a mirror. Lucid dreamers report that these objects typically are distorted in dreams. You can also look at a clock or the words in a book, look away, and look back. If they quickly changed to something completely different, you will know you are dreaming.
5. Practice Meditation
Meditation can give you a similar sensation to lucid dreaming. Practicing meditation will help you learn how to send your body to sleep while keeping your mind awake. Build your concentration and mindfulness skills through guided meditations to prepare yourself for conscious dreaming.
6. Try a Proven Technique
There are many different techniques suggested to help people learn how to lucid dream. If one doesn’t work for you, there are plenty of other options to test out! These methods include:
Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming (WILD)
This strategy involves allowing the body to fall asleep while the mind is still awake, similar to meditation. To do so, right before bed or after 5-6 hours of sleep, you should relax, breathe deeply, focus on your hypnagogic state (the state between wakefulness and sleep), visualize your dream, and allow your body to slip into sleep while keeping your mind alert. It sounds challenging, but with practice and consistency it can be simple to achieve.
Dream Induced Lucid Dreams (DILD)
This strategy involves gaining lucidity while in a dream. Sometimes this happens spontaneously, and other times it is brought on by a certain trigger such as performing a reality or distortion check.
Senses Induced Lucid Dreaming (SSILD)
This strategy involves focusing on your sight, sound, and touch senses as you fall asleep to promote awareness while you sleep. This technique is best to attempt during a REM cycle, not before bedtime. The best times are after 4.5, 6, or 7 hours of sleep, so you should set an alarm to wake up and start focusing on your sight, then sound, then touch for five cycles before falling back asleep.
Mnemonic Induced Lucid Dreaming (MILD)
Mnemonic induction involves programming commands into your mind that you will use while dreaming. Before falling asleep, repeat affirmations such as I will have a lucid dream tonight, the next scene will be a dream, or next time I am dreaming, I will remember that I am dreaming. Then you should visualize a recent dream and imagine that you will relive the ending differently. The purpose behind this technique is that the last thoughts you have before falling asleep affirm your intentions and make it more likely to achieve your goal.
Wake Back to Bed (WBTB)
The WBTB method is recommended for beginners. It requires going to sleep, waking up after six hours, staying alert for 20-60 minutes, and then falling back asleep while using visualization or mnemonic techniques to induce a lucid dream.
7. Listen to Binaural Beats
Binaural beats are an auditory illusion that occurs when two slightly different frequencies of sound are played in each ear. These tracks can help you focus while studying, sleep more soundly, and induce lucid dreaming. You can find binaural beats with a quick YouTube search. Plug in some earphones and press play while falling asleep to help you relax and fall into a deep sleep.
8. Pay Attention to Your Hypnagogia
Hypnagogia refers to the transitional stage between wakefulness and sleep. This hallucinogenic stage can be used to practice the WILD technique by keeping your mind aware while allowing your body to fall asleep. Observing the shapes and forms you see during this time can help you induce a lucid dream.
9. Play Video Games
Playing video games can be like practice for lucid dreaming, particularly role-playing video games. Video games will help you improve your focus and spatial awareness, two skills that are necessary for lucid dreaming.
10. Try Supplements
Certain vitamins, minerals, and herbs can enhance your lucid dreaming. These include, but are not limited to:
- Vitamin B
Before using or combining supplements, be sure to research the effects and make wise decisions regarding your health by consulting with professionals.
Lucid dreaming may not be for everyone, but those who willingly practice it enjoy reaping the benefits of a conscious dream state. You can finally fly over your town, practice your wizardry skills, or participate in a game with your favorite NBA players. With lucid dreaming, the sky is the limit.