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Are you interested in learning how to lucid dream?
I will show you how to get started with lucid dreaming, step-by-step.
If you follow everything strictly, you may have your first lucid dream within a few days or a week.
Before we get started, let’s have a quick overview of this article:
- What is lucid dreaming?
- Preparation: the 3 fundamental lucid dreaming habits
- How to lucid dream: A step by step guide
- Lucid dream benefits & risks
- Lucid dream FAQ
- Summary & Infographic
Without any further delays, let’s get started.
What is lucid dreaming?
Lucid dreaming is when you are aware that you are dreaming while the dream is still happening. (LaBerge, 1985)
A lucid dream can appear spontaneously, or you can induce it with specific techniques, and with time and practice, you can learn how to influence your dreams.
The concept isn’t a new one; lucid dreaming appears in Ancient times, and it was a common practice among early Buddhists.
Furthermore, lucid dreaming has been studied and reported for many years, and it has been scientifically proven.
In recent years, Dr. Stephen LaBerge, a psychophysiologist and lucid dream researcher, has been actively studying the subject and inventing powerful lucid dreaming techniques.
A meta-analysis of 50 years of research found that out of 24,282 people, 55% have had one or more lucid dreams in their lifetime, and 23% experience lucid dreams regularly (once per month or more).
Preparation: the 3 fundamental lucid dreaming habits
By following these 3 fundamental habits, you will drastically increase the chance of having a lucid dream.
Fundamental habit 1 – Dream journal:
Write down your dreams in a dream journal each morning.
A study found that successful participants in a lucid dream tended to have a higher dream recall frequency and lucid dream recall frequency than unsuccessful participants.
By writing down your dreams in a dream journal, you will achieve 2 things that will significantly increase the chances of having a lucid dream faster:
1 – You will improve your dream recall, and your dreams will become more vivid, and they will look more” alive.”
2 – You will develop an idea of your dream signs, which are crucial for becoming conscious of your dreams. You can recognize that you are in a dream precisely with your dream symbols/signs.
As you’ll be using the journal in a sleepy state upon waking up, make sure the notebook is near your bed, and it’s easy for you to open up and start writing.
Additionally, try to remind yourself regularly that you WANT to remember your dreams. Plant this idea in your head, and don’t forget it. You can repeat a mantra, such as:
“Tonight, I WILL remember my dreams.”
For more tips, you can check my helpful guide with 10 easy steps to remember your dreams.
Fundamental habit 2: Reality checking
A reality check is a key tip to experience a lucid dream. If you don’t know what a reality check is:
Simply said, it is – a simple action that will let you know whether you are dreaming or not. It can be psychical or mental.
It is the attempt of trying an impossible action, such as pushing your finger through your palm. The reality check will prove whether you’re awake or dreaming.
A few of the most common reality checks are:
- Hands – Look at your hands, and try to push one finger of your hand through your other hand’s palm. If you are awake, your finger will touch the palm’s surface, but the finger may go through the palm if you are in a dream.
- Clocks – Is often difficult to read characters and numbers. If you’re dreaming, you might have a hard time seeing the numbers, or if you do, the time on a clock will change very quickly or in a weird matter.
- Text – It is usually hard to read inside your dream, so try to read a text, and if you can’t (or if you can, but it changes quickly, or it is an odd one), then you are in a dream.
- Breathing – Pinch your nose and try to breathe through it. If you can still breathe, you’re dreaming.
- Tongue – Bite your tongue and see if it hurts. If you can’t feel pain, you are dreaming.
For more reality check ideas, you can find my list with some of the best reality checks.
Start performing at least 10 reality checks daily. This will improve your self-awareness, and most importantly, you will start to perform reality checks spontaneously in your dream.
When you are awake, it is merely a way of creating a habit. However, when you’re asleep, in a dream, this simple trick will trigger lucidity.
Later on, I will give you a specific reality check that will be ideal for this guide.
Fundamental habit 3: Affirmations
The mind is a powerful tool, and dream affirmations can be a fantastic way to set a lucid dream intention.
Focus on a mantra /a dream affirmation/ that will” plant” the idea that you will become lucid in your dream.
You should repeat your affirmation, in your head, throughout your day, and just before going to sleep. It can be something like:
- “Tonight, I will become aware inside my dream.”
- “When I dream tonight, I will become lucid.”
- “I’ll have a lucid dream tonight.”
- “I’ll realize that I am dreaming tonight.”
- “Next time, when I dream I will become lucid.”
Now that we’ve covered these fundamentals, we can proceed to the step by step process.
How to lucid dream: A step by step guide
A study from 2017 concluded that a combination of specific techniques works best for inducing a lucid dream. Hence, the following guide is a combination of these methods, plus a few additional steps.
Step 1: Perform reality checks & affirmations
Practice lots of them at regular intervals up until you go to sleep. An excellent method is to bite your tongue and see if it hurts.
The idea is that when you are in a dream, you can’t truly feel real physical pain. Once you get used to doing it and feel pain, you will know that you are awake.
However, when you don’t feel any pain, it will be a sign that you are in the dream world.
And do not forget about your affirmations – repeat “I’ll have a lucid dream tonight” or your chosen mantra again and again before going to bed tonight.
Step 2: Plan your dream in advance
Don’t just blindly expect to have a lucid dream. To increase the chance of inducing a lucid dream, determine from before you want to dream.
During the day (and especially before you go to bed), imagine what sort of dream you want to have. Set 3-4 clear intentions for your lucid dream.
You can even write it down on a piece of paper.
In this way, you will prepare your mind, and it will be easier to incubate a lucid dream. Focus on what exactly you want to see and do.
Do you want to fly around? Do you want to explore an exotic place? Do you want to try lucid dream food? Do you want to meet your idol?
Whatever it is, make sure to imagine it good.
Step 3: Put an alarm an hour and a half or two before your usual waking time
Put the alarm 1.5 – 2 hours before your standard waking time. So, if you usually wake up at 7 am, put an alarm for 5 am.
You need to wake up very early as we dream in the REM sleep stage, which increases as the night goes by.
This means that we have our longest dreams in the early morning, which increases the chance of waking up in the middle of a dream. After waking up for a couple of seconds, you might go back to sleep and enter the dream you had before waking up.
Note: Choose a softer alarm tone that will wake you up gently.
If possible, use an app that will make the alarm stop by itself after 10-15 seconds. Otherwise, once the alarm ring, you should stop it and then go back to bed without waking yourself completely.
Step 4: Go to bed and visualize your desired dream
Remember, normal or lucid, dreams operate on expectations.
The best way to build an expectation is through visualization, affirmation, and repetition: imagine the desired dream over and over again until it comes naturally to you.
Try to combine the visualization, with affirmation, by repeating in your head, “I’ll have a lucid dream tonight,” or something similar until you fall asleep.
Step 5: Wake up an hour and a half or two before your usual waking time
As I mentioned in step 3, you will want to gently wake up 1.5 / 2 hours before you usually do.
Wait for the alarm to stop (if you use an app or stop it manually) and then keep your body completely still.
Try not to move around too much (ideally not at all) to avoid waking up. Otherwise, you won’t be able to induce your lucid dream.
Step 6: Keep your eyes closed
When your alarm goes off (or right after you stop it), keep your eyes closed and try to stay as relaxed as possible. Be sure you are lying comfortably. While you are lying, it is essential not to move and to lose all of your muscles.
After you are relaxed, you might start seeing some images and shapes. This is a state called hypnagogia.
These “hypnagogic hallucinations” appear because you will be in the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep.
Step 7: Re-create the dream scene
Try to remember the dream before you woke up. Recreate the scene and everything you remember.
If you cannot recall the dream you had just before waking up, think of the one you were planning before you went to sleep.
The key is to send back your awareness to your dream world.
Step 8: Perform a reality check
Perform the reality check we talked about – bite your tongue to see if it hurts. If it doesn’t, or it feels odd, you are dreaming.
A reality check will help you enhance your dream awareness even more and help you gain more control.
1 – Avoid screens before going to bed.
Also, make sure you sleep in complete darkness, and there isn’t any light source that will interfere with your sleep.
2 – Before going to sleep, practice a few minutes of meditation.
If you’ve never meditated, then simply sit (or lay) and count your breaths.
By focusing your attention on your breathing, you’re leaving behind all your stresses and worries, and it will be easier for you to focus on becoming aware of your dreams.
A study showed that someone who meditates could develop a higher degree of awareness not just during wakefulness, but also during dreaming.
Another study figured that long-term meditators have more frequent lucid dreams compared to individuals without meditation experience.
I’ve also been noticing that if I keep a regular meditation practice, I remember my dreams, and they are more vivid, which helps to initiate a lucid dream.
Lucid dream benefits & risks
The benefits of lucid dreaming are:
- You get to live out your fantasies – Lucid dreaming gives you that opportunity to live out (almost) anything you wish for.
- Enhance creativity – Lucid dreaming is likely to boost your creativity.
- Become better at solving real-life problems – Findings suggest that lucid dreams can contribute to problem-solving when dealing with more creative tasks
- Practice and develop real-life skills – Studies suggest that it may be possible to improve real-life skills, by practicing them in lucid dreams. For example, a study tracked athletes following their sports practice in lucid dreams and had the impression that their performance improved.
- Overcome fears, nightmares, and phobias. – Dreams are the ideal, safe place to experiment and defeat stress and anxiety. You can face anything that scares you and will be able to fight it back. Some studies found that people can treat recurrent nightmares in post-traumatic stress disorder with lucid dreaming.
The risks of lucid dreaming are:
- Sleep paralysis – Lucid dreaming itself doesn’t cause sleep paralysis. However, some lucid dreaming methods (such as WILD) may cause sleep paralysis. The thing is that sleep paralysis isn’t always a scary, bad experience – it is a natural process of the body. If it happens to you, try to stay calm and don’t panic.
- Sleep-deprivation – Several lucid dream techniques require waking up during the night, which may cause sleep deprivation if you do it multiple times, day after day.
- Lucid dreaming nightmares – Sometimes, if a lucid dream shifts into a nightmare, we can lose awareness, even if had it before. The positive aspect is that lucid nightmares are unusual to happen. If you want to be prepared, you can read more about lucid nightmares here.
- Realistic feelings – They can occur in the dream state, exactly like in our daily life. As a beginner, directing the dream might be hard, so there is a chance that you lucid dream something that causes mixed and confusing feelings.
Lucid dream FAQ:
When we sleep, we go through 5 sleep stages. Most of our dreams occur during the last sleep stage called Rapid Eye Movement (REM).
During the REM stage, our brain activity increases, our pulse rises, and we have vivid dreams. Additionally, your arm and leg muscles become temporarily paralyzed, which prevents you from acting out your dreams.
REM appears approximately every 90 minutes. At the beginning of the night, it lasts around 10 minutes. The REM stage gets longer and longer as the night goes by.
Just before awakening, we can be in REM sleep for 45 minutes to an hour. The last REM stage (in the early morning) is the period where your chances to trigger a lucid dream are higher.
When you know that you are dreaming, you feel invincible. Since you are aware that you are dreaming, you know that nothing terrible can happen.
A lot of people live out their fantasies in dreams. You wouldn’t do many things in waking life, but you can do it all in your dreams.
For instance, in a dream, you can fly around, meet with celebrities, eat dream food, even have dream s**. For some inspiration, check out 8 unbelievable lucid dream stories.
Lucid dreaming can be an extremely beneficial and fun activity.
Overall, it can be perfect for you; however, it is best to avoid lucid dreaming techniques that purposely interrupt sleep if you experience sleep problems.
You can focus on other methods that will not interfere with getting enough sleep.
Lucid dreams are completely safe. Even though some adverse side effects might be discussed earlier, it is generally harmless, and if you don’t face any sleep issues, you shouldn’t worry.
Yes, even beginners can achieve lucid dreams, and it can happen spontaneously, or several proven techniques can trigger it.
This is everything you need to know, to experience your first lucid dream, possibly in the next couple of days.
It might be a lot of information to process, but once you understand everything, begin with your practice, and create a habit of doing all the steps, it won’t be as hard as it seems.
To make a focus on the main points, let’s sum up the article:
- Lucid dreaming is a scientifically proven and learnable skill in which you are aware that you are dreaming while the dream is still happening.
- Three fundamental habits will drastically increase the chance of having a lucid dream – dream journaling, reality checking, and affirmations.
- To learn how to experience a lucid dream, you should strictly follow the step by step guide.
- To increase your chances even more, try meditating and avoid screens at night.
- There are both benefits and risks; however, lucid dreaming is safe, and the positive aspects overpower the negatives.
Feel free to ask any questions you have, and let me know if you ever had a lucid dream, what was your experience, and which technique did you use.
- S. LaBerge & H. Rheingold, (1990). Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming. (Book). http://rwjansen.com/barry/newsletter482/exploring_luciddreaming.pdf
David T.Saunders (2015). Lucid dreaming incidence: A quality effects meta-analysis of 50 years of research. DOI: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1053810016301283
Denholm J. Aspy (2020). Findings From the International Lucid Dream Induction Study. DOI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7379166/
- Lucid dream & Buddism: Jayne Gackenbach, Stephen LaBerge (1988). Lucid Dreams in Tibetan Buddhism. DOI: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-1-4757-0423-5_3
- Lucid dream scientifically proved:
Keith M. T. Hearne (1978). Lucid dreams: An electro-physiological and psychological study. DOI: https://www.keithhearne.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Lucid-Dreams-LQ.pdf
Ursula Voss (2009). Lucid dreaming: a state of consciousness with features of both waking and non-lucid dreaming. DOI: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19750924/
Martin Dresler (2012). Neural correlates of dream lucidity obtained from contrasting lucid versus non-lucid REM sleep: a combined EEG/fMRI case study. DOI: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22754049/
Ursula Voss (2014). Induction of self-awareness in dreams through frontal low current stimulation of gamma activity. DOI: https://www.nature.com/articles/nn.3719
- Dream journal:
Daniel Erlacher and Tadas Stumbrys (2020). Wake Up, Work on Dreams, Back to Bed, and Lucid Dream: A Sleep Laboratory Study. DOI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7332853/
- Reality checks:
K. G. Drinkwater, Denovan A., Dagnall N. (2020). Lucid Dreaming, Nightmares, and Sleep Paralysis: Associations With Reality Testing Deficits and Paranormal Experience/Belief. DOI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7093643/
P.R. Corlett (2014). Dreams, reality, and memory: confabulations in lucid dreamers implicate reality-monitoring dysfunction in dream consciousness. DOI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4160044/
- Study – MILD, reality checks, WBTB:
Denholm Aspy (2017). Reality Testing and the Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams: Findings From the National Australian Lucid Dream Induction Study. DOI: https://insights.ovid.com/dreaming/dream/2017/09/000/reality-testing-mnemonic-induction-lucid-dreams/3/00012188
- Hypnagogic hallucinations:
Flavie Waters (2016). What Is the Link Between Hallucinations, Dreams, and Hypnagogic–Hypnopompic Experiences? DOI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4988750/
- Meditation and lucid dreaming:
Nicolas Zink & Reinhard Pietrowsky (2015). Theories of dreaming and lucid dreaming: An integrative review towards sleep, dreaming, and consciousness. DOI: https://www.scribd.com/document/350846447/Theories-of-dreaming-and-lucid-dreaming-An-integrative-review-towards-sleep-dreaming-and-consciousness
Baird B., Riedner B. A., Boly M., R. J. Davidson, and Tononi G. (2018). Increased lucid dream frequency in long-term meditators but not following MBSR training. DOI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6490164/
- Lucid dreams and problem-solving:
Tadas Stumbrys (2010). An exploratory study of creative problem-solving in lucid dreams: Preliminary findings and methodological considerations. DOI: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/49243284_An_exploratory_study_of_creative_problem_solving_in_lucid_dreams_Preliminary_findings_and_methodological_considerations#:~:text=The%20preliminary%20findings%20suggest%20that,be%20addressed%20in%20future%20studies.
- Lucid dream and improvement of real-life skills:
Tadas Stumbrys (2014). Motor Learning in Lucid Dreams: Prevalence, Induction, and Effectiveness. DOI: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/280664542_Motor_Learning_in_Lucid_Dreams_Prevalence_Induction_and_Effectiveness
- Lucid dream, nightmares, stress:
Sérgio A. Mota-Rolim (2019). Portable Devices to Induce Lucid Dreams—Are They Reliable: DOI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6517539/
- Sleep paralysis:
Michael Raduga (2020). Is there a relation among REM sleep dissociated phenomena, like lucid dreaming, sleep paralysis, out-of-body experiences, and false awakening? DOI: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/343522395_Is_there_a_relation_among_REM_sleep_dissociated_phenomena_like_lucid_dreaming_sleep_paralysis_out-of-body_experiences_and_false_awakening
Monika Kliková (2020). Could Sleep Paralysis Be Pleasant?. DOI: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342926561_Could_Sleep_Paralysis_Be_Pleasant
- Sleep deprivation: Raphael Vallat (2019). Is It a Good Idea to Cultivate Lucid Dreaming? DOI: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337300483_Is_It_a_Good_Idea_to_Cultivate_Lucid_Dreaming
- REM sleep:
Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. DOI: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/patient-caregiver-education/understanding-sleep#:~:text=Most%20of%20your%20dreaming%20occurs,your%20time%20in%20REM%20sleep.
Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research (2006). Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. DOI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19956/#a2000f7efrrr00052