What is Lucid Dreaming?

How to make your dreams come true

You know that dream where you’re trying to run from something but your feet are stuck? Or the one where you show up to work without pants? What if, instead of being terrified or horrified, those situations were hilarious — and you could even control them?

Start lucid dreaming, and you might just enjoy prancing through the office naked, knowing none of it is real. You might figure out how to unstick your legs from that quicksand and get where you were going.

Lucid dreaming is when you know you’re dreaming while it’s happening. “Most people who have had this experience find it one of the most interesting dream experiences they have ever had,” says Deirdre Barrett, author of The Committee of Sleep: How Artists, Scientists, and Athletes Use Their Dreams for Creative Problem Solving — And How You Can Too.

Ready to reimagine your nightmares, look at things in a new way, or even find inner peace? Here’s how to give it a sleepy spin.

Best Ways to Remember Your Dreams: Write in a Journal
Source: Getty Images

Step 1: Improve your dream recall

To participate in your dreams, you first need to practice remembering them, notes Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D., who is considered the field’s pioneer. That’s because recalling your dreams will help you recognize their features and patterns, which can then help you realize when you’re in one.

The way to start remembering your dreams is pretty simple: Take the time to try. Ryan D. Hurd, a dream researcher, author and lecturer at John F. Kennedy University recommends keeping a journal by your bed and recording whatever you remember of your dreams as soon as you wake up.”Give yourself the mental space and the time to focus on what happened, rather than jumping out of bed, taking a shower, and focusing on the day ahead,” he says.

Oddly enough, it also helps to tell yourself each night that you want to remember your dreams. When you are remembering three to five dreams a week, or one every other night, it’s time to get excited — you’re ready to start trying to lucid dream.

Step 2: Recognize when you’re dreaming

Lucid dreaming is all about recognizing the difference between dreams and reality. To do it, start practicing something called reality checking. “It can be hard to take seriously, but ask yourself if you are really awake or dreaming throughout the day,” says Barrett. “Some do it informally, while others set an alarm every two hours to remind themselves to ask.”

Weird? Yes. But it works! How? When you’re truly dreaming, you’ll begin noticing things look a little different. The numbers on a digital clock might be blurred, text might looks funny or mirror images might be distorted. If things work normally while you are awake, but differently during a dream, you’ll recognize when you are actually dreaming, says Barrett.

Lucid Dreaming: Meditation
Source: Getty Images

Step 3: Prep your brain

If you’re really dedicated to becoming a lucid dreamer, you can try a technique called Wake Back To Bed (WBTB). This means waking up after sleeping for four hours and staying awake for an hour and meditate, read or journal before falling back asleep. It “wakes up parts of the brain that are linked to self consciousness from awareness,” says Hurd. “You are likely to return to the state that encourages lucidity.”

During WBTB, you can also try LaBerge’s Mnemonically Induced Lucid Dreaming (MILD) technique. “Instead of reading, focus on remembering the dream you just had, and imagine yourself back in that dream,” says Hurd.

Step 4: Cultivate your dreams

From there, you can start observing, and perhaps even participating in your dreams. Which is super cool. Some find lucid dreaming easier than others, but the key is to be patient. “People get frustrated because it doesn’t happen on the first night,” says Hurd. “Be flexible and try again the next night.”

Once you get the hang of it, you can even learn how to do things like dream incubation, in which you can use dreams to solve problems. For most people, however, it’s all about the enjoyment — and sometimes deep fulfillment — of being present while dreaming.

“Depending on your own belief system, if you are talking to a deceased loved one in a lucid dream, it can be a very satisfying and healing experience for some people,” says Hurd. Now that’s a dream worth making a reality.

Written by Cheryl Alkon

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