Lucid Dreaming: A Step by Step Guide to Dream Control

lucid dreaming night

Lucid dreaming is the doorway to your inner universe. howtocontroldreams.com

A lucid dream is a dream where you know you’re dreaming and have full control over the dream. Lucid dreaming is a natural phenomenon, a science, and an art. As a natural phenomenon lucid dreaming has surely existed as long as dreams have. As an art it has been practiced for thousands of years, and across many cultures. Lucid dreaming was first described as a practice in the Upanishads, various Yoga Sutras, and in many Tibetan Buddhist texts.

As a scientific practice lucid dreaming has existed since 1898, when Frederik van Eeden first coined the term “lucid dreaming” in his report, The Study of Dreams. Nowadays, due in large part to scientists such as Stephen LaBerge, lucid dreaming institutes are hard at work providing the study of lucid dreaming with unprecedented discoveries and evidence.

Lucid dreaming has been verified as a state of consciousness with “definable and measurable differences” from waking life and REM sleep. It has been physiologically verified as a legitimate occurrence using EEG scans, polygraphs, the intentional use of planned signals while a person is lucid dreaming, and more.

lucid dreaming mind

Controlling your dreams is easier than you might think. inducingluciddreams.weebly.com

In a 2008 report, scientists from universities in Japan and Germany analyzed five different studies from five different countries focusing on the prevalence of lucid dreaming. They found that the prevalence between countries varied greatly. 47% of the Japanese participants reported having had at least one lucid dream in their lifetime. About 70-80% of US, German, and Dutch citizens reported at least one. And a whopping 92% of Chinese people reported at least one lucid dream.

According to the above statistics, it’s entirely possible that you’ve experienced an unintentional lucid dream before. Lucid dreams involve varying degrees of vividness, control, and awareness, so likely your unintentional lucid dream was fuzzy, and lasted only moments. Regardless, the experience itself was surely unmistakable.

Or maybe you’ve never had a lucid dream, but still smile at the idea of becoming fully aware in your own dreamscape. There are proven effective methods for becoming lucid and gaining control over your dreams.

Lucid dreaming takes a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be flying through your favorite cities, using super powers, drinking light, and creating planets like a pro. Or, you can use lucid dreaming to benefit your waking life by practicing public speaking, learning languages, or delving deeper into your subconscious mind by having philosophical conversations with different aspects of yourself.

In a lucid dream, whatever you imagine comes true. You are the god of your own universe. Stick to the guide below, and you’ll be a master oneironaut (dream traveler) in no time.

 

 

———–A Step by Step Guide to Lucid Dreaming———–

 

Step 1: Don’t Get Discouraged

stephen laberge lucid dreaming

Stephen LaBerge heralded a quantum leap in lucid dreaming research. http://www.goodreads.com

According to Stephen LaBerge, founder of the Lucidity Institute, as well as the man credited with being the “Father of Lucid Dreaming,”

Although we are not usually explicitly aware of the fact that we are dreaming while we are dreaming, at times a remarkable exception occurs, and we become conscious enough to realize that we are dreaming. “Lucid” dreamers (the term derives from van Eeden, 1913) report being able to freely remember the circumstances of waking life, to think clearly, and to act deliberately upon reflection, all while experiencing a dream world that seems vividly real (Green, 1968; LaBerge, 1985; Gackenbach & LaBerge, 1988). This is all in contrast to the usual past characterization of dreams as typically lacking any reflective awareness or true volition (Rechtschaffen, 1978).

That all sounds fantastic, but here’s the truth: Unless you are a natural (you wouldn’t be reading this guide if you were), lucid dreaming will take a great deal of time and effort.

There is no participation trophy. The vividness and control you have in a dream is entirely dependent on how often you practice and follow this guide.  It will take time to have a lucid dream, sometimes more time than you’d like, so for that reason step 1 is NEVER GET DISCOURAGED. The more impatient and discouraged you get, the harder lucid dreaming becomes.  Stay relaxed, and you WILL be lucid dreaming in no time.

Some people I have spoken to claim that it only takes them a few days to become lucid for the first time. It personally took me four months to have my first lucid dream, and another month to teach myself to use basic super powers like flying and telekinesis.

Everyone has their own pace. Be patient, and stay diligent.

 

Step 2: Research Lucid Dreaming

As a 20 year veteran lucid dreamer I assure you that this guide is good. Stick to it and you’ll be lucid dreaming within weeks. However, the key to becoming truly great at something is to never stop learning.

Scroll down to the bottom of this article and read through some of the studies and articles I used as sources. Better yet, speak to some lucid dreamers directly at LD4All.com. LD4All is one of the most wonderful communities I have ever had the opportunity to be a part of. I and other lucid dreamers like me want to help you start lucid dreaming, so you may as well take advantage of us.

 

Step 3: Keep a Dream Journal

Keep a journal or a tape recorder by your bed. Every time you wake up, whether it be to use the bathroom, drink some water, or begin the day, just stop. Don’t move. The moment you move the dream will become harder and harder to remember.

lucid dream journal

A dream journal is the cornerstone of any lucid dreamer’s journey. https://imnotstalkingyou.com/tag/ann-faraday/

Begin recalling your dreams. Focus on details, colors, emotions, words, locations, people; anything!

Once the dream is rolling around your mind like a pop radio song, write it down (or record your voice). Write anything and everything. If you can only remember a faint memory of the color blue, write that down. No detail is unimportant. The more serious you take your dream journal, the more likely you are to become a lucid dreamer.

If you can’t keep yourself awake long enough to write in a dream journal, sit up on one elbow to make yourself slightly uncomfortable. Also, make sure to keep your dream journal separate from other journals you may have.

A dream journal is the cornerstone of successful lucid dreaming. Keeping a dream journal will increase dream recall, as well as the vividness and detail of your dreams. Most importantly, a dream journal is the single most important factor in increasing your chances of having a lucid dream. Whatever you do, don’t slack on step 3.

It is common to witness a profound improvement in dream recall along with dream vividness after the very first entry in your dream journal. If it has been over a week and you still can’t remember any dreams at all, scroll down to the “Lucid Dreaming Troubleshoot” section of this guide.

 

Step 4: Wake Back to Bed Method (WBTB)

This is usually taught later on, but it is so effective that I want you to know about it immediately. WBTB is the secret weapon lucid dreamers use to make lucid dreaming significantly and consistently easier. It has the added bonus of improving the likelihood that you will remember your dreams. If you are having trouble having any dreams at all, then this method is your best friend.

1.  Set your alarm to wake you up 5 hours after you fall asleep. (I know you can’t get it to be exact, just do your best). The reason the alarm needs to be set 5 hours ahead is due to our natural sleep cycle.  

On average, after 5 hours of sleep, a person is at the very tail end of REM sleep, and easily woken. This is also the very end of a dream, and just before the beginning of another descent into deep sleep. 

In truth, everyone’s sleep cycle is slightly different.  In step 8 you will master your REM cycle. For now, just stick to around 5 hours. 

2. Wake up, then go back to sleep. It’s as simple as that. While WBTB works even if you only stay awake for a few seconds, for maximum effect, stay up for 10 minutes to 1 hour.

3. During the time you are awake, focus only on lucid dreaming-related material. Read your dream journal, tell yourself you will have a lucid dream, read about lucid dreaming online. It’s up to you. The more you focus, the more likely you will be lucid dreaming when you lay back down.  

4. WBTB can be used in conjunction with all other lucid dreaming techniques. 

 

Step 5: Do Reality Checks

At this point you’re confident, well researched, and have been sticking to your journal at least semi-regularly. Welcome to step 4.  If you have ever seen the movie Inception you are familiar with the totems that each character uses to know if he or she awake or dreaming. The same applies to lucid dreaming in real life. Every lucid dreamer does reality checks throughout the day, but it has less to do with staying sane, and more to do with creating patterns in your subconscious mind.

reality check lucid dreaming

Look at your hands. Are you dreaming? http://lucidrealitycheck.com/

Let’s say your reality check is looking at your hands. In a dream, your hands rarely if ever look normal. They usually have more or less fingers, or look alien and bizarre. Upon seeing a strange hand in a normal dream you wouldn’t even give it a second thought.

“Tentacle fingers? Makes sense.”

But in the mind of a person who has been constantly doing reality checks, those tentacle fingers are the answer to the question, “Am I dreaming?” Lucid dreaming time!

Simply put; the more often you do a reality check, the more likely it is that you will do the same reality check in any given dream. The key to reality checks is to do them mindfully and frequently. Ask yourself, “Am I dreaming?  Am I awake?” Or some other variation of the same question.

If you are not asking yourself the question in waking life, then you won’t ask yourself the question in the dream. It is the question, not the action itself, that will make lucid dreaming successful.

There are an infinite number of reality checks to choose from or create. Some of the most well known and effective reality checks include:

*Note: Always remember to ask yourself if you are awake or dreaming whenever you do a reality check.

Hands: As mentioned above, glance at your hands. In waking life they look like your normal hands. But inn a dream, hands are as variable as thought itself.

Light-switch: Flip a light-switch and see what happens. In a dream a light-switch rarely has anything to do with light. It might transport you to a new location, bark at you, or spray the room with confetti. Flip and find out.

Breath: Pinch your nose and try to breathe through it. In a dream you can breathe through your forehead or your hip bone. It makes no difference. 

Text: Just about the only font used in the lucid dreaming world is a strange mix between hieroglyphics and wingdings font. It just doesn’t make sense. Sure, there will be a few letters that look familiar to you, but the odds of seeing more than a few written words in a dream that make any sense are slim to none.  I have created text in dreams, but never have I stumbled upon a piece of text that makes much sense.

Clock: Check the time. Both digital and mechanical watches look strange in a dream. Watching the hour hand move backward and the minute hand move forward is always a fun time.

Mirror: Look in a mirror. In a dream your reflection could be anything from blurry, to horrifying, or even non-existent. If it turns out you’re dreaming, take a leap of faith and walk through the mirror. You never know where you might end up. 

Jump: Simply jump. In a dream you will often move in slow motion, float above the ground, or even start flying. Some of the greatest dreams of my life have been just flying through different lands, on different planets, through fictional universes, and through various mediums. It is very liberating. 

Poke: Poke yourself. In a dream your silky smooth skin might feel like any number of different textures. Mossy arms and prickly legs aren’t impossible in a dream world. 

*Note: Always use at least two reality checks.  Once in a while you will glance at your hand in a dream and it will look completely normal. That’s where the second reality check comes into play. I have never personally heard of two reality checks failing.

As you continue to do reality checks the question of whether or not you are dreaming will become a habit of thought, especially in your dreamworld. You’ll be holding a boa constrictor, falling through the sky completely naked, and suddenly ask yourself, “wait, am I dreaming?” Of course you are. You hate it when snakes interrupt your nude skydiving sessions. Boom! Now you’re lucid, and you will record your lucid dream in your dream journal when you wake up. Right? (Stop slacking on Step 3! :D)

The other benefit of doing frequent reality checks throughout the day is that it ensures that you are constantly thinking about lucid dreaming. The more you focus on something, the more likely it is to occur, especially in the case of lucid dreaming.

With practice your dreams will become extremely vivid and detailed, so much so that they will seem as real as waking life. Luckily reality checks always turn out the same in waking life, but rarely the same in dreams.

 

Step 6. Mnemonic Induced Lucid Dreaming (MILD)

There are a ton of techniques for becoming lucid, but I suggest you start with MILD. This technique was personally created by Stephen LaBerge and is ideal for beginners. This lucid dreaming technique can be split into five general parts. They are:

  1. Dream Recall
  2. Reality Checks
  3. Relaxation
  4. Affirmation
  5. Visualization

Lucky for you, you’ve already been working on parts 1 and 2. Let’s start with part 3; relaxation.

3. Relaxation

Any relaxation technique will suffice, but there are some tried and true methods that lucid dreamers, including myself, have found work best. Start by finding a comfortable position in bed. This is ideally a position you won’t move from.

lucid dream relax deep breath

Always make sure to take some deep breaths and relax before attempting to lucid dream. http://www.examiner.com/

Next, take 5-10 deep breaths, keeping in mind that you are preparing for a night of lucid dreaming. Remember that truly effective deep-breathing involves movement of the belly, chest, and shoulders.

Inhale using your diaphragm so that your belly pushes outward. When your belly is out, continue inhaling so that the chest expands. Don’t stop there! Continue inhaling so that your shoulders and collar bone rises. Hold this breath for 2-5 seconds, and release.

Your release should move opposite to your inhale, and be just as controlled. Begin with the lowering of your shoulders, the sinking of your chest, and finally the deflation of your belly. This entire sequence is called a yogic breath, and is a very powerful relaxation tool.

After you finish with your deep breathing, you are ready to begin muscle clenching. Start from the bottom up, clenching your toes, followed by your feet, legs, and so on. By the time you reach your forehead your entire body should be clenched tight. Release, and you will feel a powerful calm wash over you. Repeat muscle clenching at least two more times, or until you are in a completely relaxed state.

4. Affirmation

In this part of MILD you affirm to yourself that you will in fact have a lucid dream. Part 4 creates a solidified intention. It is like a manual override of the brain.

As you lay in bed fully relaxed, begin repeating in your head over and over again:

“I will become lucid,” “I will have a lucid dream,” or “I am dreaming, this is a dream, I am lucid dreaming…”

The words don’t matter as much as the intention. You WILL become lucid. Convincing yourself of that is the whole point of part 4.

If it’s been three weeks and you still haven’t had a lucid dream, it will be extremely hard to totally convince yourself that the next night will be different. Remember step 1: don’t get discouraged.

As your mind begins to wander, (it inevitably will), just gently bring it back to focus on the task at hand. “I will become lucid tonight.” Remember, just like with the reality checks, the words and movements don’t matter as much as your feelings and intentions. Believe yourself when you say that you will be come lucid, no matter how long it’s been.

5. Visualization

lucid dream fly

Visualize yourself flying, and you will fly. http://www.enlightenedwithoutguru.com/

Lucid dreaming is easiest when you have a clearly defined goal. What do you want to do in your first lucid dream? If you just stand around, amazed that you are actually awake inside your own dream, you will lose lucidity, guaranteed. Part 5 gives you a better chance at becoming lucid, and remaining lucid.

While you are affirming to yourself that you will have a lucid dream, visualize in your mind what you will do in your dream. If you want to fly, visualize yourself flying in your preferred location.  It also helps to visualize yourself writing in your dream journal about the lucid dream due to the mental associations you’ve made regarding the dream journal.

MILD Quick Overview:

  1. Stick to the dream journal.
  2. Keep doing reality checks throughout the day.
  3. Find a comfortable position to fall asleep in, and begin relaxing yourself using deep breathing and full- body muscle clenching.
  4. Use positive affirmation to tell yourself that you will become lucid. Know it to be true.
  5. Visualize yourself in the lucid dream. Have a clearly defined goal, and focus on that goal during your visualizations, and in your dream.

*Note: Remember that WBTB can be used in conjunction with MILD to maximize your chances of lucidity.

 

Step 7. Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming (WILD)

After you have mastered MILD you are ready to move on to the Holy Grail of lucid dreaming techniques, WILD. There is nothing wild or crazy about WILD. It is an extremely straightforward technique. Reading it over, it might even sound easier than MILD.  In truth though, WILD is an advanced lucid dreaming technique which transports your waking state awareness directly from waking life into your dream state. Stay with me here, because this is not science fiction. WILD is a tried and true method for lucid dreaming.

*Note: Use WBTB in conjunction with WILD. For experienced lucid dreamers, this is generally the quickest, most effective, and most relied upon method of lucid dreaming. 

1. Relax

Yup, same as MILD. This technique works best when you are in a totally relaxed state.  Set aside some time for stretching, deep breathing, and/or muscle clenching.

2. Observe the Hypnagogia

The hypnagogic state occurs at the onset of sleep, well before you being lucid dreaming.  It consists of a seemingly random roller coaster ride of visions, sounds, and sensations.  You may hear a phone ringing, followed by your name shouted by thirty different voice, followed by a leaf gliding acorss your skin, all while technicolor fractal geometries dance across your inner eye lids. The hypnagogic state can be fun, disorienting, or downright terrifying. Just remember that it’s all in your head, and go along for the ride. The hypnagogic state is actually the doorway to lucidity.

hypnagogia lucid dreaming

This is a great representation of what the beginning of the hypnagogic state looks like. Morphing dots, geometries, colors and sounds.

You must stay perfectly still during the hypnagogic state, or else you will wake up and have to start all over again. With practice you will be able to ignore itches, and reflexes, like the need to swallow.  It is also a good idea to experiment with different sleeping positions to find what is not only most comfortable for your mind, but your body as well.

In most cases, a person will experience a dominant type of hypnagogia. Visual and auditory hypnagogia are the most common, but it’s also possible to experience movement on or near your body in the hypnagogic state. Whatever you experience most, focus on it. Do not let your attention sway. If it does (it will) keep reminding yourself that you are dreaming. It is helpful to count, “1 I’m dreaming…2 I’m dreaming…3 I’m dreaming…”

As you stay aware during the hypnagogic state the hypnagogia will begin taking on distinct patterns and form. Begin to project your own visualizations onto the hypnagogia. Imagine the scene you want to begin your dream in. Imagine the hypnagogic imagery forming into your desired dream scene and it will do exactly that.

It is like focusing on something under a microscope. At first everything is blurry with many sounds and images all mixed together. But as you focus, or visualize a scene, the image becomes crystal clear. Layer upon layer, your dream scene is created.

Visualize yourself entering the dream scene you have created from a first person perspective. As long as you keep reminding yourself that you are dreaming, you will pop out of your sleeping body and into your new dream body.

3. Enter the Dream and Stabilize

Success! You’re lucid dreaming (do a reality check). Now that you’re in the dream the first thing you’ll want to do is stabilize.  Imagine a pilot suddenly entering an area with a wildly different air temperature.  Things are shaky. In your case, it’s your awareness that’s shaky. If you’re not careful, you’re going to lose lucidity and fall back asleep. This can be incredibly frustrating, but it happens to the best of us.

The first thing you should do is shout “Increase lucidity!”, “I am dreaming!”, or “I will stay aware!”  Something to that effect.  This will immediately increase the dream’s vividness as well as your awareness. You can also try spinning on your axis, or asking a dream character for help in staying lucid. Some dream characters respond like robots, while others are so complex and real that it fills you with awe.

At this point you are ready to start experimenting with what works best for you. Make sure to try out different ideas while you are dreaming and see what works best for you. Congratulations, you’re a lucid dreamer.

 

Step 8: Master your Sleep Cycle

This is not a necessary step, but mastering your sleep cycle will greatly increase the vividness and rate of lucid dreams you have.

lucid dreaming sleep cycle

Who knew scientists could graph sleep with such beauty. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19956/

As stated above, when doing WBTB, the reason you set your alarm clock to wake you up 5 hours after going to sleep has to do with the average person’s sleep cycle.  If you understand the basics of the sleep cycle and then master your own, I assure you, you will become a master lucid dreamer. So, here’s sleep in a nutshell:

Sleep architecture refers to the basic structural organization of normal sleep. There are two types of sleep, non-rapid eye-movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye-movement (REM) sleep. NREM sleep is divided into stages 1, 2, 3, and 4, representing a continuum of relative depth. Each has unique characteristics including variations in brain wave patterns, eye movements, and muscle tone. Sleep cycles and stages were uncovered with the use of electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings that trace the electrical patterns of brain activity.

The sleep cycle itself could be its own article, so let’s stick to what you need to know.

*Note: Sleep patterns change with age and gender.

  • Dreams take place almost entirely during REM sleep.
  • 80% of all dream recall is associated with waking up during REM sleep. That’s why WBTB is timed at 5 hours.
  • brain wave sleep cycle lucid dream

    Your brainwaves wile you sleep. http://www.sleepdex.org/

    Each sleep cycle lasts about 90 – 110 minutes. If you sleep for 8 hours, you are sleeping through about 5 cycles of sleep.

  • It is your goal to figure out how long your personal sleep cycle is by the best approach that exists: trial and error. Set your alarm to wake you up after 4.5, 6, 7.5, or 9 hours. Don’t wake yourself up during the first cycle as it lasts for a slightly shorter amount of time and will throw off your findings.
  • Since each sleep cycle you go through in a single night is different, pick one of the above times and stick to it.
  • Each night, set your alarm to wake you up a few minutes earlier or later than the time you chose. Write down how you feel when you wake up. Are you groggy? You probably woke up during deep sleep. Did you wake up feeling refreshed? Than you probably woke up during REM sleep or Stage 1 sleep.
  • Do the math and figure out when your REM cycle takes place on average. That is your golden time to set your alarm for WBTB. You will experience significantly better dream recall, as well as greater vividness when you go back to sleep.

*Note: You can also use the knowledge of your sleep cycle to ensure that you don’t wake up feeling dazed and confused every morning.  Sleep only in intervals that match when you will wake up feeling refreshed.  Don’t forget to engineer the perfect morning while you’re at it.

 

Step 9. Alternative Techniques

Try out the copious amount of other techniques that lucid dreamers and non-lucid dreamers alike have come up with. There is certainly no shortage.

You can even look into using some lucid dreaming technology such as the NovaDreamer.

If you are a true experimenter you can give Calea Zacatechichi a try. Known as Calea Z for short, consuming this plant doesn’t have any noticeable effects while you are awake. Once you go to sleep though, it’s a whole different story. Your dreams become more vivid, more convincing, and in some cases, wilder. I have personally tried Calea Z on multiple occasions, and it is in my opinion like using a psychedelic in the dream world.  This is definitely for the experienced lucid dreamer.

Another tried and true alternative that you can mix with any other technique is the use of binaural beats. A binaural beat is a pair of two very similar but slightly different frequencies played in each ear.  The brain integrates each frequency, and by doing so creates the sensation of a third frequency called the binaural beat. If a frequency of 100 hertz is played in the right ear, and another frequency of 94 hertz is played in the left ear, the frequency of the binaural beat will be 6 hertz. That is equivalent to theta brain waves (4-7 hertz), as well as REM sleep.  In this way, you can guide your brain into REM sleep just by listening to specific sounds as you fall asleep.

Binaural beats are most effective when using headphones, and can be used at any time to induce a wide range of states of consciousnesses.

Turn your speakers way up:

 

Lucid Dreaming Troubleshoot:

 

–No Dream Recall

You’ve had a notebook sitting by your head for 3 weeks and you still can’t recall a single dream.

Just as writers experience writer’s block, lucid dreamers experience dry spells.  Sometimes you just can’t remember anything. Are you stressed? Do a quick scan of your body. Does any part of your body feel overly stressed? Stress is the ultimate lucid dream killer.

lucid dreaming food

All of these foods have the potential to enhance your dreams. Take your pick. http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/

Another thing to consider is your diet. Alcohol has been known to decrease dream recall, as well as cannabis. There are many foods you can eat to help with dream recall though.

You can also check out Calea Z if you’re feeling adventurous, or just do some good old exercise.

Most importantly, take advantage of the WBTB method.

— Infrequent Lucid Dreams

You become lucid, but only rarely. How can you increase the frequency of lucid dreaming? 

First of all, being a lucid dreamer does not mean you will be transforming into Godzilla and saving the cosmos from interstellar doom every single night.  When you are first getting started 1-2 lucid dreams per month is normal.  After a year or more of practice 10-20 days each month is very common. I don’t have any clear evidence of this claim. I base it on the claims made over years of being active in various lucid dreaming forums.

The best advice is to stick to one technique and master it. Become the Mr. Miyagi of WILD, or the Yoda of DILD. As long as you focus on a single vehicle for lucid dreaming, frequency is sure to come.

Other than that, just stick to the guide and ensure that you master each step along the way. Be patient, and stay focused.

— Blurry Dreams and Difficulty Staying Lucid

Your lucid dreams are blurry and it’s hard to stay lucid. You usually just fall back to sleep. 

This is an extremely common problem, especially when you’re first starting out.  Check out the section entitled “Stabilization” in Step 7 (WILD) of the lucid dreaming guide.

Some quick tips are to spin on your axis, scream “increase lucidity,” visualize a new dream-scene, or ask a dream character for help.

— Sleep Paralysis 

Sometimes you wake up and your whole body is paralyzed. What should you do?

This is called sleep paralysis, and it can be a frightening experience. For those of you that have never experienced sleep paralysis, it feels like your whole body is chained down and that there is a heavy weight on your chest. Sometimes a menacing presence is felt in the room as well.

he menacing presence is likely just a result of hypnagogia (more on that in the next section). As for sleep paralysis, it’s totally natural.  It is not clear why it occurs, but it is thought to be directly associated with REM atonia. REM atonia is when the body shuts off production of motor neurons during REM sleep.  This is likely a way for the body to protect itself. Were it not for sleep paralysis everyone would be acting out their dreams.  Sleep walking would be the norm.

This best thing to do if you are experiencing sleep paralysis is to stay calm, and use it as a chance to become lucid. If you fight the paralysis you will only make things worse.  Instead, begin the WILD technique from the state of sleep paralysis. You’re already a step closer to lucid dreaming that way.

— The Old Hag

This scary old lady appeared last night, sat on your chest, and stared into your eyes with a look of death.  W-T-F!

Just about every lucid dreamer will meet the Old Hag at one time or another.  The truth is, there is no legitimate explanation for why thousands of lucid dreamers over the last 2000 years have been describing variations of the same terrifying old woman appearing in their dreams an sitting on top of them.

old hag syndrome

The notorious Old Hag. http://www.paranormalportals.com/

It is known as Old Hag Syndrome, and it is arguably the single most terrifying experience that can take place during your lucid dreaming adventures.

The running theory is that the Old Hag is a combination of sleep paralysis, emotional instability/stress, and hallucinations/hypnagogia. Just remember, it’s all in your head. The old hag and the rest of the nightmares you will face cannot hurt you.  You are choosing to be afraid.  Recognize that it is not real, and just let go. The harder you struggle, the worse it gets.

Just let go, and remember that you are the one and only master of your dreams.

–Other Issues. 

If you have any other problems or issues not mentioned here I would be happy to answer them to the best of my ability as a lucid dreamer with 10 years of experience. Send an email to efein0419@wondergressive.com with any questions or concerns.

 

Lucid Dreaming Ideas and Inspiration

Are you tired of just flying around, exploring worlds, and talking to dream characters? Do you need some creative inspiration? Are you looking to push your imagination to the limit? Either head over to LD4all for more tips, tricks, ideas, and inspiration, or try out my own suggestions below.

  • Walk through a mirror.
  • Experience synysthesia, a mixing of senses. For example, try tasting light, listening to smells, etc.
  • Transform into an animal of your choosing.
  • Transform into an alien creature.
  • Explore the human body as a cell.
  • Engage in a Pokemon battle.
  • Create your own world, solar system, or even galaxy.
  • Have a party where you invite different aspects of yourself. Invite your artistic side, your murderous side, and your silly side, and watch them all interact.
  • Shout out that you would like to meet your spirit guide and see what happens.
  • Request something creative from your dream, like a poem, song, or picture.
  • Conquer an old nightmare you had as a child, or one you are currently having.
  • Practice a sport in your dream and you may very well see positive results in your waking life.
  • Try talking to a dead person from history, or a dead relative.
  • Experiment with time dilation. Try making a 10 minute dream feel like 10 hours.
  • Ask your dream characters highly existential questions such as “Are you in my dream, or am I in yours?”
  • Play with gravity and other laws of physics.
  • Travel through time and meet yourself in 30 years.
  • Become the founding mother/father of a dream nation.
  • Recreate the universe of your favorite book.
  • Experience life as the opposite gender.
  • Let go of your control over the dream while remaining lucid. Be a quiet observer of the changes inside and out.

 

If you must sleep through a third of your life, why should you sleep through your dreams, too? –Stephen LaBerge

lucid dreaming totem

Quick! Do a reality check. Are you dreaming?

 

Sources:

http://www.lucidity.com/SleepAndCognition.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19750924

http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/ojs/index.php/IJoDR/article/viewFile/79/96

http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/ojs/index.php/IJoDR/article/viewFile/79/96

http://www.lucidity.com/LucidDreamingFAQ2.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oneironautics

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_LaBerge

http://library.macewan.ca/lucidity/lucid%20let%205.2/LL5_2_Preview_L_G.htm

http://www.lucidity.com/vanEeden.html

http://www.lucidity.com/SleepAndCognition.html

http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/mnemonic-induction-of-lucid-dreams.html

http://ld4all.com/

http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/hypnagogic-state.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19956/

http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/the-stages-of-sleep.html

http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/lucid-dreaming-techniques.html

http://www.amazon.com/Calea-zacatechichi-ternifolia-Dream-Capsules/dp/B00A9ZM65I

http://www.monroeinstitute.org/resources/what-are-binaural-beats

http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/15-foods-that-enhance-your-dreams.html

http://www.neurology.org/content/52/6/1194

Believing You Get Enough Sleep Works as Well as Getting Enough Sleep

According to a recent study, getting enough sleep each night may be as easy as believing you got enough. Although the biological effects of believing in having enough sleep were not discussed in the study, the results clearly illustrate a marked improvement in cognitive functioning due solely to a placebo effect.

 

Sleeping is Believing 

The authors of the study make it clear that the placebo effect can be found working its magic in all aspects of life and health, including getting enough sleep.  This study, however, is the first that shows a clear placebo effect influencing the cognition of participants in a sleep experiment.

The overall study was split into two studies involving 164 participants. The participants were required to report their previous night’s sleep quality. Researchers then secretly and randomly assigned an additional sleep quality to each person. Each participant was told their sleep was of “above average,” or “below average,” quality. Some participants were placed into a control group instead.

Related Article: Man in Coma for 7 Years Given Sleeping Pill and Wakes Up

Those in the “above average” group were told they received more than enough sleep with 28.7% of their sleep time spent in the regenerative state of REM sleep. The “below average” group was told they did not receive enough regenerative sleep with only 16.2% of their time in REM sleep. Interestingly, the assigned sleep quality, rather than the perceived sleep quality, had a major influence on the cognitive functions of participants, even after accounting  for experimental variables and the control group.

According to the researchers,

Assigned sleep quality but not self-reported sleep quality significantly predicted participants’ scores on the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test and Controlled Oral Word Association Task. Assigned sleep quality did not predict participants’ scores on the Digit Span task, as expected, nor did it predict scores on the Symbol Digit Modalities Test, which was unexpected. The control conditions showed that the findings were not due to demand characteristics from the experimental protocol.

This study is a clear example of how incredibly powerful of an effect our mindsets have on our lives. The placebo effect is well documented in humans. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, 1 out of 3 people are greatly affected by placebo. The opposite of the placebo effect is the nocebo effect.  Instead of feeling better, the nocebo effect makes people experience negative symptoms despite no biological or psychological changes taking place within them.

Related Article: Prevent Type 2 Diabetes By What You Love to Do Most: Sleep

News that the placebo effect can be used to impact whether we get enough sleep or not is especially welcome in light of another recent study linking sleep and cancer.  According to the study, a fragmented and/or inadequate amount of sleep accelerates cancer growth.

 

When Sleeping is Cancerous 

Although the results were seen in mice, the observed effects of fragmented sleep on cancer growth were so strong as to be alarming.

enough sleep health

Sleep your way to better health! http://www.age-well.org

According to the study published in the journal Cancer Research on January 21, 2014, fragmented sleep negatively impacts the immune system, leading to alterations in the way it deal with cancerous tumors. The director of the study David Gozal, MD, chairman of pediatrics at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital explained that,

It’s not the tumor, it’s the immune system. Fragmented sleep changes how the immune system deals with cancer in ways that make the disease more aggressive.

Multiple types of tumors in mice with fragmented sleep were found to be more than twice as large as tumors in mice sleeping without interruption. Not only were the tumors larger, they were also more aggressive.

Related Article: How Sleep Aids the Body in Growth and Regeneration

It’s of the utmost importance that we get enough sleep. I know the first study might sound like a loophole to sleeping, but unless you are a 19 year old athlete, convincing ourselves we’ve had enough sleep the previous night can only work for so long. At some point we need to give our bodies and minds the sleep coma they deserve.

 

How Much Sleep is Enough Sleep?

The answer to “are we getting enough sleep” varies with age, health, genes, and a whole other assortment of differences. However, a simple answer is provided by the National Sleep Foundation.

enough sleep chart

The key to getting enough sleep is to experiment and figure out how many hours you actually need. So many of us sleep too little, or too much, without being aware of how we feel when we wake up. Keep a sleep diary. Record when you lay down to go to sleep and when you wake up. Try to vary the amounts to get a better idea of what works best for you. Record how you feel as well, including emotions, wakefulness, and mood. After a month, look back at your sleep diary and figure out the magic number that will give you just enough sleep.

Related Article: Engineering the Perfect Morning in 8 Easy Steps

enough sleep rem cycle

This picture pretty much sums up whether you will wake up grumpy or not. http://sleepdisorders.dolyan.com/

It would also be a good idea to try to time your sleep in 90 minute to 120 minute intervals. The reason for this is that sleep consists of 4 major stages that repeat every 90 -120 minutes. There is a natural rhythm to our sleep, and the key to getting enough sleep while still feeling revitalized is mastering that rhythm. Ever notice how sometimes you wake up feeling like Tyler Durden ready to seize the day, while other mornings you feel like torching existence for forcing you out of your slumber? On the bad days it’s likely you were woken up in the middle of deep sleep (stage 3), and on the good days you likely woke up after REM (stage 4) and at the beginning of stage 1.

I’ve been experimenting with sleep for over a decade. Most of the time my optimal amount of sleep is between 7 hours and 38 minutes and 7 hours and 44 minutes. Any more or any less and I’m at least a bit grumpy. My girlfriend on the other hand needs at least 9 hours to feel refreshed and ready for the day. Keep in mind that everyone is different.

Experiment with yourself, and remember to be always growing.

 

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24417326

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-01/uocm-fsa012714.php

Rapid Eye Movement Sleep: Regulation and Function

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/01/study-believing-you-ve-slept-well-even-if-you-haven-t-improves-performance/283305/

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/treatmenttypes/placebo-effect

http://priory.com/medicine/Nocebo.htm

http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/science/what/sleep-patterns-rem-nrem

Afraid to Fall Asleep? (Part II) Effects and Strategies of Sleep Cycles

As you may or may not know: sleep is wonderful. Strangely enough, we don’t get enough of it all. I’ve mentioned the importance of sleep before. Today I’d like to delve a little deeper into the science of the sleep cycle — I’m on the lookout for balrogs and seeking mithril.

Part 1 of this article can be found here: Afraid to Fall Asleep? How Sleep Aids the Body in Growth and Regeneration

The Balrog: Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation causes and/or contributes to many ill effects including: depression, industrial and automotive accidents, delayed learning capabilities, slowed memory retention and intelligence, diminished sex drive, advanced aging of the skin, weight gain, and impaired judgement in regards to how much sleep you’ve gotten and need! A consistent sleep cycle can help you avoid sleep deprivation.

Sleep-deprived people seem to be especially prone to poor judgment when it comes to assessing what lack of sleep is doing to them. In our increasingly fast-paced world, functioning on less sleep has become a kind of badge of honor. But sleep specialists say if you think you’re doing fine on less sleep, you’re probably wrong. And if you work in a profession where it’s important to be able to judge your level of functioning, this can be a big problem.

That’s a really big problem. Sleep deprivation can also contribute to some serious health conditions such as heart disease, heart failure, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. This gives reason to the CDC declaring sleep deprivation to be a public health epidemic in the United States. Between 50-70 million adults have a disrupted sleep cycle and suffer from a sleep or wakefulness disorder.

 

The Mithril: Sleep Cycle Cure

The solution to sleep deprivation is so incredibly simple. All that you have to do is get the right amount of sleep. Knowing exactly what “the right amount” is happens to be a bit more complex. Luckily sleep scientists around the world have been attempting to understand the elusive sleep cycle and their efforts have been deliciously fruitful.

The amount of sleep and best times for sleep are dictated by circadian rhythm. Unlike the burrowing insects who lay dormant for up to 17 years, circadian rhythm is a twenty four hour sleep cycle dictated by circadian clocks. These clocks are biological mechanisms which are synchronized with the day-night cycle. The human sleep cycle is coordinated with the rotation of the Earth.

According to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences:

Circadian rhythms are important in determining human sleep patterns. The body’s master clock, or SCN, controls the production of melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy. Since it is located just above the optic nerves, which relay information from the eyes to the brain, the SCN receives information about incoming light. When there is less light—like at night—the SCN tells the brain to make more melatonin so you get drowsy.

So darkness triggers the body to utilize hormones in order to induce sleep. Once asleep the body and mind go through a series of sleep cycles. These rotate between deeper and more alert states. It is vitally important that you sleep enough for your body to get through several of these sleep cycles. If you don’t, you’re body will log this sleep debt which will need to be repaid later:

Sleep debt is the difference between the amount of sleep you need and the hours you actually get. Every time you sacrifice on sleep, you add to the debt. Eventually, the debt will have to be repaid; it won’t go away on its own. If you lose an hour of sleep, you must make up that extra hour somewhere down the line in order to bring your “account” back into balance.

The NIGMS (either the best, or worst acronym ever) gives a guide for maintaining proper sleeping habits so as to avoid the sleep debt. Follow these steps to set your sleep cycle to regular:

Aim for at least seven and a half hours of sleep every night. Make sure you don’t fall farther in debt by blocking off enough time for sleep each night. Consistency is the key;

Settle short-term sleep debt with an extra hour or two per night. If you lost 10 hours of sleep, pay the debt back in nightly one or two-hour installments;

Keep a sleep diary. Record when you go to bed, when you get up, your total hours of sleep, and how you feel during the day. As you keep track of your sleep, you’ll discover your natural patterns and get to know your sleep needs;

Take a sleep vacation to pay off a long-term sleep debt. Pick a two-week period when you have a flexible schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and allow yourself to sleep until you wake up naturally. No alarm clocks! If you continue to keep the same bedtime and wake up naturally, you’ll eventually dig your way out of debt and arrive at the sleep schedule that’s ideal for you;

Make sleep a priority. Just as you schedule time for work and other commitments, you should schedule enough time for sleep. Instead of cutting back on sleep in order to tackle the rest of your daily tasks, put sleep at the top of your to-do list.

Doing these activities will help restore your body’s sleep cycle properly giving you the energy and fortitude of will to achieve your daily goals. The importance of sleep is probably something that you’ve heard about on and off your entire life and for good reason! Sleep is something that your body absolutely needs to be healthy. Your sleep cycle is important to your daily functioning.

 

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep

http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/Factsheet_CircadianRhythms.htm

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/10-results-sleep-loss
http://www.cdc.gov/features/dssleep/

http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/Factsheet_CircadianRhythms.htm

http://www.helpguide.org/life/sleeping.htm