Over summer break a couple years back, I went on something of a lucid dreaming kick. I’d read something on Pinterest about how cool it was, and I wanted to try it. Following the instructions, I wrote in a dream journal, lightly pinched the palm of my hand a couple of times a day, and wrote “YOU ARE AWAKE!” on my wrist. And right when it felt like I was doing all this weird shit for nothing, I had a lucid dream.

It wasn’t particularly exciting. I was in a mall, I had a sudden epiphany that this was all a dream, and I tried to fly. Unfortunately, I got too excited and accidentally woke up. But it was exhilarating, to have complete manipulative power over a situation, even if just for a couple of moments. I researched more, and got better, until I could lucid dream for the entire length of a dream. This wasn’t very often, and the average dream only lasts around fifteen or twenty minutes, but during these short adventures, I flew in outer space, strolled through a candy wonderland, and walked a tightrope. It was almost as if I lived a double life.

But soon, when summer faded to an end and school started again, I got lost in the lull of routine. I forgot to write in the journal, my hand hurt from all the pinching, and the Sharpie on my wrist washed off. I went back to living my dreams in a comatose oblivion, my conscious mind tethered to the real world.

But it’s summer again, and I’m determined to try once more. This time, I researched even further and learned just how incredible lucid dreaming is. Lucid dreaming isn’t just about running around in a fantasy land. You can also…

  • Talk to your subconscious mind, and thus increasing self-awareness. If you could ask your inner self a question, what would it be?
  • Overcome fears. One psychiatrist claims lucid dreaming helped his clients deal with PTSD by facing their fears in their dream-world.
  • Have a more restful sleep (which we ALL could really use)!
  • Improve your memory.
  • Improve your skills, whether that be in sports, a foreign language, or an instrument you’ve been meaning to play, by practicing in your dreams.

It’s unbelievable how much we can achieve… by sleeping! So, hey, if you need an excuse to take more naps, just say it’s neurological research on the benefits of lucid dreaming, and leave it at that.

So, how exactly do you go about lucid dreaming? For some, it’s easy, but for others, it’s very difficult to get your brain to listen to you. It all depends on your dedication, and how your mind works. However, some people can lucid dream without even meaning to! This often manifests in sleep paralysis, in which your mind is awake but your body is still trapped in sleep. It can often be quite terrifying, and is certainly not what I’m aiming for here. However, if you do suffer from sleep paralysis, lucid dreaming has been shown in some cases to help you regain control of your dreams, so read on!

The trick to lucid dreaming isn’t just one thing; it’s a compilation of them. Here’s what I’ve found so far on the best techniques to train your body to lucid dream:

  • Write in a dream journal (this is what I was talking about before). Keep a notebook by your bed, and as soon as you wake, jot down everything you can remember.
  • Throughout the day, ask yourself, “Am I awake right now?”. I know it seems dumb, and the answer seems obvious, but when you’re dreaming, your first thought is going to be, “Of course! Why wouldn’t I be driving a sports car through the Sahara Desert?”. So, take your time, and consider the question. Are you actually awake? Does everything that’s happening make sense? Because, as you become accustomed to asking yourself this question, you’ll eventually ask it in your dream. And if you carefully consider it, you’ll realize that driving a sports car through the Sahara Desert isn’t realistic.
  • Perform constant reality checks throughout the day. For instance, in dreams, words and numbers become jumbled up, so one reality check could be looking at the clock, then looking away, and looking back again. If you’re in a dream, the numbers will either be blurry, or different. You can also pinch your nose and close your mouth, then see if you can still breathe. Another reality check would be to try to push your hand through a solid surface.
  • Listen to binaural beats as you drift off. Binaural beats mess with the brain by playing sounds with two different frequencies into one ear. You can find a lot of different samples on YouTube.
  • Meditate. Personally, I don’t have the concentration to meditate, but if you do, try it!

If you want to get ~fancy~ with it, you can also purchase things to help your lucid dreaming. Here are some links:

Pills to stimulate lucid dreaming

Cool mask that flashes lights while you sleep

Headband that also tracks your sleep

Good luck to everybody on their lucid dreaming journey!