Waking Up to The Power of Lucid Dreaming

Have you ever been dreaming so vividly, recognized you’re sleeping, and at that same time that you’re “seeing” your dream? That’s lucid dreaming, and it’s a fascinating phenomenon.

What’s Lucid Dreaming?

Usually, when we’re dreaming, we aren’t aware that the dream isn’t real. While dreams are taking place, they feel real, as if we’re really doing whatever it is is happening. It isn’t until we wake up that we realize something is off and that it was all a dream.

However, some folks can “enter” their dreams, fully aware that they are dreaming. Lucid dreams are dreams where the dreamer is self-aware during the dream state. Practitioners turn to it as a way to work out a fear, help achieve a goal and many other things.

When Lucid Dreams Happen & What It’s Like

Like most dreams, lucid dreaming typically happens during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. For some people, it occurs spontaneously, while others have trained themselves to dream lucidly. The degree to which individuals can influence their dreams also varies.

While some people wake up as soon as they realize they’re dreaming, others can influence their actions within the dream or parts of the dream. I’ve talked to some people who began lucid dreaming unintentionally because of the frequent nightmares they were struggling with.

It turns out that the practice of learning how to use lucid dreams to stop nightmares is called “lucid dreaming therapy.” I’ve heard that lucid dream therapy can also combat phobias.

Techniques For Lucid Dreaming

There are several techniques for people who want to try lucid dreaming or hone their skills. In a 2017 study, Dr. Denholm Aspy and colleagues tested the efficacy of three techniques.

  1. Reality Testing: This technique might involve verifying whether you are or aren’t dreaming, both during a dream and in reality. Reality testing relies on intention. We ask ourselves whether we’re dreaming or experiencing something throughout the day. We check that reality, and if we’re awake, nothing will change. What we do throughout the day remains in our subconscious, which impacts dreaming. Things change if you’re dreaming and testing reality, indicating it’s a dream.
  2. Reality Check: This technique involves practicing using a line of text. It’s similar to reality testing but involves intentionally reading something to check if you’re in real-time or dreaming. If we’re awake, the line of text is the same, but if we’re dreaming, the text constantly changes.
  3. Waking Back To Bed: The practice of waking back to bed includes setting the alarm to wake ourselves up every five or so hours of sleeping. Once we wake up, we have to try to stay awake for a short while before going back to sleep. The technique is supposed to immerse sleepers directly back into REM, the phase we’re most likely to have a lucid dream experience.

It’s crucial to use the first two techniques repeatedly throughout the day because it can make it easier to use them during a dream. This process can allow dreamers to become aware of themselves and the dream. It’s all a part of the practice.

One other technique used for lucid dreaming is “mnemonic induction.” Just before going to bed, we would repeat a saying or phrase to help program ourselves to achieve the in-dream lucidity experience. Something like, “Tonight, I’m going to notice I’m dreaming,” works for some people.

Meditation and Dream Journals

It’s relatively common for people who find lucid dreaming to be easy to remember their dreams more regularly. I believe they say that one of the strongest predictors regarding whether a person experiences lucid dreams or not is how well they remember ordinary dreams.

That said, people interested in experiencing their dreams with full awareness can try using a dream journal to record their dreams every night in as much detail as they remember.

Mindfulness or meditation practices help train us, so to speak, to become more aware of our surroundings and ourselves in general. When we’re more mindful throughout the day, we’re more likely to recognize that we’re asleep and dreaming.

Concerns & Risks of Lucid Dreaming

While lucid dreaming often has therapeutic benefits, as with all things, there needs to be a balance. That said, there are concerns and risk factors to be mindful of.

Lucid Dreaming Disrupts Our Sleep w/ Potential To Affect Our Mental health

When we experience lucid dreaming, we’re halfway between being half-asleep and half-awake. When our REM sleep is disrupted, we can end up feeling groggy and disoriented the next day. We need restful sleep. Lucid dreaming can cause fragmented sleep. Constant sleep disruptions put us at greater risk of experiencing mental health issues.

Lucid dreaming is similar to dissociating, and it can make it difficult for individuals to continue to distinguish reality from fantasy. Which in turn makes it dangerous for anyone prone or at risk for psychosis. Suppose someone with psychosis is dealing with a psychotic episode. In that case, lucid dreaming tends to cause even more confusion about what’s real and what’s not.

Lucid Dreaming Causes Physical Reactions

It’s not only our mental health that could be at risk. Night sweats, increased respiration, and increased heart rate are often physical effects of lucid dreaming, especially if the dream is active or nightmarish.

Not all who experience lucid dreams understand it, want to deal with it, or know how to control it. Some people have a difficult time comfortably going back to sleep, which leads to physical issues like sore, achy muscles and fatigue.

Lucid dreaming fascinates me. I highly recommend learning more on the topic, medical-wise, before diving in to your nighttime world.

-Elaina Garcia



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Elaina Garcia is a published writer in various niches. She has been studying and practicing plant medicine and natural healing for 15 years now. A New York native living far from her old home, she lives a sustainable lifestyle in her tiny home! Her writing career began a little over 4 years ago starting at the bottom and working her way up. Elaina is the author of children's educational books and a content creator with work on various sites

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