How Lucid Dreaming Works

How to Have a Lucid Dream

Who doesn't like a nap? Now you can call it your lucid dream research.
Who doesn't like a nap? Now you can call it your lucid dream research.
Rob Melnychuk/Digital Vision/Getty Images

If you'd really like to try to have a lucid dream, there are different suggested approaches. Dream recall is important. You may have heard of people keeping dream journals. As soon as you wake up from a dream, you record as many things as you can remember, even if you've woken up in the middle of the night. The idea is that by focusing on your dreams each day, you'll get into the habit of remembering them and start to see certain rhythms in how you dream -- once you're attuned to your process of dreaming, you'll become a better observer of your own dreams.

Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreaming (MILD) is one of LaBerge's techniques. When you wake up from a dream, try your best to remember it fully. When you go back to sleep, keep telling yourself that you're going to remember that you're dreaming during your next dream. The next step is to picture yourself back in the dream that you just had and look for a sign that the dream is a dream and not reality, like the fact that you're flying through the air with wings (LaBerge calls these dreamsigns). At this point, remind yourself that you're dreaming and continue the visualization. Keep doing this until you fall asleep.

Another method that might help involves napping. You wake up extra early, stay awake for a half hour or so, and then go back to sleep. Something about the interruption of sleep seems to blur the border between being asleep and being awake.

Reality testing, or reminding yourself throughout the day that you're conscious, is another approach. It also has connections to the Buddhist concept of mindfulness. This repeated acknowledgement of the state you're in is supposed to help you explore the other extreme -- the more you realize what consciousness is like and when you're conscious, the more likely you'll be to recognize when you're in a dream state. After all, how do you know you're conscious? Your actions have a logical reaction -- you flip on a light switch and the light turns on. When you flip the switch down, the light turns off. In dreams, actions don't tend to follow a logical pattern.

As far as gadgets go, the most notable might be the NovaDreamer, another Lucidity Institute innovation, which looks like a cross between a sleep mask and goggles. It's supposed to help you with lucid dreaming by letting you know when you're in REM sleep. Sensors track your eye movements and trigger a light that shines on your eyes. When you see the light in your dream, you'll know you're dreaming. LaBerge has also experimented with the use of galantamine, a drug sometimes used to treat Alzheimer's that's supposed to help the ability to think and remember.

For more information on lucid dreams, sleep and other cool stuff you might be interested in, try the next page.

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