Most people dream, but very few realize they are dreaming and have the ability to control aspects of what they’re experiencing. The science of sleep has made an issue of lucidity since the late 1960s. There are various supposed benefits, causes and methods for maximizing the state of lucid dreaming. Unfortunately, there’s no tried and true way of reaching a lucid dreaming state.
Lucid dreaming is rare. It incorporates four distinct characteristics:
- Knowledge that a dream is occurring
- Knowing that dream objects will disappear upon waking
- Understanding that the laws of physics don’t apply to dream worlds
- Remembering fully the waking world
Many dreamers will experience some of these characteristics at different times in their lives, but in order to be considered a truly lucid dream, they must all coincide at the same time.
How to Use Lucid Dreaming
While the term lucid dreaming was coined in 1913, it’s clear that lucid dreaming was not a new concept at the time. There is evidence going back through history of people experiencing this dream state and reaping the benefits. Some new age practitioners encourage dream training in the hopes of harnessing the greater cognitive abilities associated with these kinds of dream states.
Athletes, students and professionals also use lucid dreaming techniques to train themselves to work against obstacles and bad habits while they sleep. The practice, says Harvard researcher Maarten Bos, makes sense. The human brain does not shut down while a person sleeps. It is working all of the time, and the processes that occur during sleeping hours have a noted effect on concentration, decision making and the effectiveness of instincts during waking hours.
Becoming a Lucid Dreamer
There is no evidence that proves someone can train themselves into becoming a lucid dreamer. However, groups and individuals have promoted different methods. Certain religious and spiritual practices rely on lucidity to reach a higher level of supposed consciousness. This may or may not be attainable through the steps they encourages practitioners take.
These may include:
- Keeping a dream journal filled with details to help you better recognize when you are dreaming.
- Get in the habit of checking if you’re awake while you’re awake. Double-check the time on a clock, for instance, or a line of text you’ve just read. Dream results will change significantly. These habits will hopefully crossover to your dream states.
- Count yourself to sleep.
- Instead of trying to rationalize something strange that happens in your dream, attempt to accept it as a sign you are dreaming.
- Use soft, warm blankets, memory foam mattress toppers and other gentle elements to relax before sleep so that you can concentrate on entering a lucid state.
People who are already lucid dreamers have learned to steer their dreams depending on what they wanted to do. This could become a powerful tool in learning and improving life skills. However, the ability to become a lucid dreamer is still unknown. Staying relaxed and confident may help, but there is no guarantee that dream training can change the way you dream or how you process information while you are sleeping.