What is a lucid dream?
Have you ever had a dream in which you were aware that you were dreaming, but it felt like it was happening in reality and when you woke up you could recall it? If yes, then you experienced what is called a lucid dream. Experts define a lucid dream as a dream in which the dreamer is aware they are dreaming.
In your lucid dreams, you are both an onlooker and bystander of the events happening, while at the same time you participate in those events as well. It allows you to control what happens in your dream. In simple words, you are the author of the stories in your lucid dream.
How do I trigger a lucid dream?
It is unclear to the scientists how and why lucid dreams occur. Some studies, however, provide clues about how lucid dreams unfold.
Researchers suggest that you experience lucid dreams several hours into your sleep, in the “deep” rapid eye movement (REM) stage.
Studies also reveal physical differences in the brains of people who have lucid dreams. Typically, the front portion of the brain, called the prefrontal cortex, is larger in these people. The prefrontal cortex is the site of high-level tasks like making decisions and recalling memories.
Other studies detail ways in which you can increase your chances of having a lucid dream. Although more research is needed to unravel definitive ways to lucid dream, follow the tips and tricks below:
- Wake up, then go back to bed: Set an alarm that wakes you up five to six hours after you fall asleep. You need to stay awake for some time and then return to sleep.
- Mnemonic induction of lucid dreams (MILD): Once awake, you need to rehearse the dream and visualize it. Remind yourself that next time when you dream, you will remember the dream.
- Dream journals: Maintain a dream journal to keep a record of what you saw in your dreams.
- Reality checks: Perform several reality checks a day. Here is one you can try–Look at one of your hands and try pushing the finger of the other hand through your palm. Your finger will touch your palm if you are awake; otherwise it will pass through your palm. When you repeat this action many times a day, it can actually train your brain to dream lucidly.
- Intent to dream lucidly: Keep the intention of dreaming lucid in mind when you go to bed.
- Quiet down: Turn off all screens before you go to bed.
Is it dangerous to lucid dream?
Lucid dreams are not dangerous per se. You may, however, experience things you may not be emotionally prepared for. For example, lucid dreams can have a more emotional impact on you than the typical stressful dream in which you are running late for an important meeting and all the doors are locked, or you are trying to climb a small flight of stairs but your legs have no strength.
Lucid dreams go way beyond these experiences and the experiences seem so real that they can leave you feeling incredibly shaken emotionally. Lucid dreaming may have an association with narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that makes people fall asleep quickly at any time and any place. People with narcolepsy often report having extremely vivid, strange dreams that feel true to real life.
Having frequent lucid dreams for some has been reported to prevent adequate sleep, which can affect general wellbeing. Lack of sleep can lead to various health conditions like depression, mood swings, daytime fatigue, and high blood pressure.
How can I avoid lucid dreams?
These all-too-real dreams can wake you up and then make it hard for you to go back to sleep. This can adversely affect your sleep quality. The excitement of lucid dreams often comes at the cost of restful sleep. To avoid lucid dreams, you can try the following:
Medically Reviewed on 6/19/2020