How to Lucid Dream

lucid dreams
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Lucid dreaming is the ability to be aware and conscious during a dream. There are a number of different techniques to have lucid dreams. If you want to explore having a lucid dream, this guide will walk you through step by step in things you can do to learn how to lucid dream.

What Are Lucid Dreams, Anyways?

As we mentioned in our basic introduction to what lucid dreams are, being lucid in a dream means you are fully aware and conscious while dreaming.

If you haven’t read that article yet, you may want to review it to learn about the different types of lucid dreams and how lucid dreaming can be quite beneficial for us in our waking lives. Having an understanding of lucid dreaming will help make it easier for you to identify what one might be like.

When you are lucid in a dream, you have the full ability to be aware of what is happening in the dream. With practice, you will be able to begin to control what happens in a dream if you so wish to. Lucid dreaming can also be an extremely powerful technique for dealing with nightmares.

While some people may believe that you need special abilities to lucid dream, nearly everyone is able to have one. All you need is a willingness to take the steps necessary to encourage the level of consciousness and environment to produce them.

How Long Does it Take to Start Lucid Dreaming?

Many people can have lucid dreams as soon as they understand what they are, especially if they are already experiencing some conscious awareness during vivid dreams at night.

However, it is important to understand and accept that you may not start having lucid dreams right away. It is not always an instant process! It often takes a little bit of preparation, practice and time for you to be able to go lucid during a dream.

Some people, if they already have very vivid and memorable dreams and practice mindfulness meditation regularly will be able to easily induce a lucid dreaming state.

If on the other hand you barely remember your dreams each night or have difficulty getting into a meditative state of mind, you will likely need to practice some basic habits that will help you be able to be more aware while sleeping and dreaming.

Is Lucid Dreaming Dangerous?

Lucid dreaming is not dangerous, but it does produce some extremely vivid dreams. For some people, this can be unpleasant, but for others it can be fascinating. Lucid dreams, like all dreams, may also bring up thoughts, feelings, and emotions you would prefer to not deal with. Sometimes this can be overwhelming to manage for some people.

There are no known dangers to lucid dreaming itself. The most common physical side effect is that some people may experience is sleep paralysis upon waking from the dream, which is when you are fully awake but unable to move while sleeping.

Fortunately, sleep paralysis upon waking is very rare and does not happen to most people. Even if it should occur you will typically be able to “wake up your body” within a few seconds or minutes. Once you know being awake while your body is still asleep is a normal part of lucid dreaming, you will likely not be afraid of it and will be able to bring yourself to being fully awake not just on a conscious level but also in the physical world.

If you do have concerns about lucid dreaming or have a medically diagnosed sleep disorder, you can also always talk to a medical professional. Opinions may vary, since very few doctors are actually aware of the conscious process of lucid dreaming. Still, it’s an option to explore.

Lucid Dreaming is Not For Everyone, And That’s OK

Some people feel like they are missing out or are doing something wrong if they don’t enjoy having lucid dreams. Others find lucid dreaming can be a source of worry, even though lucid dreaming itself is not dangerous.

If you find yourself worried about lucid dreaming, you may not want to lucid dream simply because it is a source of worry for you. Think of it like anything else that worries you or stresses you out – you don’t have to do it.

It’s kind of like if you were afraid of heights – you probably wouldn’t want to try standing on the roof of a 2000 foot tall building! If you were afraid of airplanes, you probably wouldn’t go on one. While some people, myself included, very much enjoy lucid dreaming, it is not something you feel like you should have to do if you don’t enjoy it.

It’s important to know it’s okay if you don’t like lucid dreaming. Everyone is very unique and at different levels of conscious development. It’s okay if you don’t enjoy lucid dreaming and there is no reason to beat yourself up over it!

The most important thing of course is that you get a restful night of sleep. Sleeping is an important time for your body to rest and recharge!

How to Have Lucid Dreams

Now that we’ve gone over the most common questions about lucid dreaming, we are ready to start exploring how to have lucid dreams. Again, much of this will depend on your own dream experiences and sleep habits.

how to lucid dream

Step 1: Start With Good Dream Habits

There are many things you can do to start being more aware of your dreams in general. Simply keeping a dream journal and recording your dreams can give you more insight into the nature of dreams. Talking to friends or family members you trust about dreams can also help you feel more comfortable in working with dreams.

Another thing you will want to do is to practice good sleep hygiene. There are many things you can do in your environment that will help you get a good night’s sleep and get into the sleep phases where dreams occur.  Some of the things you can do:

  • Do not watch TV, play video games, go on your computer, or go on a smartphone before bed.
  • Use low lighting 2 hours before bedtime to encourage your mind to feel relaxed in time for bed
  • Avoid eating spicy foods or drinking alcohol before bed; these things can interrupt your quality of sleep
  • Take time to practice deep breathing prior to going to sleep each night

Before you begin diving into lucid dreaming, it can really help to have a strong understanding of dreams. The more familiar you are with dreamwork, the easier it will be for you to enter a lucid dreaming state of consciousness.

These articles on our website can help you get started:

Think of these as “pre-requisite” to lucid dreaming. Of course, it may not be absolutely essential, but I do think it helps quite a bit.

Step 2. Practice Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Another thing that can be helpful is to take some time each day to practice mindfulness exercises. When you are mindful in your everyday waking life, this will begin to carry over naturally into the state of mind you are in while dreaming.

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in the moment and aware of your surroundings. We can practice mindfulness daily just by doing a couple of simple exercises.

Surroundings Exercise: Sit outside and spend some time being aware of all that surrounds you. Take a few deep relaxing breaths, and then just allow yourself to notice what is around you. Use your senses to notice different things.

Maybe you hear birds chirping the sound of a neighbor working outside. Maybe you see leaves scatter across the grass from the wind. Maybe you hear the wind. What do you see, smell, and hear?

A Relaxing Cup of Tea: Make yourself a cup of tea {or a warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate – whatever you like best!} Take some time being mindful of stirring a spoon in your cup. Take a sip of the tea and really taste it. Feel it in your mouth, on your tongue, down your throat as you swallow.

Mindful Doodling: This is another fun and easy practice that will help you learn to focus your attention into the moment. Take a pen and sheet of paper, and begin repetitively doodling a certain shape or pattern. This could be stars, circles, squares or swirls. Allow yourself to just get lost in the act of doodling this shape.

There are many different mindfulness exercises that you can do throughout the day to bring your consciousness into awareness of the present moment. Practicing this throughout the day while you are awake will naturally translate into becoming consciously aware during your dreams.

Step 3: Practice Reality Checks

Another thing that can be helpful is to often practice reality checks during the day while you are awake and going about your regular routines. Reality checks are helpful, because it grounds you into the physical world.

In the physical world, we are aware of expected outcomes from certain things. If you look into a mirror, you are going to see your reflection. If you knock on a table, it’s going to make a sound and you will likely feel it in your knuckles. You know that if you pinch yourself in real life its going to hurt!

When you are in a dream, these types of things aren’t limited to the physics of our waking reality. You might look into a mirror in a dream and notice you look like someone else, or that there is an accentuated feature that in the physical world would be impossible. If you pinch yourself in a dream, you likely won’t feel it the same way you would in waking life.

You can learn more about practicing lucid dreaming reality checks here. This will give you a good idea of different things you can do during the day that will help increase the likelihood of you becoming lucid during a dream.

Step 4. Try the Wake Back to Bed Method

The “Wake Back to Bed” Method is not one I’ve ever tried, simply because after dedicated practice of the first three steps lucid dreaming has always come naturally to me. For me, this lucid dreaming method is also not exactly practical – I typically have to get kids up to school 5 days a week and often have other things happening in the real world!

Still, this is a method worth mentioning because it is the one lucid dreaming technique that is most backed by scientific research to be effective. Of course, as with any sort of lucid dreaming practice, your own individual results may vary

Fortunately, this method is relatively simple to try. If it works for you, then it works. If it doesn’t work for you, you can still continue to practice the first three things we covered until you start to naturally become more aware and conscious during your dreaming practice.

In the wake back to bed method, you are basically going to plan to wake up before you actually need to wake up. The time you wake up is usually between 4.5-5.5 hours after you normally fall asleep. This method plans to wake you up during the time you are likely already naturally experiencing the REM phase of sleep.

During the REM phase of sleep, your brain is already active, and so this is a good time for your brain to naturally progress into a lucid dreaming state of consciousness.

Waking up is of course, the harder challenge, especially if you are a deep sleeper. It can also be difficult to do this practice if you don’t experience the typical dream phases of REM that is most common.

To wake up, you can either set an alarm clock that is easy to turn off, or ask someone to wake you up if you live in a house with other people who are normally quite early risers.

There are some various opinions on what you should do once you wake up from the alarm. Some people suggest fully waking yourself up, but for many people once you are awake for the day there is no going back to sleep.

For me, once I’m awake, I’m really awake, so I would likely recommend staying in bed but letting your mind wake up. You can wake up your mind by repeating a certain mantra, such as I will have a lucid dream.

While your mind is awake, it is helpful to stay focused on dreaming and your imagination. Think about what you might like to do while lucid dreaming. Allow your imagination to visualize these places or things you would like to explore.

Doing this will help you naturally induce a lucid dream as you would with wake-induced lucid dreams. From here, all you need to do is remain aware of your dreams as your body drifts off back to sleep.

Again, I cannot say for sure that this timing will work for everyone. At any rate, it can be a good thing to try if you want to learn how to begin wake-induced lucid dreaming. When I lucid dream, I typically allow my imagination to take me to different places and I become aware of my body falling asleep while I stay active in the dream.

The steps we listed above are very helpful in beginning to naturally explore how to lucid dream. However, for some people there is a combination of biology, physics, and conscious development that is necessary in order to induce a lucid dreaming state.

There are many additional things which can help support your ability to lucid dream.

Step 5: Keep Trying

Your first attempts to lucid dream may not be successful. That is okay – just keep trying! Write down whatever you experience while sleeping and dreaming each night, even if it is not a lucid dream.

If you continue to practice these 5 steps you will find that lucid dreams can come very naturally over time and with practice. Reducing stress in your everyday life and practicing good dream habits will make it easier to naturally fall into a lucid dreaming state of mind easily.

Should You Use Herbal Supplements or Essential Oils for Vivid Dreaming?

Another thing that can sometimes help with having more vivid, lucid types of dreams is to explore different herbal supplements or the use of essential oils and aromatherapy. This should only be done with research and with a solid understanding of herbs, their uses, their side effects, and of course your own body’s chemistry.

Some herbs that we naturally associate with sleeping and memory are lavender, ginkgo biloba, valerian root, peppermint and chamomile. These herbs can help you feel relaxed but also alert enough to remain conscious during the dream.

Essential oils in a diffuser can also help with lucid dreaming. Many people find if they diffuse the essential oils of cedar wood, lavender or cypress, it can be easier to achieve a lucid dreaming state.

An important thing to realize is that many people make claims for different “dream herbs”, but many of those herbs can be very dangerous or can cause more problems rather than benefits. Most of these herbs many people suggest as “dream herbs” are actually psychedelic hallucinogens.

It’s important for people to know that hallucinating is NOT the same thing as lucid dreaming.

One such herb for example that I DO NOT RECOMMEND is common mugwort. This is a weed from the daisy family that is known to produce hallucinogenic effects. However, it also has some serious side effects that can be extremely dangerous. Many people are also allergic to many plants in the daisy family, and so this is another major danger.

In general, I also do not like to recommend herbal supplements that are marketed as “dream herbs”. These items are not regulated, nor are they well researched or backed up with any sort of scientific data.

When we do not know the true quality of something, it is very difficult for us to know whether these blends of different herbs are sourced from. In many cases, these blends can be contaminated, even if they appear to be coming from a legitimate company. Many herbal supplements come and go off market quickly, especially once people start using them and then begin to have nasty side effects.

There are many essential oils which can be helpful for lucid dreaming. In most cases, it is best to use essential oils aromatically. It is not necessary to use them topically, and doing so without proper safety measures can result in burns or skin irritation.

Essential oils are another gray area where one must exercise common sense and proper judgement. Some companies sell essential oils which are not actually essential oils at all, but rather synthetic chemical fragrances. Essential oils are also extremely concentrated, and so they need to be used with respect.

If you are unsure of what essential oils are best for you and your needs, I recommend reading as much on the subject as possible.

If you really want to use herbs or essential oils, I recommend getting a good book as reference or working with an experienced herbalist or aromatherapist and verifying the source of the information. I am a huge advocate of self-empowering yourself with knowledge! You may even wish to take classes in becoming a certified aromatherapist. This is the best way to learn about essential oils and their properties and how to use them safely.

Watch Out for Contamination and Street Drugs

It seems ridiculous to put this in an article about how to lucid dream, but after reading many others who share dangerous recommendations on the internet, I feel it is important to share this information.

It is also very important to stay away from any illicit substances that people may recommend. This is especially if you do not know the true source, quality, or plant strain you are dealing with. Do not trust something blindly just because a friend is using it or recommends it. Many people have died in fake spiritual rituals due to a combination of ignorance and trust in people who are only predators trying to take advantage of others.

Several hallucinogenic herbs and mushrooms are commonly available, but these are often times not safe. Because these items are not regulated, it can be very difficult to know whether or not it is pure or if it has been tampered with.

Marijuana for example is a herb that can be used for a number of spiritual purposes. Unfortunately, in places where it is still illegal, it is not regulated. There are many dangers you may not be aware of. This is especially if you have not used it in a long time or are not familiar with the way street culture works.

For example, many dealers will lace the marijuana with heavy metals, such as lead, to increase the weight so they can sell less of it for a much higher price. Others may lace with dangerous chemicals or other drugs. People do this exact same thing with mushrooms – it’s not that unheard of for some. It’s not uncommon to find PCP, synthetic opioids or even household chemicals like laundry detergent in today’s marijuana off the streets. Some people even just do this to similar looking herbs, like oregano, and then try to pass it off as marijuana.

Unless you are able to source the exact perfect strain, grow it yourself, ensure it is not being contaminated and do so in a place where it is legal, it is best to avoid it at all costs until regulation is in place to ensure safety and quality.

The most important thing to understand is you don’t need special herbal supplements to enjoy lucid dreaming. With practice, you can very much easily and completely naturally induce a state of lucid dreaming.

While it’s tempting to find a “short-cut” to have more vivid dreams or to produce a lucid dreaming state, the consequences and risks far outweigh any benefits.

Do the things we outline in this article to practice good sleep and dream habits. Practice mindfulness and conscious development during your everyday waking life, and you will be able to have lucid dreams. These dreams will be much more authentic and deeply fulfilling to help you better understand yourself and your place in the world around you.

After enough practice, you will start to understand more with how it feels to have a lucid dream and how to get into that lucid dreaming state.

I hope this article on lucid dreaming is helpful for you, and of course I also hope I did not scare you away from lucid dreaming with all of these warnings about the supplements and herbal remedies that many people tout. Lucid dreaming is very natural and safe, and it’s important to avoid the things out there that are not accurate, factual or safe.

Do you have any questions about how to lucid dream? Any experiences you wish to share? Your comments and thoughts are as always welcomed below!

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  1. Excellent advice! I’m glad you included using substances. Too many people are looking for quick fixes and are misguided. Something to mention also is that essential oils in diffusers can be deadly toxic to household pets, so extra research there is important.

    1. Definitely agree Michelle, I think many people don’t do enough research on essential oils!

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