The Beginner's Guide to Lucid Dreaming
Welcome to Dreamviews, a site dedicated to lucid dreaming and other sleep-related topics! You must be here because you want to learn more about lucid dreaming, and perhaps get started on preparing to have your first one.
The whole lucid dreaming endeavor can be pretty intimidating, but you can breathe now. This guide puts all the basic info on lucid dreaming (LDing) into one page, with links to different guides and resources, so you don't have to look all over the place to find what you're looking for.
What is a lucid dream?
A lucid dream is any dream in which the person is aware that he or she is dreaming. In other words, they are conscious of what's going on around them (unlike in an ordinary dream). Check out Naiya's guide here
for more information.
Who can lucid dream?
Anyone can lucid dream if they are dedicated to trying it out.
Why lucid dream?
Anything is possible in a dream, even more so in a lucid one! You can travel to different places, fly, talk to people you'd never otherwise meet, and alter the dream environment itself. The limit is, literally, your imagination - if you can think of something to do, you can do it in a lucid dream. Lucids can also be a source of inspiration for creative people; there's no telling what your mind will come up with, and in a lucid dream you have a first-row ticket to observe concepts and ideas forming right in front of you. You can be productive and do things you wouldn't be able to do in waking life, during a period of time where most other people will simply be "sleeping".
How hard is it?
Achieving lucidity can be done with fairly little effort for the easier techniques (such as DILD); other techniques (such as WILD) may require more effort on the dreamer's part. If you happen to have issues with something related to lucid dreaming, the users on the Dreamviews forum are happy to answer any questions you have.
What do I have to invest for successful lucid dreaming?
Nothing except your determination and belief that your first lucid is right around the corner. There is no need
for fancy gadgets or lucid dream-specific products.
How do I get started?
As someone who is interested in lucid dreaming, you first must take into account your ability to remember (or recall) dreams.
Dreams are formed during a period of deep sleep called REM
. Everyone dreams each and every night, but sometimes they don't remember anything they dreamed about. Because of this, some people believe they don't dream at all, but this is not the case. One simply has to practice remembering their dreams and eventually they could remember upwards of two or three a night, maybe even more.
Even if you hardly ever remember your dreams, you can work your way to recall just like anyone else.
How to remember your dreams:
- Alcohol suppresses REM sleep, which is when dreams are formed. As little as one glass could stop recall in its tracks. Avoid drinking if you're trying to remember your dreams.
- Upon waking up in the morning, relax and try not to move around too much. Allowing your body to relax helps keep your brain in "sleep mode" for a few minutes, which helps you remember your dreams better.
- Avoid watching television or being on the computer at least an hour before bed. The bright lights can make it harder to fall asleep, mess up your internal sleeping pattern, as well as harm your ability to recall dreams.
- Taking vitamin B6 supplements has shown to improve recall.
- Drinking a glass of apple juice two or three hours before bed can help, while foods such as tuna, bananas, chicken, and turkey are good sources of vitamin B6 which you can try if you don't want to take the vitamin in pill form. Chocolate has also been reported to work, although not as effectively in some cases. Find what works for you and stick with it!
- Tell yourself that you will remember your dreams. Repeating "I will remember my dreams" or something similar to yourself will help prepare your mind to recall what you dreamed about that night, and serve as a type of placebo effect. The mind is powerful, and in the case of lucid dreaming, there isn't any harm in bringing it to its full potential.
- Have confidence that you will remember your dreams! Belief is an important aspect of lucid dreaming, for recall as well as controlling your dreams (but we'll get to that later).
It's important to record your dreams. Keeping a dream journal is critical because physically writing or typing down your experiences in sleep allows you to flex your dream memory - as with any muscle, your memory becomes stronger with exercise. A few select people can bypass journaling and simply recall their dreams in the morning, but the majority of people need a system to help practice remembering their dreams.
Why is dream journaling so crucial to lucid dreaming? If you cannot remember your normal dreams, you may not be able to remember your lucid ones. Just because you are aware in a dream, it doesn't mean you'll be able to recall it any better; all dreams are remembered in the part of the brain that processes dream memory. Lucid ones are also processed in this way, and not in the waking memory area.
Once you can remember at least one dream per night and have a nice dream journal going, you're ready to move onto the next step: learning about dream signs and reality checks.
Dream signs and reality whats?
A critically important part of lucid dreaming is, well, knowing how to confirm that you're dreaming.
Dream sign -
a telltale sign that you're dreaming, which can be something present in the location of the dream, an anomaly regarding your own actions (you're more confident than normal, for example), or another obvious signal that you're not awake at the moment. A flying pig, being in an unknown location, or being on the run from a person you've never met all scream "you're dreaming!"
Reality check -
a quick action on your part that allows you to confirm whether you're currently dreaming or not. If you become aware in a dream, you need something to make sure you're not awake, or you could end up losing your awareness. There are certain things that work differently in real life than in dreams, and these are deemed "reality checks".
List of reality checks:
- Plug your nose - this can be slightly awkward to do in real life, but it may be the most reliable RC yet. Plug your nose and try to breathe through it; in real life you'll feel pressure in your nose and chest, and obviously won't be able to breathe. Here's the catch - in a dream, you won't feel any pressure, and the air will rush into your lungs as if nothing was blocking it! Be sure you know this reality check because it rarely fails!
- Count your fingers - Look at your hand and see if you have the proper amount of fingers. In a dream you can have less or more fingers, as well as fingers sprouting off of other fingers... Quite a sight to behold.
- Digital clock - Look at the time on a digital (not analog) clock and see if the time is unrealistic, like 1:98 or 8:62. You can also look at the clock, look away, and check the time again to see if it's changed; it may even change before your eyes.
- Reading - Sometimes in dreams, writing can be distorted or nonsensical, and change when you look away and look back again.
- Push your finger through your palm - Try pushing one of your fingers through the palm of your other hand. It may take a bit of effort, but if you're dreaming it will may go through as if you were a hologram or made of jello.
- Lights - Turn a light switch on or off to see if the light levels change. In dreams, the switch may not do anything, or the lights in the location could be dim.
- Location - Where are you right now? Can you remember how you got there? In a dream you can have no memory (or false memories) of how you ended up in a certain place, or you may be somewhere you shouldn't - such as on mars.
- Gravity - Expect yourself to float upwards and see if you do or not. Or, simply see if you can feel gravity acting on you right now.
- Grogginess or lethargy - In dreams, sometimes you're groggy and do things without really thinking about it. Sometimes you can feel tired like you do when staying up late at night.
The next step? Choosing the right technique(s) for you!
Be sure you have a couple of the reality checks above memorized, most importantly the nose-plug one, and put them in your LDing toolkit. You're going to need them once you become aware in a dream.
The different techniques
LDing is all about awareness
; because of this, some consider it a form of meditation since you are developing internal and external consciousness. The very definition of lucid dreaming stems from the word "lucid", which loosely means "to have a rational and conscious awareness of one's surroundings and actions". In this case, you will become aware that you are dreaming, hence the term lucid dreaming.
There is a medley of different induction techniques available, the majority of which require a certain level of awareness from the individual. Here is a list, description, and links to tutorials of the most popular lucid dreaming methods.
Click the resource links to learn more about the method you've read about. If you're still unsure about where to begin, check out Mancon's guide to choosing a technique
1) DILD - "Dream Induced Lucid Dream"
2) WILD - "Wake Induced Lucid Dream"
As the name implies, the person becomes aware when they are in the dream. Often the dream has already commenced and lucidity is triggered randomly in the dream's duration, be it near the beginning, in the middle, or at the end. DILDs are often spontaneous and you cannot necessarily predict when your next one will be. The main way to induce a DILD is to practice waking awareness, by means of questioning if you're awake or not, analyzing your actions, and developing an awareness of what's around you.
When the person becomes conscious in the dream, they usually stop what they're doing and may ask out loud, "this could be a dream!" or "I'm dreaming!". They then perform a reality check or two.
Official Dreamviews DILD Tutorial
Puffin's DILD Guide
KingYoshi's DILD Tutorial
Naiya's DILD and WILD Secrets
3) DEILD - "Dream Exit Induced Lucid Dream"
The person goes directly into the dreaming state from a waking state. This involves relaxing to trick your body into falling asleep, while you consciously observe the dream formation process and its stages. You often experience hallucinations and might even experience some paralysis (not required) as the dream forms, which are typically not observed because the person is usually unconscious by the time they happen - however, the point of a WILD is to remain conscious while your mind creates a dream, so you get a front-row seat in this process. The person is aware as soon as they enter the dream. WILDs can be done on demand and there is no randomness in when you will have one, since you are purposefully inducing one yourself. They also tend to be more vivid than DILDs.
WILDs are difficult to achieve without prior sleep that night; therefore, it's best to combine it with the WBTB technique (see below) and do a WILD after 5 - 6 hours of sleep, or during the day with a nap.
* Thet term Sleep paralysis (abbreviated SP) has been misused and the real term for paralysis in REM is called REM Atonia. It is the total or near-total paralysis of one's body during REM sleep, which is a safety mechanism to prevent the person from acting out their dreams. It can sometimes be accompanied by feelings of "rushing", vibrations along the body or in isolated areas, whispering, thumping noises, and other auditory and visual hallucinations which may be rather frightening at times. It is all produced by the mind so it is totally harmless, but it helps to read up on other peoples' experiences so you know what to expect before trying the WILD technique out. You don't need to experience any paralysis for the WILD attempt to be successful and you shouldn't view it as a stage of sleep you aim to reach, but rather see it as a cue that you're on the right track if you do get any sensations.
There are three outcomes in a WILD:
the dreamer may become too focused on any hallucinations they're experiencing or become overexcited, and snap out of the dream transition prematurely which negates the attempt.
the dreamer will be thrown into a dream scene - success!
the dreamer may believe they failed the attempt, but are actually in a false awakening
, or a dream in which the person only believes they've woken up. If they perform a reality check and discover they're dreaming, success!
Once in the dream, or even if they think they may have failed the WILD, the person performs a reality check.
REM Atonia (<< broken link until further notice)
Official Dreamviews WILD Tutorial
Jeff777's Free-Falling WILD Technique
KingYoshi's WILD Technique
Naiya's DILD and WILD Secrets
Seeker's The Five Phases of WILD
Mzzkc's Comprehensive WILD Guide
Mzzkc's Why You Fail at WILDs
Billybob's WILD - The Guide to End All Guides
AllInYourHead's How to Fail a WILD
4) MILD - "Mnemonic Induced Lucid Dream"
A DEILD is a WILD without all the preparation, relaxation, and (for the most part) the feeling of being paralyzed which may be too uncomfortable for some to experience. The person wakes up from a dream and doesn't move or open their eyes. They continue to breathe normally. As soon as you woke up you were not in sleep paralysis anymore (since you were no longer dreaming). The objective is to trick your body into think you are still asleep, so it re-initiates the sleep paralysis and therefore sends you back into a dream, consciously. The whole process, if done correctly, can take as little as ten seconds. The dreamer can speed up the process by actively visualizing a dream scene when they wake up, and imagine auditory or tactile (sense of touch) sensations.
Official Dreamviews DEILD Tutorial
Puffin's DEILD Tutorial
5) WBTB - "Wake Back to Bed"
This technique is relatively simple and possibly the easiest technique. It causes DILDs through the power of suggestion. It relies on the person telling themselves that they will have a lucid dream and being as certain as they can about it, which acts as a placebo effect on the mind. One could even act that they "know" their next lucid will be that night.
Official Dreamviews MILD Tutorial
6) CAT - "Cycle Adjustment Technique"
It involves the person waking up after five or six hours of sleep, staying up for a brief period of time (often 10 - 50 minutes, but sometimes more or less) and then going back to bed. One may also do some simple logic puzzles or math problems. It is thought that waking up at night also wakes up the logic center of the brain, which may make it easier to induce a lucid dream (this makes it a precursor to the DILD technique, as using WBTB causes a lucid dream in the same manner as DILD). It is an effective way of inducing LDs but can prove difficult for people who can't lose sleep, such as those who have to get up early for work or school.
Lucid dreamers often combine the WILD technique with this method, since it's difficult to achieve a WILD without waking up in the middle of the night (or during a nap).
Official Dreamviews WBTB Tutorial
This induction method relies on your internal sleep cycle and "REM rebound" to produce lucidity. The dreamer uses an alarm clock to wake up 90 minutes earlier than they normally do for at least a week, so their body becomes used to being aware and awake during this period of time. After this, the person does not set their alarm clock and continues to sleep. At this time, they have a good chance at becoming lucid because the mind was expected to wake up, but the person is still asleep and in a dream. The mind waking up while in a dream = lucidity. This method is essentially the precursor (or supplement) to a DILD.
Official Dreamviews CAT Tutorial
More techniques to consider
I got my technique down. Now what?
Your first lucid dream... Congratulations!
When someone has their first LD, they may become excited by the sheer feeling of freedom that comes with the knowledge that they can now do anything they want. If this is the case, relax and breathe deeply. Say out loud that you're dreaming, and pay attention to your surroundings.
When you become lucid, you want to spend more than just a few minutes in the dream, so it's important to extend the dreamtime as much as possible. Grounding one's self in the dream is referred to as "stabilization". You can easily accomplish this by doing the following...
- Touch things - the walls of buildings, objects, and anything else that happens to be nearby. Doing so will make your brain work to imagine what the object(s) will feel like, therefore taking your attention away from your physical body and drawing it towards your dream body.
- Rub your hands together - this works the same way as touching objects.
- Dream spin - slowly spin in a circle, looking around you and taking in all the details of the dream location. This too helps keep your mind engaged in active dream formation by filling in previously-empty "patches" in your location.
- Say that you're dreaming - simply shouting out "I'm dreaming!" or repeating it to yourself will help stabilize the dream, but it's best to pair this method up with one of the above ones.
- Don't think of your physical body! this is a big no-no, because you can end up focusing too much on yourself sleeping in bed and kick yourself out of the dream. If you find yourself going this route, quick touch an object and tell yourself that you're dreaming. Distract yourself until the thoughts go away.
Possibly the most exciting (and sometimes intimidating) aspect of lucid dreaming is the ability to alter the dream itself. Since you are aware within a dream that you know isn't real, and is only the product of your mind, you can take control of the dream itself. Dream control is relatively simple, and rests on one thing - expectations
. Believing strongly and as fully as you can that something will happen or work a certain way is the best technique for dream control, although there are two distinct types.
1. Active Control
This type of control involves the dreamer commanding a certain action to the dream, such as "increase lighting conditions!" or "my friends will be around the corner". The more confident and assertive the dreamer is in commanding something, the easier it will be to control the dream. Using this method makes it easier to maintain lucidity, because what you say helps to maintain a sense of control in the dream.
2. Passive Control
This type of control involves the dreamer putting on the persona of an actor and simply "knowing" something will occur. They passively observe changes in the dream without commanding anything, and act as if they're in a movie they've seen a dozen times over. For instance, the person may "know" that someone will walk around the corner, or "know" that the moon will collide with the earth. This can be easier to do than active control, but you also may lose lucidity quicker unless you can keep reminding yourself that you're dreaming every few minutes.
Both types of control rest on belief. To a certain extent, they also rely on visualization. If you expect someone to turn around the corner and walk towards you, don't just blindly command them to and let the dream do the rest. If you don't visualize what they look like, which becomes easy with practice, the dream will fill in the missing details and the person may look "off", or something about them may not look right. This goes the same for changing locations and other dream control activities.
List of common dream control activities and examples of ways to do them:
- Teleportation - going to a new location in the dream. One can walk through a mirror and fully expect a location of their choice to be on the other side, while visualizing it at the same time. Another method is simply opening a door if you're inside a building and knowing that location will be on the other side. Again, visualization is important here. A final technique commonly used is dream spinning (it's not just for stabilization) - spinning faster in a circle while visualizing a change in your location can work, but don't lose focus on what's around you, or you could wake up.
- Summoning dream characters (DCs) - a lucid dreamer will most likely want to try making a person of their choice appear in a dream, whether it be a crowd of people or a single person. You can always search for the dream character in a place you think they might be, but this can waste precious dream time. Instead, simply turn around and either fully expect them to be there, or even say out loud, "[name] will be here when I turn around". Visualize them as you do this. Or, walk around and use the same method to make them appear around the corner. You can also pretend that you are meeting someone at that very moment, and that they're never late for meetings (this way, they will be sure to appear as soon as you decide to summon them).
- Flying - another entertaining and commonly-used dream control activity. Saying "I will be able to fly" in the dream, or fully knowing you have the power to fly is key in achieving liftoff. Different ways of getting off the ground include taking a running start and jumping with no fear that you'll fall back down (there is no spoon), flapping your arms as if they were wings, summoning a jetpack or other device to assist with flight, or drinking a magical potion that will grant you the ability. There are many other ways but that is just a few. Feel the acceleration as you pick up speed in your flight, and don't pay attention to the fact that what you're doing just isn't possible. You're not awake, so it shouldn't matter! Another technique for flying is knowing that you've always had the power to do so, and that it comes naturally to you. You can also use this for other special powers such as pyrokinesis, breathing underwater, etc.
- Shapeshifting - Changing form into that of an animal, other person, or other creature is an intriguing but sometimes complicated process. There is the active approach, where you can see yourself changing shape (this relies heavily on expectation and visualization), and there is the passive approach. The passive approach simply involves the dreamer already knowing they've shapeshifted into something else, or knowing that they've always been in that certain form.
- Other special abilities - There is no limit to what someone can do once they're in a lucid dream. Pyrokinesis (controlling fire) and the control of other elements, telekinesis (controlling objects with one's mind), super strength, invincibility, and invulnerability are all possible, but those are just a few things in a vast array of different skills you can use in an LD. Your mind will make it happen if you believe in it! And don't forget to visualize that wave of fire exploding from your hand, that bullet ricocheting off your body, or that car being lifted off the ground!
On the Dreamviews (DV) Forum
Right when you join the Dreamviews forum, you'll be able to ask any questions and receive knowledgeable answers from other lucid dreamers. The forum is very active so you should get a response relatively quickly, if not immediately.
A big part of the forum is its list of acronyms, or abbreviations. Since we're a bunch of lazy typers, we've shortened some words and terms to make reading and posting go along smoother.
List of commonly used acronyms:
LD - lucid dream
DV - Dreamviews
CAT - cycle adjustment technique
DC - dream character, a person present in your dreams
DJ - dream journal
DEILD - dream exit induced lucid dream
DILD - dream induced lucid dream
FA - false awakening, when the person dreams that they've woken up and are back in their bed, but are actually still asleep
HI - hypnagogic imagery, hallucinations present during sleep paralysis
MILD - mnemonic induced lucid dream
PM - private message, a message you send to someone on the DV forum
RC - reality check, an action that confirms whether you're dreaming
REM - "Rapid Eye Movement", the period of sleep where dreams are formed, and often involves the quick movements of one's eyes (hence the name). Sometimes this occurs during sleep paralysis.
SP - sleep paralysis
WBTB - wake back to bed
WILD - wake induced lucid dream
for a more in-depth description of the above acronyms and what they mean, plus more.
The Dreamviews Wiki has a huge amount of tutorials, tips, and tricks, written both by Dreamviews and various users.
Questions or comments?
Send a private message to one of these Dream Guides - they are users who are experienced in lucid dreaming, and they'd be happy to help you get started with your LDing endeavors!