Lucid Dreams

What is Lucid Dreaming?

Have you ever had a dream and become aware that you are dreaming? If the answer is yes, then you have experienced a lucid dream.

A lucid dream is when the dreamer becomes aware that they are dreaming. There is a moment of clarity where the dreamer realises that they do not have wings and are not actually able to fly. Therefore they know that they are dreaming. In a lucid dream, the dreamer is able to recognise thoughts and emotions.

lucid dreams

This can, of course, be quite scary, depending on the dream. Dreaming about having dinner with your favourite celebrity is one thing, but realising you are in a dream where you are lost in a dark, creepy forest is another.

History of lucid dreaming

In 1913, a Dutch psychiatrist coined the term lucid dreaming. He recorded several of his own lucid dreams and his thoughts during them and upon awakening. He stated that most of his lucid dreaming involved flying.

More recently, people have heard about lucid dreaming due to Stephen Laberge, a psychophysiologist who also calls himself the dream sailor. He heads up the Lucidity Institute, which dedicates itself to the study of lucid dreaming.

When does a Lucid Dream Happen?

Lucid dreams most commonly occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep is marked by eye movement, more brain activity, and faster breathing. This phase of sleep usually happens approximately ninety minutes after you fall asleep and lasts for roughly ten minutes. Each REM period is longer than the previous one eventually lasting up to one hour.

Benefits of Lucid Dreaming

Controlling Your Dreams 

‘By waking in your dreams, you can waken to life’ (LaBurge, 2009).

During a lucid dream, there is a possibility that the dreamer can change the people, the environment, and the storyline.
Essentially, they can guide and direct their dream.

Lucid dreaming could help with the following:

Reduce Nightmares

Because during a lucid dream, you are aware that you are dreaming, during your nightmare, you will know that it is not real. And because you can control your nightmare, you will be able to change the story of the nightmare to a pleasant dream. For example, if you have nightmares about being chased by someone you are afraid of and that you know will harm you, you create a superpower or special ability and fight off the attacker.

Overcome Phobias

if you have a phobia, for instance, of spiders (arachnophobia), you could use the lucid dream for exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is where you gradually expose yourself to whatever it is that you are afraid of in an attempt to reduce or overcome the fear.

Relieve Anxiety

If you have nightmare-related anxiety, controlling and changing your nightmare could help alleviate the anxiety.

Enhance Creativity

Anecdotal reports say that people have claimed lucid dreaming increases their creativity and imagination. While this has not been scientifically proven, some people state that it sharpens their creativity.

How to Lucid Dream

Power of Suggestion

Some people say that they can successfully induce lucid dreaming by telling themselves that they will have a lucid dream once they fall asleep.

The Mild Technique

Mnemonic induction of lucid dreams(MILD) is a technique that involves training yourself to recognise the difference between dreams and reality during sleep. This is achieved by waking yourself up after a period of sleeping (five hours) and telling yourself, ‘Next time I’m asleep, I’ll remember I’m dreaming’.

Wake Back to Bed Technique

The wake back to bed (WBTB) technique is not an evidence-based technique so it is important to note that this technique is about guesswork and experiment based on speculation. The WBTB involves waking yourself up in the middle of the night (usually five hours after you fall asleep) then staying awake for fifteen to ninety minutes. After this time, return to bed. Before you fall asleep, have the firm intention to recognise that you are dreaming when the dream occurs.

Sleep Hygiene

Good sleep hygiene can help ensure that you have a healthy sleep-wake cycle including REM sleep which is when you are most likely to experience a lucid dream. 

Dream Journal

Some studies have shown that being focused on your dreams can induce a lucid state. A good way to do this is to keep a log of your dreams using a dream journal.

Lucid Dreaming Device

There are many portable lucid dream devices that you can buy. They come in the form of headbands and sleep masks, and they produce flashing lights, noises or vibrations. Other devices can record and play messages used in the MILD technique while you’re asleep.

Risks of Lucid Dreaming

While lucid dreaming is relatively safe, there are some risks.

Messing with your sleep cycle (practising the MILD and WBTB technique) can cause low mood and anxiety, particularly in those who have pre-existing mental health issues.


LaBurge. S. 2009, A concise guide to wakening in your dreams and in your life, CreateSpace, Canada.