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How To Control Your Dreams With Lucid Dreaming
Have you ever tried to control your dreams?
If you’ve seen Inception, you’ve probably thought about it a time or two.
For the uninitiated: Inception is a sci-fi movie where the characters use lucid dreaming to steal information from other dreamers’ minds.
You may not be able to do exactly the same thing in real life… but scientists and sleep experts have proven that some people can control their dreams (1). In other words, they can lucid dream.
What Is Lucid Dreaming?
Until recently, scientists weren't sure that lucid dreaming was real.
But the jury is in: lucid dreaming is 100% possible.
New studies show that some people do indeed consciously control the events of their dreams while they're dreaming (2).
Should You Try Lucid Dreaming?
Controlling your dreams sounds like a dream, right?
Sure, some people love entering dreamland (what many of us call the world of the Sandman).
Many people use lucid dreams as a form of storytelling to explore their creativity. In fact, Salvador Dali used lucid dreaming to find inspiration for his surreal paintings.
What's more, some therapists recommend lucid dreaming to confront nightmares or phobias.
There are quite a few studies that support lucid dreaming as a beneficial practice — but before you give it a try, know that there are also plenty of studies that cite drawbacks to lucid dreaming.
For instance, sometimes people with mental illnesses can’t tell the difference between lucid dreams and reality.
For that reason, scientists and researchers recommend that people with mental illnesses avoid lucid dreaming (2), as it can make it harder for these people to deal with their illness.
Overall, the scientific community is still exploring the pros and cons of lucid dreaming.
Want to draw your own conclusions?
Unfortunately, only about 20-30% of the population can naturally lucid dream (1).
But there’s good news: you can teach yourself to control your dreams — even if you’ve never had a lucid dream before.
How To Have a Lucid Dream
Ready to take control of your dreams?
All you've got to do is patiently and consistently train yourself to realize you're dreaming— while you're still awake.
One of the best ways to enter a lucid dream is by repeating a mantra (3). Before going to bed, try repeating the phrase, “Tonight, I will realize I am dreaming”.
Another technique is to practice awareness during the day. Throughout the day ask yourself, “Am I dreaming?” This will help you learn to ask the same questions during your dream — which will prompt you to realize you’re dreaming.
A third technique is to touch a wall. If you can’t put your hand through the wall, you are not dreaming. But if you’re dreaming, you will be able to put your hand through the wall.
And a final technique is for the truly committed:
Lucid dreaming often occurs in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep.
Try setting your alarm for 5-6 hours after you’ll fall asleep. When your alarm goes off, stay awake for a bit instead of going straight back to sleep.
When you re-enter REM sleep, you may start lucid dreaming.
(Lucid) Dream On
Gaining control of your dreams can help you explore your creativity, battle your real-world fears and more.
If you’re like most people, you normally don’t realize you’re dreaming, in the moment. But with practice, you can start to control your dreams. So, get practicing.
If you enjoyed this article, then read this one: Sleeping With the Sandman: A Brief History — Plus Your Path to More Vivid Dreams.
Now, we’d love to hear from you.
Have you ever tried lucid dreaming? Do you want to? Why or why not?
(1) Walker, Matthew. “How Lucid Dreaming Works." Tech Insider, 21 Jan. 2018, www.youtu.be/qH-MGqokk_Y
(2) Voss, Ursula PhD et al. “Lucid Dreaming: A State of Consciousness with Features of Both Waking and Non-Lucid Dreaming." Sleep, 1 Sep. 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2737577/
(3) Cohut, Maria. “Lucid dreaming: Controlling the stories of sleep.” Medical News Today, 14 Sep. 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323077.php