Lucid Dreams

Lucid Dreams

Amina Hall, Staff Writer

“I have these lucid dreams where I can’t move a thing.”

No, this article is not about the song by Juice WRLD, I’m talking about when you fall asleep and you realize you’re dreaming. 

Not sure this is a real thing? Well, the truth is, we are somewhat lucid during our dreams. Kristin Nunez of says, “You’re able to recognize your thoughts and emotions as the dream happens. Sometimes, you can control the lucid dream. You may be able to change the people, environment, or storyline.”

For example, let’s say you were sleeping and in your dream trees grew upside down, your home was floating, and clouds were orange. Obviously, none of that seems right so a lightbulb goes off in your head that says, “I’m dreaming.” With that realization, you can let your imagination run wild. But first, we need to start with the basics by understanding sleep in general. 

Why do we even have dreams? Well, one part of the equation has to do with REM sleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement and during this time your brain is very active. The other part has to do with the five different stages of sleep. Stages 1,2 and 5 consists of light sleep and REM. According to the article “How Much Deep, Light, and REM Sleep Do You Need?,” “During stage 1, you drift from being awake to being asleep. This is a light, NREM (non-REM) sleep that doesn’t last very long. Stage 2 of the sleep cycle is still a light sleep, but you are drifting into a steadier sleep. Your breathing and heartbeat slow down, and your muscles relax.” While the first two stages are important to the sleep process the magic truly happens during the fifth stage. “REM sleep, often referred to as stage 5, is when you are most likely to dream. Your first REM cycle of the night begins about 90 minutes after you fall asleep and recurs every 90 minutes. Your arms and legs become temporarily paralyzed during this stage to prevent you from physically acting out your dreams.”  Stages 3 and 4 are when you are in deep sleep. 

So, once you are in REM sleep, lucid dreams can happen, but how do you actually experience a lucid dream? Dorie Chevlen of The New York Times says, “There are two commonly recommended techniques for developing that skill, both of which take time and practice, and don’t always bear fruit. The first is to record your dreams in a journal and look for patterns within them.”

Nunez of says, “So, by increasing your awareness during your waking state, you can enhance your awareness during your dreaming state. Reality testing is a popular way to do this. It trains your mind to recognize your own awareness while you’re awake. Popular reality checks include: Nose pinch. Pinch your nose. You’ll be able to breathe if you’re in a dream. Finger through palm. Push your fingers against your opposite palm. If they pass through, you are dreaming. Mirrors. In a dream state, your reflection won’t look normal.” 

A few other techniques and ideas that are effective for learning and having a lucid dream come from Dr. Daniel Love. Dr. Love is one of the world’s leading lucid dreaming specialists and his book, Are You Dreaming? dives deep into the research, discoveries, and more about the world of lucid dreaming. He is also the inventor of many popular lucid dreaming techniques, one of them being named “The Love Method.”  

The Love Method is a beginner-level skill that is proven to have a high effectiveness rate and is a DILD & WILD lucid dream type. A DILD lucid dream type means that something inside the dream makes you understand you’re dreaming. A WILD lucid dream type means that the dreamer goes from awake to dreaming knowing they are now in a dream state. The technique focuses on the second REM stage also known as the Golden REM stage, unlike traditional lucid dreaming techniques. “The Golden REM Stage is the most consistent period of REM across all age groups and occurs roughly two hours and forty minutes after falling asleep for the night. This stage of REM also results in some of the most vivid, stable, and realistic lucid dreams,” says Dr. Love in The Love Method. 

According to Dr. Love, there are 5 main steps to achieve your goal of having a lucid dream. First, “When going to bed, set your alarm to wake you after 2½ hours of sleep. Also, take note of the time you retire to bed.” 

Second, “When woken, get up and stay awake for ten minutes. Get out of bed and stand up. Perform a thorough reality check. Take 15 quick deep breaths, in through your nose, out through your mouth. After each exhale remind yourself of your goal to recognize when you are dreaming.” 

Third, “Once the ten minutes have elapsed, return to bed. Tell yourself that you will soon be dreaming, and will recognize that you are dreaming. Clearly and firmly set the intention that the very next thing you will do is to perform a reality check. Engage your prospective memory. Allow yourself to fall asleep naturally.” 

Fourth, “Two outcomes are possible: 1) Success: You will either rapidly enter a very stable lucid period of REM. 2) Unsuccessful: If you fail to attain lucidity and awaken naturally later in the night, refer to the time you fell asleep, and use this to establish where you have woken in your sleep cycle. Then perform whichever lucid dreaming technique best suits the phase in which you have woken.” 

The final step, according to Dr. Love, states “If successful you should naturally wake up after your lucid dream. Take this time to record the dream in detail.” For more information on the different techniques, you can go to this website.

So where do nightmares fall into the whole process? We’ve all had nightmares and sometimes one can leave you in a cold sweat. Nunez of says, “Lucid dreaming could provide relief by reducing recurring nightmares. During a lucid dream, you’re able to realize that the nightmare isn’t real. It also lets you control the dream, which allows you to turn a nightmare into a more neutral or pleasant scenario.” Other benefits of lucidly dreaming are it could relieve anxiety, enhance creativity, increase motor skills, and aid in interpreting dreams. While there are multiple pros, some cons Nunez mentions about having lucid dreams are sleep problems, derealization, and dissociation. 

People are fascinated by the idea of lucid dreaming and I’m glad to say I’ve hopped on that train. A lucid dream is a type of dream when the dreamer becomes aware that they are dreaming and statistics from Healthline say that about 55 percent of people have experienced one or more lucid dreams in their lifetime.