How to Start Lucid Dreaming for Beginners
If you've heard about lucid dreaming, you're probably excited about the possibility of having interesting and fun dreams. Or maybe you've experienced a moment of lucidity, only to have your dream fade out, and are eager to recapture the feeling.
Fortunately, there are some practical steps you can take that will drastically increase your odds of having a lucid dream.
The first 3 steps are highly recommended. Once those are in place, I suggest experimenting with the other steps that appeal to you.
Here they are!
#1 Become Aware of Your Normal Dreams
If you’re only vaguely aware of your regular dreams it’s unlikely you’ll become lucid. You need to send your brain the message that dreams are important.
When you first wake up, try not to move. Think about last night’s dreams. It’s recommended that you write your dream’s content into a dream journal. If you’re not willing to put that much time into this step, then at least think deeply about your dreams and try to remember everything you can about them. After doing this for some time, you’ll be able to identify patterns in your dreams, things that recur.
#2 Practice Reality Checking
Incorporating reality checks into your daily routine is a good way to keep your mind aware of the differences between waking life and dreaming. Once reality checking becomes a habit it should carry over into your dreams.
For an overview of some common reality checks and how to perform them, see the link below.
#3 Identify Your Dream Signs
Dream signs are anything that indicates to us that we’re probably dreaming. The key is to recognize the things that tend to recur in your dreams so you can give them extra thought. You have to set it in your mind that when any of these things happen, you might be dreaming.
For more on identifying your dream signs and following them up with a reality check, read here.
#4 Manipulate Your Wake Up Time
During the course of a regular night’s sleep, lucid dreams are more likely to occur at the end of the sleep cycle. This effect can be amplified by varying the time you get up.
This method can be tried if you have some leeway on what time you wake up. If you usually wake up at the same time every morning, your brain is in the habit of becoming more active at that time. If you can alternate getting up at your regular time with getting up an hour later, your brain should be more active on your mornings with the extra hour. This will encourage lucidity on those days.
#5 MILD Technique
This is the Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams technique. First, your dream recall should already be good. Second, reality checking should be a part of your daily routine.
If those things are in place, the MILD technique uses pre-bed affirmations and visualization. As you’re lying in bed repeat a lucid dreaming related affirmation such as “My next dream will be lucid”, or “I know when I’m dreaming.” If you’re very tired this step will only last a minute or two. If not, do it for 10 minutes.
When you feel really relaxed the visualization starts. Imagine yourself in a recent dream or in a place that recurs in your dreams. Take note of something in the scene that’s unusual (a dream sign) and do a reality check in your mind. Tell yourself that you’re dreaming. Do something in the daydream that you would do if you were in a lucid dream, like flying or talking to someone you never see.
During this process you should fall asleep. It’s important to wait until you feel close to falling asleep to start the visualization and not to concentrate too hard on your imagined scene. If either of those things is off, you could just end up lying awake in bed for a long time. Later in the night, your mind should be primed to recognize a dream.
#6 WILD Technique
This is a Wake Induced Lucid Dream. This happens when you go directly from being awake into a lucid dream. It’s often accompanied by sleep paralysis, a disconcerting sensation where you’re unable to move.
For an overview of a WILD attempt that leads to sleep paralysis, read here.
Here are the steps to attempt a WILD:
- Relax physically and mentally- The physical relaxation will be complete; the mental relaxation is partial. Lie in a comfortable position, on your back if possible. Relax all of your muscles. Close your eyes and observe the colors and patterns on your eyelids. Don’t try to direct it, just watch. When a thought enters your mind, just observe, don’t control it.
- The hypnagogic state- This is the transition stage, a half awake half asleep state. The images in your mind are taking over, and you’re drifting off. You might be hearing things. This is a critical point in the process. You’re losing conscious control, but at the same time, you need to have enough to…
- Form a dream scene- Imagine as vivid a scene as you can. Put yourself in it and fully experience it. Tell yourself that you’re dreaming. Do a reality check in the day dream. If everything goes right, this scene will turn into a full fledged lucid dream.
There are several places in this process where it’s easy to get startled and wake up completely. You might have to attempt it many times to achieve lucidity.
#7 Take an Afternoon Nap
Because we enter REM sleep quickly during a nap, many people find afternoon naps to be especially productive for lucid dreams. Your mind has already been active during the day, but you’re not as tired as you’d be at night. This seems to help our minds become active while we’re dreaming.
This is an excellent time to attempt a MILD or a WILD.
#8 WBTB Method
This is the Wake Back to Bed method. Set your alarm to wake you up after about 6 hours. When you wake up, stay up for 15 minutes to an hour. While you’re awake do something to activate your mind like reading or listening to music. Don’t do anything that really fires you up, though. You don’t want it to be difficult to go back to sleep. This would be a good time to think about lucid dreams and do a reality check.
When you go back to sleep, you’ll go directly into REM and your heightened mental activity from the short period of wakefulness might propel you into a lucid dream.
As with the afternoon nap, this is a great time for the MILD or WILD techniques.
#9 Remain Calm
When you first experience lucidity, you might get so excited that you wake yourself up. This is always disappointing, but at least you’re getting somewhere.
During the day set it in your mind that when you realize you’re dreaming you will stay calm. Pretend that you’re becoming lucid in a dream and responding calmly, telling yourself that this is what you were expecting and everything is fine.
After that when you get lucid in a dream you shouldn’t be startled awake. You can then stabilize the dream by rubbing your hands together and moving around. Anything that engages your senses will help the dream take hold.
I hope these methods help you on your path to lucid dreaming. Some people see results quickly; other people need more practice time.
When you get a little closer, try to enjoy what you're accomplishing instead of being disappointed that you aren't reaching lucidity regularly.
If you aren't getting the results you want, it might be good to take a break for a while especially if you're feeling stressed about it. It's important to make your attempts with a relaxed attitude.
Enjoy the journey and keep trying.