15 Things You Need To Know If You Want To Try Lucid Dreaming
Let's say you're having a nightmare, and you're completely terrified by it. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to control your dream to make the nightmare go away? As it turns out, it's totally possible with the power of lucid dreaming! But how does lucid dreaming work, exactly? And how do you go about doing it? This is a subject scientists have studied for a while, and lucky you, we've put together a list of lucid dreaming facts to help educate you on this fascinating and fun practice.
Before we delve into what lucid dreaming is, it's worth noting that it is not something that happens easily. It takes training and work to manage, but it is definitely possible for the average person to have a lucid dream. Yes, you too can dream of riding unicorns across the surface of Mars at will!
So if you're ready to learn more about lucid dreaming, read on. This is one subject so fascinating it might make you actually want to fall asleep... in a good way!
More Than Half the World's Population Will Experience a Lucid Dream
Almost 60 percent of people will experience a lucid dream in their lifetime, even if it only happens to them once. And 20 percent of people have one or more lucid dream per month! That means that out of everyone you know, several of them probably do some form of lucid dreaming regularly.
You Can Decide What to Dream About Before You Go to SleepPhoto: ashley rose, / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
There are many different methods of lucid dreaming, and one of the easiest involves planning out a dream and visualizing it before you go to sleep. You can use photographs to remind you of vivid scenes, paintings, smells, or phrases. The idea is that you want to have a scene plotted out in detail before you even close your eyes, right down to your initial actions and reactions. Then you go over it repeatedly as you drift off. Once you begin to sleep, you will be able to have a dream based on what you were imagining. You may not be fully aware of the fact that you are in a dream this way, but at the very least, you will have some control over how you spend your resting hours.
Lucid Dreams Affect Your Brain Differently Than Regular Dreams
In a 2009 study, scientists found that brainwaves of lucid dreamers were different than regular dreamers. In fact, they found that lucid dreaming is an altered state of consciousness with measurable differences from normal dreaming or being awake.
You Can Use Lucid Dreaming to Stop Smoking
This is another claim that seems nuts, but for some people, it really works. In dreams, you can do things that are addicting without any harmful side effects, so you no longer have to do them in the waking world. This saves your body from any chemicals you might be putting into it, and can help you stop the behavior altogether. As one lucid dreamer puts it:
"I smoked for 14 years. Couldn’t give it up. I began smoking in my lucid dreams two years ago and haven’t had a cigarette during my waking hours since. I smoke every night in my dreams. I don’t need to do it anymore when I’m awake."
You Can Have Multiple Lucid Dreams Per NightPhoto: Risto Kuulasmaa / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0
Even though many lucid dreams are only several seconds in length, the upside is that, with practice, you can have multiple lucid dreams per night! Certain lucid dreaming experts have reported that they can have up to five lucid dreams in only a single sleep cycle. Of course, for the average person, this number is likely to be smaller. Still, with training, practice, and determination, you can push yourself to engage in lucid dreams with different scenes, motives, characters, and situations every night.
You Can Use It to Kick Nightmares to the CurbPhoto: looking4poetry / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
One of the best things about lucid dreaming is that once you start dreaming, you can often influence what happens in the dream because you know it is, in fact, a dream! Besides being a lot of fun, this can help with nightmares. Say you're having a nightmare over and over again. You can train yourself to lucid dream whenever this dream begins, either by giving yourself a trigger, by visualizing it before bed, or by training yourself to have regular lucid dreams. Then, when the nightmare strikes, you will realize you're dreaming. You can then wake up or modify the dream in any way you wish. You can tell the monster to go away, change the setting, give yourself full control, or paint yourself as the hero. Really, you can do anything you want, and that nightmare will have no hold over you anymore!