March 3

How to Lucid Dream: Eight Science-Backed Techniques

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And the most effective one according to recent research…


What is Lucid Dreaming?

Have you ever been conscious within a dream, taking control of its narrative? That’s lucid dreaming—a state where you’re fully aware you’re dreaming and can sometimes steer the dream’s direction. Beyond its cool factor, lucid dreaming is a bridge to understanding our consciousness, offering therapeutic benefits and a unique platform for personal and spiritual growth. In previous discussions, we explored the connection between dream recall, enhanced creativity, and reduced anxiety levels. Today, we take a deeper dive into the lucid dreaming practice that roots back to ancient times. Historically, lucid dreaming practices have fascinated scholars and thinkers alike. For instance, it’s suggested that Descartes, known for his fascination with lucid dreaming, came up with his famous ‘Cogito, ergo sum’ within such a dream.

Contemporary research delves into the neuroscience behind lucid dreaming, uncovering its benefits of these practices and already suggest that lucid dreaming can effectively reduce nightmare frequency in adults, offering a promising psychotherapy avenue for addressing this common symptom of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. While the neurobiological underpinnings of lucid dreaming involve increased frontal activity during REM sleep, suggesting a physiological awakening in the dreaming state, this line of research also illuminates our understanding of consciousness in both its altered and pathological states. 

Our focal point today is a newly published study ‘Comparative Analysis of Lucid Dream Deepening Techniques’ by Shashkov et al., which analysed 858 lucid dreaming reports from 462 individuals to evaluate various induction techniques.

How to Lucid Dream: Preparation

Before we explore the techniques, let’s set the stage. For lucid dreaming, your mindset and environment play crucial roles. Similar to dream recall-enhancing techniques, cultivating a keen anticipation for lucid dreams and creating a restful, distraction-free sleeping environment can significantly up your chances of having one. Now, to the techniques assessed in the study. It is recommended to condition yourself by practicing them from time to time during the day as quick “am I awake” checks and also right before going to bed.

Technique 1: Falling Upside Down

Minimalist iconographic depiction of a human figure falling upside down.

Imagine diving headfirst through the ground, going deeper and deeper. This technique activates your vestibular system through the sensation of falling, theoretically enriching the vividness of your dream. However, tread lightly, as it’s been found to be the least effective technique of all, which can potentially end your lucid dream prematurely.

Technique 2: Imagining Wakefulness

A minimalist iconographic depiction of a man imagining his arms in a dream.

Start by visualising that you’re in your physical body, fully awake and engaging with reality. This technique, akin to inducing a false awakening, tricks your mind into a vivid dreaming state, enriching your dream’s clarity and realism. Practice this by settling into your dream scene and firmly believing you’re actually awake within it.

Technique 3: Spinning

A minimalist iconographic depiction of a spinning sphere.Ever thought spinning around could keep you in a lucid dream longer? According to S. LaBerge’s hypothesis, spinning taps into your vestibular system, which is linked to REM sleep’s rapid eye movements. When you feel a lucid dream fading, start spinning in your dream to prolong and deepen the experience.

Technique 4: Warming Up

A minimalist iconographic depiction of a female figure doing physical exercises to warm up.

Imagining physical activity in a dream, such as running or jumping, can also surprisingly activate the same areas in your brain as in waking life. Practice this during daytime checks and condition yourself to do the same in dream exercises to potentially enhance the vividness of your lucid dreams.

Technique 5: Verbal Command

A minimalist iconographic  depiction of a female face gently talking.

Command your dream to become more vivid with strong, clear orders like “Deepen!” or “Vividness!” The power of suggestion plays a significant role, leveraging your expectations to instantly enrich your sensory experience within the dream.

Technique 6: Vibrations

An abstract minimalist iconographic depiction of vibration with a sphere in the center.

Seek to induce a sensation of vibrations or buzzing within your dream body, without physically tensing up. Amplifying these vibrations could lead to an increase in dream vividness, offering a unique tactile enhancement to your lucid dreaming practice.

Technique 7: Obscene Expressions

A minimalist iconographic depiction of a female face shouting expressing strong emotions.

Although it may sound unorthodox, swearing or expressing emotions vividly in a dream can tap into REM sleep’s emotional regulation functions, potentially intensifying the dream’s vividness. It’s all about unlocking the emotional undercurrents that influence our dreaming mind.

Technique 8: Palpation (The Winner!)

A minimalist iconographic depiction of palpation, showing a black hand touching soft colourful fabric.

And here we have the champion of lucidity—palpation. Intensely touching and feeling everything around you in a dream floods your consciousness with sensory information, dramatically enhancing the dream’s vividness. This technique emerged as the most effective being reported in 88% of successful reports and in a quarter of reported hyper-vivid perceptions. Immerse yourself fully in the tactile experiences during your “am I awake” checks during the day and in the dream world. Begin by reaching out and touching everything within your vicinity. Allow your hands to feel the textures of both commonplace and imaginary items, such as the grain of wood on furniture, the cool smoothness of walls, or the softness of carpet under your feet. Pay attention to the fine details: the warmth or coldness of objects, their weight, and how they feel against your skin. This practice is not merely about touch—it’s a deep sensory exploration designed to enhance your dream’s vividness by saturating your consciousness with detailed tactile information. Engage actively with your dream environment, letting the sensation in your palms guide you to a richer, more vibrant lucid dreaming experience.

Interestingly, the profound impact of palpation on dream vividness can be attributed to its stimulation of the sensorimotor cortex. According to modern research, hand movements and the tactile sensations from the palms and fingers during lucid dreaming activate vast regions of the sensorimotor cortex, more so than many other activities within dreams. This extensive activation is believed to saturate the dream experience, enhancing the perception of vividness and realism.

Practical Tips for Enhancing Lucid Dreaming Techniques

Integrating these techniques into your lucid dreaming practice can be a game-changer. Start with palpation to get a feel for manipulating dream vividness. Remember, patience and persistence are key. Lucid dreaming is a skill that improves with practice.

It’s not uncommon to face hurdles like losing lucidity or waking up too soon. If a technique doesn’t work immediately, don’t be discouraged. Experiment with different methods, and don’t shy away from combining them to discover what works best for you. Consider journaling your experiences to track progress and understand personal patterns over time.

We’d love to hear about your lucid dreaming adventures!

Share your experiences, challenges, and successes in the comments below, especially your first successful lucid dreaming experience or how a particular technique worked for you. And if you’re hungry for more insights into the world of dreaming and mental health, subscribe to our newsletter. And share this article if you liked it.


Tags

dreaming, dreams, lucid dreaming, lucid dreams, neuroscience, science of dreams

Dr. Alexander Lebedev (MD PhD) is a psychiatrist, data scientist and a co-founder of Dreamseer.
With over 15 years of experience in healthcare, applied data science, combined with extensive academic research in socionomics and non-ordinary states of consciousness, he brings a unique perspective to address global mental health challenges and foster personal and societal resilience. At Dreamseer, Dr. Lebedev's vision extends beyond individual mental health to a broader societal perspective. By mapping and analysing global dream trends, we aim to raise awareness of shared experiences that unite all of us, ultimately contributing to a healthier, more connected, and empathetic world. Dr. Lebedev is dedicated to fulfilling his mission to leverage technology in the service of mental health and resilient living.


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