Here’s how lucid dreaming works: it’s when you are aware that you’re dreaming and you can have some kind of control over the experience.
Think of it as a sort of Choose Your Own Adventure game!
It sounds kind of cool, right?
Are you ready to learn a little bit about how lucid dreaming works?
Let’s see what AskReddit users had to say about it.
1. Didn’t realize it until later.
“I am a lucid dreamer and I didn’t even know it was a thing until I was in my 30s.
I think and talk a lot about my dreams in my waking hours, and that made me more aware of when I was actually dreaming. Eventually, I learned that when I was aware of this, then I could take control of the dream and do things.
Just being more aware of dreaming in general in my waking life, helped in my sleeping life. Sometimes I remind myself before I go to sleep to think of things I like to do or problems I want to solve. This probably works less often than not, but it definitely works quite a bit and well enough.
It’s not always so easy, I often wake up from dreams where I could have taken control but didn’t and I regretted it. Just two nights ago I had a series of dreams that repeated the same elements. This was because, as I was exiting the first dream, I realized there were things I had wanted to do in it, so I did a replay. I did this several times until I could get enough control to do what I wanted, even still it didn’t work so well. Sometimes, I will analyze a previous dream in a subsequent dream.
I used to just do wild gymnastics or fly when I realized I was lucid dreaming, but that eventually got old. I went through a period where I would try to eat all the things that are “bad” for me so I could enjoy it with no consequences, but it just wasn’t the same. Now, I focus on having conversations with people I wish could have.”
2. Look him up.
“I discovered lucid dreaming as a result of reading Carlos Castenada and his books on reaching a higher consciousness.
The dreaming part was a logical progression on the ladder.
Carlos is what passed for “ woke” in the 1970s.”
3. As long as I can remember…
“I’ve been lucid dreaming naturally for as long as I can remember. I can always tell I’m dreaming but haven’t figured out how to control my surroundings or do anything really cool yet.
A lot of the time I just acknowledge I’m in a dream and go about the rest of the dream. I’ve seen a few comments about looking at clocks and hands as a way to tell yourself you’re dreaming and it absolutely works. I’ve seen clocks melt and my fingers morph together (both mildly alarming).
There’s also a kind of lucid dreaming called “false awakening” where you wake up and do your whole morning routine (get out of bed, brush teeth etc) in what feels like real time only to “wake up” again and realize it was a dream. I’ve had that sequence go on upwards of 15 times, anyone else have that happen??”
4. Sounds scary.
“I got into it in 2011 I’d say the best method is to induce sleep paralysis by lying on your back.
The sleep paralysis is scary but you can enter a dream or astral travel from there.”
5. Be an observer.
“There’s various ways to actually achieve lucidity, but I think starting out the easiest way is to simply start logging everything you remember from dreams. The reason for this is two-fold. One, it improves your ability to remember your dreams. Lucid dreams are still dreams, and honestly they are often only a bit easier to remember than normal dreams.
No point in going through learning all this if you don’t remember them, right? The other reason is to figure out what your specific common themes in dreams are. Everyone has certain things that happen in a lot of dreams. A common one is teeth falling out in dreams, but most people have specific recurring weirdness. Writing down your dreams lets you spot these things, and you can drill it in your mind to learn to spot these things.
One of the easiest ways to learn to become lucid is to simply ask yourself occasionally if you are dreaming right now. Starting off, just try to do this every once in a while, but over time you can figure out things you specifically need to question.
You basically just gotta question yourself every once in a while. Good ways to check are to try holding your nose and try breathing through it anyway, or pushing a figure through your hand. This way isn’t super consistent, you get lucid experiences randomly, but it doesn’t mess with your sleep schedule or require you to trigger sleep paralysis, you just sleep normally.
Be prepared to wake up a lot when starting out. The hardest thing is staying calm when you start noticing you are lucid, as you unsurprisingly tend to get excited which can wake you up. Over time you can get better at staying asleep, but don’t expect to do anything too wild.
Best thing to do is to let your dream take you and be an observer, just focus on staying lucid (it’s easy to lose it). Though fair warning, you tend to get a bit impulsive in dreams. Even lucid, at least for me, my mind tends to not be 100% all there, so to speak.”
6. A couple things.
“I gave lucid dreaming a try when I was younger. Couple things:
The hard part isn’t lucid dreaming, but rather staying asleep once you realize you’re in a dream. The lucidity would only last for a few moments, generally, after which I would either slip back into non-lucid dreaming or wake up completely.
It wasn’t as vivid as I’d hoped. I thought lucid dreaming would basically be like living in my own virtual reality, but that wasn’t really the case – the sensations aren’t as crisp or real-feeling when you know it’s a dream. I wanted to feel like I was skydiving, or having s*x with a model, but it felt more like just sitting and imagining something really vividly.
Because of issue #1, I didn’t feel as rested in the morning after a night of attempted lucid dreaming. That, coupled with issue #2, led me to stop actively trying to do it, it wasn’t really worth it.”
“I tried doing this when I start having nightmares so I can wake up, I start trying to logically think if something doesn’t make sense. Why would I do something like this?
I also try to practice this when I’m awake if something seems off so it just becomes the habit to do in dreams.
But, the main problem comes in when the dream makes a fake memory or rationalizes it. It might not even make any sense, but your dream self with think, “Oh, yeah, that makes total sense” and then the dream just continues.
I’ve never been able to control the dream or anything, but I find it very hard to wake myself up when I realize that I am dreaming, which ends up freaking me out even more.
The only time I’ve ever successfully woken myself up was in a dream where I had cut off all my hair into jagged parts and a part of me thought, “Why would I cut off my hair!? I’ve been growing it out for so long!” And then the rational part of me thought, “I wouldn’t have done that.” And it still took me a good moment to force myself awake.”
“The ability to travel anywhere and do anything works well in theory in dreams, but in my case, I can only control stuff if I believe I can.
It’s easy to know I’m in a dream, it’s hard to believe I can do things that I can’t normally do.
I never learned how to lucid dream, I just eventually started to be able to recognize that I was in them.”
9. Cool, but frustrating.
“It’s cool, but frustrating.
Also once you wake up it’s worse. One time I had when I woke up I was still half dreaming, trying to wake up.
But then “fully” woke up and I’m in sleep paralysis. It was only a few seconds but sure was annoying.”
10. Look at your hands.
“So two things I know that help, one is waking up after a dream and writing down what happens as much as you can. The second and most important is to make it a habit while you’re awake to look at your hands.
So when you are in a dream, you will look at them, and notice that the details are wrong and then you’ll realize you are in a dream!”
11. Good tips.
“The two steps I think are most useful are:
Keep a dream journal. Put it next to your bed and as soon as you wake up write the date and any and all details you can remember. Do it every morning, make it a habit. It must be as soon as you wake up or the details will fade. If you can start noticing themes that regularly occur in your dreams, bonus this will help you recognize you are in a dream, but not essential.
Practice “reality checks” regularly. This step will sound a bit nuts to beginners but the theory is, if you can make it a habit of checking if you are awake, eventually your brain will do the check when you are asleep and you can realize you are dreaming. There are many different ways you can do reality checks, so I would advise read about them and pick your fave.
Clocks, screens and mirrors all behave weirdly in dreams. My fave, and easy to do anywhere is: ask yourself am I awake or asleep? Hold your nose and try to breathe through your nose. If you can’t, you are awake, if you can, well done you just did a reality check in a dream.
Practice these 2 steps everyday. The first time you realize you are in a dream, the excitement is very likely to wake you up, don’t get discouraged just keep doing the steps and eventually you will do it and remain calm. Then you can go explore your dream and have some control over what happens.
Regarding the realism, my understanding is your brain can only accurately simulate what it has already experienced but will give a really good go of filling in the gaps. So in my experience if you touch a tree or a building in a dream, the detail and feel has been spot on!
However my favourite thing to do in a dream is fly. Did it feel realistic and accurate, not really. Was it still fun, yes!! I found lucid dreams were very vivid and realistic enough!”
12. From a veteran.
“I came across lucid dreaming when I was in 8th grade and have been learning about it since.
Ill tell you my experience:
I fell asleep around 10:00am and I started to dream. I left my house in the dream and then realized I was dreaming, after I realized I looked at the floor and the detail of the flowers were so realistic.
Then I ran and flew in the air like superman than I woke up.
Here are some tips.
When lucid dream don’t get to exited or you will wake up.
You can do anything you want while lucid dreaming.
You can hold your nose and breathe out of it while dreaming to see if your lucid.
Having s*x in a lucid dream is very realistic and vivid but don’t get to excited because you will wake up.
If your dream starts to fall apart or you start to wake up spin in your dream in circles to stabilise the dream and you can also rub your hands.
You can summon anything you want by thinking of it while dreaming then turning around or by calling the person name out loud and then entering rooms.
I’ve been lucid dreaming ever since.”
13. Write it down.
“I’m a natural lucid dreamer but I never forced it (never used any techniques myself).
There are techniques to enhance your abilities of lucid dreaming. I’d advise you to stay away from (most of) those, cause you might get sleep paralysis, or worse case you might get trouble distinguishing real life from your dreams.
One ‘safe’ method is writing down everything you remember right after you wake up from (any) dream. Research other methods on the risk of getting sleep paralysis.”
14. Catch 22.
“I discovered it before I knew the term when I was a child.
I used to get nightmares pretty regularly and I remember one time having the thought that I didn’t need to worry because it was just a dream, while I was still in the dream. From there I started influencing it whenever I had that realization. It wasn’t until years later I learned about lucid dreaming.
It can be very realistic but it’s a catch 22, you have to realize it’s NOT real first in order to do it so anything you then dream is known to be unreal or it wouldn’t even be happening. Rarely I will lose myself in it a little.”
15. Here’s the plan.
“I was always a lucid dreamer and just assumed everyone else was.
It wasn’t until people started talking about strange dreams or nightmares and their inability to stop them that I realized anything was different.
To start the one thing I’ve told be that some people have said worked is start with plan.
Go to sleep with a grafted idea so when you’re in it you can recognize you’re dreaming. Also you not in control the whole time, as you go through the different levels of sleep you will gain control and lose it.
It can be as realistic, but I also dream in color and can smell and taste which I understand not everyone can do.”
16. Open the door.
“If you manage to realize you’re in a dream and want, say, a basket of kittens, don’t try to make it just appear in front of you.
Make it behind you and turn around to get it, or open a door and it’s on the other side.”
17. Does it for me.
“I learned by doing it, usually in nightmares, after realizing that a dream didn’t make sense or after waking up and then immediately falling back asleep.
To do it, I’d recommend just waking up and falling asleep a bunch of times in a row, that usually does it for me. I’d say to set aside a morning when you can sleep in, then after you first wake up, set an alarm for 15-25 minutes, fall asleep, wake up, reset the alarm and so on. Eventually you’re likely to find yourself in a lucid dream.
They vary in how real they seem. The more you concentrate on them being a dream and trying to control things, the less real they seem. Just flying or taking note of the fact that you are in a dream won’t usually disturb it too much, but altering the dream substantially will often wake you up.
For instance, I had a dream that I was on a mountain, being rushed by Tolkienesque orcish/goblinoid creatures and I tore apart the landscape (and a bunch of them) with my mind, to prevent them from reaching me. But this also led to me waking up eventually. On the other hand, just flying around is usually fine.”
18. Wild stuff.
“Step one is to realize you’re dreaming. Then I concentrate kinda like how they power up in DBZ. Then I fly away.
It depends on my mental strength how much I can do tho. Sometimes I can alter the real world and use my hands to open my eyes if I’m done with the dream.”
19. A little tip.
“I don’t do it on purpose but when I do lucid dream I try hard to stay in the dream. The most annoying thing is being in the dream and thinking about the real world because that wakes me up every time.
It could be something as small as thinking about what time it is or if I’m late for school. Try to stay in the dream state without being too aware.”
20. Time to fly.
“I’ve been able to do it for years. I’m deathly stupidly terrified of zombies so lucid dreaming is great.
A lot of times when I realize I’m dreaming it’s if there is a mirror and I look into it. I’ll get brave and continue my dream but when sh*t hits the fan I’ll yell at myself to wake up. The one thing I cannot do is run forward if I need to get away it has to be backwards but I can fly.
The flying is so real when I wake up I feel like I can still fly the feeling is so strong still until reality hits. If they’re good dreams I’ll finish them up the way I want. This doesn’t always happen I can’t control when it happens.
It’s just always the same bathroom I end up in with the same mirror I look into and I can control my dreams.”
21. Doesn’t always work.
“I learned about lucid dreaming when I was 12. I had a dream people were falling from the sky off of tall buildings with smoke pouring out of them.
It hit me on such an emotional level I wrote my dream down. 3 months later 9/11 happened and I saw my dream on tv — people jumping off the towers because it was a better alternative than burning alive or getting crushed by debris.
I started doing research about dreams that seem real and started trying to predict futures. This is also when I realized my dreaming in color was unusual. For a while I thought I caused 9/11 and that had it’s own traumatic effect on my life, but now I listen to quite a bit of youtube lucid dreaming meditations and every now and again I feel a deja vu moment like my dreams coming true again, but never anything as insane as 9/11.
I do wake up less rested after I lucid dream. It’s also good to bear in mind that intentional lucid dreaming doesn’t always work. Have realistic expectations, and understand it takes practice.
You are not going to feel like you are in a movie or t.v. show, it’s like you’re awake and dreaming at the same time. You can make decisions but it doesn’t always move the dream forward.”
22. Out of body experience.
“Lucid dreams are a type of “out of body” experience. In the simplest terms, when the body goes to sleep but the mind is awake, you’re “out of body.”
I had a lot of these experiences in my early twenties. I first heard about how to do it on some random internet forum. I experienced the vibrational state the first night I tried and quickly became obsessed with the mechanics of the process.
There are basically two ways to enter the OOB state. The first way is to split consciously from the waking state by concentrating on an object. This is a really bizarre experience that may or may not be accompanied by hallucinations. The second is to “wake up” inside of a dream, usually through a willful action that questions reality, like pulling on your finger to stretch it out, jumping up to fly, or walking through a wall.
When you enter consciously, there is a certain tangible aspect of the experience that is lacking in lucid dreams. Everything feels much more physical. I would basically “pop out” in a mirror image of the physical world and would feel like I was still in my body. Subconscious imagery could intrude quite easily, though, and then I’d fall into a dream.
When you “wake up” from the subconscious state, i.e., a dream, you’re basically doing the opposite of this. You realize that your body is asleep, but your mind isn’t fully awake. The problem is you are enveloped in subconscious imagery and often can’t dig your way out of it before losing that spark of consciousness.
This is why lucid dreams can feel a bit more “manufactured.” When the subconscious imagery is wiped away from your mental lens, you find yourself in the same state as you would in a conscious split.
The material there is basically super pliable and we can manipulate it with our creative imagination. This can pose a problem for those who are easily convinced by personal experience because it can be very difficult to determine the source of any particular projection.
Maybe it’s your subconscious, maybe it’s another being. Sadly, the experience itself can tell you nothing about the truth of the experience.”
Now we want to hear from you.
If you have any experience with lucid dreaming, please fill us in in the comments.
We look forward to it!