Rebecca Turner: It's potentially the same as any normal dream: on any given night, your longest dream period is typically 35-40 minutes in the morning, shortly before you wake up. However there can be exceptions where the dream time extends longer than usual, and especially during lucid dreams the physiological variables are ideal for prolonged dreaming.
My longest lucid dream appeared to last around an hour, based on my looking at the time before a Wake Induced Lucid Dream, and then waking up and checking the time again. It occurred in the morning after I'd already slept a number of hours, which is the best time to lucid dream for most people with normal sleep cycles. Of course, not all lucid dreams last that long: more often my lucid dreams are an estimated 10-20 minutes long in real time. This is usually plenty to fulfil my lucid intention of the day!
Daniel Love: Great question. The first step in answering this question is to look at the amount of time we spend in REM sleep each night; REM is the stage of sleep in which the vast majority of dreaming occurs. On average, we each spend roughly 2 hours in REM/dreaming sleep each night. These two hours are further divided. During our sleep, we pass through a recurring 90 minute sleep cycle, a portion of which is dedicated to these phases of REM sleep. We'll experience roughly 5 of these 90 minute cycles in a normal 8 hour period of sleep.
On the face of things, this would appear that each REM phase should last around 24 minutes, however, in reality, as we progress through the night, the amount of time dedicated to REM in each 90 minute cycle increases. In the early stages of the night, REM is brief, but as we near waking, our brains dedicate more of the cycle towards REM. Therefore, the longest REM period is generally the last to occur in a night's sleep. You can deduce from this, that the maximum length of a lucid dream has to be somewhere below two hours. In reality, most lucid dreams fall somewhere between the 5-30 minutes mark.
However, in my personal experience and the reports of others, many have experienced longer lucid dreams, occasionally even nearing a full two hours. As an example, I recently experienced such a lucid dream, lasting what appeared to be around an hour and a half. Bear in mind that other factors can come into play, such as a state called REM rebound.
REM rebound is when the body, not having achieved the correct amount of REM in prior night's sleep, attempts to compensate for this deficit and increases time spent in REM in subsequent sleep. When REM rebound occurs, periods spent dreaming can be considerably longer than in a standard night's sleep. Other factors, such as the use of supplements, especially acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (such as Galantamine) are also known to prolong time spent in REM.
To sum up: realistically, in a normal night's sleep, we can expect most dreams to last no longer than an absolute maximum of 2 hours. However, this is not a rule set in stone and there are examples of lucid dreams that exceed this duration.
Got a burning question about consciousness and dreams?
In Ask The Experts, readers have the opportunity to probe the minds of long time lucid dreamers, Daniel Love and Rebecca Turner. With a combined 40 years of lucid dreaming experience, they aim to candidly answer your lucidity questions on demand.
Note: The opinions expressed here are our own, based on our scientific understanding of consciousness exploration. The pursuit of lucid dreaming often leads to personal interpretations, with which you may or may not agree, but we hope to unveil the most objective and best-fitting explanations available. We hope you find this segment to be informative, educational and inspirational for your dream life.
Rebecca Turner is the creator of World of Lucid Dreaming where she offers valuable first-hand insights. Learn more about Rebecca. Take her home study program. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and the lucid dream forum.
I was walking down a hallway with my dad when it happened. A dark, pointy figure grabbed me by the ankles and flung me down the hall. I was shocked and in pain. But before I knew what was happening, he marched over to me and did it again. He was furious. He was going to destroy me. And I had nothing. Except for my lucidity.
Members of our lucid dream forum have been asking how to create dream characters in lucid dreams. The most common problem is having characters who look nothing like they should. Or they seem disinterested in your company. Or they fail to show up on command altogether. So, how to combat this? It's a matter of finding creative solutions that bypass logical expectations.
To lucid dream, I recommend being able to remember at least one vivid dream per night. That will boost your self awareness in dreams (making lucidity more likely) and also means you can actually remember your lucid dreams. Which is nice. Here are four detailed tips on how to remember your dreams more frequently. And if you don't think you dream at all - trust me, you almost certainly do. It takes an extraordinarily rare sleep disorder to deprive someone of dream sleep.
It is estimated that these wise and wily Indians have been using mugwort in their healing and ritual practices for 13,000 years, where it is known as the ‘dream sage’. They use the herb to promote good dreams, which they consider an essential aspect of normal human functioning! But that’s not all...
Silene Capensis has been used for millennia by the Xhosa shaman of the river valleys in the eastern cape of South Africa, where it is known as Undela Ziimhlophe or 'white paths'. It's fragrant white flowers open only at night, when they emit a fragrant and almost hypnotising aroma. Also known as African Dream Herb or Ubulawu, Silene Capensis induces spectacularly vivid dreams - yet has never entered the mainstream and remains a fringe taste within western culture.
Experts agree that everyone is capable of having lucid dreams. Dreaming itself is a normal function of the mind. We all dream every night, even if we don't remember. And we all achieve conscious awareness while awake every single day. So what does it mean to combine these states? Why, the amazing ability to have conscious - or lucid - dreams. Sounds simple, doesn't it? So why do I keep hearing from people who say they can't achieve their first lucid dream?