Do you know how to remember your dreams?
Does it come naturally to you - or do you use specific techniques to boost your dream recall?
To lucid dream, it's very important that you can remember at least one vivid dream per night. This increases your self-awareness while dreaming, and most importantly, it means you can actually remember your lucid dreams.
The following techniques will teach you how to remember your dreams more frequently, even if you are terrible at remembering dreams - or think you don't dream at all. Trust me, you do! The average person, sleeping for eight hours per night, will experience 100 minutes of dream time.
If you are continually sleep deprived, you can give up on lucid dreaming right now. For lucidity to occur, your brain should be relaxed and well-rested. What's more, you should have a good 4-6 hours of sleep underway before you'll start to enjoy much longer periods of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep - when lucid dreams are much more common.
The first dream of the night is the shortest, lasting just a few minutes and sandwiched between phases of deep sleep. You're unlikely to remember any of this dream. The second dream cycle occurs about 90 minutes later and is a little longer in length. But it's not until your fourth or fifth REM cycle (from around six hours onwards), that you experience long phases of dream sleep ranging 45-60 minutes.
So if you only sleep five or six hours per night, but could easily sleep more, you are depriving yourself of those extra long phases of REM sleep, which are important for processing memories and new information, as well as the therapeutic side of dreaming (such as coming to terms with emotional trauma). Most of my lucid dreams occur from 6am onwards, and my longest lucid dreams occur during lie-ins beyond 8am.
If your lifestyle doesn't cater to this from Monday to Friday, at least allow yourself a REM rebound on the weekends. Give yourself an extra two hours of sleep and that will be prime lucid dreaming time. If you can't afford to get up late, try going to bed earlier and schedule yourself at least 8-9 hours of sleep once a week.
Access Rebecca's popular e-course, 10 Steps to Lucid Dreams, plus personal insights and links to her best web content. 30,000 people are already on board.
Now that you are getting sufficient REM sleep, here is a much more active way to remember your dreams. It involves a dream journal.
Dream experts agree that we tend to only remember dreams when we awaken directly from the dream. If we go straight on into a deeper sleep, the dream is lost forever.
So tonight, set your alarm clock to go off after you've had 4.5 hours of sleep. With a bit of luck, this should rouse you during REM sleep, producing immediate dream recall.
Have a notebook by your bedside and when your alarm goes off, immediately write down all the details of the dream you were having. If nothing comes to mind, it's likely you weren't dreaming, so just relax and lay quietly for a few minutes and think about what you'd like to dream about next. When dream journaling, write in the present tense and underline unusual characters, symbols, scenes, plots, themes, or emotions. Then set your alarm to go off in 90 minutes' time and go back to sleep.
Repeat this trick every 90 minutes until you get up for the day. By morning, you should have written down four or five detailed dreams. This is an amazing technique that significantly boosts my dream recall and I strongly recommend it. Your efforts to wake up every 90 minutes will be rewarded with strong memories of vivid dreams - and of people, places and plots that you had no idea were running through your head.
I discovered meditation in my teens and it had a significant effect on my lucid dream practice. Not only are there many proven health benefits associated with regular meditation, such as stress relief, concentration and emotional well-being, but it can positively affect your dream life too.
Meditation leads to greater self awareness; during the act of meditation, afterwards in waking life, and while asleep in dreams. This can lead to greater dream recall on its own. What's more, if you practice meditation while dropping off to sleep throughout the night, you'll have the ideal chance to place affirmations such as "I can remember my dreams".
The act of meditation can appear hard to crack on the surface. A great way to start meditating is listening to brainwave entrainment which relaxes your mind into a calm, receptive state. It's how I was introduced to meditation many years ago and had a profound effect on me.
Dream supplements and herbs are taken primarily to increase dream intensity - and one obvious side-effect of this is enhanced dream recall. Dream herbs like Calea Zacatechichi and nutritional supplements like Vitamin B6 produce intensified dreams in which you can have greater self-awareness. You will wake up in the morning with highly memorable dreams to report, and as a result, occasionally lucid dreams too.
You can take such herbs and supplements from time to time to help produce more vivid dreams and test the full range and power of your dreaming mind. However, this is an optional extra and I wouldn't suggest that anyone needs to take such pills in order to become a better lucid dreamer. Experimenting with dream supplements is entirely up to you, and be aware that there are maximum recommended doses to adhere to. For more details check out this article on Vitamin B6 and Tryptophan as well as my Calea Z Review and this article on Galantamine.
Many types of drugs can affect your dream life.
For instance, prescription drugs like Galantamine (most often used to treat Alzheimer's Disease) actually enhances dream recall and intensity and promotes lucid dreaming. In contrast, marijuana suppresses REM sleep, decreasing your dream time and leading to poor dream recall overall.
The interaction can sometimes be more complicated, though not necessarily desirable. A heavy night of alcohol, for instance, suppresses REM sleep and yet when you're no longer drunk, the body compensates by entering REM rebound the next time you sleep. This can lead to intense dreams and even nightmares.
Learning how to remember your dreams is absolutely essential if you want to learn lucid dreaming. Every lucid dreamer should keep a dream journal in which they record multiple dreams per week. It also helps to sketch some dream symbols and scenes when you feel the urge.
It was only when I started writing down and sketching my dreams that I could remember my dreams going back years. If I don't write them down, however, they disappear in minutes or hours and the magic is often lost forever. That goes for some lucid dreams too.
Your dream journal is also an ideal place to record your lucid dreams. I clearly mark every lucid dream with a capital L in a circle so I can flick through and quickly recall all my conscious dreams over the years.
As lucid dreamers, we are embarking on fascinating inner journeys - and those journeys of discovery are definitely worth documenting.
What do blind people dream about? Can they "see" in their dreams? Take a look at scientific studies into the dreams of the blind, colorblind, and black-and-white dreamers. In 1999, dream researchers at the University of Hartford analyzed 372 dreams of 15 blind people. They found that both the congenitally blind and those who went blind before five years old did not have any visual dreams at all. That's because our dreams are made up of real world experiences and our innermost thoughts, anxieties and desires. So for someone who has never perceived images or light (or can't remember any) their dreams simply can't manifest visually.
Not long ago, scientists at Frankfurt University discovered how to produce lucid dreams with electronic stimulation. It was a world first. And - astonishingly - it worked in non-lucid dreamers 77% of the time. Now you can buy the same technology for yourself. The foc.us V2 - which delivers the proven optimum 40 Hz transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) - was originally developed to increase working memory in video gamers and improve sleep.
As technology continues to move us towards more immersive dreamlike experiences, one can only wonder what digital wonders lay just beyond the horizon of tomorrow. We may also question just how the future of virtual reality will impact the study and practice of lucid dreaming. Are we, perhaps, the last generation to whom lucid dreaming will maintain an appeal?
Jeremiah Morelli is a whimsical fantasy artist and visual storyteller. He places conceptual fairytale creatures in vivid dreamscapes to capture the imagination. He's also a school teacher, and amazingly finds the time and motivation to create this huge gallery of artwork. Such light and dark fairytale paintings make beautiful places to visit in your lucid dreams.
Inspired and named for the notion of Flatland, artist and photographer Aydin Buyuktas has created a series of works where "a space of surprises creates a space that creates surprises." Based on photos of Istanbul, Buyuktas explains: "We live in places that most of the times don't draw our attention, places that transform our memories, places that the artist gives another dimension; where the perceptions that generally crosses our minds will be demolished and new ones will arise. These works aim to leave the viewer alone with a surprising visuality, ironic as well as a multidimensional romantic point of view."
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?