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 eight hours of sleep underway before you can enjoy long periods of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep in the morning when lucid dreams are 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, 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). What's more, most of my lucid dreams occur from 6 am onwards, and the longest and most lucid dreams occur during lie-ins beyond 8 hours.
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.
Now that you are getting sufficient REM sleep, here is a much more active way to remember your dreams. It involves a dream journal.
Tonight, set your alarm clock to go off after you've had 4.5 hours of sleep. This should rouse you during a longer REM sleep phase, producing immediate dream recall. (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.)
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.
When I first discovered lucid dreaming, self hypnosis was the key to improving my dream recall and planting the subconscious intention to have lucid dreams.
Using meditation and self hypnosis as you fall asleep at night are great ways to improve your dream recall and induce lucid dreams. All you need to do is fully relax and then command your subconscious mind to give you more vivid and memorable dreams.
Hypnosis is nothing spooky or mysterious, it's simply a relaxed state of mind in which you find yourself very suggestible. You can't get stuck in a hypnotic trance, and you can't scramble your brain while you're in there. Particularly with self hypnosis, you are in control of every suggestion you place inside your highly suggestible mind.
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 produce intensified dreams in which you have greater self-awareness. You will wake up in the morning with highly memorable dreams to report, and occasionally, lucid dreams too.
You can take such herbs from time to time to help produce intensely 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.
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.