Can You Spend Years in a Lucid Dream?

by Jonathan via Email

I read in an article on lucid dreaming that a man had spent 100 years in a lucid dream. Is it really possible to prolong a lucid dream? If so is it possible to lucid dream for what feels like years? Lastly, if you can make time seem to go by slower how can you do it?

Rebecca Turner

Rebecca says: The perception of time is a fascinating area to explore. Firstly, yes you can make a lucid dream last up to an hour or more in real time. Take a look at How to Stay Lucid for specific tips on increasing your lucidity and making the dream last longer.

Now for our perception while dreaming. When you're asleep, some parts of the conscious brain are activated while other parts are shut down. For instance, we have access to long term memories but not so much short term memories. The language centers are also usually shut off which is why it's much harder to read in a dream. What's more, our perception of time is altered, so that if you're having a vivid dream with a huge sprawling plot sequence, it can feel like you have dreamt for years. However I must stress that it's not perceived as real-time; it's merely an illusion of time. Consider it like watching a movie that spans 100 years, but the movie only lasted two hours. You can take on a lot of information and understand the greater passage of time without actually travelling through it second-for-second.

This time distortion can be triggered by dream herbs like Calea Zacatechichi. I once dreamed a lifetime in this state. It was wonderful - and, no, not at all like being "stuck" in some kind of dream limbo. It was a swooping, epic tale. I was not bored for a moment!

On the flipside, if you want to make time slow down in a lucid dream, you can create a whole plot that would take a long time to unfold in reality.

Recall the fictional layers of dreams in Inception, in which each layer operated at a different speed from the next.

Or the notion of "bullet time" in The Matrix, where you can slow down movement and, by proxy, the passage of time.

Once you learn how to control your dreams, you can do whatever you want with your perception of time.

About The Author

About the author

Rebecca Turner is a science writer, illustrator, explorer of consciousness - and founder of World of Lucid Dreaming. She is currently studying for a biology degree in Auckland and blogging at her site Science Me.