Everything you need to know about the viral ‘lucid dreaming’ trend

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If you’ve ever had a dream so vivid it felt like it was real, it could very well have been a lucid dream. A relatively rare phenomenon, it is possible to intentionally induce them, explains sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo.

Ever woken up from an exhilarating dream and wished you could go back and relive every moment? If so, you may have experienced a lucid dream.

Much like it sounds, a lucid dream is a type of dream where you’re aware that you’re dreaming while the dream is still ongoing. In other words, you’re conscious within the dream and may have some degree of control over your actions and the dream’s narrative.

This awareness can vary from a mild realisation that one is dreaming to a fully immersive and controlled experience where you can actively manipulate the dream environment and events – and it can have some pretty powerful benefits.

What benefits can lucid dreaming deliver?

Lucid dreaming can be a fascinating and potentially powerful experience, allowing you to explore your subconscious, overcome fears, and engage in creative problem-solving within the dream state.

This means that you can go to bed, stuck on a problem, unable to find a solution; and find it within your lucid dream. 

While this sounds too good to be true, it is in fact, true: while in REM (dream) sleep, the brain’s frontal lobe is partially ‘switched off’ – inhibiting logical and rational decision making. 

Instead, your mind is open, flexible and fluid; able to contemplate alternative options, innovative strategies and think-outside-of-the-box concepts – exactly why forward-thinking thought leaders have been so intrigued by them, eager to expand their minds. 

During a lucid dream, you’re conscious within the dream. Image: Stock

How to have a lucid dream

Use the MILD technique

Of all techniques to induce lucid dreaming, Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD) is the most well renowned. A 2022 meta-analytic academic report comparing strategies found it was the most effective, the most researched, and the most consistent – 6 of 8 clinical trials exclusively using it demonstrated an increase in lucid dream frequency; with one of the scientific papers finding a three times greater likelihood in lucid dreaming –  from 3.7 per cent to 13 per cent. 

Based on the premise of intention setting, the MILD process is: 

  1. In bed, when falling asleep – or when you wake through the night – think of a recent dream.
  2. Recall a ‘dream-sign’ (AKA sign of dreaming – a superpower, time travel or similar not-quite-right scenario).
  3. Remind yourself that the dream sign only exists in your dreams.
  4. Repeat your intention to return to that specific dream, and experience that specific dream-sign, as you are drifting to sleep. 

Keeping a dream journal can be a powerful technique. Image: Pexels

Practice the ‘Wake Back to Bed’ method

Especially for those waking through the night, this will be very appealing – the Wake Back to Bed method helps 40 per cent of newbies to lucid dream after only  two nights, as verified by a dream sign, as noted in a 2020 clinical trial.

This process involves:

  1. Setting an alarm to wake after 4.5 hours of sleep.
  2. Engaging in a mindful, calming activity like reading or meditation for 20 minutes when woken.
  3. Return to sleep – ideally using the MILD technique above.

As dream sleep dominates between 3-6 am; by waking in this period, quieting your mind and setting your intention accordingly, you’re 40 per cent more likely to invoke a lucid dream.

Start a dream journal 

Not to be overlooked as too simplistic, a dream journal is a powerful technique – and when combined with MILD, can increase lucid dream frequency by 45 per cent in just 4 weeks, recent scientific studies have found.

Rather than recall and write your entire dream, specifically document your dream signs – and do so each morning. Regardless if you recall dreaming or not, before getting up, take a moment to pause, reflect and question: “Did I lucid dream last night? What dream emerged? What signals show I was dreaming? 

In doing so, you train your conscious mind to become more aware of your dreams, dream signs and the fact you were dreaming – helping you achieve this conscious awareness through the night too. 

With lucid dreaming dependent upon awareness and consciousness; these evening practices, combined with morning ones of mindfulness and meditation, form the ideal lucid dream elixir. To increase your likelihood even more, steer clear of consciousness-limiting substances such as alcohol and drugs – and look forward to the night of your dreams – literally.

Originally featured on Body and Soul

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smart, savvy and more than just a sleep expert.

Hi, I'm Olivia.

If you want raw, real and unfiltered Olivia, my blog is where you'll find it.
As an author and avid writer, I find immense pleasure in sharing the ins and outs - without holding back - of my journey through life.
Professionally, I'm a sleep expert - but i'm guessing you already know that.
Personally, I'm a free-flowing, idealistic introvert who loves to travel, dance and enjoy an Aperol Spritz.

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