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How to Have Lucid Dreams

9 steps for having the dreams of your dreams.

Written by on August 16, 2016

Published in Health, Insights

Lucid dreaming isn’t pseudo-scientific bullshit. It’s real, and it can be freaking awesome.

Lucid dreaming makes it easy for guys like you to influence and remember your dreams better. Think about it—most of us spend a third of our lives sleeping. Wouldn’t it be nice to get some productivity or entertainment out of it, instead of blacking out and waking up 8 hours later?

Of course it would be nice. That’s why you’re here. And whether you want to travel back in time and fight lions in the gladiator pits of Rome, or just brainstorm solutions to life’s problems while you snooze, lucid dreaming is the ticket.

While dreaming is normally a passive event that you remember in fragmented, nonsensical bits the next morning, lucid dreaming lets you enter dreams with full awareness.

But as you can imagine, you’re gonna need to practice before you start controlling your lucid dreams. But we’ll get to that in a bit. First of all, what exactly are the benefits of lucid dreaming?

Benefits of Lucid Dreaming

Lucid dreaming has tons of benefits for a renaissance man like yourself, such as:

  • Falling asleep easier. Controlling your dreams means you can avoid nightmares, helping you sleep sound at night and feel more refreshed throughout the day.
  • Living out impossible fantasies. March into battle alongside the Spartans, walk on Mars, turn into a dolphin and swim the seven seas. Lucid dreaming is like dreaming high definition.
  • Solve problems while you sleep. Imagine you’ve been stressing about asking that office hottie out for drinks. Lucid dreaming offers a chance to test out your openers and gauge the flow of conversation without even breaking a sweat.

But to wrangle these wild thoughts into a coherent storyline, we need to understand how dreaming works. Sleep occurs in 5 stages, which then repeat. Each repetition is a sleep cycle. The first cycle features much longer periods of deep sleep, while subsequent cycles have more REM sleep. Those stages are…

Stage 1: Light Sleep

Characterized by a slowing of your body’s metabolic processes. It’s called light sleep because waking up during this stage typically leaves people feeling like they never dozed off in the first place.

This is the point where you body can go through involuntary muscle contractions, and the stage only lasts about 10 minutes total.

Stage 2: Transition

Stage 2 is the transition between light sleep and deep sleep, where your heart rate begins to slow further and your body temperature decreases even more. While you can still easily be woken during Stage 2, it’s more difficult than Stage 1.

Stage 3 and 4: Deep Sleep

After about 30 minutes, we enter deep sleep. Sleepers in these stages won’t remember dreams when they wake up—which is hard to do anyway, this being deep sleep and all. 

Stage 5: REM Sleep

This is what we were waiting for. During the Rapid Eye Movement stage (which first occurs roughly 90 minutes after dozing off), our muscles are still lifeless but our brains are firing on all cylinders.

Brain scans during REM sleep reveal similar patterns to being fully awake, and it’s here that sleepers will remember their dreams vividly if they wake up.

Since REM doesn’t begin for a full 90 minutes after falling asleep, it’s critical that guys looking to enjoy lucid dreams get a full night’s rest, every night. Otherwise your brain isn’t able to reach this coveted REM stage, where the magic happens.

But enough background information. How exactly are we going to use that knowledge to start living out our fantasies in lucid dreamland?

1. Start a Dream Journal

Keep a notebook close to your bed. Every morning when you wake up, immediately reach for your pen and scribble down everything you remember about last night’s dreams.

Keeping records lets you see patterns in your dreams, and understand why you dream what you do. Plus, knowing WHAT you dream will help you understand WHEN you’re dreaming.

I know this step seems silly, but you gotta trust me on this one. And it’s a great conversation starter when you bring a girl over.

“What’s that? Oh, that’s my dream journal, baby…”

2. Pay Attention to Symbols and Unique Objects

Some details in our dreams tend to be clouded, blurry or invisible. There might be a billboard in a recurring dream you have, but have you ever tried to read it? What’s the name of the magazine sitting on the nightstand? Who’s looking at you through the window?

These are important details, which is why you should pay attention to similar objects during the day. Focus on the sights and sounds you typically ignore during your life, and they will stand out more during your dreams.

3. Increase Your Melatonin Levels

Melatonin is a hormone produced in your brain’s pineal gland that helps regulate sleep—making us feel sleepy at night and alert during the day. Having high melatonin also increases the quality of our lucid dreams, and gives our lucid dreaming success rate a boost.

There are 3 quick ways you can get your lazy pineal gland to churn out more Magic Melatonin:

  • Sleep in total darkness. No computer screens, no night lights.
  • Go to sleep and get up around the same time every day.
  • If all else fails, eat melatonin-stimulating foods like mustard, flax seeds, cherries, rice, oats, bananas, tomatoes, red radish, and almonds.

4. Don’t Forget to Boost Your Acetylcholine, Too

While melatonin is our ticket to the show, acetylcholine is our backstage VIP pass to REM nirvana (the sleep stage, not the band). Acetylcholine is critical for regulating REM sleep, and thus critical for our lucid dreaming efforts.

Acetylcholine is built from choline, which is abundant in eggs and animal proteins, especially fish, shrimp, and liver.

But the best way to make sure your brain is working in top condition is to get a potent brain supplement. Either way, get your acetylcholine levels in check before you start you quest for lucid dreams.

5. Practice Meditation Before Sleep

Is this starting to get a little too New Age-y for you? Stick with me, I promise it’ll be worth it.

The point of both meditation and lucid dreaming is to achieve self-awareness—nothing more, nothing less. You aren’t learning HOW to have lucid dreams per se, since your brain can generate wacky dreams already. We’re learning how to observe and control what’s already there.

Meditating before bed allows your body to transition into pre-sleep. While entire libraries of books exist to cover meditation techniques, just keep it simple. You don’t need a mat, a shaved head, or a gong. Just lie down, relax, and focus on the breath entering and exiting your body.

6. Recite Your Pre-Sleep Mantra

Don’t skip this step, either! I promise it works.

Before you hit the hay, repeat a simple phrase to remind your brain it has work to do—something like “I will have lucid dreams tonight, and I will wrestle grizzlies in the Alaskan wilderness.”

Well, customize it as you see fit. But make it something easy to remember—the point is to train your brain to realize WHEN you’re dreaming. This is just a friendly reminder to start.

7. Check to See if You’re Dreaming

This is starting to sound like the movie Inception, but at some point you will be lucid dreaming and you’ll need to check whether it’s a dream, or real life.

Think about actions you can perform in the real world that would have no effect in your dream world. Try pinching yourself, reaching into your pocket for the spare change you left there last night, or running a red hot poker through your foot.

Well maybe not, but you get the idea. Another way to conduct a ‘Reality Check’ is to repeatedly observe numbers or text in your dream. You’ll find that signs, newspapers and clocks change to completely different words and times when observed more than once.

8. Set Your Alarm 60 Minutes Earlier than Usual

Waking from lucid dreams occurs during REM sleep, which can mean you didn’t enjoy a full sleep cycle. Give yourself the time to doze back off so you feel refreshed the next morning instead of groggy.

Plus, falling back asleep for a while after being awoken early in the morning is a great way to increase the odds of having lucid ‘naps’ before you awaken fully to start your day.

9. Get a Quality Mattress

Seriously, this will do wonders for your sleep hygiene. Toss out the shitty box spring you’ve had for a decade and invest in a memory foam mattress and some matching pillows. Not only will your lucid dreaming efforts kick into high gear, but your overall quality of life will improve drastically.

The Dreams of Your Dreams

Lucid dreaming might fly under the radar as some crazy tin foil hat baloney, but I assure you it’s very real. I think everyone can remember a time when a dream seemed so real and vivid it was almost like reality—these are just methods to increase your odds of experiencing a natural phenomenon instead of waiting and hoping for it to occur.

Lucid dreaming lets you write the story instead of watching helplessly.

Give it a shot, and let us know how lucid dreaming has benefited you—whether that’s debating philosophy with Socrates or making out with your best friend’s girl (NOT cool, dude).

About Lance Rockwell

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