A Brief Guide to Lucid Dreaming

6 minute read

By Jordana Weiss

Lucid dreaming — which is awareness while in a dream state — is quite rare. Like anything, it’s a skill that you need to develop and practice. Fortunately, if you start a search online, you can learn how to achieve a state of lucid dreaming.

Have you ever been asleep, started dreaming, and suddenly realized that you were in a dream? Lucid dreaming is the ability to recognize when you’re in a dream and use that knowledge to control what happens to you when you’re asleep.

Tell yourself over and over that you will remember your dream

Teaching yourself to remember your dreams, either lucid or normal, is a great way to help yourself get in the right mindset for lucid dreaming — this technique is called dream recall. If you tell yourself multiple times a day, out loud, that you will remember your dream, that idea starts to become a reality.

Start a dream journal

In order to start lucid dreaming, and know that we’ve succeeded in our goal, we have to remember the dreams that we have, regardless of whether they’re lucid or normal.

The best way to help ourselves remember our dreams is to write down the dream in a journal as soon as we wake up. Buy yourself a notebook, ensure it’s right beside your bed, with a pen or pencil ready to go, and get in the habit of writing first thing every morning. Even if you only remember snippets of your dreams, it’s important to write it down so you can practice your dream recall.

Highlight the recurring patterns in your dreams

In addition to helping us with our dream recall, our dream journal allows us a place to highlight the reoccurring patterns within our dreams, which gives us a way to track the elements or themes that we tend to see again and again.

You can do this by going through a few days of dreams and highlighting any elements that you see multiple times. You can also use a dream dictionary to look up what some of these dream signs mean  for example, seeing a kite in your dream is thought to symbolize lofty goals, or the idea that a beautiful gift has strings attached. The more familiar you are with your reoccurring dreams, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to notice a pattern mid-dream and kick yourself into lucidity.

Use an object in your room to remind you to remember your dream

One way that people help themselves to remember their dreams is by associating an object in their room with their dreams. The best way to do this is to pick an object, preferably one that is directly in your eye line from your bed.  Every morning this object will remind you to remember your dream. Soon, you won’t be able to see it without thinking of your dreams.

Stick to a strict bedtime schedule

Lucid dreaming is only possible when we’re having a good night’s sleep, and one of the best ways to ensure that you get as much lucid dreaming time as possible is to maximize your sleeping time.

This means encouraging your body to slip right into the REM cycle, the deepest, more regular part of sleep. This is only possible if you have a healthy sleep cycle, which means trying to go to bed at the same time every day.

You can also turn off your screens and devices one hour before your bedtime; the blue light from the screens suppresses your melatonin, the hormone in your body that regulates our circadian rhythms.

Invest in a dream pillow

Another way to promote a better night’s sleep is to sleep with a specially formulated dream pillow. These pillows are small squares filled with a mixture of herbs and other botanicals that are selected for their ability to encourage dreams and help us recall those dreams.

Some of these herbs include lavender, mugwort, peppermint, rose petals, and chamomile. Buy or make yourself one of these pillows and put it beside your head as you fall asleep, so you can breathe in the scent of the herbs as you dream. You can also use a specially formulated essential oil blend, with some of these scents.

Use a Reality Check

In your dream, you’ll need to do something to let yourself know that you’re in a dream ­­this technique is called a reality check. Some people push a finger into the center of their palm, read a book, or look at themselves in a mirror.

The most effective reality check is something that you’ve done a thousand times before — in real life — so you can really tell when things have changed. You should do your reality check and verbally ask yourself, “Am I dreaming?” at least a dozen times a day when you’re first starting out.

The most effective reality check is something that you’ve done a thousand times before — in real life — so you can really tell when things have changed. You should do your reality check and verbally ask yourself, “Am I dreaming?” at least a dozen times a day when you’re first starting out.

Use the Wake Back to Bed technique

One of the techniques that people swear by to start lucid dreaming fast is the “wake back to bed” technique.

To do this, set an alarm for two or three hours before you usually wake up. The ideal alarm tone is something calm, that won’t pull you too far out of sleep. Put your phone or clock somewhere where you can reach it with one hand. Then, when the alarm goes off, wake up just enough to turn it off, but don’t open your eyes.

Do your best to stay awake as your body fights to put itself back into REM sleep. As your body drifts back to sleep, your mind will be much more alert to the start of your lucid dream.

Don’t try too hard

There are several other techniques to induce lucid dreaming in addition to the “wake back to bed” method. The most popular is what’s called WILD (Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming), which is when you allow your body to drift off to sleep but keep your mind awake

These techniques have one element in common —  you need to be able to relax your body while keeping your mind alert. It’s essential that you practice relaxation while doing this. The harder you try, the more likely it is you’ll just lie awake, unable to sleep at all.

Use binaural beats

For thousands of years, we’ve used repetition to help ourselves transition into a naturally meditative state.

In the past, this may have taken the form of drum beats, or certain types of singing. Now, scientists have harnessed this knowledge and have made tracks called binaural beats, which help push our brain into a different brainwave state. They do this by sending sound at a certain frequency into one ear, and another sound at a slightly different frequency to our other ear. Our brain then finds the difference between the two frequencies, which can send us into a state perfect for lucid dreaming.


Another way that you can get yourself in the habit of lucid dreaming is to practice meditation.

The more frequently you meditate, the better you’ll be at relaxing your body, which is helpful when we want our body to relax while our mind stays lucid. Learning how to regulate your breathing is also a key part of many of the techniques for inducing lucid dreams, and the more you practice it, the better you get.

Prepare yourself for the emotions of lucid dreaming

The last thing you should be aware of when you start lucid dreaming is that it might not be exactly what you expect it to be.

It’s fun to be able to control your dreams, but you may not realize the emotional impact that your dreams can have. If you choose to see a dead loved one, or experience something completely new, you’ll have to deal with the real-life repercussions of having that experience, even if you’re asleep when it happens.

Jordana Weiss