How to extend lucid dreaming and what’s the normal length of a lucid dream?
If you’re unfamiliar with lucid dreaming, it’s the ability to understand that you’re dreaming, control the situation, and act accordingly. It’s also known as induced or conscious dreaming.
With practice, you can extend the length of your lucid dreaming and have more frequent lucid dreams. Lucid dreaming occurs naturally but can be practiced as well.
Some people are more naturally gifted in lucid dreaming and have more frequent lucid dreams than others.
In this article, we’ll explore the different ways you can extend your lucid dreaming as well as find out the normal length of a lucid dream.
Let’s get started:
When does it happen, and what is it like?
Once we’re asleep our minds go through the different stages of sleep: slow-wave sleep (SWS), rapid eye movement (REM), and then back to SWS again.
Lucid dreaming is most likely to occur during REM sleep, about 90 minutes into sleep, although it can happen anytime in a dream cycle. You’re likely to wake up after a lucid dream as well.
It starts with you noticing something odd or out of place, and then you start investigating further by looking around your surroundings. At this point, you are consciously aware that you are dreaming.
In a lucid dream, some people can actually take control of their actions and even wake themselves up if need be.
How long do lucid dreams last?
A lucid dream can last anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour.
There’s no set number of lucid dreams you need to have each night, and you can have them whenever you want.
The longer your dream, the more intense the experience will be and the greater your chance of remembering what happened in it.
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Techniques for lucid dreaming
There are a few techniques you can use to help lucid dreaming become more frequent.
Let’s get started:
1) Wake-initiated lucid dreaming (WILD)
A wake-initiated lucid dream (WILD) is when you directly enter a dream from a conscious state.
To do this, you should:
- Go to bed and lie absolutely still until your body starts to melt into the mattress
- You will then start to experience hypnagogia, which is a transitional state between wakefulness and sleep where images, sounds, and sensations appear.
- Your goal is to stay conscious in this state for as long as you can. Try to relax, focus on your breathing, and don’t try to move. Stay still no matter what happens.
- At some point, you will fall asleep but will remain conscious and will be aware that you’re dreaming.
It’s a good idea to practice WILD early in the morning so that it doesn’t disrupt your sleep cycle.
For optimal results, at least 30-60 minutes after waking is recommended for achieving lucidity.
2) Reality testing
Reality testing is a technique that involves questioning whether or not you’re dreaming while you’re awake. This is something you should practice several times a day.
Here’s a tip: If you have a hard time remembering, set your alarm to remind you every 2 to 3 hours to do a reality test.
To do a reality test:
- Check your environment to see if you’re dreaming.
- Ask yourself, “Am I dreaming?”
- Pay attention to your own consciousness and your surroundings.
Here are common reality checks that people use to lucid dream:
- Ask yourself to remember what day it is, the date, and where you are. If you’re dreaming, it will be harder to remember this information.
- Holding your nose while breathing in and out. If you’re dreaming, you should be able to breathe normally.
- Telling yourself to look at your hands but not actually looking at them. You see, when you dream, your mind fills in the gaps and you’ll see imagery in place of where they are supposed to be.
- Telling yourself to look at the numbers on your watch. In a lucid dream, when you look at the numbers they will change into something else (numbers can change into any type of imagery or characters).
The reason this technique is so effective is that it turns dreams into a conscious process rather than an automatic routine that happens without thought.
3) Wake back to bed (WBTB)
Wake-back-to-bed is when you go back to sleep after being awake in your dream.
- Go to bed as usual.
- Set your alarm to wake you after 5-6 hours of sleep.
- Get out of bed and stay alert for 20-60 minutes.
- Go back to bed and relax. You should then go back to sleep.
- If you have a hard time falling back asleep, practice meditation until you start to drift off.
Let’s take a closer look:
This technique helps because when you’re asleep, your mind goes into a deeper stage of sleep which makes it easier to experience lucid dreams.
Wake-back-to-bed (WBTB) involves waking up after 5 to 6 hours of sleep and staying awake for about 30 minutes before going back to sleep again for a few more hours.
This transitional period allows your mind to separate itself from sleep and become more aware, making it easier for lucid dreaming to occur later on in the night.
4) Mnemonic induction of lucid dreams (MILD)
The mnemonic induction of lucid dreams (MILD) technique involves setting an intention to remember your dreams.
Now, when you wake up at night, remind yourself to write down any details you can in a dream journal.
This can happen when you first wake up or when you remember a dream in the middle of the day.
5) Lucid dreaming meditation (LDM)
Lucid dreaming meditation (LDM) is an effective method that involves focusing on relaxing your body and mind before entering into sleep. This method is also known as relaxation meditation for lucid dreaming.
To do this you should:
- Begin by lying down and getting comfortable.
- Then, start with deep breathing to relax your body.
- Focus on your breath and visualize the air flowing in and out of your body. As you breathe in, breathe out.
- Breathe in as you count to five, hold it for a second or two and then breathe out as you count to five.
- Make sure you fill your lungs completely with air before breathing out again.
- Continue doing this until you feel relaxed.
- Once you’re relaxed, visualize yourself walking into a peaceful place such as the beach or an open field. This should place your mind into a more relaxed state so that it’s easier for lucid dreaming to occur.
6) Keeping a dream journal
In my experience, keeping a dream journal is another effective method that involves keeping track of your dreams, writing them down, and reviewing them within the process of lucid dreaming. This helps you recall your dreams in detail when you want to start lucid dreaming.
It’s also useful for writing down your plans for future dreams and lucid dreaming updates.
7) Recordings and meditation music
Recorded meditation music is great to listen to when going to bed because it promotes relaxation and acts as an aid in lucid dreaming induction.
Benefits of lucid dreaming
There are many benefits of lucid dreaming.
Some of the benefits include:
1) Overcoming nightmares
Lucid dreamers can overcome nightmares by telling themselves that they’re dreaming.
This allows them to take charge of the dream and change it in whatever way they want or to wake up completely before going back to sleep.
Sounds good, right?
2) Relieve anxiety
If you have trouble sleeping because you’re worried about something, such as an important meeting, a test, or a sports event, it may help to become lucid in your dream and talk about the problem with yourself or another person.
Talking things through in your dream will hopefully help you realize that it isn’t serious enough to worry about and help relieve anxiety.
3) Improve motor skills
Lucid dreaming can help improve motor skills by practicing them in a dream. This can help if you have trouble with things like jumping, walking, or juggling.
4) Improve reaction time
Okay, I know what you’re thinking, but though it may seem improbable that lucid dreaming could improve your reaction time, many lucid dreamers have claimed to notice this in their dreams.
So if you suspect that lucid dreaming has improved your reaction time, try watching yourself perform the same task in a dream and paying close attention to how long it takes you to act.
In a lucid dream, the brain is much more active than during normal sleep.
Want to know the best part?
Lucid dreaming has been shown to help to problem-solve by creating opportunities where the dreamer thinks of possibilities in real life which allow them to think about what it would be like if things happened differently.
Concerns and side-effects
It’s possible to have a bad lucid dream.
Nightmares are the number one reason that beginners do not continue to lucid dream.
Here’s the thing:
It is important to listen to the messages your body and mind send you when you are in REM sleep and your mind begins to dream. Pay attention to these messages, even if they seem strange or unusual.
With experience, you’ll realize that it’s just a dream and that you can simply wake up from it.
People have been known to sleepwalk during lucid dreaming.
So what can you do? Make sure that you go to sleep in a safe and familiar environment to avoid harming yourself.
If you have a history of sleepwalking, it could be a good idea to tell someone – like your partner – to look out for you if you start to sleepwalk.
In short: Make sure that you aren’t in any danger before you drift off to sleep.
3) Sleep paralysis
Sleep paralysis is a kind of parasomnia that causes a person to temporarily become conscious but unable to move for several seconds to several minutes.
This can happen while a person is falling asleep, going from wakefulness back to sleep, or just waking up.
During a frightening, anxiety-producing event or a nightmarish dream, some people may experience brief moments of the inability to move.
But that’s not all, the paralysis usually happens while a person is still fully aware and unable to move. This makes the experience even more terrifying. Common triggers of parasomnias are stress, fear, or anxiety.
Now, it’s important not to panic when this happens. It is best to remember that sleep paralysis during lucid dreaming is a natural event and will pass.
4) Doing something weird
We’ve all been there:
Flying, talking to people who passed away, returning to places from our childhoods…
If you start doing strange or impossible things, it’s a sign that you are having a lucid dream and can wake yourself up if you want to!
But if you’re enjoying your dream, then just relax and just continue what you were doing in your dream.
It’s been suggested that people are more likely to have lucid dreams when they’re feeling unwell or depressed.
If you’re depressed and having issues waking up, it might be best to speak to your doctor.
6) Not having enough sleep
People who have lucid dreams often report being tired.
So if you find yourself tired after 8 hours of sleep, it could be that your brain is too active during lucid dreaming that you’re not getting enough rest.
If this is the case, then I would suggest that if you have another lucid dream, don’t extend it. Instead, let it pass so that you can finally get some rest.
Derealization is a term that’s used in psychology to describe a feeling of disconnection from the world around you.
It’s normally caused by panic attacks or anxiety, and it can lead to an altered sense of self and confusion about your identity. Occasionally, this can happen during or after lucid dreaming.
The effects are temporary and shouldn’t persist for more than a few hours but, if you find that the symptoms persist, you should speak to your doctor about the problem.
8) Sleep loss
Sleep experts recommend that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night.
If you’re having trouble sleeping because of lucid dreaming, it might be a sign that you need to get more sleep.
9) False awakening
False Awakening is an interesting aspect of a lucid dream. It can be a moment where you feel awake and like you’ve woken up, with all the sensations of being awake.
However, you’ve actually not woken up, and are simply dreaming that you have. It can be quite a strange feeling.
The most common example is when someone fully awakens during sleep paralysis and believes that they have awoken but in fact remain asleep; this creates a false awakening.
How to wake up from a lucid dream
There are a number of ways you can wake up from an altered state of consciousness:
1) Shaking yourself awake
You can shake yourself awake from a dream if you run into something that is dangerous.
2) Call out for help in your dream
If you’re dreaming and find yourself unable to wake up, call out for help in your dream. You could say something to the effect of, “Help! I’m dreaming!”.
If you’re having difficulty waking up, try to blink. This is a natural response, and it may help to break you out of the dream.
4) Have your partner wake you
Tell your partner that they’re allowed to wake you up if you seem to be having a bad dream – that is to say, if you start talking in your sleep, crying, shaking, turning, and twisting…
Counting down from 10 is a popular way of deciding whether or not we’re in control of a dream.
6) Fall asleep in your dream
Go to sleep in your dream so you can wake in real life
7) Pinch yourself
You know how in movies and cartoons. If people are always pinching themselves to make sure they’re awake?
Well, in your dream if you pinch yourself, you’ll probably wake up in real life.
Medical uses of lucid dreaming
There are multiple medical uses of lucid dreaming helping with clinical depression and anxiety, treating nightmares, and PTSD, to name a few.
The potential medical uses could go on and on, but we’ll just stick to a few:
1) Treating nightmares
In many cases, people who have experienced something traumatic have trouble sleeping at night because they’re tormented by nightmares.
In many cases, these nightmares are so bad that they can really affect a person’s quality of life.
However, something can be done about it – lucid dreaming therapy can help the person take charge during the dream and possibly prevent these nightmares from occurring altogether.
According to Dr. Denholm Aspy, at the University of Adelaide in Australia, “If you can help someone who’s having nightmares to become lucid during that nightmare, then that gives them the ability to exert control over themselves or over the nightmare itself.”
2) Treating phobias
Do you run out of a room when you see a spider? Do you have a fear of heights? Are you uncomfortable in small spaces?
Lucid dreaming might be the answer to your troubles.
Turns out that lucid dreaming can prepare you for situations that would normally cause you to panic.
For example, if you have a fear of heights, you get to practice climbing a ladder to the top of a tall building. In this way, you can build up your confidence so that when you’re confronted with something like this in your waking life, it won’t mess with your head as much.
3) Treating PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD; formerly known as shell shock) is a condition that affects many people and is hard to treat. Research shows that lucid dreaming could be used as a way to help treat PTSD in individuals.
4) Treating anxiety
By reducing nightmares and taking control of your dreams, you can tackle the real issues that are causing you to be anxious and depressed.
What’s more, if you have something that is making you anxious in your waking life, facing it in your dreams might make you less anxious when you are awake.
5) Treating depression
In many cases, people who are depressed have trouble sleeping at night because their mind races over their bad experiences in life; this can lead to anxiety and a general sense of fear.
Lucid dreaming therapy could help improve these conditions.
6) To aid physical rehabilitation
In some cases, lucid dreaming therapy could be used to help people physically recover from an injury.
For example, if a person who is paralyzed begins lucid dreaming and practicing walking in their dreams, they might jump-start the healing process in their brain and actually be able to walk again.
In this article, we’ve looked at what lucid dreaming is, how to extend lucid dreaming, the normal length of lucid dreams, as well as some of its medical benefits.
I encourage you to explore your lucid dreams and even try to intentionally go from a waking state into a lucid dream.
I find that it’s a very interesting feeling to be dreaming and to know that you’re dreaming.
What’s more, I think lucid dreams have a lot of untapped potentials and we’ll be finding out their benefits for years to come.
Why not give it a go?
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