Lucid Dreaming; Take Control of Your Unreality

Kytiana Thompson, reporter

Lucid dreaming, or “hybrid sleep-wake state”, is when you’re dreaming but fully aware that you are dreaming. There is still a lot to learn about lucid dreaming, though it is being heavily studied. While lucid dreaming, you don’t just know you’re dreaming, but you could also have some amount of control over decision-making in the dream. Lucid dreaming most commonly happens during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep as this is the deepest stage of sleep. Studies have shown that people who lucid dream tend to have a bigger prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that completes tasks such as making decisions and recalling memories. 

It has been found that there are four very common techniques to induce lucid dreaming: reality testing, mnemonic induction of lucid dreams (MILD), waking back to bed (WBTB), and external stimulation. 

Reality testing happens throughout the day when a person asks themselves if they are dreaming or seeing a true reality. People will consistently ask themselves if it is real, creating a habit that eventually is supposed to spill over into your dreams. A different tactic, MILD, is when you train

Image from Frontiers

 yourself to recognize the difference between dreams and reality during sleep. During this technique, you would wake up after a period of sleeping, then say to yourself “next time I’m asleep, I’ll remember I’m dreaming” or a variation of that. 

Another version of lucid dream induction is WBTB which includes waking in the middle of the night and then returning to sleep after a set amount of time has passed. In order to do WBTB most effectively you should wait anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to fall back asleep.  Many people use MILD and WBTB techniques together. 

Then there is external stimulation, this technique is when you use things such as flashing lights (or any outside stimuli) that trigger while in REM sleep. People who use this method think that this will help the sleeper incorporate these stimuli into their dreams, which will switch on the process of lucid dreaming. There are many additional ways to induce Lucid dreaming, these are some of the common ways. If you want to try lucid dream induction make sure that you are aware of the dangers that using lucid dreaming can cause. 

These sleep stages may come naturally to people, but are they necessarily safe? All types of lucid dreaming take place in the REM stage, but that doesn’t mean there is a reserved time for it in this process. The REM content of sleep normally allows memory to be stored while also regulating emotion, and lucid dreaming could interfere with this necessary practice. Therefore, vitality may be replaced with exaggerated dreams that are ruining mental and physical health. Certain individuals have had a positive experience with lucid dreaming, some negative, and the rest not being bothered mentally. As far as negative experiences go, lucid dreaming has been closely associated with depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia, worsening the illnesses in some cases. Relying on lucid dreaming as a way to escape reality might not be something as good for you as seeking professional help. (plug in a part about shifting here?)

Lucid dreaming is one way to escape reality but Shifting is a trend that has recently emerged on TikTok. While lucid dreaming is a form of dreaming, shifting is entering another reality through thoughts and dreams. Shifting can be done while awake and asleep. It harnesses the techniques used in lucid dreaming but also meditation. If shifting while sleeping many people use a method where they are “scripting” before they go to bed, this is when they write about their desired reality (DR) by hand to impress the idea into their subconscious. This method is called the “pillow method”, if you want to shift while you’re awake you might use the “raven method”. This method uses meditation, you meditate for 10 minutes in a starfish position lying down while counting up to 100. While you’re doing this make sure you’re focusing on your DR. `   

Shifting is a combination of lucid dreaming and self-hypnosis which have been made into different ways to shift. These methods help people dissociate from reality into their DR. When in this state of hypnosis you are conscious and have control over the situations that happen. The experience is supposedly similar to wearing VR goggles, you are able to see and feel the reality you have made. 

Teaohn Gonzalez, a senior here at West Springfield High School avidly induces lucid dreaming. He does this by laying down, thinking of simple shapes, and outlining them in his mind with his eyes closed, he makes sure that his eyes and body both stay still. He then “manifests” his dreams.  “I just thought of it and it appeared,” he says when talking about one of his lucid dreams where he was riding a roller coaster that he put there by just thinking he wanted to be riding a roller coaster. He has had many lucid dreams, he induces lucid dreaming the same way every time. 

Lucid dreaming and shifting are two of the many different ways to escape from reality. If you do consider trying these methods then you should do your research beforehand. As far as a way to cope with things there are healthier ways but if you just want to experience what it is like or to just jump into another world then have fun.