How to Induce Lucid Dreams
If you search the Web, you’ll find a variety of different solutions that claim to help you induce lucid dreams.
Overall, they can be grouped into the following categories:
- all kinds of mental training (most common);
- external stimuli like light, sound, vibration, etc.;
- drugs and herbs.
As of today, cognitive techniques seem to be more effective than other lucid dream induction techniques.
There are so-called dream-initiated lucid dream techniques (that is when you learn to become aware in the middle of a normal dream that you are dreaming) and wake-initiated lucid dream techniques (when you go from a waking state directly into a dream state).
According to the above- mentioned survey, among the most effective techniques are Tholey’s combined technique and the MILD technique suggested by LaBerge.
Theoretically, external devices providing different sorts of stimuli may increase the probability of lucid dreams. Thus, in 2014, a group of researchers led by Ursula Voss and Allan Hobson successfully used trance cranial electric current stimulation of the brain to induce lucid dreaming in a laboratory.
But the inventor of this method, Ursula Voss, warns us not to do it at home.
“I’ve received so many calls and so many offers to develop an application to use electrical stimulation at home. Please, do not do that!” (see this video minute 46:06).
Probably due to the same reason, a surgeon would not advise you not to remove your appendix at home by yourself.
Apart from electric stimulation, visual stimuli, such as flashes or lights, can be used to induce lucid dreaming. In the 1990s, Dr. Stephen LaBerge and his team at the Lucidity Institute released DreamLight and NovaDreamer.
These lucid dream induction devices were supposed to detect Rapid Eye Movements (REM sleep is the stage of sleep when we are more likely to have lucid dreams) and flash a series of lights through your closed eyelids. In 2008, the NovaDreamer II was announced to be presented soon, but it is now long overdue for release.
The devices designed by the Lucidity Institute were scientifically tested by the same institute and the conclusion was that “cueing with sensory stimuli by the DreamLight appears to increase a subject’s probability of having lucid dreams,” (LaBerge & Levitan, 1995).
But it should be stated that the mentioned devices were tested on experienced lucid dreamers, as 31 % of the lucid dreams which took place during the experiment was achieved without any help of devices – see this article).
As far as we know, nobody has ever performed the controlled tests of these devices, and we believe that results could be different with people who are inexperienced in lucid dreaming.
Since then a number of other dream masks with embedded lights and devices producing vibrations appeared on the market, but none of them has a good success rate.
Besides, such devices do not guarantee lucid dreams - you do need to train to recognize these stimuli in a dream and then perform other special checks (so-called reality checks) in order to become lucid.
Otherwise, you may miss the cue and the stimulus can just be incorporated into your dream (for example, flashing lights can transform into unusual lightning or the flashing lights of an ambulance, vibration can become an earthquake in your dream, etc.).
Probably you have had such an experience when some external sound, like a phone call, was “logically” incorporated into your dream plot.
As for “special” music, sounds and so-called binary rhythms, which are claimed to induce lucid dreams, there is no evidence that they can do it. If you don’t mind wasting your time, you can see for yourself that these things simply do not work.
A number of substances have been claimed to enhance dream recall, increase the intensity of dreams and induce lucid dreams, but so far there haven’t been any reliable scientific studies to prove their effectiveness, except for the donepezil study carried out by the Lucidity Institute.
But even the quality of the latter study was estimated as rather poor by the group of scientists who reviewed different methods of lucid dream incubation. (Stumbris et al. 2012).
There were only ten participants in that experiment and it lasted only three nights (compare it with clinical studies of approved drugs – such drugs can be studied for years, and on hundreds or even thousands of participants).
Another thing is that donepezil has quite unpleasant side effects (i.e. mild insomnia, nausea and vomiting).
“Although the only study showed some success with donepezil, more rigorous studies have to be carried out in order to have a better picture of the effects of such substances, paying special attention to adverse effects like insomnia and gastrointestinal symptoms.” (Stumbris et al. 2012)
Therefore, until today cognitive training is the most reliable way to get real lucid dreaming experience.