Regardless of what is achieved during, or learned about the lucid dreaming session one thing is for certain; there can be only as many lucid dreams in a sleep session as there are REM stages. This equates to a usual maximum of five available sessions to create lucid dreams a night with an average 90 minute sleep cycle and eight hours of sleep. With 35 REM sessions available during the week and each of those lasting an average of 30 minutes this provides you with a possible 17 hours of lucid dream time a week. In most cases a person will only remember at most two lucid sessions during a single sleep period and with most people experiencing situations conducive to lucid dreams only every few days the actual time spent in available lucid dreaming time hovers around three hours a week.
Lucid and Regular Dreams: The Difference
While lucid dreaming takes place during REM sleep there is a considerable difference between regular dreams and lucid dreams. During a regular dream you may encounter experiences that you simply take in stride where if it were your real waking life you’d be questioning your own sanity. Such dream aspects may encompass such things as talking to mythical creatures, interacting with relatives that have passed on, or being able to perform feats that you are consciously aware you’re not capable of such as leaping over tall buildings in a single bound. Regular dreams simply happen as they may and you accept everything that occurs within them as current fact and plausible. Lucid dreams on the other hand may actually occur in several different ways and on several different levels. It’s important to note that a lucid dream doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have absolute conscious control over the dream-state as sometimes it can be as insignificant as being aware that something is odd, out of place, or that you are in fact dreaming. If you are sitting down in a field talking to a horse, who happens to be responding perfectly and you suddenly realize how very strange it is that you’re talking to a horse and understanding each other then you have entered into a lucid state. Whether you move the dream into a higher lucid state, or allow it to continue on unfettered is up to you at that point. What you would have experienced is a referred to as a DILD (Dream Induced Lucid Dream) where you entered a lucid state from within your dream. Lucid dreams may also, though it is far more difficult, be entered from a waking state and those are referred to as WILD (Wake Induced Lucid Dream).
So, in regular dreams you are not aware you are dreaming until you wake up and whatever happens during the dream is real and completely plausible. In lucid dreaming you are usually aware that you are dreaming and are consciously aware of how very strange anything beyond the ordinary actually is.
Effects on Your Sleep Cycle
Moving towards lucid dreaming and away from regular dreaming may seem like it would affect the deepness or quality of your sleep and leave you groggy, or more tired upon waking; however this isn’t the case. Most lucid dreamers actually report feeling much more energized and ready-to-go after waking from lucid dreams. Scientists and studies indicate this feeling of invigoration may indeed be caused by the conscious mind already being primed and ready for action instead of still waking up. It is of note to say too that a person that experiences lucid dreams does not become tired more quickly than a person that does not, so quality and quantity of sleep does not seem to be an issue with regards to lucid dreaming.
Benefits of a Lucid Dream
Lucid dreams are a wonderful thing to utilize to your advantage. What you really have is an unlimited canvas that allows you to create or do almost anything without repercussions that may occur in the real world. It is in the lucid dream state where your capabilities and abilities may be extended and brought into the waking world.
a) Enhance Your Abilities
During lucid dreaming you may consciously practice anything that you want to get better at in the waking world. Since lucid dreaming allows you to experience the ability and remember it consciously any practice done in the dream state will translate into the waking state. In this manner martial arts techniques may be honed without physical fatigue to slow the mental training process, musical proficiency may be increased via practice on various instruments and compositions, and public speaking may become more fluent and comfortable by reciting speeches in front of large audiences.
b) Overcome Your Anxiety and Fear
The lucid state within your dreams offers the perfect place to practice overcoming anxieties and fears. Because you are aware that you’re in a dream state you’re also capable of understanding that anything that you fear in the waking world is not the same in a dream state. At the same time you may become more comfortable in facing fears by continually facing them in your lucid state – it may be a dream where you are safe from harm but it serves its purpose. By experiencing phobias in the dream state you can consciously begin to reduce the anxiety and stress they may cause you in your waking reality. Constantly climbing tall buildings and looking down from them in your dreams may reduce your fear of heights. Speaking in front of audiences either during formal speeches or less formal addresses may reduce the stress of doing so in your waking life.
c) Work Through Real Life Issues
Since you’re able to translate what you do in a lucid state into your waking life being able to direct your dreams towards issues, problems or what-have-you from your waking life offers a golden opportunity to search for different possible answers and find the best fit outcome. Whether you’re experiencing work-related issues, or need to figure out the best laid plan for your future if you put the task into the lucid dream state you can run scenarios and tests without harming anyone including yourself. One of the best ideas in the use of lucid dreaming that I’ve heard recently is in its use to lose weight. People that overeat do so for many reasons, but if they can either learn in the lucid state at what portion control they feel full and want to stop eating, or even pig out during the dream state so they don’t do so during waking life they end up taking the full memory and feeling from the dream state to the waking state. Many people report coming out of lucid state having worked through an issue such as this as almost a miraculous event.
Lucid Dreams: What to Expect
A lucid dream can present in many different ways, but generally in any DILD the first lucid thought will either include something along the lines of the realization that you’re dreaming, or that something that is occurring shouldn’t be possible. From this initial step into lucidity you must be sure to remain calm. If you become excited you will most likely lose the dream state and enter the waking state altogether. Another aspect to be aware of is any conscious feelings of fear or anxiety that may be brought about due to your realization that you’re unable to physically move during a lucid dream. You must remember that your major muscles are intentionally paralyzed during REM sleep and just because you’re aware of your dream state does not mean that your muscles become unlocked. Though this sort of sleep paralysis is odd at first you will become more used to it and eventually it will not take any focus from the dream itself. What often begins to happen during a lucid dream is that you will start to lose the experience as your body begins to wake up instead of staying in the dream state. Though there are several different methods of prolonging lucid dreaming the most commonly reported as achieving success is actually just saying things like, “Increase the clarity” or “Stay dreaming” in the dream state itself. Practice makes perfect in experiencing and prolonging lucid dreams so use your few hours a week wisely when it comes to working with your conscious mind while sleeping.
Lucid dreaming requires REM sleep which means that anyone taking MAOIs in any form or most anti-depressants will be unable to lucid dream.