Lucid Dreaming

By N. A. Foy

Disclaimer:  This paper was written for a collge course I was taking, not by a professional in this area of study.  Some herbal supplements are discussed.  You should discuss these supplements with your doctor before you start taking them.

In my novel, “Conspiracy of Deception” lucid dreaming is something that is brought up by some of the characters.  Lucid dreaming is a very interesting area of study and many people attempt to acheive a state of lucid dreaming.  Hope you enjoy the research paper.


When someone has a lucid dream it means that the person within the dream has become aware that she is dreaming.  There are two forms of lucid dreaming.  A normal dream in which the dreamer at one point realizes that it is a dream is referred to as adream-initiated lucid dream (DILD) and when a person goes from the waking stateright into a dream awareness state it is referred to as a wake-initiated lucid dream (WILD) (wikipedia 2011).  In this paper I’m going to take a look at the history of lucid dreaming, studies that have been done regarding lucid dreaming, methods people use to achieve lucid dreams, and discuss as to whether or not there are benefits to having lucid dreams.

History of Lucid Dreaming

Lucid dreaming has been a phenomenon that has been around for centuries.  Tibetan Buddhists practiced dream Yoga, where one attempted to remain in a conscious state in the 8th century CE.  According to them this was supposed to help one understand the unreality of phenomena. Sir Thomas Browne, a physician and philosopher from the 17thcentury was said to have lucid dreams. He spoke of being able to compose an entire comedy within the dreaming state.  Marquis d’Hervey de Saint-Denys believed that anyone could achieve the ability to become conscious while dreaming (wikipedia 2011).

The term lucid dream was first given by Frederik Van Eden (1860-1932), a Dutch psychiatrist and writer.  Celia Green did an early study on lucid dreams concluding that lucid dreams are very distinct from regular dreams, that they occur during the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of dreaming, and that they are linked with false
awakenings.  In the late 1970s a British parapsychologist named Keith Hearne provided evidence that eye movement could be used to signal that a lucid dream was occurring on a prearranged agreement of action in waking life.  A polysomnograph machine was used to detect this eye movement.  Further evidence continued to verify this method throughout the 1980s giving researchers more possibilities in studying lucid dreams (wikipedia 2011).  Various aspects of lucid dreams continue to be studied.

A Look at Some Studies Regarding Lucid Dreams

Lucid Dreams and the Stroop Effect

In one study people who were frequent lucid dreamers were compared to occasional lucid dreamers and non-lucid dreamers on their response to the Stroop Effect.  The Stroop Effect is where word fonts are certain colors and those words also spell out colors.  For example the word “blue” may be spelled out using a red font.  The
participants in the experiment are instructed to say the color of the font rather than what it says.  It was found that frequent lucid dreamers could perform quicker in the Stroop condition than the occasional and non-lucid dreamers.  This may support the idea that those who have frequent lucid dreams also show more attention when awake (Balgrove, Bell, Wilkinson 2010).

Lucid Dreams and Change Blindness

Studies have been done to see if change blindness is related to lucid dreaming.  The change blindness task is where a prominent part of a photograph alternates repetitively and the participant tries to pick up on this change.  It was thought that the reason people lucid dream is because they pick up on changes, abnormalities, and bizarreness in dreams better than non-lucid dreams.  However, after an experiment was done, there appeared to be no significant correlation between lucid dreaming and change blindness (Balgrove & Wilkinsong 2010).

Lucid Dream and Brain Hemispheres

Studies have been done to see if right or left hemispheres of the brain play a difference in lucid dreaming.  Right handed participants who are generally considered to be more left-hemisphere dominant found that observing a painting in their dream was easier than reading a sentence while left handed participants did not show much of a difference.  The same was found when comparing observing to reading.  In the same study humming was compared to speaking and right handed people had more difficulty with speaking while in the dream whereas left handed people did not show a significant difference.  These findings suggest that the right
hemisphere of the brain is higher activated during lucid dreaming when compared to the left hemisphere (Pell 2009).

Lucid Dreaming and Physiological Changes

Physiological changes were tested during lucid dreaming. In one study people who were fluent in lucid dreaming were instructed to do such exercises as squatting in a dream and their physiological states were measured.  It was found that there was an increase in heart rate from the pre-exercise period to during the exercise period and the heart rate decreased again during the post-exercise period.  The difference in respiration rate during this period wasn’t as statistically significant but
there was still an increase during the exercise period.  This shows that motor activities while lucid dreaming influence actual motor actions in higher brain areas.  In other words, the areas of the brain that regulate heart rate are affected when lucid dreaming even though there is no actual physical activity taking place in reality (Erlacher & Schredl 2008).

Lucid Dreaming and Personality

A study was done comparing lucid dreamers to non-lucid dreamers when it came to personality.  Lucid dreamers were found to have a more internal locus of control, which means that lucid dreamers tend to have more control from within.  This makes since due to the fact at it takes a degree of self-control to be able to enter a lucid dream.  Secondly, lucid dreamers were reported to have a higher need for cognation which is they need to put meaning on their experiences. Thirdly, lucid dreamers seemed to be more field independent which refers to having the ability to do such things as distinguish different parts of an object from the entire object itself. An example would be being able to pick upon smaller objects in a large painting.  This finding supports the idea that there is a continuum between waking and sleeping states (Patrick & Durndell 2004).

Techniques Used to Lucid Dream

Remembering Dreams

How does one learn how to lucid dream? There are various techniques such as memory techniques or meditations that are used to help a person achieve a lucid
dream state.  One of the first memory techniques to pave the way to lucid dreaming is to keep a dream journal and focus on remembering dreams.  This can be rather difficult to do at first.  A person trying to remember her dreams may want to create an “anchor.”  Perhaps there is an object in the room that the dreamer can focus on before going to sleep such as a poster, a figurine, or other object.  The reasoning behind this is to plant a subconscious message to remember dreams. The object should be viewed throughout the night and upon awakening.  Secondly, write down the dream as soon as possible before it escapes the memory.  If a dream occurs in the middle of the night and there isn’t enough time to write down the details at least write down key words to help recall the dream when awakening in the
morning (Turner 2008-2011).  It might also be a good idea to practice interpreting one’s dreams as this helps established a continued focus on dreaming.

Reality Checks

One of the better known techniques to achieve lucid dreaming is to do several reality checks throughout the day. Reality checks can include bouncing up on one’s toes to see if she float up or if gravity keeps her down, or taking a finger and seeing if it stretches abnormally long while asking herself if she is dreaming.  This may seem foolish to do throughout the waking state because obviously she is not going to start floating or stretch her finger out too long.  However, because of the waking/dreaming continuum, eventually after practicing this in the waking state, one might think of it in the dreaming state and this may trigger a lucid dream. It should be noted that whatever method used needs to be safe and should not bring embarrassment to self (Turner 2008-2011 Link 2).


Using meditation that focuses on self-awareness may help one to achieve the lucid dream state.  Breathing techniques and guided meditations can be beneficial.
One may visualize being in a very peaceful setting such as in a wooded area with a creek and to take in all the sensations such as what the ground feels like beneath and the smell of the air. This helps to train the mind to be in a state of awareness, which may eventually carry over into a dream and make it a lucid dream (Turner 2008-2011 Link 3).

Brainwave Entertainment

Brainwave entertainment may help one to initiate a lucid dream, especially a WILD.  This brainwave entertainment is said to help induce a person into a state of relaxation and even may help one shift in states of consciousness.  A person may do this by putting headphones on and listening to the brainwave entertainment, which is playing various tones in each ear. The frequencies of these tones will descent bringing one into a state of relaxation (Turner 2008-2011 Link 4).

Herbal Supplements

Certain herbal supplements may help one to have a lucid dream.  An herb called Calea zacatechichi can help create vivid dreams increasing the likely hood of a lucid dream occurring.  Another herb that helps with colorful dreams and lucid dreams is called silene capensis. This herb has been used by Shamans in South America for a long time and is known as the African dream root.  It may be good to look for a supplement that combines dreaming herbs such as Dreamers Blend, which has the two herbs just discussed plus other herbs such as Blue Vervain, Wild Lettuce, and California Poppy.  There are various other supplements that can be used such as 5-HTP, Galantamine, Choline, etc. (Turner 2008-2011 Link 5).

Inducting a Wake-Initiated Lucid Dream (WILD)

Another interesting technique is to use an inducing a WILD dream method.  This is best done during the last two hours of sleep so if the dreamer gets up two hours before she plans to get up for the day it is a good time to try or just set her alarm two hours early as her body should already be in a state of relaxation. Then practicing something similar to meditation where one relaxes and quiets the mind.  When one falls into a state where she starts seeing colors she should just observe what is going on and allow it to tranquil her into a deeper state of relaxation. Then she should start imagining a detailed scene in front of her using her strongest
sense to get a feel for the scene and allow the body to fall completely asleep.  She should allow her other senses to be with her as she enters into a lucid dream (Turner 2008-2011 Link 6).

Brief Mention of Other Techniques

There are various other techniques that can be used to achieve lucid dreams such as:  listen to a self-hypnosis CD before bed, use certain aromatherapy, read fiction based on lucid dreams, avoid certain drugs such as alcohol and marijuana before bed, aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night as REM sleep becomes more frequent toward the end of the night, visualize what you hope to have as a lucid dream, continue to study lucid dreaming as this keeps your mind thinking about it, etc. (Turner
2008-2011 Link 7).

Benefits of Lucid Dreaming

There may be some possible benefits from learning how to lucid dream.  There have been studies done in seeing if lucid dreaming can help alleviate nightmares.
Nightmares have been shown to decrease when a person is able to have lucid dreams.  There may even be therapeutic benefits to lucid dreaming such as a decrease in depression and anxiety (wikipedia).  Some believe that one can communicate with the unconscious during lucid dreaming and gain a better understanding of herself.  It’s even been said that psychological work such as overcoming fears, quitting smoking and alcohol can be done in lucid dreaming.  It is also believed that creativity can be enhanced in a lucid dream as artists and musicians have been inspired by their dreams and having a lucid dream can cause the dream to be more memorable.  This creativity can extended to finding solutions to problems and coming up with ideas.  There is a possibility that one can enhance their talents while lucid dreaming such as playing sports or an instrument.  There may be more benefits but it does seem that one can greatly enhance their life through lucid dreaming.  Lucid dreaming may be an enjoyable experience that a person can engage in as they gain control over what is going on in the dream (Author Unknown 2011).


Lucid dreaming is not something that is often discussed in counseling sessions.  After doing this research I begin to wonder if there could be benefits to use the idea of lucid dreaming in therapy.  It seems possible to me that it could be used in conjunction with other styles of therapy such as cognitive behavior therapy, person centered therapy, psychoanalytic therapy, Gestalt therapy, and other styles that are used.


Author Unknown (2011):  Lucid Dream How To:  Benefits of Lucid Dreaming.  Retrieved from

Blagrove, Mark; Bell, Emma;Wilkinson, Amy;  Assoication of Lucid Dreaming Frequency with Stroop Task Performance. Dreaming, Vol 20(4), Dec, 2010. pp. 280-287

Blagrove, Mark; Wilkinson, Amy;
Lucid Dreaming Frequency and Change Blindness Performance. Dreaming, Vol 20(2), Jun, 2010. pp. 130-135.

Erlacher, Daniel; Schredl, Michael; Cardivascular Responses to Dreamed Physical Exercise During REM Lucid Dreaming. Dreaming, Vol 18(2), Jun, 2008. pp. 112-121.

Patrick, A.; Durndell, A.; Lucid Dreaming and Personality: A Replication Dreaming, Vol 14(4), Dec, 2004. pp. 234-239

Piller, Robert; Cerebral Specialization During Lucid Dreaming:  A Right Hemisphere Hypothesis. Dreaming, Vol 19(4), Dec, 2009. pp. 273-286.

Turner, R. (2008-2011): World Of Lucid Dreaming: Keeping a Dream Journal. Retrieved From

Turner, R. (2008-2011): World Of Lucid Dreaming:  Reality Checks: The Gate to Lucid Dreams.  Retrieved from– Link 2.

Turner, R. (2008-2011): World Of Lucid Dreaming:  Meditation for Lucid Dreaming.  Retrieved from– Link 3

Turner, R. (2008-2011): World Of Lucid Dreaming:  How to Lucid Dream With Brainwave Entertainment.  Retrieved from– Link 4

Turner, R. (2008-2011): World Of Lucid Dreaming:  Lucid Dreaming Supplements.  Retrieved from– Link 5

Turner, R. (2008-2011): World Of Lucid Dreaming:  How to have Wake Induced Lucid Dreams:  AKA the WILD Techniques.  Retrieved from– Link 6

Turner, R. (2008-2011): World Of Lucid Dreaming:  52 Ways To Have Lucid Dreams.  Retrieved from– Link 7

Wikipedia (2011): Lucid Dream.  Retrieved from

(C) N. A. Foy (2011).  If one is to use any of this article for any purpose I just ask that you