It’s rare that I have an exciting or fun dream. Two-headed monsters or the ability to breathe underwater rarely come up when I’m sleeping. The most interesting dream I’ve had recently involved me returning to my college job as an ice cream scooper and muttering to a coworker, “Man, this sucks!” It sure did.
Yet many of my friends tell me fantastic nighttime tales of flying all over the world or of scandalous encounters with Clive Owen on a train. I’ve heard that it’s possible to control the course of our dreams via lucid dreaming, but I always assumed that it was an innate ability. In fact, anyone can learn to take the reins from the subconscious and alter dream situations. Using a variety of techniques, we can turn mundane dreams into fantasies that make it even more exciting to crawl into bed.
1. Dream Journaling
A good place to start the lucid dreaming process is to keep a record of previous dreams. There are numerous ways to remember your dreams, but one of the easiest and most popular is to keep a dream journal. Put a notebook and pen next to your bed and immediately, upon waking, write down everything you can remember from your dreams. If writing is too much effort so soon after snoozing, try a voice recorder instead. The point is to keep track consistently so that your dream recall improves over time. After all, what’s the point of lucid dreaming if you can’t remember it in the morning?
2. Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD)
This technique, created by psychophysiologist Stephen LaBerge, stresses the recognition of dreaming while it’s in process. Begin by making it a goal to wake yourself up when you notice that you’re dreaming and chronicle everything you can remember about the dream. As you’re falling back asleep, focus on re-entering your previous dream, but this time direct yourself to explore the dream instead of waking yourself up. Keep that awareness as you fall into REM sleep (the sleep stage during which lucid dreaming most commonly occurs). It might help to state aloud, “I am aware of my dream state,” as you drift off.
Look for indications — also called dream signs — that alert you to the fact that you’re dreaming.