Have you ever had a dream that made you wish you didn’t have to wake up? Maybe you were jet-setting with your favorite celebrities, living in a literal paradise, or maybe you could turn into a mermaid or a dragon. It’s always a treat to have a dream that allows you to live out a fantasy, if only for a little while.
You might be happy to know that you don’t have to wait for these rare occasions to pop up by accident— you can actually learn to tell yourself what kind of dream you want to have.
What’s more, you can maintain some consciousness while you have it so that you can control the dream and keep it on track. You can do this every night if you want.
This talent is called ‘lucid dreaming’ and anyone can learn how to do it. Just follow these steps, and within a month you should be living out your fantasies in your dreams whenever you want.
Step 1: Decide you want to lucid dream
It may sound ridiculously easy, but for some people, just making the decision to have a lucid dream is enough to start having them.
In lucid dreaming, you maintain a fragment of consciousness so that you’re aware you’re dreaming and can control it. Sometimes to keep that conscious part of yourself awake can be accomplished simply by telling your brain to do it.
When you want to start lucid dreaming, tell yourself periodically throughout the day ‘I will have a lucid dream tonight’ or ‘tonight I will be aware of and in complete control of my dreams’.
Step 2: Start a Dream Journal
If lucid dreaming doesn’t come that easily to you, don’t be discouraged. Not everyone can start lucid dreaming on command. If after a few days you’re still not lucid dreaming, add another effort: start a dream log.
When you lay down at night, tell yourself you’re going to lucid dream and that you’re going to remember your dream. Keep a recorder by your bed at night.
If you should wake up remembering a dream, describe it into a recorder in as much detail as possible. If it’s not morning, go back to sleep.
The better your dream recall, the more conscious you’ll be when you dream. In your sleep, you’ll start to recognize the signs that you’re dreaming— once you do, you’ll be lucid dreaming.
Step 3: Dream Scripting
If after a week or two you’re not getting anywhere with the affirmations and the journal, add a new tactic: dream scripting. Write out your fantasy just as you would want to dream it. Then, go into a relaxed, meditative state and visualize your fantasy just as you want it to be in your dream.
When you go to sleep tell yourself that you want to dream your fantasy. Try this for about a week.
Step 4: Dream Cues
If your brain is being a little bit stubborn, a final tactic might be setting up some actual cues to remind yourself— while you’re sleeping— that you should start lucid dreaming.
This cue can be a very, very soft sound; alternatively you can use a red or blue light set on a timer, set to go off every 30 to 60 minutes or so. This cue should not be so blaring that it wakes you up, but you should be able to perceive it in your sleep.
It will remind your brain to wake that part of itself up so you can lucid dream. Just remind yourself at night that, when you perceive the cue, you will start lucid dreaming.
Most people will not have to go this far. If you’re still having trouble, it could mean you’re sleep deprived, or you could be on medications that are making you sleep too soundly to lucid dream.
Don’t give up though! Keep trying, and eventually it will kick in.