Lucid Dreaming: The Reality of Dreams

How do dreams feel real?

By: Carlos Glick

Outline of a head. Credit: neuroscicencenews

According to, there are 5 main types of dreams. Those dreams are normal dreams, daydreams, lucid dreams, false awakening dreams, and nightmares. It is common if you remember your dreams or not, but most people dream every night during REM sleep. 

I want to specifically talk about lucid dreaming, which is defined as being completely aware and in control of your dream you are having while you sleep. 

Lucid dreaming typically happens during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the dream stage of sleep.  

According to, there are 5 techniques to try for lucid dreaming. Those techniques are reality testing, wake back to bed (WBTB), Mnemonic induction of lucid dreams (MILD), keeping a dream journal, and wake-initiated lucid dreaming (WILD). 

About 55% of people have had one or more lucid dreams in their lifetime. During lucid dreams, you are aware of what’s happening and of your consciousness. It is a form of metacognition. 

Psych physiologist, Dr. Stephen LaBerge has become the pioneer, or in other words, the founding father of lucid dreaming research. He has led many scientific studies on the subject. 

Usually, lucid dreaming happens spontaneously. It is possible however, to lucid dream to various methods, which I previously mentioned but this time dive deeper into each technique. 

Reality testing is a form of mental training. It increases metacognition by training your mind to notice your own awareness. According to Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, your level of metacognition is similar in your waking and dreaming states.

For reality testing, follow these steps several times a day: Ask yourself, “Am I dreaming?” Check your environment to confirm whether or not you are dreaming. Notice your consciousness and how you’re engaging with your surroundings.

Wake back to bed (WBTB) involves entering REM sleep while you’re still conscious. To WBTB: Set an alarm for five hours after your bedtime. Go to sleep as usual. When the alarm goes off, stay up for 30 minutes. Enjoy a quiet activity, like reading perhaps. Fall back asleep.

Mnemonic induction of lucid dreams (MILD) is based on a behavior called prospective memory, which involves setting an intention to do something later. In MILD, you make the intention to remember that you’re dreaming. 

To use the MILD technique, as you fall asleep, think of a recent dream. Identify a “dreamsign,” or something that’s irregular or strange in a dream. 

An example is the ability to fly. Think about returning to the dream. 

Acknowledge that the dreamsign only happens when you dream. Tell yourself, “The next time I dream, I want to remember that I am dreaming.” Recite the phrase in your head.

Keeping a dream journal, or a dream diary a popular method for initiating lucid dreaming. When you write down your dreams, you’re forced to remember what happens during each dream. 

For best results, log your dreams as soon as you wake up. It’s also recommended to read your dream journal often. 

A Wake-initiated lucid dream (WILD) happens when you directly enter a dream from waking life. It’s said WILD helps your mind stay conscious while your body goes to sleep. 

Try the following methods to wake up during a lucid dream: Call out for help; Blink; Fall asleep in your dream; Read. Doing these things can generally help and guide you.

Dreams, whether they seem real or not, are within us. They are part of us. Next time you dream, ask yourself “Is this real?” 

You may be surprised.


Categories: Lifestyles

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