The Power of Lucid Dreaming

The state where our mind transcends the boundaries of reality.


Szabo Viktor / Unsplash

Flying is one of first things many people do when they first start lucid dreaming, and is on the list for the top favorite lucid dreaming activities.

Would you believe me if I told you that this sentence was created within a dream?

That’s right – although I’m writing what you’re seeing right now, as I am conscious, I’ll have you know that the lead sentence of this article was simply a replica of what I came up with and wrote down whilst I was experiencing a fascinating phenomenon known as lucid dreaming.

Lucid dreaming is a phenomenon where an individual becomes aware that they are dreaming, and with adequate control, the dreamer may even be able to manipulate their dream environment.

During a stressful week packed with exams, I found myself with an essay nearing its deadline. Since I was tired, I told myself that I’d wake up early to complete it, but I ended up being stressed about it through my sleep as well. However, the shocking part is that because of all the added stress, I managed to complete an outline for my essay while I was in a dream. This incident is what fueled me to delve deeper into the mysteries of lucid dreaming and develop techniques to allow me to practice skills while unconscious. It also sparked a profound curiosity to inquire about the depths of our human mind, and question the extent we can manipulate our perceived reality to reach our fullest potential. 

Research has shown that 55% of adults have experienced a lucid dream at least once in their life, with 23% of all adults reporting more regular occurrences. From a scientific standpoint, dreaming is associated with increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that is responsible for decision making and self awareness. This correlation may suggest that lucid dreaming has the potential to reveal the nature of consciousness itself. As we gain control over our own dreams, we may be able to dive deeper into the depths of our subconscious mind and gain a better understanding of the human mind as a whole.

Lucid dreaming offers a wide range of benefits that holds potential for personal growth and the exploration of our own minds. For those that struggle with nightmares or PTSD, lucid dreaming offers a way to take control when you are experiencing such situation, and serves as an “opportunity” to escape. Once you are aware that you are dreaming in a nightmare, you may be able to train yourself to get out of it by manipulating your dream environment. 

In a lucid dream state, you are also quite literally living out your imagination. In other words, you are able to transcend the boundaries of reality and gain the freedom to explore anything you desire. For instance, one of the most popular lucid dreaming activities is flying, which in the real world would be possibility. If you have ever wanted to explore a destination or even a time period, you may be able to create that environment yourself and live it out. Think of virtual reality– many people find it fascinating, but lucid dreaming is essentially the same thing, except that you are fully experiencing the sensory experience. 

Beyond entertainment purposes, lucid dreaming offers a variety of advantages that can not only deepen our understanding of our subconscious minds, but also provide significant impacts on our creativity and problem solving skills. Many artists and innovators have utilized dreaming to allow their own ideas to flourish. Notable figures include Albert Einstein, who claimed that he discovered the theory of relativity in a dream, Nikola Tesla, who stated that dreams allowed him to “visualize with the greatest facility,” and Stephen King, who thought of the ideas for many of his works during vivid dreams. 

If you’re interested in unlocking the power and having mastery of your own dreams, you can use several techniques to self induce and enhance a lucid dream:

  • Dream Journal: This is one of the most common first steps one should take on their journey to control their dreams. As soon as you wake up, immediately record your dreams in a dedicated journal and include as much detail as possible. By recording your dreams, you are able to improve your dream recall and self awareness within later dreams.
  • Reality Checks: Some examples of reality checks include attempting to place your finger through your palm or pinching yourself. Reality checks allow you to be aware of if you’re in a dream or in reality, and by repeatedly doing reality checks while you are awake, you may start performing them in your dreams.
  • Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreaming (MILD Technique) : This technique essentially involves using affirmations as you are going to sleep. In other words, by repeating phrases such as “I will lucid dream” as well as visualizing your desired dream, this may increase the likelihood of you entering a lucid dream.
  • Wake back to bed (WBTB) Technique: This technique involves setting an alarm 2-3 hours before you usually wake up. After waking up, focus on the dream you want to have and go back to bed after a brief period of time. This is not the most ideal technique as it may disrupt your sleep, so make sure you use it with caution and not too frequently. 
Benzene Chemical Structure
Chemist August Kekulé dreamt of a snake eating its tail, which helped him visualize and discover the chemical structure of Benzene afterwards. Photo Credit: Haltopub, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Another fascinating and loosely related concept is a state known as hypnagogia. Hypnagogia refers to the transition between wakefulness and sleep, and in this state some people experience strong sensory experiences. The Tetris Effect, where sensory patterns manifest as you fall asleep after you devote time to a repeated activity (For example, after playing Tetris for an extended period of time, you may start seeing Tetris-like shapes as you are falling asleep), is an example of hypnagogia. Unlike dreaming which primarily occurs during Rapid Eye Movement (REM), hypnagogia occurs during the first stage of NREM (Non REM), though the nature of this experience is relatively similar to lucid dreaming. 

Studies have shown that a hypnagogic state provides us with a heightened sense of creativity due to its vivid sensory hallucinations. Various creatives and renowned figures throughout history have utilized this state for their creative and innovative pursuits. For example, Thomas Edison would often induce this state by falling asleep while holding a ball, which would drop and wake him up as soon as he became unconscious (If you’ve ever slept on public transportation and woke up after perhaps dropping your phone, this is a similar experience), allowing him to remember what he had imagined or experienced while “half asleep.” Additionally, chemist August Kekulé was able to discover the ring structure of benzene while he was in this half unconscious state. 

Lucid dreaming offers a deeper path into the imagination and provides insight on consciousness as a whole. Some of the greatest minds have taken advantage of their sleep to boost their creativity and discover success. Who knows, perhaps your next greatest idea will manifest itself within your unconscious mind.

Who knows, perhaps your next greatest idea will manifest itself within your unconscious mind.