The colorful wolf

October 11, 2009

Lucid Dreaming

Filed under: Thoughts — randy @ 11:22

Recently I’ve been spending a bit of my brain time thinking about  sleeping. That may sound like a waste of time, but the time I gain back by being well rested as a result of this thinking more than justifies it. My usual sleeping rhythm requires me to get at least 8 hours of sleep if I want to feel well rested, which is more than I’d prefer. I know of some of my friends that they can feel perfectly fine for the whole day with only 6 hours of sleep, even over longer periods of time, but I can’t. This direction of thinking led me to exploring more about sleeping habits in general, and eventually led me to find the lucid dreaming article on wikipedia.

In short, lucid dreams are dreams where you’re aware that you’re dreaming, and you can consciously control the dreams. In other words: anything you can imagine will become true in your dream world 😀 At least in theory. So I’ve been trying to induce lucid dreams during my sleep. Some of the methods described in the article on wikipedia don’t work for me at all, like having a mnemonic that triggers the realisation that it’s just a dream (for example, seeing a yellow box awakens your consciousness while continuing the dream), or trying to stay awake for as long as possible before sleeping, focusing your thoughts on having a lucid dream. In both of these methods my mind seems to wander and I can never concentrate on a single thought long enough..

I found out last night how I am able to induce a lucid dream inside myself, and thinking back on previous lucid dreams I’ve had the conditions were very similar. First, you need to be sufficiently tired. If you’ve had 2 hours extra sleep the day before and did not do anything exhausting then it won’t work. The second thing you need is isolation from outside light sources and sound. Close the curtains and windows, turn off any noisy devices in your room (PC). Even with these two conditions satisfied I was still having trouble getting lucid dreams, but I finally noticed a pattern that triggers the event. If, during the days before having the dream, I did not turn off my PC in the room, or if I left my window or curtains open, then a couple of days later I will have a lucid dream. I guess I would get used to sleeping with noise or light, and then the sudden absence of that noise/light enables me to sleep deeper.

All of this helps me to better remember what I’ve dreamed about when I wake up. I still remember last night’s dream very vividly. It’s hard to describe everything inside the dream, but the key points were me going on a trip by plane to some country with a jungle, then going home (again by plane) and being around the house I grew up in (this is kind of a recurring theme in my dreams). It’s quite amazing for me to be able to recall all the events in the dream, because usually when I’m awake my memory is quite terrible, and I don’t remember that many things about the house I grew up in. In the dream I remember all the details, and when I wake up I still remember them consciously as well, better than I ever could with normal methods of recall.

Being able to recall the dream so clearly, I can also guess why I dreamed about these things. The night before I was talking with some friends about planning a trip during the winter holidays to some country that might be exciting, and during the conversation the word ‘adventurous’ in particular came up, which I guess my subconscious must have remembered. Since every adventure trip I’ve done involves planes the association is easily made, and the last time I took a plane was to go back to my home country.

But back to lucidity. At some point during this dream I ‘realized’ I was dreaming, and I was able to control my dream. I write ‘realizing’ because I did not actually realize it. Rather, my dream self realized it. The me inside the dream thought he was dreaming, and decided to steer the dream in a particular direction, but it wasn’t ME (well, the conscious me) who was controlling the dream, it was my subconscious. My mind played a trick of me, so I still haven’t achieved lucidity. The mind is a strange thing indeed. I will keep on trying though. The challenge of the mind is one of the few interesting challenges left on this planet.

One last note: of course spending more time sleeping does not effectively give you more ‘real’ time back, but if you can solve a two-hour problem in only one hour if you’ve slept properly, then that’s a one hour gain. And you’ll feel better about yourself too 😉

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