If you have never heard of lucid dreaming before, you’re about to be in for a wild ride. A lucid dream is one in which the dreamer is actually aware that he or she is dreaming, and can exert some control over the situations and people in the dream. In other words, they can manipulate their dream to meet their desires. While most people won’t have lucid dreams naturally, you can learn how to control your dreams with dedication and practice.

According to a study, about half of us will experience a lucid dream at some point in our lives. This doesn’t mean that you can’t learn techniques to help you access and control your dreams, however; it just means that it comes more naturally to some of us. Lucid dreaming can be very exciting, because reality and dreams become blurred, and experiences that the dreamer has such as flying or meeting someone famous can seem very real.

So, let’s go over some tips on how you can start to lucid dream, and what this means in relation to consciousness.

Here’s how lucid dreaming can help you understand consciousness:

You might wonder about the differences in brain activity between regular and lucid dreamers. Lucid dreamers use what’s called the conscious control center in the prefrontal cortex while the rest of the brain remains in a dream state. So, only the prefrontal cortex stays “awake” while the rest of the brain sleeps. However, for regular dreamers, the prefrontal cortex stays in a dream-like state, also.

As you lucid dream, you can learn how to manipulate your surroundings and train your brain to reach a higher state of consciousness. This can help you to maintain control of your mind in real life situations also, and teach you how to master your world.

According to a researcher from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, “In a normal dream, we have a very basal consciousness, we experience perceptions and emotions but we are not aware that we are only dreaming,” study researcher Martin Dresler, of Max Planck, said. “It’s only in a lucid dream that the dreamer gets a meta-insight into his or her state.”

Another researcher from Max Planck, Michael Czish, said that activity in certain areas of the cerebral cortex increases when the dreamer transitions into a lucid state. The parts of the brain associated with lucid dreaming include the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which has been linked to self-assessment, and the frontopolar regions, where we examine our own thoughts and feelings. “The precuneus is also especially active, a part of the brain that has long been linked with self-perception,” Czish said.

So, now that you know a little bit about lucid dreaming, how can you experience it for yourself? Below you’ll find some helpful tips to get you started.

How to start lucid dreaming:

  • Go to bed at a consistent time each night. If you have an erratic sleep schedule, this will affect melatonin levels in your brain, which control sleep patterns. So, keeping a regular sleep schedule will ensure that you fall into REM sleep faster, therefore increasing your chances of lucid dreaming.
  • Shut off all the lights in your room when you sleep. Having lights on signals to the brain that it’s time for you to wake up, which will disrupt sleep. Shut off all electronics and small lights before bed, and buy blackout curtains if you need to in order to keep out unwanted light.
  • Don’t get on electronics before bed. Turn them off at least two hours before you go to sleep, as the bright lights from phone and computer screens signals to your brain to stay awake, no matter what time of day it is.
  • Before going to sleep, try to recall events, people, and places from your day. Try to remember tiny details, like the cashier’s shirt color or name, or the color of the car that was in front of you on the way to the grocery store. The more you get in the habit of remembering the details, the easier it will be to fall into a state of lucidity, as your brain will have a greater capacity to create new scenarios based off this information.
  • Also, before going to sleep, think about something that you truly enjoy. Do you like driving fast cars, flying on planes, traveling, etc? Whatever you love, put that into your stream of consciousness before bed. This way, when you fall asleep, you will likely dream about whatever you thought about before bed, increasing your chances of having a lucid dream.