How to Lucid Dream: Learn to Control your Dreams!

What is a lucid dream?

In a lucid dream, you are aware that you’re dreaming. This allows you to vividly experience and remember your dreams. But most importantly, you can control them. Although lucid dreams can occur spontaneously, lucid dreaming is a skill that can quickly be learned by anyone.

Lucid dreams are similar to what people do in the movie Inception. It’s not surprising the producer, Chris Nolan, is a lucid dreamer!

Why lucid dream?Lucid Dreaming

Lucid dreaming is incredibly fun. With experience, you’ll fly, create fantastic scenarios and visit mind-blowing places. The feeling of freedom is unique and the richness of lucid dreaming experiences is outstanding.

Lucid dreaming can be used as a source of inspiration. It allows you to think outside the box. Scientists like Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla and Richard Feynman used lucid dreaming to visualize some of their theories and solve challenging problems. Artists such as James Cameron, Stephen King and Salvador Dali also lucid dreamed to come up with fresh and creative ideas. A quick look at Dali’s paintings will give you a glimpse of how outlandish lucid dreams can get.

It’s also an invaluable tool for self-reflection. Lucid dreaming allows you to get profound insights into your own psychology. According to Freud, dreams are the “royal road to the subconscious”. In a lucid dream, you can directly interact with your subconscious mind. In fact, I often ask questions to “dream characters”. I’m discussing with my subconscious. Some of these discussions have been life-changing.

Moreover, studies showed that lucid dreaming is helpful in reducing not only nightmares but also depression and low self-esteem problems. Lucid dreams give you the opportunity to face your fears, to outgrow them and become a stronger version of yourself.

How to lucid dream?

There are two ways you can induce lucid dreams. Normal dreams in which the dreamer becomes aware are called “dream-induced lucid dreams” (DILDs). When one enters a lucid dream from a waking state without loss of consciousness, this is a “wake-induced lucid dreams” (WILDs). When you do a DILD, awareness springs from the dream state. When you do a WILD, the dream sprouts from awareness.

Dream-induced lucid dreams (DILDs)

The majority of lucid dreams star off as a “normal” dreams where eventually, the dreamer becomes aware. The key to maximizing your odds of having a DILD is to increase the frequency of your dreams and the probability that you will become lucid during these dreams. Most of the methods explained below work both ways for optimal results.

The techniques below increase the likelihood that you will become lucid when dreaming.

Reality checks. A reality check consists of verifying whether you are dreaming or not. By often doing reality checks, it will become a habit. And this habit will continue while you’re dreaming, which is when you’ll become lucid. Your tests have to be chosen carefully ; you have to select something that will always fail in a dream. Here are my favorite reality checks:

  1. Reading. Try to read something, look away and then look back at it and see if it has changed. If you’re in a dream, the words will be scrambled or unreadable.
  2. Breathing. Try to breathe with your mouth and nose shut. In a dream, you’ll succeed.
  3. Solid surfaces. Try to pass your hand through a solid surface. I like trying to pass my fingers through the palm of my other hand. This is more discreet than trying to go run through a wall Harry Potter-style and can be done anywhere.
  4. Light switch. Attempt to turn the lights on and off. Weirdly, this usually fails in a dream.
  5. Hands. Look at your hands. Do they look normal? Do you have extra or missing fingers? My hands often “melt” when I look at them in a dream.

For reality checks to work, be sure to do them consciously. Genuinely ask yourself if you are dreaming. If you do them on auto-pilot and take for granted that you’re awake, you’ll fail to become lucid when dreaming.

Self-affirmations. Before going to bed, repeat to yourself “I will have a lucid dream tonight”. It will also help to recall your dreams.

Wake-up, back-to-bed. This is commonly called WBTB. This technique consists of waking up before your normal wake-up time, usually after 4 to 6 hours of sleep. Next, wake up your mind by performing a mildly stimulating activity like crosswords or reading. Reading about lucid dreaming is an even better idea. You want to wake up your mind while keeping your body tired. Then, go back to sleep within an hour. Your dreams will be vivid, and it will be easier to become lucid. Although not as efficient as WBTB, taking a short nap in the afternoon yields similar benefits.

Daily awareness. The more you are aware during the day, the more conscious you’ll be in your dreams. Pay full attention to your daily activities. Be present. If you’re always on auto-pilot, you’ll keep that habit during sleep.

Note that these techniques are not mutually exclusive. Using them all will yield the best results.

Wake-induced lucid dreams (WILDs)

WILDs are indeed wild! Wake-induced lucid dreams are more realistic than normal dreams. They give you more control over the dream. They require training, but are the most reliable way to lucid dream. The goal here is to fall asleep consciously and to create your own dream. Here are the steps to do a WILD:

  1. Relax your body. Relax as much as possible while maintaining a fully awake and alert mind. Lie comfortably and let your body gradually fall asleep. I like to scan each part of my body and relax them one by one. I concentre on their “heaviness”. When your body is relaxed enough, you will start seeing shapes and colors. This is called “hypnogogic imagery”. Once you experience them, move to the next step.
  2. Create your dream. At this stage, you’ll be able to play with the shapes and colors. Use them to create a simple dream scene. I like to imagine an infinitely long white corridor with hundreds of doors. When you “see” your dream scenario, move to the next step. If you have trouble visualizing, you can also imagine other stimuli: sounds, tactile sensations or odors. See what works best for you.
  3. Enter your dream. The final step is to fully enter the lucid dream. Interact with an element or try to move within your “dreamland”. Explore it to fully immerse yourself in the dream. I like the long white corridor because I can simply open one of the doors and enter it. I never know what’s behind it. It’s a fantastic adventure every time!

Do not be disappointed if you don’t initially succeed with WILDs. It takes some practice to master, but it’s worth it. I find that they’re easier to do when combined with the “Wake-up, Back-to-bed” method. Your body will already be highly relaxed.


You’ll be amazed by the outstanding power of your brain the first time you lucid dream. Be sure to let me know how it went, it’s always interesting and fun to read lucid dreaming experiences!

photo credit: h.koppdelaney 

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Gabriel Rocheleau

I'm a meditation teacher, writer and live to grow at all costs. My goal is to help you develop an effective and profoundly rewarding meditation practice.


  1. Steve on April 18, 2013 at 11:34 am

    I’ve never tried to go to sleep hoping I’ll lucid dream, but I have had them a few times. It’s kind of a strange feeling to know that you’re in a dream. You know what’s weird, is I’ve dreamt of Freddy Kreuger a few times, but the last time I did it was a realization to me that I was in a dream. He was my trigger that I was in a dream and it made the dream lucid.

    I would like to try doing it more often. I’ve heard keeping a dream journal helps although I’ve never tried that before.

    • Gabriel Rocheleau on April 18, 2013 at 5:08 pm

      Haha, I’ve never dreamt of Freddy Kruger but I imagine that can be pretty scary! One of the best ways to overcome a nightmare definitely is to become lucid! Keeping a dream journal helps since it allows you to remember your dreams and notice “patterns” in them. Once you discover some recurring themes in your dreams, you’re more likely to notice them while dreaming and thus become lucid! Personally, I’ve never had a dream journal but it can definitely be of great help, especially to people who might have trouble remembering their dreams. I mostly do WILD’s nowadays though, so that ain’t a problem!

      Thanks for commenting!

      • Aaron on September 6, 2014 at 12:56 am

        So the nearest I ever came to lucid dreaming was that I dreamed I was in a Freddy Kruger movie and realized I could fight him with lucid dreaming. It played out like a movie that I had no real control of but in the dream that I was watching I had control. Tripy huh….

  2. wytchwhisper on August 5, 2014 at 5:38 am

    I had lucid dreams of an avatar like jungle in my early 20s when I was studying Shamanism to add to my Wicca repitoire. I usually fly when I’m lucid which later ironically helped me with astral travel. I haven’t seen the movie you mentioned yet but it’s not really unusual for people close to me to share the same dreams. I’ve woken and described my dream and the other person described the rest so we both knew we weren’t crazy cause we wouldn’t have known unless we were both there. I’ve also accedently thought questions at people and had them awnser me verbally cause they thought I spoke while people with me wonder why that person spontaneous ly stared talking to me. My belief in myself and my abilities started faltering as my esteem did in the last 13 yrs. when I went to eastern Canada they reawakened until a ghost I had seen in the house earlier entered my dream and shook me yelling wake up their coming and then a group of people took a white sheet and covered my face. My lucid dreams and premonition s have stopped since then not sure why but I can’t see. I kinda feel blindfolded.

  3. Sam on June 25, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    I have two questions. One: I am nearly always in third person in my dreams, watching from the side. Or not even there. Would knowing this be helpful to becoming lucid?
    Two: if I try WILD and it works, is there a chance of the horrifying hallucinations occurring as they happen in sleep paralysis?

    • Gabriel Rocheleau on June 26, 2015 at 8:38 am

      Hey Sam!
      1) You say you are almost always present as an observer in your dream. I tend to think that this may make it easier for you to become lucid, since there’s already some space between the “dream” and “you”. You’re not caught in it as much as most other people. To become lucid, try using the techniques mentioned in the article. Even if you’re in 3rd person view, you can do all of them (for the reality tests, instead of doing them, you just watch yourself do them).

      2) When you WILD, you start by relaxing your body up to the point where it is asleep, while your mind is awake. This can easily lead to sleep paralysis, but you shouldn’t be scared of it. The reason most people experience scary hallucinations in sleep paralysis is because of their stressed and fearful mental state. Sleep paralysis usually occurs by surprise upon waking up, by and since people don’t expect it, it surprises them and they freak out. It’s really not that scary if you enter it progressively by attempting a WILD. If you do get sleep paralysis, good news! You’re almost there! Just close your eyes, imagine a dream scene, and jump right in it!

      Hope that helps,

  4. Neva on August 9, 2015 at 7:51 am

    today i experienced sleep paralyze i thought i am dead an my soul is left in my body i was shouting in my mind i cant die my eyes were closed i was struggling to move my hand and leg but cant then i felt my leg moved i tried to raise my hand and my eyes opened and i was absolutely normal like some one switched on my power button that was horrifying

    • Gabriel Rocheleau on August 10, 2015 at 8:29 am

      Hey Neva,

      I know what you went through. Sleep paralysis can be very frightening. Waking up from sleep paralysis is always weird. I can relate to “someone switching the power button” experience you describe. The world instantly feels completely different when sleep paralysis ends. Don’t worry though, you’re not in danger.

      Thanks for commenting

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