You know that amazing feeling you get when you wake up from a perfect dream? (Ours usually feature some combination of cheesecake, the beach and David Beckham.) Well, what if it were possible to make sure a certain ex-soccer player makes a repeat appearance? Lucid dreaming describes the experience of being aware that you’re dreaming and the potential to control the dream. It sounds like a sci-fi movie, but science actually backs this ultra-cool phenomenon up. Interested? Learn how to control your dreams with these five techniques below.
Think you can
According to Harvard University psychologist Deirdre Barrett, the most important thing that you can do to increase your chances of having lucid dreams is to remind yourself that you want to right before you fall asleep. She suggests saying to yourself, "Tonight when I dream, I want to realize I'm dreaming." By doing so, you’ll hopefully stop your subconscious from convincing you that your dream is reality. Got that?
Perform reality checks throughout the day
To realize that you are in fact dreaming when you’re dreaming, some pros recommend reminding yourself that you’re awake when you’re awake. Um, what? Basically, by checking that you’re awake during the day in a methodical manner, you’ll start to do the same thing when you’re dreaming. Yep, we’re talking Inception-style totems. For some people, trying to read or tell time is a useful reality check (letters and numbers in dreams tend to be fuzzy), while others suggest trying to flick a light switch on and off (which should work normally in reality, but often doesn’t in dreamland).
Keep a dream journal
It may feel a bit middle school, but jotting down your dreams will help you to be better at remembering them. And the more you can recall about your dreams, then the more familiar that world will be to you, thereby helping you differentiate between the dream world and the real world. (It also makes for super-entertaining reading.)
There is some evidence that you’re more likely to have a lucid dream if you wake up during REM sleep (that’s “rapid eye movement,” not the band) and then drift back off again. But your standard ten-minute snooze probably won’t cut it, since that’s not really enough time to start another dream. But give yourself a little more time to doze off properly (by setting two alarms 30 minutes apart, for example), and you just might find yourself in Cheesecake Land.