If you saw Christopher Nolan's Inception, Googled "how to control my dreams," and went through a phase of half-heartedly trying to have a lucid dreaming experience to no avail, you're in luck. New research from the University of Adelaide has revealed that there's actually a combination of techniques that you can use before you go to sleep to up your odds of having a lucid dream.
But first (just in case you missed out on Leo DiCaprio's infiltration of everyone's subconscious and have no idea what we're talking about): a lucid dream is one in which you're aware of the fact that you're dreaming and can control your experience. Sounds pretty simple, right?
Like many mystical feats that seem like they can be accomplished through sheer willpower, lucid dreaming has proven to be pretty elusive. Plenty of research has also been done on the phenomenon, but previous studies haven't had good success rates.
The new study, however, pinpointed a few techniques that, when used together, led to a 17% success rate over the course of a week for the people who combined the three strategies. That may not sound impressive, but it's significantly better than what people experienced without the strategies.
The three techniques are:
- Reality testing: A few times a day, do a reality check to see whether or not you're dreaming. (Have that totem handy?)
- Wake and go back to bed: After five hours of sleep, wake up, stay up for a little bit, then go back to sleep. This will help you enter REM sleep, in which you're most likely to dream.
- MILD (mnemonic induction of lucid dreams): Wake up after five hours of sleeping, then consciously intend to remember that you're dreaming before you go back to sleep. Repeat the phrase: "The next time I'm dreaming, I will remember that I'm dreaming."
"The MILD technique works on what we call 'prospective memory'—that is, your ability to remember to do things in the future," says Dr. Denholm Aspy, Visiting Research Fellow in the University's School of Psychology, according to the release. "By repeating a phrase that you will remember you're dreaming, it forms an intention in your mind that you will, in fact, remember that you are dreaming, leading to a lucid dream."
If you can manage to go to sleep within five minutes of finishing the MILD strategy, you may have a greater success rate. In the study, those who pulled it off reported having lucid dreams about 46% of the time.
The results of the study are promising in regard to future studies on inducing lucid dreams, Aspy says. If researchers are able to develop more highly effective methods, they'll be able to figure out the benfits of lucid dreaming itself, which include "treatment for nightmares and improvement of physical skills and abilities through rehearsal in the lucid dream environment," according to Aspy.
Try the methods out for yourself to see if you can master the art of lucid dreaming.