Learning how to lucid dream—that is, to be aware during your dreams that you are, indeed, dreaming—will allow you to live out fantasies, stop nightmares, and even road test some solutions to real life problems.
Step 1: Start a dream journal Keep a journal and a pen next to your bed so you can immediately record everything that happens in your dreams. You’ll begin to see patterns, and that will help you realize when you’re actually in the middle of a dream.
Step 2: Adopt some new habits Look intently at mirrors, book titles, and your watch face several times a day. In dreams, these images are always blurred. Looking at them while awake will increase their appearances in your dreams, helping you recognize when you are dreaming.
TIP: Pinching yourself when you’re awake is another good way to train your brain to recognize when you’re dreaming, because when you pinch yourself in a dream you feel no pain.
Step 3: Talk to yourself Tell yourself as you drift off to sleep that you’re going to have a lucid dream. Research shows that simply instructing your brain to realize you’re dreaming—especially when you’re in the suggestible pre-sleep phase—helps boost your odds of doing so.
Step 4: Set an early alarm Set your alarm half an hour earlier than normal. When it rings, stay awake 30 to 60 minutes, then go back to sleep. Because you likely interrupted dream-intense REM sleep, you’re now 20% to 50% more likely to have a lucid dream.
TIP: So George Clooney is about to kiss you and you feel like you’re starting to wake up? Pretend to spin around in circles. This keeps the dream going 96% of the time.
Step 5: Start directing Once you’re attuned to the fact that you’re dreaming, start altering the action. Fly over mountains. Tell off your mother-in-law. Have a 'dream' date. You can also test problem-solving scenarios, practice sensitive confrontations, and speak to loved ones who have passed.
FACT: Lewis Carroll was inspired to write Alice in Wonderland after having a lucid dream.