What Is Lucid Dreaming?
Taking Control of The Dream World

Written by David Ngo & Kevin Morton

"For often, when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream."
            - Aristotle

What Is Lucid Dreaming?Dreaming is a deceptively active state in general, but lucid dreaming can take this activity to a whole new level.

Each and everyone of us spends around a third of our lives asleep--thousands and thousands of hours mostly away from the world of consciousness. But what if you could add to your conscious time--practice your skills, play out your desires, overcome your fears--in the dream world? What if you could extend your full consciousness into your sleep?

For skilled lucid dreamers, this is exactly the case. A lucid dream is a dream where you become aware that you are actually dreaming. Once this awareness occurs, lucid dreamers can often control the course of the rest of their dream.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever taken control of your dream? Maybe you are already a skilled lucid dreamer yourself? Whether you've known you dream lucidly or just found out that you can, share your lucid dreaming experiences with us and our visitors! We always love to learn from your perspective.

Not a lucid dreamer but want to be? Share your questions, thoughts, trials, successes, or concerns with us too!

The "First" Lucid Dreamers

According to Dr. Stephen LaBerge, the world's leading expert on lucid dreaming, the earliest lucid dream report in Western history is preserved in a letter St. Augustine wrote in 415.

More accounts are continuously sprinkled throughout history until in 1867 the Marquis d'Hervey de Saint-Denys published a remarkable book, Dreams And How To Guide Them, documenting the 20 year development of learning how to control his dreams.

The implications for this dream control are profound. Imagine if you had an extra hour of consciousness every night to do whatever you pleased in a world unconstrained by reality. What could you do?

Well, we'll ponder the possibilities in a bit, but first let's learn a bit of the history behind lucid dreaming.

Dr. Dement

Dr. D's Sleep Book Says...

The scientific community owes the term "lucid dream" to Frederick Willens Van Eden, a Dutch psychiatrist and well-known author. Van Eden did serious research into lucid dreaming and used the term in a paper presented to the Society for Psychical Research in 1913, describing 352 dreams in which he knew he was dreaming.

A few years later, Mary Arnold-Forster discusses in a remarkable book her "super dreams" in which some difficult problem was solved or in which she had abilities such as speaking languages or doing mathematics that she did not have in the waking state.

The advice to "sleep on it" is common in society, but Arnold-Foster alludes to a whole new level of solving problems during sleep. If one is able to control the scenarios that one is in, as a skilled lucid dreamer can do, one can put oneself in situations conducive to solving problems, or even overcoming anxieties.

Lucid Dreaming at the Lincoln Memorial Have a fear of public speaking? What if you could work on overcoming this anxiety in your sleep? Dream yourself in front of a sea of people, and let the confidence you develop carry over into the waking world.

For instance, say you had a fear of public speaking. In your dream you could place yourself on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, tens of thousands of people sprawled out across the National Mall in front of you (put them in their underwear if you want). Soon enough, you find yourself speaking with the confidence and eloquance of rhetoricians who have occupied the same space before you, and you carry that confidence with you over to the waking state.

Can the same type of "practical dreaming" be applied to other facets of life? How about practicing languages? Solving math problems? Even shooting three-pointers?! Heck, you don't even have to be "practical" with the ability. You could just do cool things like fly through the skies or dive with whales in the ocean. The possibilities are endless, just about literally. You are completely unrestricted by sensory input or "real world" laws. In other words, you can see what you want to see, feel what you want to feel, regardless of what you have been physically exposed to before.

What would you want to do with your lucid dreams?

So what is lucid dreaming? As you've probably now been convinced, it's an experience where your imagination is the limit, where the world is at your hands, and where anything is possible. Lucid dreaming allows the seemingly impossible to become reality. And it even may allow you to develop your skills and abilities for use in the waking world.

How Can I Lucid Dream?

We spend a third of our lives sleeping in bed. Why not optimize this part of our life and explore a world where the seemingly impossible becomes reality?

We'll have a lot more to say about this as this site expands, but for now, know that you can learn to have lucid dreams at will. It is most definitely an acquirable skill.

For starters, you can check out Dr. Stephen LaBerge's book filled with how-to strategies and guides. As mentioned above, Dr. LaBerge is the world's leading expert on lucid dreaming. In Sleep and Dreams we are fortunate to have him give a lecture series to us each year on the subject, and his extensive knowledge and experience is immediately apparent. His book, Exploring The World Of Lucid Dreaming, is pictured at right. You can also check out his website for loads of more resources at Lucidity.com.

You'll also definitely want to check out the World Of Lucid Dreaming site written by our friend and experienced lucid dreamer Rebecca Turner. Her knowledge and insight on the subject is astounding, and the beauty and organization of her site makes mining that knowledge a joy. In particular, make sure to check out the intro animation she's got up on the homepage. It's a brilliant depiction of the possibilities of lucid dreaming we have been talking about above.

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Have your own lucid dreaming stories or thoughts? Share them here. Or browse the lucid dreaming stories of others.

Can You Lucid Dream? Do You Want To Learn How?

If you have ever experienced the wonders of lucid dreaming we would love to hear about it. Whether you're a full-fledged lucid dreamer or happened to have an isolated incidence, share your story and insight with us!

Additionally, if you are not a lucid dreamer but want to be, or maybe are just fascinated with the idea of it all, share with us your thoughts, your challenges, your desires.

Read Other Lucid Dream Stories

Click on the links below to read stories of others that have either experienced the wonders of lucid dreaming or hope to one day. They were all written by other visitors to this page, just like you.

Sleep Paralysis / Lucid Dreaming in the Same Experience? 
I'm laying in bed trying to go to sleep so so hard but I just can't, I can't hit the switch of sleep time. Next thing I know I feel like I'm sinking slowly …

How Do You Start A Lucid Dream? 
I've only had one lucid dream in my life. It was really exciting, but here are some details about my dreams: I rarely have bad dreams. But when I do, …

I Am A Regular Lucid Dreamer 
I'm 26 and I consider myself a regular lucid dreamer. Since I was a child I tended to have vivid dreams and used to remember them in the morning. This …

How To Have Lucid Dreams - My Father Taught Me 
I started lucid dreaming when I was around 4 years of age (I'm now in my 50's) the reason my father taught me to control my dreams is because I started …

My Lucid Dreaming Experience(s) 
I've dreamed lucidly a few times in my life, though not nearly as often as I'd like. As a child, I had recurring nightmares about being pursued by scary …

Click here to write your own.

About This Site

Welcome! This site is continuously being created by students of Dr. William C. Dement's Sleep And Dreams course at Stanford University.

We made this site as a call to action for people all over the world to live healthier, happier, safer, and more productive lives by learning about their own sleep. We have faith that reading the information provided on this site will motivate you to be smart about your sleep deprivation and strategic about your alertness in order to live life to your fullest, most energetic potential.

In fact, we challenge you to do so! What do you say, are you up for the challenge?

The Stanford Sleep Book

Stanford Sleep Book Picture

Dr. Dement's pioneering textbook has been the core text for Sleep and Dreams since 1980, but it has just recently been made available to the wider public for the first time.

In it you'll find a more detailed account of the most important things you need to know about sleep, alertness, dreams, and sleep disorders. Studies, statistics, plus plenty of Dr. Dement's classic anecdotes painting the history of sleep medicine.

Preface | Intro | Contents | Get A Copy

More Sleep Resources

The Zeo

A revolution in personal sleep tracking, the Zeo is a wireless headband that transmits your brainwaves in realtime to a dock (pictured here) or your smartphone. The result? You can wake up and see exactly what stages of sleep you were in during the night! Unprecedented personalized sleep knowledge.

Sleep Paralysis: A Dreamer's Guide

Sleep Paralysis Treatment Book

Ever woken up paralyzed? A surprising number of us have, believe it or not. But few know the actual causes of this phenomenon, and fewer still how to exert control over it. Dream researcher and sleep paralysis expert Ryan Hurd shares breakthrough insights into how to do just that.

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