By: Jonathan Joseph
Some of my most vivid dreams occur during midday naps.
I’m not exactly sure why this is, but it could be that our minds are accustomed to being fully conscious during the daylight hours, so when we nap our brain hovers around the lighter stages of sleep rather than diving full bore into deep sleep for extended periods. Also, because naps are shorter in duration than a full night’s sleep, our subconscious mind knows that we cannot afford to fully shut down into the deep dreamless realm for very long.
Putting these ideas together means that nap-time lucid dreaming can be an interesting and powerful technique for you to expand your oneironautic experience.
With naps you have a great starting point for lucid dream potential: naturally heightened consciousness, lighter sleep (means more REM) and shorter sleep duration. Simply because your mind and body know that you need to get up and continue your day soon, your conscious mind will sleep with “one eye open” so to speak. These factors all contribute to increased dream recall and lucid dream opportunities.
How Long Does The Nap Need To Be?
When I started to focus on dream awareness and lucid dreaming, I noticed that on the rare occasion that I was able to find the time to take a proper nap, I had more vivid dream experiences. Intrigued by this, I started to try to “force naps” if you will, and find time for 30 minute or 45 minute naps in hopes of having more nap-time lucid dreams. I even ended up trying to replace some meditation with napping. It didn’t work. I would just end up feeling groggy and sluggish with these 30 minute nap attempts. Meditation was a much better activity for these durations.
I needed to find a sweet-spot nap duration that gave the best chance to have memorable dreams or lucid dreams. After some trial and error (over many weekends) I found that 2 hours is the magic duration, for me at least. One hour wasn’t long enough to fully fall into a proper REM cycle, and an alarm after 90 minutes, while the length of a standard sleep cycle, would cause me to wake up in the middle of a cycle, and feel terribly foggy.
Setting the nap alarm for 2 hours gives me enough time to lie down, relax, set intentions, and let my mind drift and unwind enough to actually fall asleep in the middle of the day.
Double Edged Sword
The same factors that are working for me in nap-time lucid dreams are also working against me a bit, keeping me from being able to unwind and fall asleep straight away. It takes time to downshift. After 30 minutes or so of “trying” to fall asleep, I find myself relaxed enough to drift off, and let the sleep cycle magic take over. Then I’ve got enough time for my brain to do an entire cycle, with abbreviated deep sleep and extended REM sleep before my alarm goes off.
Refreshingly, after a 2 hour nap, I consistently wake up to the alarm (or sometimes before the alarm) feeling recharged, as opposed to groggy and grumpy after the 60 or 90 minute naps; whether I’ve had a lucid dream or not.
Give it a try!
Take a Saturday or Sunday and see if you can induce lucid dreams more readily than during your standard nightly slumber. Maybe you need a shorter nap, or slightly longer?
Part of the fun of being an oneironaut is this experimentation with methods, techniques, times of day and even supplements for lucid dreaming. We have a world of unlimited exploration available to us; let’s keep finding new ways to access and enjoy it!
(That goes for waking life too).