Lucid Dreaming Side Effects: How Lucid Dreaming Improves Waking Life

By: Jonathan Joseph

4 Positive Side Effects Of Lucid Dream Training

I recently wrote an article that compared lucid dream training to marathon training.  The idea being that developing the skill to lucid dream isn’t a magical overnight transformation, but rather something that one trains to do over time.  A gradual development of neuro-pathways and thought processes through habitual training exercises and lifestyle modifications. And just like training and developing any physical skill, the habits that are necessarily practiced for consistent lucid dream training will be accompanied by a host of ancillary benefits that quickly become apparent in your everyday waking life. 

Here are some of the positive side effects that lucid dreamers and those training to become lucid dreamers enjoy in their waking lives.

Positive Effects Of Meditation 

Oneironauts know that daily meditation is one of the most important habits to maintain in order to facilitate lucid dreaming.  Whether it be 10 minutes once a day, or 45 minutes 3 times a day, meditation works wonders for centering the mind, and forming lucid dream based intentions.  But what’s even better is that meditation has is widely known to provide incredible benefits in and of itself.  Some of these include:

 

  • Greatly reduced stress and anxiety
  • Increased creativity
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increased production of serotonin to improve general mood
  • Improved immune system
  • Increased focus and mental sharpness
  • Increased problem solving skills
  • Increased natural production of gamma waves in the brain
  • Some studies even link consistent mediation to increased longevity

 Further, keeping a consistent meditation routine will develop self-discipline and sent a message to your sub-conscious that you are serious about following through on your intentions. 

 

Getting More Sleep

This is a big one. We’ve heard it time and time again that the great majority of people don’t get enough sleep.  We know the recommendation is somewhere between 7 and 10 hours of sleep per night, but usually it just doesn’t happen.  In some cases life’s obligations and responsibilities prevent us from getting to bed, but if we’re honest that’s not always the issue.  Oftentimes we find ourselves staying up late just tuning-out to TV or poking around the Internet. 

Not getting enough sleep has been shown to contribute to problems like: 

  •  Unhealthy weight gain
  •  Short term memory deficiency (forgetfulness)
  •  Feelings of depression
  •  Lack of ability to focus on a given task
  •  General irritability
  •  Weakened immune system
  •  Premature aging
  •  Impaired judgement

And other not-so-desirable side effects.  Definitely not a fun way to exist.

When you start to really focus on your lucid dream training, you will by nature start to purposefully prioritize getting better and more sleep. 

Why is this? It all has to do with the relationship between dreaming and REM sleep.  As we know, dreams occur during REM sleep, which happens near the end of each sleep cycle.  Each sleep cycle lasts around 90-110 minutes, and each successive sleep cycle during the night contains progressively longer REM periods.  So sleep cycles 1-4 sleep are primarily made up of Non-REM sleep.  This is the deep sleep that your mind and body must have to restore, regenerate and rebuild.  The most vivid and memorable dreams that you have occur in sleep cycles 4-6 because your are spending less time in deep Non-REM sleep, and more time in the dream inducing REM sleep.  Sleep cycles 4-6 are by nature the sleep cycles that your have the greatest opportunity to build and experience dream lucidity!  If you are only getting 4-5 hours of sleep per night, then you are robbing yourself of the opportunity to build the crucial dream awareness skills necessary for lucid dreaming.  

Now, you may ask: 

“What about the wake-back-to-bed method?  They tell me to set an alarm for 3:00am, and go back to bed 15 minutes later.  Isn’t that interrupting your sleep and causing problems?”

 

Well, yes you are interrupting your sleep, but your should only set your alarm for 3:00am if your go to bed at 9:00pm the night before.  You should always aim to get 5-6 hours of sleep before performing a WBTB.  That is roughly 4 sleep cycles.  Then you can fall asleep with lucid dream intentions and slide into your final 2 naturally dream filled sleep cycles.  By the time you wake for the day you will have completed roughy 6 sleep cycles, which is optimal for waking function of your mind and body.  Also, don’t do the WBTB every night.  2-3 times a week is more than enough.  You will still find yourself dreaming more vividly and recalling more dreams if you focus on allowing enough time for 6 sleep cycles per night.   

For most of us, the key here is to GO TO BED EARLIER whenever possible, as opposed to waking up later.  We have jobs and lives and obligations that prevent us from sleeping until 10:00am every day. 

When you do this, you will not only get your lucid dream training on track, but you will eliminate the negative effect of lack of sleep listed above, plus add even more waking life benefits such as:

  •  Reduced stress
  •  Increased creativity
  •  Better physical and athletic performance
  •  Increased libido
  •  Less anxiety
  •  Sharper memory
  •  Increased cardiovascular health

Just to name a few. Proper sleep is so important in leading a happy and productive waking life.  Lucid dream training will require that you focus on proper sleep, and deliver an incredible increase personal well-being along the way.

 

Better Awareness Of Your Surroundings / Appreciation Of The Moment

This benefit of lucid dream training is a little more abstract, but still very important and satisfying.  Performing frequent reality checks is an important step in teaching your subconscious to be open to questioning reality within dreams before you are lucid.  The important thing to understand here is that reality checks are not simply a compulsory action with no real thought given to it. 

A reality check is a complete sensory assessment of yourself and your surroundings.  You are examining details of yourself and your environment looking for definitive proof that you are awake.  Or not.  

Pushing your finger through your palm or breathing through a closed nose are the final steps in a full reality assessment.  But “dream-you” you will never even stop to build up to that final step in a dream if you have not trained yourself to thoroughly and consistently take note of your waking activities and environment.  

So how does this benefit your waking life?

By truly and honestly paying attention to your surroundings you will begin to notice things you never noticed before.  The way the air smells along the street outside where you work versus at the lake or near your home. The way the sunlight breaks across the tree in the park and how the shadows of the slightly differently shaped leaves slowly move across the ground with the rotation of the Earth. You will notice, examine and appreciate textures in artwork, fabrics, woodwork and stonework as you look at them deeply to see if and how they morph and change with continued attention.  You will identify sounds you’ve never paid attention to before (some beautiful, and some not so much), and you will be more engaged in conversations and discussions with family, friends and co-workers.  You will notice how people’s faces are more expressive than your previously realized, and that the eyes truly are the window to the soul.  This is because now you are actually paying attention to your life.  You are becoming AWARE. This development is often referred to as all-day-awareness or ADA, and is a significant leg up in oneironautic training.  And this is also why lucid dreamers use totems and reminders.  For instance our Reality Check Bracelet. 

It’s not so you remember to smash your finger through your palm 20 times a day.  It’s there to remind you stop and truly take deep sensory note of your location and your environment.  To inspect and appreciate your surroundings, and to think about how your arrived here, and where you are going next.  Then you can perform the physical reality check.

I can’t say I’m aware of any scientific research about all-day-awareness, but I can tell you from experience that this practice will not only work toward your lucid dreaming goals, but it will give you a greater appreciation for your daily waking life and even help to relax your mind by slowing down, stepping back and taking in your environment one or two senses at a time. 


Confrontation and Control Of Fear

The final side benefit of lucid dream training I want to highlight is that you will undoubtedly find opportunities to confront and control your fear. 

Obviously this is different for everyone, but the most common fear that crops up in the back of someone’s mind when they get going with lucid dreaming is the fear of the unknown. 

For as exciting and insightful as lucid dreaming is, learning how to do it, for most people, produces an element of fear. You think:

“What if I become conscious in a nightmare?  What if I get stuck in sleep paralysis and can’t get out? What does it feel like when your become lucid?  What are these vibrations that people talk about?  What about demons and confrontational dream characters? Etc.” 

On the subject of sleep paralysis, yes it can happen and yes in can be scary.  But you won’t get stuck in it and not be able to get out.  You either need to relax and focus on transferring it into a dream, or relax and focus on wiggling your big to ever so slightly.  That will snap you out of it.  Panic will do you no good, and only intensify the experience.  Which is actually to my point! 

You will be required to confront fear and deal with the unknown.  As you take note of non lucid dreams and write them down you may even find yourself remembering nightmares.  But actually, nightmares can be a good thing!  They provide opportunity for personal and spiritual growth as well a a boost in self confidence as you train yourself to embrace them, see them through and eventually change them.  (Meditation will also help with understanding, breaking though and reshaping nightmares).  

Fear is an inevitable part of life, and some believe that one of the main biological purposes of dreams is to give the mind a “rehearsal” if you will for dealing with fearful and anxiety producing situations.  Lucid dream training will teach you identify, control and release fear as you encounter it.  Which will of course transfer into your waking life to great effect. 

You will encounter less panic and less anxiety knowing that you have the experience to see fear for what it is - simple thought form - and dissolve it just as the sun dissolves a thin fog over the river.

So there you have it.  Four positive side effects of lucid dream training. 

The ultimate goal, becoming a practicing oneironaut, is so exciting and satisfying.  And even though the focus is to accomplish something while sleeping, the beautiful thing about this hobby is that what is required to reach the goal will improve, balance and enhance so many parts of your waking life.  I can’t think of many other hobbies that will give you so much in return even before you fully master the art. You’re making a good choice.  

Dream well. 

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