I’ve discovered a great way to have some crazy dreams.
Some Dream Theory
General dream theory says1 that we only properly remember a dream if we’re woken up whilst it’s still going on. All of our dreamy thoughts are still floating around in our heads, and it is only then that we have a chance to catch and then solidify them into permanent memories2. If we allow dreams to finish naturally, the idea goes, then the temporary memory where dreams are stored is wiped3.
This suggests a pretty obvious way of remembering your dreams – interrupt your sleep.
I started doing this a little while ago. On most school days, I get out of bed at 7:30am. I used to wake myself up around 10 minutes before this, so that I had enough time to fully regain conciousness. However, I decided to see what would happen if I set my alarm back a bit, perhaps to 7am. With my body clock used to a 7:20am wake time, perhaps I would still be dreaming at 7am, and so be better disposed to remember my dreams.
I’d say that I was somewhat successful at this; I have certainly been remembering more of my dreams recently. One that particularly sticks in my mind involves driving an old car around a racetrack, dodging balls of burning gas. I think my car was on fire at one point too. There was also a particularly nice girl, too4.
The problem is that my body might soon adjust to a 7am wake time, making interrupting dreams a lot harder.
However, there’s another advantage of my 7am technique, regardless of whether or not I am in a dream. On waking up at this earlier time, I’m still very tired, and I still have half an hour before I have to get up. This means that I can fall back to sleep. Wonderful. I keep my alarm switched on (only having pressed snooze at 7am), and for the next half hour it goes off every 7 minutes or so.
The wake-back-to-bed technique is often the easiest way to encourage a lucid dream. The method involves going to sleep tired and waking up five to six hours later. Then, focusing all thoughts on lucid dreaming, staying awake for an hour and going back to sleep while practicing the MILD method. A 60% success rate has been shown in research using this technique. This is because the REM cycles get longer as the night goes on, and this technique takes advantage of the best REM cycle of the night. Because this REM cycle is longer and deeper, gaining lucidity during this time may result in a lengthier lucid dream.
When you first fall asleep at night, you generally fall straight into a very deep, non-dreaming state. This means it’s hard to keep hold of your conciousness as you start to sleep. However, in the morning, you’re a lot less tired, and more prone to just slip straight back into REM sleep (basically, the sleep where you do most of your dreaming).
I’ve had some very nice dreams between 7 and 7:30am. Even though they last only around 7 minutes, they feel a lot longer, and really set me up for the day. I remember one specifically, where someone was asking me where the Moon would be in the sky. The time (in my dream) was 6am, and I could draw on my knowledge that it was one week past the full moon. Therefore, I could accurately place the moon somewhere above the horizon in a northerly direction.6.
Overall, I’m having a really fun time dreaming. I’m trying to focus my thoughts when falling asleep, waking myself at a varying time, and also letting myself have several more dreams once I wake up in the morning. It’s going well.
- Use of weasel words? Guilty as charged ↩
- This aspect of dreaming really interests me, and I will soon return to it. ↩
- citation needed ↩
- I’ve also had success at the weekends too. It’s always annoying to get woken up early at the weekend – that’s when I get my best sleep – however, I’m usually deep into a dream when it happens. ↩
- Unreferenced, of course. It’s just what I remember reading ↩
- At least, I think this is accurate ↩