The Science of Lucid Dreams: How to Control Your Dreams

Woman lying on bed asleep having a lucid dream
Photo by Miriam Alonso from Pexels

Have you ever had a dream in which you knew you were dreaming and took control of the experience? If so, you were lucid dreaming. Some people naturally have lucid dreams while others need to develop the skill. We will look at the science behind it and provide tips on how to control your dreams.

The Science of Lucid Dreaming

The science behind lucid dreaming is rooted in neuroscience. It was first described in scientific literature by Dutch psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden in 1913. However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that lucid dreaming became a popular topic of research. During this time, Stephen LaBerge, a psychophysiologist at Stanford University, developed a technique for inducing lucid dreams in the lab.

LaBerge’s technique involved asking study participants to signal that they were having a lucid dream by moving their eyes in a specific pattern. Using this method, LaBerge was able to demonstrate that lucid dreaming is a real phenomenon that can be studied in a laboratory setting.

So, what’s happening in the brain during a lucid dream? During sleep, our brains go through different stages, including REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. This is the stage where most of our dreaming occurs. Researchers have found that the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for decision-making and self-awareness, is more active during lucid dreaming than during regular dreaming. This increased activity may explain why lucid dreamers are able to control their dream experiences.

The Benefits of Lucid Dreaming

In addition to being a fascinating experience, there are several potential benefits of lucid dreaming. For example, lucid dreaming has been used to treat nightmares and other sleep disorders. By taking control of their dreams, people can change the outcome of a scary or disturbing dream. This reduces the impact it has on their waking life.

Lucid dreaming can also be used to practice skills or rehearse important events. For example, athletes may use lucid dreaming to visualize themselves performing well in a competition. Similarly, people who are anxious about a public speaking engagement may use lucid dreaming to practice giving their presentation in a low-stakes environment.

Factors to Keep in Mind When Learning How to Lucid Dream

One of the most important things to keep in mind when learning how to have lucid dreams is the importance of relaxation and mindfulness. The more relaxed and focused you are before going to sleep, the easier it will be to enter a state of lucidity in your dreams. You can try meditation or other relaxation techniques to help calm your mind and prepare yourself for the dream world.

Another key factor in lucid dreaming is awareness. In order to control your dreams, you need to be aware of the fact that you are dreaming. This means that you need to pay close attention to the details of your dreams and look for signs that might indicate that you’re not in the waking world.

One effective way to increase your awareness of dreams is to keep a dream journal. This involves writing down your dream as soon as you wake up. This can help you remember more details about your dreams and can help you recognize patterns or themes that occur in your dreams.

How to Control Your Dreams

If you’re interested in learning how to lucid dream, there are several techniques you can try. Here are a few popular methods:


This involves you visualizing a specific scenario or outcome before going to sleep, and then focusing on the scenario when you enter your dream state. For example, if you want to fly in your dreams, you can imagine yourself soaring through the sky and feeling the wind on your face. This will help you focus your intention and increase the likelihood that you’ll be able to control your dreams.

Reality Testing

Reality testing involves regularly checking whether or not you are dreaming. To do this you might try looking at a clock or a written word, then looking away and looking back again. In a dream, the time on the clock or the words on the page might change, signaling that you are dreaming. By practicing reality testing during waking hours, you may be more likely to recognize when you are dreaming.

Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD)

MILD is a technique that involves setting an intention to have a lucid dream before you go to sleep. To do this, you might repeat a phrase like “I will have a lucid dream tonight” several times before bed. When you wake up in the middle of the night, you can try to visualize yourself having a lucid dream.

Wake-Back-Bed (WBTB)

WBTB involves waking up after a few hours of sleep, staying awake for a short period of time, then going back to sleep with the intention of having a lucid dream. This technique can be effective because it takes advantage of the fact that we have longer and more vivid dreams during the later stages of sleep.


Lucid dreaming is a fascinating phenomenon that has captured the imagination of people for centuries. While the science behind lucid dreaming is still being studied, we know that it is a real and measurable experience that can be induced and controlled.

Overall, it can be used as a powerful tool for personal growth and self-discovery. You can gain a deeper understanding of your own thoughts, feelings, and desires. With practice and patience, anyone can learn to have lucid dreams and experience incredible benefits.