lucid dreams

Lucid Dreaming: How to Know You’re in a Dream

Do you experience lucid dreaming? If so, consider yourself lucky: most people aren’t aware they’re asleep as they dream. They are at the mercy of their sleeping brains instead of in the driver’s seat. During lucid dreaming, you get to control events. You can tame mind-monsters and sail to the stars. As a result, you look forward to your nightly excursions.

When lucid dreams are possible

There are four stages of sleep, and not all involve dreams. Initially, you enter light sleep. A myriad of images, patterns, colors, and shapes pass through your mind as your conscious awareness fades. During stage two, eye-movements cease, and your brainwaves fluctuate. Afterward, you go into deeper, dreamless sleep when much brain and body maintenance occurs. Lastly, you enter REM sleep, which is when you dream. By this time, you’re about four-and-a-half hours into the sleep cycle.

Types of dreams

Although dreams vary, they can be grouped into types. For instance, you might have a recurring dream, where you visit the same place or event. Or, your dreams may have a theme, like escaping. Another type of dream is one that is just plain bizarre.

Dream journal

Writing in a journal can raise your expectation of lucidity. The more you write about your dreams, the more freely they will flow. Keep a journal at your bedside with a pen, and record each dream. Put them into one of the three types mentioned – recurring, themed, or bizarre.

If you notice you often experience the same kind of dream, use this knowledge to indicate you’re asleep. For instance, when strange events occur, consider whether you’re dreaming. You probably don’t usually roller-skate down the street naked while smoking a pipe. Consequently, if you find yourself doing so, there’s a good chance you’re asleep.

Authenticity checks

Reality checks are the easiest way to know whether you’re awake. Unlike in a waking state, your brain finds reading, writing, and switching lights on hard when you’re dreaming. While carrying out a check in a dream, you’ll find such tasks problematic. Words on a page might be hazy, and pushing a light switch won’t make a light come on. These are the best activities to use as cues.

You can also check whether you can do impossible activities, like flying during dreams. If you’re successful, it will be clear you’re not awake, since you can’t usually take to the air without a flying machine.

Practice being aware of performing these tasks. As you switch a light on or type a text successfully, tell yourself you are awake. Repetition will open the path to checking reality when you’re asleep.


Expecting to participate in dreams can increase their appearance. Before you go to sleep, inform your brain you want to know when you’re dreaming. Write your intention in a notebook, and think about it as you fall asleep.

If you want to be conscious of dreaming, keep a journal. Raise your expectations of encountering lucid dreams. Also, create a link with a complex task you often perform, like typing and sending texts. Carry out reality checks to see whether they are tougher than usual. If so, you know you’re probably dreaming.