How Is Lucid Dreaming Possible? Researchers May Have Found A Way For Anyone To Do It
When I was growing up, I remember several instances when I’d wake up rattling off vivid details of the dreams I’d had the night before. These days, though, I can count on one hand the times I've been able to rehash the mysterious worlds my imagination creates while I'm sleeping. It’s fascinating to think that, on average, you and I can dream anywhere between four to six times per night, and have no recollection of it come morning. But what's even more fascinating is that there are a select group of people who know how lucid dreaming is possible, and I don't know about you, but I have to know their secret. Sure, you can go the experimentation route and test different ways of triggering lucid dreams so that you'll not only remember them, but also learn to consciously take control of them — or, according to new research, there might be a more straightforward way to practice this fascinating technique.
TBH, I’d never heard of lucid dreaming until my husband expressed his interested in the subject to me a few years back. As far as I knew, there were two kinds of dreams: the happily-ever-after kind and nightmares. To me, dreams weren’t something to be controlled; they were just something the brain conjured up to make sense of real life. But that’s the thing about the human brain: It’s capable of so much more than anyone realizes, and as far as science is concerned, you can dream a dream, but you can also create one.
The concept behind lucid dreaming is actually really simple: The idea is that, while you sleep, you’re able to reach a state of consciousness that allows you to become fully aware of the fact that you’re asleep and dreaming, yet you still continue to sleep and dream. Does that sound meta or what? Unfortunately, though, according to a 2011 German study published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills, 51 percent of people only experience about one lucid dream in their lifetime. But the fact that it’s possible shows promise, so the question is, how is lucid dreaming possible, and how can you implement these practices into your own dreamlike state?
A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the Lucidity Institute in Hawaii found that the answer to your lucid dreams could be in the chemical makeup of a medication called galantamine which, according to ScienceAlert, is typically used to control the rate of memory loss in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Here’s where the connection is being made: According to the researchers, a chemical called acetylcholinesterase inhibitors have been found to promote lucid dreams by encouraging rapid eye movement sleep — and it just so happens that galantamine contains that very chemical.
In order to test whether or not galantamine might help people lucid-dream, the researchers recruited 121 participants (who, BTW, claimed to already have at least some experience with lucid dreaming) to take the medication over the course of three nights, increasing their dosage by the day, ScienceAlert reports. Each night, participants were woken up after four and a half hours of sleep to take the medication, as well as practice something called mnemonic induction of lucid dreams, aka the MILD technique which, according to TheWorldOfLucidDreaming.com, is an exercise in which you essentially plant “a cue in your unconscious mind” to help you “remember your intention to lucid dream and recognize when you're dreaming.”
The results showed that 57 percent of participants were successful in achieving lucid dreams when they took a higher dosage of galantamine and practiced the MILD technique simultaneously. According to the authors of the study, the combination of galantamine and the MILD technique is “one of the most effective methods for inducing lucid dreams known to-date,” and while it’s definitely a step in the right direction toward finally figuring out how to achieve lucid dreaming at home, it's worth nothing that this is very much a preliminary study. In other words, you should not, by any means, experiment with galantamine on your own to achieve lucid dreaming — at least, not yet, anyway.
So while taking galantamine might be something to consider trying in the future (after a lot more research has been done on the subject and doctors start giving the OK), there are other techniques that make lucid dreaming possible. For example, you may not be able to buy a bottle of galantamine to go with it, but there's a lot of evidence that suggests the MILD technique is effective, so you might want to start there. And, if you're really interested in the art of lucid dreaming, Ani Ferlise, founder of the Kozmic Ryder experiential kit series and daughter of ALEX AND ANI founder Carolyn Rafaelian, has created a lucid dreaming kit that comes equipped with "everything you would need to experience lucid dreaming," including a special tea blend, essential oils, a palo santo stick, an amethyst crystal, and more.
"I found that the first step in owning your power is waking up to your subconscious and gaining a deep sense of self- awareness," Ferlise tells Elite Daily. "When you choose to immerse yourself here, you say yes to an adventure that is profound, powerful, and all yours. Now the question is... are you ready?"