Sleep Phase May Determine What Your Dreams Look Like

What Exactly Is Going On Inside Your Body During REM Sleep?

Sleep Phase May Determine What Your Dreams Look Like

Have any strange, vivid dreams lately? If so, you’re far from the only one. Google searches for “dreams in quarantine” spiked this spring and now yields a whopping 63,000,000 results.

According to a new ongoing study by the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, we’re remembering more dreams than ever these days—and according to the trending #quarantinedreams hashtag on , they’re weirder than ever, too.

Experts theorize that a mix of stress and sleep pattern changes over the past few months is the less-than-sneaky culprit influencing our dream content and recall. But the truth is, there’s still a lot we don’t understand about the phenomenon of dreams, which occur during the REM (rapid eye movement) phase of sleep.

REM is just one of five phases of sleep, but it’s so unique that the other four are usually just lumped together as simply “non-REM” sleep.

Still, “knowing how all the stages work is helpful because there is an architecture to sleep,” says Jasleen Chhatwal, MD, the Chief Medical Officer and Director of Mood Program at Sierra Tuscon.

And if we know anything right now, it’s that “the more our body can align with that architecture, the more rested, restorative, and regenerative our sleep can feel.”

Below, we take a closer look at how our sleep—and dreams—come together.

A Refresher On The Sleep Cycle

During a typical night, you cycle through all the stages of non-REM (or NREM) and REM sleep several times. Here’s the rundown of what happens during NREM sleep, before you start dreaming:

  • NREM Stage 1: This is your body literally falling asleep. In the first couple of minutes, your eye movements, breathing, and heart rate start to slow down, and your muscles might even twitch as they relax. It’s the lightest stage of sleep, so any little noise or disturbance can wake you right up.
  • NREM Stage 2: You’re now drifting into steadier light sleep. Your eyes have stopped moving, your body temperature starts dropping, and your brain is managing fewer complicated tasks. You’re here for about 15 to 20 minutes before deep sleep sets in. (Pro tip: End your power naps before you hit the deeper stages of sleep by setting an alarm for 20 minutes max).
  • NREM Stage 3 and 4: You enter deep sleep. Your breathing, heart rate, body temperature, and brain wave activity have slowed to their lowest levels. Your body is now in “Do Not Disturb” mode, making it extremely hard to wake up at this point (you’ll feel groggy and disoriented if you do). These periods of deep sleep are known to be the restorative stages that help you feel well-rested and refreshed when you wake up in the morning.

The first half of your night is spent mostly in stage 3 and 4. As the night goes on, your deep sleep reduces, and your REM sleep—often called the fifth stage of sleep—increases.

What Is REM Sleep, Exactly?

About 90 minutes after falling asleep, it’s showtime.

We tend to associate REM sleep with dream creation, but its function actually goes deeper than that: Scientists believe the REM cycle may play a role in sorting and storing memories, supporting neuroplasticity and learning new skills, regulating mood, and even in how we process other people’s emotions and respond to stressful situations.

“Think of non-REM sleep as body-restorative and REM sleep more as mental-restorative,” says Deborah Sewitch, Ph.D.

, CPC, a sleep researcher who has authored over 50 articles on the subject in peer-reviewed scientific journals and held faculty appointments at four medical schools, including Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania.

During REM sleep, which “involves the lower brain centers—the brainstem and the thalamus—connecting up with the higher cortex,” your brain waves become fast and shallow.

In fact, EEG scans show that brain waves during REM sleep resemble brain activity during wakefulness. “REM sleep is a paradox because even though it’s a stage of sleep, your brain is wide awake,” says Chhatwal. It’s no surprise then that if you wake up in the middle of a REM cycle, you’re more ly to remember the dream you were just having.

So, What’s Going On During REM Sleep?

The first REM cycle of the night lasts for about 15 minutes. Over the course of the night, you’ll cycle back into REM every 90 minutes or so (about four to five times), and each REM period lasts longer than the one before it. This is what your body is doing:

  • Your eyes dart back and forth. The reason for the rapid back-and-forth movement of your eyes, which looks you’re speed reading pages in a book, has remained a mystery up until recently. Studies suggest that these eye movements correspond with the moving visual information that you “see” in your dreams, watching a scene unfold behind your eyelids. Pretty cool!
  • Your arms and legs are temporarily paralyzed. While the muscles in your eyes, face, fingers, and toes can still twitch during REM, you lose all muscle tone at the level of your spinal cord (picture a dangling puppet on a string and you get the idea). “It’s a protective mechanism so you’re not acting out your dreams,” says Chhatwal. “If you’re dreaming that you’re fighting ninjas, you don’t want to be acting that out in your bed!” Doing so could indicate a sleep behavior disorder, which might occur if the group of brainstem cells that control REM sleep, called the subcoeruleus nucleus, become injured.
  • Your sympathetic nervous system kicks into gear. This system activates your body’s fight or flight response, and it plays a major role in REM sleep, especially in the final third of the night. “Your breathing and heart rate become irregular, and your ability to actively thermoregulate your body temperature is very limited,” says Sewitch. “You don’t sweat or shiver during REM sleep. Instead, your body becomes very sensitive to the temperature of the room, and the moment it gets too hot or cold, you’ll just wake up.” Scientists speculate that an important biological function of REM sleep is periodically activating the body during sleep so that you’re ready to respond to an external threat right away. “From a theoretical standpoint,” Sewitch says, “we often think of REM sleep as being protective and associated with survival.”
  • You readily respond to psychologically important stimuli. Similarly, “if you’re a new mom and your baby cries during REM sleep, you’ll wake up right away,” says Sewitch. “Even hearing your name will wake up. These psychological stimuli easily break through your sensory barriers and have you fully active and awake to take on whatever challenge is at hand.”

How Much REM Sleep Do I Really Need?

More research is needed to determine whether getting in more REM sleep can provide health benefits. (And actually, experiencing heavy and intense amounts of REM sleep may be associated with depression, according to Sewitch.) For now, focus on getting a full night’s sleep—seven to nine hours—and sticking with a regular bedtime schedule every night.

Remember that we’re all dealing with more stress than usual. So if you’re having trouble sleeping at night, try meditating, a deep breathing exercise, or take a warm bath and listen to music to short circuit some of that anxiety and help your body relax.

On the flip side, you might be staying in bed longer and sleeping nine to 10 hours. “That’s OK, too,” says Sewitch. “Just be gentle with yourself, pay attention to your body’s needs, and go with it. Your brain will make sure you get the sleep you need.

Dreams in quarantine. National Geographic. 2020. “The Pandemic Is Giving People Vivid, Unusual Dreams. Here’s Why.”

Stages of sleep. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. 2019. “Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep.”

Eye movements in REM sleep. Nature Communications. 2015. “Single-Neuron Activity and Eye Movements During Human REM Sleep and Awake Vision.”

Sympathetic nervous system activation in REM sleep. Current Opinion in Physiology. 2020. “Sleep and Autonomic Nervous System.”


Sleep Basics: REM & NREM, Sleep Stages, Good Sleep Habits & More

Sleep Phase May Determine What Your Dreams Look Like

You may think nothing is happening when you sleep. But parts of your brain are quite active during sleep. And enough sleep (or lack of it) affects your physical and mental health.

When you sleep, your body has a chance to rest and restore energy. A good night’s sleep can help you cope with stress, solve problems or recover from illness.

Not getting enough sleep can lead to many health concerns, affecting how you think and feel.

During the night, you cycle through two types of sleep: non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Your brain and body act differently during these different phases.

What happens in the brain during sleep?

Researchers continue to study sleep and its effect on us. While we’ve learned a lot about sleep, there’s still much that’s unknown.

We know that brain chemicals are very involved in our sleep cycle. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that help the nerves communicate. They control whether we’re awake or asleep, depending on which neurons (nerve cells) they’re acting on:

  • Neurons in the brainstem (where the brain and spinal cord meet) produce neurotransmitters called serotonin and norepinephrine. These chemicals keep our brain active when we’re awake.
  • Neurons located at the base of the brain are responsible for us falling asleep. It seems these neurons turn off the signals that keep us awake.

Why do we need sleep?

Sleep helps us in many ways. We need it for:

  • Growth: In children and young adults, deep sleep (sleep that’s harder to wake from) supports growth. The body releases growth hormone during this type of sleep. The body also increases production of proteins, which we need for cell growth and to repair damage.
  • Nervous system function: A lack of sleep affects our memory, performance and ability to think clearly. If a person is severely sleep deprived, they may even experience neurological problems such as mood swings and hallucinations. Sleep also helps our nerve cells. They can repair themselves, so they function at their best. And certain nerve connections get a chance to turn on, strengthening our brain and thinking ability.
  • Survival: Researchers don’t fully understand why sleep is so essential. But studies in animals have shown that getting deprived of REM sleep can shorten lifespans. Lack of sleep may harm the immune system, which protects us from infections.
  • Well-being: People who don’t get enough sleep are at higher risk for developing various health conditions including obesity, diabetes and heart problems.

What are the stages of sleep?

When you sleep, your brain goes through natural cycles of activity. There are four total stages of sleep, divided into two phases:

  • Non-REM sleep happens first and includes three stages. The last two stage of non-REM sleep is when you sleep deeply. It’s hard to wake up from this stage of sleep.
  • REM sleep happens about an hour to an hour and a half after falling asleep. REM sleep is when you tend to have vivid dreams.

As you sleep, your body cycles through non-REM and REM sleep. You usually start the sleep cycle with stage 1 of non-REM sleep. You pass through the other stages of non-REM sleep, followed by a short period of REM sleep. Then the cycle begins again at stage 1.

A full sleep cycle takes about 90 to 110 minutes. Your first REM period is short. As the night goes on, you’ll have longer REM sleep and less deep sleep.

What is non-REM sleep?

Three stages make up non-REM sleep.

Stage 1:

This stage of light sleeping lasts for five to 10 minutes.

  • Everything starts to slow down, including your eye movement and muscle activity.
  • Your eyes stay closed. If you get woken from stage 1 sleep, you may feel as if you haven’t slept at all. You may remember pieces of images.
  • Sometimes, you may feel you’re starting to fall and then experience a sudden muscle contraction. Healthcare providers call this motion hypnic myoclonic or hypnic jerk. Hypnic jerks are common and not anything to be concerned about as this occurrence is unly to cause any complications or side effects.

Stage 2:

  • This period of light sleep features periods of muscle tone (muscles partially contracting) mixed with periods of muscle relaxation.
  • Your eye movement stops, heart rate slows and body temperature decreases.
  • Brain waves become slower. Occasionally, you’ll have a burst of rapid waves called sleep spindles.
  • Your body prepares to enter deep sleep.

Stages 3

  • This stage is deep sleep.
  • During this stage, your brain produces delta waves, very slow brain waves.
  • It’s hard for someone to wake you up during this stage.
  • You have no eye movement or muscle activity.
  • If you’re woken up, you may feel groggy and disoriented for a few minutes.

What happens during non-REM sleep?

During non-REM stages, your body:

  • Builds bone and muscle.
  • Repairs and regenerates tissues.
  • Strengthens the immune system.

As you age, you get less non-REM sleep. Older adults get less deep sleep than younger people.

What is REM sleep?

When you enter REM sleep, brain activity increases again, meaning sleep is not as deep. The activity levels are when you’re awake. That’s why REM sleep is the stage where you’ll have intense dreams.

At the same time, major muscles that you normally control (such as arms and legs) can’t move. In effect, they become temporarily paralyzed.

Usually, REM sleep arrives about an hour and a half after you go to sleep. The first REM period lasts about 10 minutes. Each REM stage that follows gets longer and longer.

The amount of REM sleep you experience changes as you age. The percentage of REM sleep:

  • Is highest during infancy and early childhood.
  • Declines during adolescence and young adulthood.
  • Declines even more as you get older.

What else happens to the body in REM sleep?

Besides increased brain activity and muscle relaxation, your body goes through a series of changes during REM sleep. These changes include:

  • Faster breathing.
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Penile erections.
  • Rapid eye movement.

What affects sleep quality?

Chemical signals in the brain influence our sleep and wake cycles. Anything that shifts the balance of these neurotransmitters can make us feel drowsier or more awake. For example:

  • Alcohol may help people fall into a light sleep. But it reduces the deeper stages of sleep and REM sleep and leads to more disrupted sleep.
  • Caffeine and pseudoephedrine (drug ingredient) can stimulate the brain. They may cause insomnia, an inability to sleep. Watch out for caffeinated drinks such as coffee and drugs such as diet pills and decongestants.
  • Medications such as antidepressants can cause less REM sleep.
  • People who smoke heavily often sleep lightly and have less REM sleep. They may wake up after a few hours because they experience nicotine withdrawal.
  • Very hot or cold temperatures can disrupt REM sleep. We’re less able to regulate body temperature during REM sleep.

How much sleep do I need?

Many factors affect how much sleep you need. Age is a big factor:

  • Infants need about 16 hours a day.
  • Toddlers and preschoolers need about 12 hours.
  • Teenagers need about nine hours.
  • Adults need seven to eight (though some are fine with five and others need closer to 10).
  • Pregnant people often need more sleep during the first trimester.

What is a sleep debt?

If you haven’t slept well or long enough for a few days, you might create a sleep debt. Once your debt builds up, you may feel physically and mentally exhausted. Try to make sure you get enough sleep every night to avoid creating this debt. You can’t necessarily make up your debt by sleeping a lot on the weekends. It’s best to get enough sleep all week long.

Can we adapt to needing less sleep?

Generally, people don’t adapt to getting less sleep than they need. You may feel you’re used to reduced sleep, but it still affects your function. For example, it can harm your judgment and reaction time.

What is sleep deprivation?

When you’re sleep deprived, you’re not getting the total amount of sleep you need. Signs of sleep deprivation include:

  • Falling asleep within a few minutes of lying down.
  • Feeling drowsy during the day.
  • Nodding off for microsleeps — short periods of sleep during the day when you’re otherwise awake.
  • Sleep deprivation can be dangerous. Driving while tired causes about 100,000 car accidents each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It also causes 1,500 deaths. If you feel tired on the road, pull over. It’s not safe to drive if you’re drowsy.

What are sleep disorders?

According to the American Sleep Association, at least 40 million Americans experience sleep disorders each year. Another 20 million have occasional sleep issues. These disorders cause sleep deprivation, leading to problems with work, school, driving and social activities.

There are more than 70 sleep disorders. A few, known as disruptive sleep disorders, lead to moving around or making sounds. Other sleep disorders involve food. And some sleep disorders overlap with psychiatric conditions. If you have problems with sleep or feel very tired, talk to your healthcare provider about a possible sleep disorder.

Some of the most common sleep disorders include:

  • Insomnia disorder: Many people experience insomnia at some point in their lives, with trouble falling or staying asleep. Sleeping pills can help in the short-term but behavioral strategies to improve sleep including cognitive behavioral therapy for Insomnia (CBT-i) is a much better long term solution.
  • Narcolepsy: You may suddenly fall asleep during the day, even if you had a good sleep the night before. These “sleep attacks” can last a few seconds or up to 30 minutes. Talk to your provider about your symptoms and additional testing will need to be completed to diagnosis this sleep disorder.
  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS): You may feel unpleasant sensations in your legs (such as prickling or tingling). You may also have an urge to move your legs to get relief. If you have RLS, talk to your healthcare provider about medication to help improve symptoms.
  • Sleep apnea: You may experience periods of interrupted breathing while you sleep, a condition called sleep apnea. Often, getting polysomnography (sleep study) in a sleep center is the best way to get properly diagnosed and treated. Sometimes, weight loss or not sleeping on your back can help. But you may need a special device to help you breathe while you sleep.
  • Snoring: People who regularly snore can have disturbed sleep. They can also disturb the sleep of their bed partner. Snoring often leads to feeling tired during the day. Several treatment options are available for snoring.

What are good sleep habits?

Good sleep habits, also called good sleep hygiene, are practices to help you get enough quality sleep.


  • Have a sleep schedule: Go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day, even on weekends and vacations.
  • Clear your mind before bed: Make a to-do list early in the evening, so you won’t stay awake in bed and worry about the next day.
  • Create a good sleep environment: Make sure your bed and pillows are comfortable. Turn down the lights and avoid loud sounds. Keep the room at a comfortable temperature.
  • Exercise every day: Stay active but try to avoid exercising during the few hours right before bed.
  • Relax: Before bed, take a warm bath, read or do another relaxing activity.
  • See your healthcare provider: If you’ve been having trouble sleeping or feel extra drowsy during the day, talk to your provider. There are many treatments available for sleep disorders.


  • Consume caffeine, nicotine and alcohol late in the day: These substances can interfere with your ability to fall and stay asleep.
  • Lie in bed awake: It’s better to do a soothing activity, reading, until you feel tired.
  • Nap during the day: A short nap (less than 30 minutes) is OK if you’re very sleepy. But try to avoid naps after 3 p.m.
  • Think negative thoughts: Try to avoid a negative mindset when going to bed, such as, “If I don’t get enough sleep now, I won’t get through my day tomorrow!”
  • Use electronics right before bed: Electronics, such as your phone or tablet, can interfere with your body’s production of melatonin. This hormone gets released before bed to help you feel tired.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Far from being a state of doing nothing, sleep is an essential part of our lives. It helps our body rest, recharge and repair. There are four sleep stages — three in the non-REM phase plus REM sleep. Many factors can affect sleep quality, including the food and drink you consume before bed and room temperature.

Many people experience trouble sleeping now and then. But if you think you may have a sleep disorder, talk to your healthcare provider. Common sleep disorders include insomnia (trouble falling asleep) and sleep apnea (breathing trouble during sleep). Your provider can help you get the diagnosis and treatment you need.


Lucid Dreams: Definition, Techniques, and Benefits

Sleep Phase May Determine What Your Dreams Look Like

During lucid dreams, the sleeper is aware a dream is taking place but will not leave the dream state. Some further define these phenomena as dreams in which the sleeper can exercise control over different aspects of their environment, though studies have found this is not always the case, and that certain people are more predisposed to “lucid dream control” than others.

Surveys show that roughly 55% of adults have experienced at least one lucid dream during their lifetime, and 23% of people experience lucid dreams at least once per month.

Some research has pointed to potential benefits of lucid dreaming, such as treatment for nightmares.

However, other studies argue lucid dreams may have a negative impact on mental health because they can disturb sleep and cause dreamers to blur the lines between reality and fantasy.

How Do Lucid Dreams Work?

Lucid dreaming has been studied extensively, but much is still unknown about the phenomenon. Some researchers believe activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain is related to the development of lucid dreams.

During non-lucid dreams, people are cognizant of objects and events within the dream state, but they are not aware of the dream itself and cannot distinguish being asleep from being awake.

This has been attributed in part to lower levels of cortical activity.

Lucid dreams are different because sleepers are aware they are dreaming and, in some cases, can exert control over their surroundings. Some studies have linked these characteristics to elevated cortical activity.

In sleepers who have been observed during lucid dream studies, prefrontal cortex activity levels while they are engaged in lucid dreaming are comparable to levels when they are awake.

For this reason, lucid dreaming may be referred to as a “hybrid sleep-wake state.”

While normal dreams can occur during different stages of the sleep cycle, studies have shown most lucid dreaming takes place during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

REM sleep constitutes the fourth and final stage of a normal sleep cycle; the first three stages consist of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep.

The general consensus among researchers today is that lucid dreams originate from non-lucid dreams during the REM sleep stage. In this sense, lucidity is an aspect of dreams that can be triggered using different means.

How Are Lucid Dreams Studied?

Spontaneous lucid dreams are rare and difficult to foresee. To study these phenomena, researchers typically induce lucid dreams using different methods. Some of the most common techniques include the following:

  • Reality testing: This technique requires participants to perform tests throughout the day that differentiate sleep and waking. For example, a participant may ask themselves whether or not they are dreaming during the day; since self-awareness is not possible during non-lucid dreams, being able to answer this question proves they are in fact awake. Reality testing is the notion that repeated tests will eventually seep into the participant’s dreams, allowing them to achieve lucidity and distinguish between the dream state and waking.
  • Mnemonic induction of lucid dreams (MILD): This technique involves training oneself to recognize the difference between dreams and reality during sleep. Subjects wake up after a period of sleeping and repeat a variation of the following phrase: “Next time I’m asleep, I’ll remember I’m dreaming.” Researchers will induce lucid dreams using the MILD method by waking up subjects after five hours of sleep.
  • Wake back to bed (WBTB): Some people can induce lucid dreams using this technique, which involves waking up in the middle of the night and then returning to sleep after a certain amount of time has passed. WBTB is often used in conjunction with the MILD technique. When these two methods are used together, the most effective length of time between waking up and returning to sleep appears to be 30 to 120 minutes.
  • External stimulation: This technique involves flashing lights and other stimuli that are activated while the subject is in REM sleep. The rationale behind this method is that the sleeper will incorporate this stimuli into their dreams, triggering lucidity in the process.

Additionally, some studies have involved inducing lucid dreams using certain types of drugs and supplements.

Once a subject has fallen asleep, researchers can levels of activity in the prefrontal cortex and other areas of the brain using a device known as an electroencephalogram (EEG), during which metal discs are attached to the subject’s scalp.

An electrooculogram (EOG) may also be used to track eye movements to determine when the subject enters REM sleep. For some studies, subjects are asked to make specific eye movements while sleeping to signal they are having a lucid dream.

EOGs are particularly helpful for detecting these movements.

Are Lucid Dreams Good or Bad For You?

The popularity of self-induced lucid dreams has grown in recent years. The most common reasons for inducing lucid dreams include wish fulfillment, overcoming fears, and healing. Some studies have also shown a link between inducing lucid dreams and overcoming the fear and distress associated with nightmares.

However, there is much debate over whether inducing lucid dreams is beneficial or harmful to mental health. Some researchers argue that creating lucid dreams intentionally blurs the lines between dreaming and reality, and that this can have negative implications for one’s long-term mental health.

Lucid dream therapy has shown to be largely ineffective for some groups, such as people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Some researchers have introduced another problem with lucid dreams: they are potentially disruptive to sleep. Since lucid dreams are associated with higher levels of brain activity, it has been suggested these dreams can decrease sleep quality and have a negative effect on sleep hygiene.

Frequent lucid dreams could potentially restructure the sleeper’s sleep-wake cycle, which in turn may affect emotional regulation, memory consolidation, and other aspects of day-to-day life linked to sleep health.

Additionally, people with narcolepsy – a sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and irresistible sleep attacks – are more ly to experience frequent lucid dreams.

The study of lucid dreams is fairly new and largely incomplete. More research is needed to better understand these types of dreams and pinpoint why some people are predisposed to more frequent and intense lucid dreams.

How To Lucid Dream

Triggering lucid dreams can be fairly easy with the right methods. Those who are inexperienced with these phenomena may be able to induce a lucid dream for themselves through the following means:

  1. Optimize your bedroom for sleeping: Practicing good sleep hygiene can help to ensure a healthy sleep-wake cycle, including a sufficient amount of REM sleep (when lucid dreams are most ly to occur). Make sure the bedroom temperature is comfortable; 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius) is widely considered the ideal sleep temperature. You should also keep the room dark and relatively quiet. Blackout curtains, sleeping masks, and other accessories help reduce light levels, while ear plugs and sound machines can block disruptive outside noises.
  2. Assess your reality: Throughout the day, practice “reality testing” by checking your environment to confirm whether you’re sleeping or awake. In a dream, the environment may look familiar but there will be inconsistencies and distortions compared to reality. By performing these reality checks several times per day, you may acquire the ability to test your reality during dreams.
  3. Try the MILD and WBTB methods: For the mnemonic induction of lucid dreams technique, wake up after sleeping for five hours (use an alarm if needed) and tell yourself to remember you’re dreaming once you’ve fallen asleep. The MILD method has proven highly effective in some studies. The wake back to bed technique also requires waking up after five hours of sleep. With WBTB, you’ll want to stay awake for about 30 to 120 minutes before returning to sleep.
  4. Keep a record of your dreams: Every morning, write down everything you remember about your dreams in a journal. You can also use a voice-recording device to log your dream memories. Detailed records will allow you to recognize dreams more easily once you fall asleep, which in turn can help trigger lucid dreams.
  5. The power of suggestion: Some people can successfully induce lucid dreams merely by convincing themselves they will have one once they fall asleep.
  6. Pick up a lucid dream-inducing device: Portable devices that induce lucid dreams are widely available today. These devices, which often come in the form of sleep masks or headbands, produce noises, flashing lights, vibrations, and other cues that act as auditory, visual, and/or tactile stimuli. Expect to spend at least $200 on one of these devices.
  7. Experiment with gaming: Some studies have shown a link between playing video games and frequency and control of lucid dreams. This is especially true of interactive video games.

Other techniques may be used to induce lucid dreams. These include transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), which painlessly applies electrical currents to different areas of the brain, and certain types of medications.

There is little scientific research to demonstrate the effectiveness of these methods.

These techniques are also only conducted in controlled clinical laboratory settings and should never be attempted by an individual unless under the supervision of a doctor or another credentialed medical or psychological professional.

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