A handy guide to lucid dreaming, with additional tips from Richard Feynman

Anyone who's had one will tell you: lucid dreams are ridiculously, comically, and sometimes obscenely fun — but they're also notoriously difficult to experience. In their latest video, the folks at AsapSCIENCE serve up a series of quick, scientifically informed tips on how to experience nighttime reveries on your own terms.


Here are the video's pointers, distilled into list-form:

  • Maintain a dream journal: this improves recall and lucidity
  • Reality checks: remember to check the time often, even when you think you're awake
  • MILD: Put that dream journal to use! Think of a recent dream as you fall asleep, while focusing on having a lucid dream. Try waking in the middle of the night for half an hour and then heading back to sleep.
  • WILD: Keep your mind awake as your body slips into sleep

Fun fact: this last technique, WILD, which stands for "Wake Induced Lucid Dreams," sounds very similar to something that physicist Richard Feynman used to practice in college, whereby he would "watch what happened" when he went to sleep. As recounted in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (a truly outstanding memoir — seriously, if you haven't read it, stop what you're doing and go read it immediately), Feynman would do this with such regularity that one night, while having a dream, he realized he "was observing himself in the dream; "I had gotten all the way down into the sleep itself!" he writes. After that, he began to experience lucid dreams with increasing regularity.

In reading through his memoir, it becomes clear that Feynman kept track of his dreams, and even performed reality checks — returning to rooms he had visited earlier in his dream, for example, or testing the limits of his senses whenever he found himself in a state of lucidity. He even describes experiencing something that sounds very similar to the "sleep paralysis" mentioned in the AsapSCIENCE video above, though he never refers to it as such. He even provides some tips on how to avoid some of sleep paralysis' more terrifying effects:

During the time of making observation in my dreams, the process of waking up was a rather fearful one. As you're beginning to wake up there's a moment when you feel rigid and tied down, or underneath many layers of cotton batting. It's hard to explain, but there's a moment when you get the feeling you can't get out; you're not sure you can wake up. So I would have to tell myself — after I was awake — that that's ridiculous. There's no disease I know of where a person falls asleep naturally and can't wake up. You can always wake up. And after talking to myself many times like that, I became less and less afraid, and in fact I found the process of waking up rather thrilling — something like a roller coaster. After a while you're not so scared, and you beging to enjoy it a little bit.


Top image by Misted-Dream via deviantART



I've been able to have lucid dreams for nearly 20 years now. I've done just about everything a person could do while "dreaming". To anyone who has never had lucid dreams or have had only a few experiences... let me tell you that there are different levels of lucidity.

For the sake of argument, let's just say there are 5 levels. If I were to gauge myself, I would say I've only been able to reach "level 4". It's almost impossible to reach level 5..

Oh, before I forget. I have a simple question for anyone out there who claims to be able to have lucid dreams. Have you ever looked at yourself in a mirror while dreaming? If so, what did you see? I don't think I've ever encountered anyone who's done that other than myself. Also, those of you who do have lucid dreams... let me ask you another question. Have you ever gone up to someone... anyone... and just talked to them? Did you tell them you were still alive and are dreaming right now? Have you ever thought to ask what their name was? If your answer is no... to any of these questions... then any lucid dreams you think you may have had were nothing more than a basic "level 1". Trust me when I say "lucid dreaming" becomes totally different once you reach level 3 or 4.