Original art by Meranda McLaughlin

Original art by Meranda McLaughlin

If you’re looking for a strange adventure, lucid dreaming just might be your ticket! These are the types of dreams where you are fully aware that you are dreaming and if you’re extra lucky, you might even be able to control what happens in the dream!

For some, lucid dreaming comes naturally and frequently. But if you’re anything like me, you need to work a bit harder for this experience (but it’s so worth the effort!). Not sure where to start? Already tried and failed? Then hopefully my research, trial/error, and eventual success will help! 

Here’s my top 5 tips for lucid dreaming. I even threw in some bonus material to keep in mind once it works!


This is a strategy to use as you are falling asleep. Instead of just hitting your head to the pillow and letting your mind drift away, say to yourself in your head: “One I’m dreaming, two I’m dreaming, three I’m dreaming...” and so on. Keep this count going for as long as you can, and hopefully you’ll transition into dream state as you are continuing to tell yourself that you are dreaming – triggering a lucid dream!

[This is the one that worked the best for me personally! Although I never had any success when I tried this out while I was first falling asleep, it worked the very first time I tried it out between snoozes after my alarm went off in the morning. I highly recommend giving that a whirl!]

Relax and Focus

As you’re falling asleep, think about a particular image, experience, or maybe a past dream that you want to revisit. Do your best to relax yourself and embrace the draw of sleep, while also staying focused on your intention to have a lucid dream.   

Pay Attention to the Details

Look at something in the dream and start to examine it. Is there anything off? Clocks are great for this. Does the time change randomly, or are some of the numbers upside down? What about your hands? Do they look normal? Is there an extra finger? Can you slide one hand through the other? These can all be clues that you’re dreaming, and realizing you are dreaming will transition you from a typical dream to a lucid one! 

Systematic Reality Checks

This tip is about building a habit of testing whether you are dreaming while you’re awake. By building this habit while you’re awake, you are more likely to do a reality check while dreaming – resulting in a lucid dream! Commit to testing your reality every time you see something over the course of your day (e.g., red car, person walking their dog, someone riding a bike, etc.). Or just set multiple alarms and do a reality check each time it goes off. At that time, ask yourself “am I dreaming?” and look for signs to help determine whether you’re awake. Some specific examples of reality checks: Can you breathe while pinching your nose or covering your mouth? Does flipping a light switch work? Can you see the battery level and signal symbols on your cell? Or just look at your hands or a clock as suggested in the tip above. If everything looks/works as expected, you’re probably not dreaming.  

[I was initially proud of myself for doing this at least once per day, sometimes even a few times per day. I later learned that this technique should be applied at least 15-20 times per day to be able to build a habit that will actually transfer to your dream state.]

Record your dreams

Recording your dreams will help with your dream recall. And if you don’t have great recall, you may not even remember having the lucid dream (which would be a bummer!). On average, when people don’t record their dreams, they forget up to 50% in the first five minutes and up to 90% after 10 minutes. Recording your dreams (in a dream journal, on your phone, etc.) can help improve your dream recall. You can even use this strategy to record what’s working/not working with your lucid dreaming efforts in general. 

When you reach the lucid dreaming state, remember to STAY CALM (even when reaching this state is crazy exciting)! If you find you’re slipping out of the dream, you should try one of the following to help to refocus on your lucid dream:

  • Spin yourself around in a circle (your dream body, that is).

  • Fall back (again, with your dream body).

  • Rub your hands together (your dream hands).

One last tip – just to make sure you are protected against a terrible lucid dream trip. If you ever want to escape the lucid dreaming state because it’s starting to go horribly wrong, the tricks are to:

  • Try getting your dream body to fall asleep. This should either trigger you to wake up or switch you into a new dream (though not an easy task, depending on the dream circumstance!)

  • Yelling for help. If you do this enough during the dream, you may start to actually call out for help in real life, triggering you (or anyone in earshot) to wake you up.

  • Blinking! I saved the easiest one for last. If you blink extensively in your lucid dream and just keep doing that over and over again, it can trigger your physical body to do the same thing, resulting in waking you up. Ta da!

Now go fly away! Or travel... or become a mystical creature... maybe meet your favourite celebrity... or whatever strange adventure you’re craving! 

Still want more lucid dreaming content? Check out the All Things Dreams podcast for our episodes on lucid dreaming. Lucid Dreams Part 1 and Part 2 go over these tips and tricks in more detail, along with covering the lucid dream experiences of our guests. Then I share my lucid dream success story in Me Myself and My Lucid Dream! As a bit of a teaser, you can check out this dream art mermaid painting that depicts part of my lucid dreaming experience...


Beattie, A. (2002), Dream Dictionary.

 Gackenbach, J. & Bosveld, J. (1989), Control Your Dreams

Lenard, L. (2002), KISS Guide to Dreams.

Fontana, D. (2013), 1000 Dreams.


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