Lucid Dreaming - Wake & Back to Bed

A few nights ago I had a spontaneous lucid dream.

The curious thing about this is that I can pin-point when it happened on my hypnogram, so I thought I'd share it on here.

First let's take another look at a near-perfect hypnogram. This is from my son's sleep and is about as near to textbook as I think possible in real-life:

Adults will typically get less REM than this, but the pattern should still be the same. Slow-wave (deep) sleep in the first half of the night, decreasing as the night wears on then increasing amounts of REM into the morning.

In my previous post about Lucid Dreams I mentioned a method of inducing lucid dreams called "Wake and Back to Bed". Essentially it goes like this: 

  1. Go to bed at your usual time
  2. Set an alarm for the early hours (say 4am)
  3. Wake when the alarm sounds
  4. Get out of bed and read for an hour or so
  5. Return to bed

This has the effect of causing your REM sleep to be concentrated in the period when you've returned to bed (the idea being that your body is now screaming out for the REM that it should have had when you were awake for the hour). The period of being awake should also "sharpen" your conscious mind so that it is more likely to be aware of the dreamworld when it next encounters it.

For my lucid dream, this happened by accident as is good evidence that the method works.

I spontaneously woke at my usual weekday alarm-time which was ridiculously early for a Saturday morning, so took off the Zeo headband, flicked through the news and Twitter on my phone (still in bed), then decided to have another go at sleeping.

I didn't get a mass of REM in this second sleep, and most of the "sleep" that I did get was light dozing, but there was an isolated period where I slipped into REM and had a lucid dream. This can be clearly seen on my Zeo hypnogram for the night:

I know that it's boring listening to other people's dreams but to give you an idea of how lucidity evolves I'll outline it...

I was in a restaurant in France. I was sitting with my extended family who took up most of the restaurant. Then I realised that people were "tutting" at me. Somehow I'd managed to offend the restaurant owners. 

It seemed odd. After a while the tutting turned to people talking about me as if I wasn't there. I looked down at my plate and realised that the tables were full of rain. Again, more oddness. Water was actually flowing around our plates as if we were eating in some sort of water feature.

It began to make less and less sense, then I looked at the faces of the people who I thought were family. I didn't recognise any of them. 

Then it hit me: people's faces changing, changed laws of physics, feeling of conspiracy... it was a dream. I still wasn't sure, so I calmly did a "reality check" (Something that I don't get to do in dreams that often)... I counted the fingers on one hand. Five... so it must be real. I looked at my hand again and saw an extra finger! 

Ha! Definitely a dream then. 

I got up to leave and (almost symbolically of the dream trying to re-capture me) found that the people in the restaurant were trying to prevent me from going. I managed to get out of the door which seemed to pull me back like a magnet, but eventually I was in the street outside. 

More symbolism: The world outside was definitely the dreamworld, it was a town mixed with cartoon imagery complete with giant cartoon people using skyscrapers as stepping stones. 

Anyway, I won't go on, but as lucidity came on slowly I was able to stay calm and stay in the dream, rather than waking. Eventually after a couple of periods of forgetting I was dreaming and becoming lucid again, the dream won and settled into a normal dream. The dream covered about 3 days, but as you can see from the solitary green bar on the hypnogram, it lasted not much more than 5 minutes.

This is definitely a method that I think is worth exploring further.

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Reader Comments (2)

First - I am super-envious of your son's sleep pattern! If I could ever get close to that, it would be amazing.
Second - while reading about your lucid dream, I couldn't help but think about the movie "Inception" - your dream in real time was quite short, but am wondering if it felt quite long while you were in it?

March 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDoug

Yes, his sleep makes me jealous too.

I think this is a testament to how well his BiPAP is working for him. His graphs from "in air" and CPAP were pretty fragmented.

The dream felt as if it lasted for around 3 days, with scene changes and day/night transitions too. I assumed that most people dream this way.

March 17, 2012 | Registered CommenterHypnagogia Blog

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