As a biohacker, you’ve no doubt tried a lot of things to improve your brain health and working memory. But what if you wanted to – with the help of nootropics for lucid dreaming – achieve lucidity in your dreams? In other words, is it possible for cognitive enhancers to help you beyond your waking life?
Turns out, nootropic supplements can unlock more than your cognitive function. If you’re keen to learn what lucid dreams are, how to improve dream vividness, and boost your working memory, read on!
What Is Lucid Dreaming?
Imagine that you’re reading this article and suddenly realize that you’re not actually awake but dreaming. This is essentially what lucid dreaming is – a state of consciousness where the sleeper is aware that they’re dreaming. [*]
This is very different to ordinary dreaming where a person isn’t conscious while they’re dreaming. They may remember they had a dream after waking up, but they are not an active participant in their dream.
In addition, non-lucid dreamers have reduced working memory function as well as reduced ability to control or plan. These are said to all be signs of reduced reflective consciousness. [*]
A lucid dreamer, however, has vivid dreams where he/she is said to have complete mental clarity in which they believe they can control the experience. [*]
Research shows that whether a lucid dreamer or not, we all dream during REM sleep. Rapid eye movement or REM sleep stage is a sleep stage that usually starts 90 minutes after you fall asleep. [*]
Though we can dream during any stage of sleep, it’s during REM sleep phase that people tend to experience vivid dreams. In other words, lucid dreams mostly happen during this sleep stage.
Those who experience a lucid dream are said to be conscious of being conscious. In other words, they are able to be aware of themselves and their state. [*]
Having the presence of mind means having access to cognitive abilities that allow one to rapidly and flexibly adapt their behavior. And unlike a non-lucid dreamer, lucid dreaming allows for increased reflective consciousness. [*]
This all sounds fascinating, right? But how exactly does lucid dreaming work? Let’s find out!
How Does Lucid Dreaming Work?
Lucid dreaming is still considered an unknown phenomenon. However, some researchers believe that lucid dreams are activities involving the prefrontal cortex of the brain – an area associated with working memory. [*] [*]
In one study, for example, it was found that the prefrontal cortex has active involvement in lucid dreaming. During REM stage, the prefrontal cortex and temporoparietal – both areas that are normally deactivated during sleep – work together to facilitate lucid dreaming. [*]
According to experiments, lucid dreamers are able to use – in real-time – eye movements to signal that they’re engaged in a lucid dream. [*]
Like ordinary dreams, the body of the lucid dreamer – except for the eyelids – is practically paralyzed. So how can a lucid dreamer be conscious while an ordinary dreamer is completely unconscious?
According to Dr. Mathew Walker, director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, there’s a simple explanation.
Typically speaking, the prefrontal cortex is “asleep” during REM sleep stage. However, lucid dreaming allows to “awaken” this part of the brain so that logic and dreaming “meet.” This unlikely “meeting” is essentially what allows a lucid dreamer to recognize that they’re dreaming. [*]
In a 2018 study, findings showed that those who have frequent lucid dreams have increased “resting-state” communication between two areas in the brain that typically don’t work during sleep; the frontopolar cortex and the temporoparietal junction. [*]
Interestingly, these are areas in the brain that perform important functions. For example, coordinating information from the auditory and visual, thalamus, and limbic systems.
The thalamus system, for example, is responsible for regulating sleep cycles, alertness, and consciousness. The limbic system, on the other hand, is responsible for emotion and behavioral responses. [*] [*]
As you can see, different parts of the brain are involved in inducing lucid dreams.
Lucid Dreaming And Working Memory
Our working memory helps us remember certain tasks such as where we’ve placed the house keys, a shopping list, or an upcoming event. This means that we can remember things that are important to us now, but not things from 30 or 40 years ago. [*]
Our working memory capacity is said to be limited and can only hold “chunks” of information rather than a large amount and for a short period of time. Having said that, the information it can hold and for how long, seems to depend on the person.
So, what does this have to do with lucid dreaming? It’s believed that high-level mental activities need consciousness, and a good working memory is needed to have lucid dreams.
That’s to say, enhanced working memory is one of the factors that influence lucid dreaming. [*]
Lucid Dreaming Pros And Cons
For many, the idea of having a lucid dream sounds exciting and perhaps even an adventure waiting to be explored. But is lucid dreaming something for everyone? Is it safe? And most importantly, does it serve a purpose that can help someone in their dreams and waking life?
These are important questions to consider if you’re interested in lucid dreams or want to know more about dream enhancement. To answer these questions and others, let’s start with the pros of lucid dreaming.
For some, lucid dreams can have a positive effect and be a way to heal from unpleasant experiences.
For example, lucid dreaming can help a person who has reoccurring nightmares. Since they’re conscious, they can recognize that their nightmare is actually in their sleep and not real.
As a result of this recognition, they can be less affected by the nightmare.
This is particularly beneficial for those with posttraumatic stress disorder as lucid dreaming can be used as an intervention to deal with their reoccurring nightmares. [*]
Another benefit of lucid dreaming is that it can boost creativity. For instance, whatever imaginative things a person sees or experiences in a dream could inspire them to create things in the real world. [*] Those who have lucid dreams also have a high dream recall frequency.
Having frequent lucid dreams can harm a person’s sleep-wake cycle. When your sleep-wake cycle is out of sync, it can impact the quantity and quality of your sleep. [*]
Not to mention, a disrupted sleep-wake cycle interferes with your daily life so you become less productive, have problems with decision-making, and suffer from brain fog. As you can imagine, this can in the long term affect your physical health as well as brain health.
Another disadvantage of having a lucid dream is that it’s easy for the lines between your dreams and reality to become blurry. In simple terms, a person may have difficulties distinguishing between when they’re dreaming and when they’re awake.
Now that you know about what it entails to have a lucid dream as well as its benefits and disadvantages, you can decide whether this is something for you.
If you do decide you want to give this a try, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Tips To Induce A Lucid Dream
So, you’re ready to explore a world different from the one you’re used to. A world where – supposedly – you can experience amazing things and even control your experiences of that. If this is an adventure you’re up for, the following are some of the ways people do this:
Set Your Bedroom Up For Sleep
This may sound like an odd thing to suggest, but your environment plays a huge role in your waking and sleeping hours. This involves practicing sleep hygiene, which is key for sleep quality. Sleep hygiene is basically everything you do before bed to promote sleep quality. These include:
Be consistent with your bedtime routine
Maintain a regular sleeping time
Create a relaxing environment
Avoid exposing yourself to blue light and other bright lights (artificial light that electronic devices emit and that suppresses melatonin, the sleep hormone)
Manage stress before sleeping (with relaxation techniques and activities, Ashwagandha)
Don’t drink coffee and avoid other caffeinated substances after 2 pm
Don’t eat a big meal before bedtime
Adhering to sleep hygiene won’t only improve your sleep quality but will also increase your chances of having a lucid dream. So, it’s a win-win!
Improve Your Working Memory
You already know that enhanced working memory increases your chances of having a lucid dream. But how can you improve your working memory?
There are a few ways:
Some studies show that engaging in resistance training also strengths your working memory. [*]
Play Brain-Training Game
In particular, the “dual n-back game.” Unlike many games out there that promise to improve memory, this one has been proven to do this consistently well. But a word of warning; the game is said to be brutal! [*]
This may seem obvious, but getting enough sleep is key to improving your memory in general, and especially your working memory. Research shows that people who get enough sleep perform up to 58% better in memory-related tasks compared with those who don’t. [*]
Keep A Dream Journal
It is believed that keeping a record of your dreams can help with dream recall. When you remember the details of the dreams you have, it can be easier to recognize a dream the next time. This in turn can trigger a lucid dream.
Mnemonic Induction Of Lucid Dreams (MILD)
If you’re interested in lucid dream induction then you should know about the MILD technique. This is one of the techniques of Stephen Laberge, a psychophysiologist who’s the head of the Lucidity Institute. The technique involves waking up after 5 hours of sleep.
According to Laberge, you should then develop the intention to remember that you’re dreaming before you go back to sleep. In addition, Laberge’s technique includes repeating some phrases to help improve your chances of having a lucid dream. Here’s what he suggests:
The next time I’m dreaming, I will remember that I’m dreaming.
Lucid Dreams happen easily when I sleep.
When I dream, I’ll realize I’m dreaming.
In addition to these words, you should also visualize yourself in a lucid dream. The purpose of this technique is to train you to increase self-awareness so that it becomes easier for you to recognize when you’re dreaming.
According to some studies, this method of lucid dream induction is said to be highly effective. [*]
Nootropics For Lucid Dreaming
Phew, that was a lot to register and digest so thanks for sticking by! You’re probably dying to know how inducing lucid dreams with nootropics works.
To understand this, we need to look at brain chemicals. In particular, Acetylcholine, a brain chemical that’s associated with lucid dreaming. Acetylcholine is a brain chemical that works as a neurotransmitter.
Neurotransmitter acetylcholine functions in the central nervous system (CNS) and is said to modulate REM sleep and induce lucid dreams. [*]
Adaptogens, such as Bacopa monnieri, help support acetylcholine levels. Adaptogens are herbs most known in Ayurvedic medicine and are effective for their support in responding better to stressful situations.
When looking for lucid dreaming supplements, look for one that increases or mimics acetylcholine activity. Qualia Mind is not only one of the best nootropic stacks out there, but it’s an example of a nootropic supplement that increases acetylcholine levels in the brain.
The key to finding an effective lucid dream stack is to look for a safe nootropic with clinical research to back it up. Here are a few more key ingredients to watch out for when looking for supplements that promote dream vividness:
As a calming amino acid that’s naturally found in green tea, L-theanine is a popular nootropic thanks to its many benefits. It boosts calming brain chemicals including GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid), dopamine, and serotonin. Due to its ability to promote mental alertness and calmness, and facilitate sleep, L-theanine can aid in inducing lucid dreaming. [*]
When you think about supercharging your dreams, vitamins may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, research seems to suggest that B vitamins, in particular vitamin B6, can help. In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study, participants who took 240mg of vitamin B6 before bed saw great improvements in their dream recall. [*]
As an essential nutrient, Citicoline is involved in many physiological processes such as communication between and within our cells. It’s also needed for the structural integrity of cell membranes. It has many health benefits for the brain, but the most important one for dreams is that Choline supports working memory by boosting memory formation and retrieval. [*]
Keep in mind that nootropics can only give your brain the neurochemicals needed to promote lucidity. However, they can’t cause you to have lucid dreams!
Lucid dreaming can positively affect our well-being, especially if we’re constantly suffering from nightmares. However, there are some disadvantages of lucid dreaming, for example, possible disruptions in our sleep cycle.
We’ve described many different options to induce lucid dreaming, including nootropics. Research shows that nootropics supporting acetylcholine activity can have a role in lucid dreaming.
Click below for the best nootropic stack that increases acetylcholine levels in the brain.