ThesisPDF Available

Lucid dreaming: A Wake-Initiated-Lucid-Dream (WILD) approach

  • Organization for Lucid Dream Studies


An easy and reliable method of inducing dream lucidity remains elusive. A WILD (Wake-Initiated-Lucid-Dream) is more dependable than its alternative, DILD (Dream-Initiated-Lucid-Dream), because there is no loss of conscious awareness during the transition into dreaming. For this reason, the WILD was targeted as the main mode of induction for this case study of two weeks with the sole participant being the primary researcher. Six known techniques were mixed in an attempt to create synergistic results of lucid dreaming, three of which received high marks in a recent systematic review (Stumbrys et al., 2012). Dream lucidity was monitored using the LuCiD scale survey, dream journal entries, and verification of the phenomenon by an independent judge. Statistical analyses were used to calculate findings. Results show the feasibility and applicability of such a combination of techniques at inducing lucid dreams.
A project presented to
the Faculty of Saybrook University
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts (M.A.) in Psychology
Elliott Everett Gish
San Francisco, California
May 2014
[Type text] [Type text] [Type text]
© 2014 by Elliott Everett Gish
Approval of the Thesis
This thesis by Elliott Gish has been
approved by the committee members below, who recommend it be accepted by the
faculty of Saybrook University in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts in Psychology
Thesis Committee:
__________________________________ ___________________
Ian Wickaramasekera II, Psy.D., Chair Date
________________________________ ____________________
Jacquie Lewis, Ph.D., Member Date
Elliott Everett Gish
Saybrook University
An easy and reliable method of inducing dream lucidity remains elusive. A WILD
(Wake-Initiated-Lucid-Dream) is more dependable than its alternative, DILD (Dream-
Initiated-Lucid-Dream), because there is no loss of conscious awareness during the
transition into dreaming. For this reason, the WILD was targeted as the main mode of
induction for this case study of two weeks with the sole participant being the primary
researcher. Six known techniques were mixed in an attempt to create synergistic results of
lucid dreaming, three of which received high marks in a recent systematic review
(Stumbrys et al., 2012). Dream lucidity was monitored using the LuCiD scale survey,
dream journal entries, and verification of the phenomenon by an independent judge.
Statistical analyses were used to calculate findings. Results show the feasibility and
applicability of such a combination of techniques at inducing lucid dreams.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to everyone that has
provided assistance in making this project a reality: the chair of my committee, Ian
Wickaramasekera II, who was patient and flexible throughout the entire process, the
member of my committee, Jacquie Lewis, who offered acute insights into improving it as
a whole, as well as my family and friends for their constant support that allows me to
continue my academic journey. Additionally, all the staff/faculty at Saybrook University
and researchers whom I have had the pleasure of learning from, this would not have been
possible without you.
Table of Contents
List of
List of
The Problem.........................................................................................................................2
The Proposed Solution.........................................................................................................3
Lucid Dreaming Techniques................................................................................................6
Tholey’s Combined Techniques...............................................................................6
Autosuggestion and Posthypnotic Suggestion.............................................8
Mindfulness Meditation.........................................................................................12
Sleeping-Lion Posture............................................................................................14
Hypnagogic Transition...........................................................................................15
Dream Recall.........................................................................................................19
Prior Experience.....................................................................................................20
Attitude Toward Dreams........................................................................................22
Individual Differences...........................................................................................25
Measurement Instruments..................................................................................................26
Dream Journal........................................................................................................27
Independent Judge.................................................................................................27
LuCiD scale survey................................................................................................28
Future Directions...............................................................................................................42
A. LuCiD scale survey..........................................................................................53
B. Personal Lucid Dream Data.............................................................................54
List of Tables
1. ANOVA of LuCiD subscales comparing lucid to non-lucid dream reports...........33
List of Figures
1. Lucid dreaming history of participant....................................................................21
2. Mean scores for non-lucid and lucid dreams.........................................................34
Comparison of personal two-week trials using different induction techniques 38
Lucid dreaming is dreaming with the additional awareness that a dream is
occurring while it is happening (LaBerge, 1980a). This dream awareness is typically
accompanied by opportunities to influence the content; however, volitional control is not
a requirement for lucid dreaming. Over the years, there have been several discussions
about the definition of lucid dreaming with some arguing that a simple awareness of
dreaming is not sufficient for lucidity (Tart, 1984). Others point out the fact that dream
lucidity falls along a continuum, thus making it hard to say when it begins, when it ends,
and to what degree it has manifested (Barrett, 1992; Moss, 1986). For the purposes of this
project, the minimal definition of awareness of dreaming will be used as it is the accepted
standard used by most researchers in the field at this point in time.
Dream-Initiated-Lucid-Dream (DILD) is how the majority of lucid dreams are
induced. For a DILD to occur, one must first begin dreaming in a non-lucid manner and
then lucidity is gained later upon recognition of the dream state. This realization can
happen for a number of reasons but the important part is that the dreamer falls asleep
unaware of the dreaming state and, after some enlightening event, attains dream lucidity.
The Wake-Initiated-Lucid-Dream (WILD) is different in the respect that there is no loss
of conscious awareness at any point in time. Throughout the entire transitional process
from waking to dreaming, the dreamer remains aware of what is happening and knows
that a dream is taking place from the very beginning. Most individuals find WILDs more
of a challenge to achieve, but due to the retention of one’s mental faculties, they are much
more dependable in nature than DILDs (LaBerge & Rheingold, 1990).
The Problem
Lucid dreaming is a phenomenon with several different applications (Schädlich &
Erlacher, 2012). Its many potential benefits reach into the areas of consciousness studies
(Hobson, 2009), cognitive studies (Kahan & LaBerge, 1994), skill acquisition (Erlacher
& Schredl, 2010), creative problem-solving (Stumbrys & Daniels, 2010), physical health
recovery (Kellogg III, 1999), and nightmare treatment (Spoormaker & van den Bout,
2006). Despite the promising prospects, research into these matters remains at a slow
pace due to the difficulty of inducing dream lucidity easily on a reliable basis.
Dream lucidity is relatively rare amongst those who do not try to actively seek it
with less than 20% of the population experiencing it once a month or more (Erlacher,
Stumbrys, & Schredl, 2011; Erlacher, Schredl, Watanabe, Yamana, & Gantzert, 2008;
Fingerlin, 2013; Mota-Rolim et al., 2013). When lucid dreaming arises spontaneously, it
is usually happens for one of three reasons: bizarre elements within the dreamscape, fear
stemming from nightmares, or simply knowing it is a dream (Gackenbach, 2010).
It is nearly impossible to study a phenomenon that only occurs randomly for a few
minutes each month to a select number of people under a handful of conditions. And, that
is why numerous techniques have been invented in attempts to boost dream lucidity
through a variety of means. Unfortunately, an induction technique has still not been found
that is both easily applicable and able to produce reliable results (Stumbrys, Erlacher,
Schädlich, & Schredl, 2012). This is a serious problem for the scientific field of lucid
dreaming because it is hindering further investigation into the phenomenon’s
potentialities, especially for studies needing large sample sizes.
The Proposed Solution
Reliability of induction could be increased if the focus switched from encouraging
DILDs to targeting WILDs. As said before, WILDs are more dependable because
dreamers do not need to lose conscious awareness to attain dream lucidity like they do
with DILDs. According to a study done by LaBerge, Nagel, Dement, and Zarcone, more
than 80% of lucid dreams are DILDs (1981). For the lucid dream researcher, this is not
great news because this means that almost all of one’s time is spent on hoping for a
random occurrence of the phenomenon under examination. One possible explanation for
this high amount of DILDs is that most of the induction techniques devised to date are
aimed at manifesting a DILD and not a WILD (Stumbrys et al., 2012).
Another possible explanation is the level of difficulty involved in generating a
WILD. Generally, a WILD takes a great deal of mental effort to induce so the chances of
one happening randomly are minimal. It does happen randomly on occasion, although it
is usually in advanced practitioners of the ability (LaBerge & Degarcia, 2000). So this
gain in reliability with WILDs comes with a cost in applicability since many people find
them harder to achieve. If someone were to discover a WILD induction technique that is
easily applicable to most of the population, then the field of lucid dreaming would surely
open up dramatically.
No longer is there a debate on whether lucid dreaming is a skill that can be
learned (LaBerge, 1980b). Now, the discussion has shifted into what techniques are best
for training this ability, but everyone is different, and lucid dreaming is no exception to
this rule, as pointed out by Synder and Gackenbach (1988). For example, DeGarcia, “has
114 recorded lucid dreams of which 43% were WILDs and 56% were DILDs. In contrast,
only 8% of LaBerge’s and Degarcia’s (2000) dissertation sample of 388 recorded lucid
dreams were WILDs, a significantly lower proportion” (p. 283). These numbers illustrate
the profound impact that different styles and induction techniques can have on one’s lucid
dreaming, solidifying the notion that WILDs can be learned just like DILDs.
That is the reason behind this proposed intervention: to test a WILD induction
idea on a small scale and determine whether or not it is worthy of further exploration. In
the past, studies using multiple induction techniques produced a combined effect on
dream lucidity that was greater than the sum of their separate effects (Levitan, 1991;
Levitan & LaBerge, 1994). This project expands on that principle by mixing together
more techniques than any other study has done previously. The expectation is that this
combination will improve induction efficacy considerably by working in a synergistic
manner to create more lucid dreaming. Three of the six induction techniques in this
project were given the highest marks in a recent systematic review (Stumbrys et al.,
2012) and others were chosen because of their contribution to emphasizing WILDs.
An exploratory, single-case study design was used for this project since the
intervention is in the beginning stage of investigation. This style was also chosen because
the project meets all three suggested circumstances for a case study design (Yin, 2014):
the main research question falls under the how category, the researcher has little control
over the behavioral events, and the phenomenon being studied is not historical but
contemporary. Participant-observation was elected as the source of evidence due to the
highly subjective nature of the topic and this style would allow for coverage of the
phenomenon immediately after it happens. For the topic of dreaming, real-time coverage
is critical to research because dream memory has shown to fade quickly after awakening
(Horton, 2011; Rosen, 2013). By using participant-observation, this project also provides
insight into the context, which is accounted for in this case by monitoring many other
personal variables that might possibly influence the outcome of lucid dreaming (Yin,
The independent variable of this project was the proposed intervention that blends
together four to six different lucid dream induction techniques, depending on how one
defines them. The dependent variable that was measured was the amount of lucidity that
occurred while dreaming during the 2-week time period. There were also several
confounding variables that were monitored throughout the project that showed to affect
either dreaming in general or lucid dreaming specifically. These included: sleep schedule
(Levitan, 1990a), amount of time spent playing video games (Gackenbach, 2006;
Gackenbach, 2009), as well as any ingestion of mind-altering substances such as
prescriptions, vitamins, and supplements (Yuschak, 2006; LaBerge, 2004).
If the results showed no difference in the amount of lucid dreaming during the 2-
week timeframe of utilizing the intervention, then the null hypothesis would be
confirmed. The alternative hypothesis was that an increase in dream lucidity would take
place during the intervention period, as compared to previous experience. A combination
of dream journaling, an independent judge, and an instrument known as the LuCiD scale
was be used to determine whether there was an increase in lucid dreaming or not. A series
of descriptive statistical analyses was used on the LuCiD scale including ANOVAs and a
MANOVA. A one-way, between-groups ANOVA was used on each subscale of the
LuCiD scale survey to compare the non-lucid dreams to the lucid dreams. These numbers
were compared to previous LuCiD scale research to decipher the similarities and
differences. This plan was to either confirm or deny the validity of the dream lucidity
experienced, and the opinion of the independent judge added to this decision.
Theoretical and practical implications of this project included establishing an
improved technique for the induction of lucid dreaming, specifically for WILDs. If
validated, this technique could theoretically be used in future research to study the
phenomenon in a more reliable manner. Although, a more practical outcome would result
by the mere adding of knowledge into the scientific database of lucid dreaming induction
Lucid Dreaming Techniques
Tholey’s combined techniques. Tholey’s (1983) combined technique blends
together elements of reflection, intention, and autosuggestion but, like most other
induction techniques, has received little empirical validation. It has only been scrutinized
by the scientific eye in a couple of studies, although the outcomes of these show
encouraging results for the aspiring lucid dreamer (Paulsson & Parker, 2006; Zadra,
Donderi, & Pihl, 1992). One of the studies found that by utilizing this technique over the
course of 6 weeks, lucid dreamers with a wide range of experience were able to increase
their dream lucidity up to a level that was statistically significant when compared to
controls that did not use the technique (Zadra, Donderi, & Pihl, 1992). This effect was
also shown to be significantly stronger for those who had prior lucid dreaming experience
when compared to those who had no prior experience with the phenomenon. Paulsson
and Parker (2006) expanded on this study by shortening the intervention time to 2 weeks
and still found a significant increase in lucid dreaming within their group of 20
participants, some of whom had never experienced a lucid dream before. Also, 4 of the
experienced participants reported a high degree of lucidity during the intervention.
This technique that Tholey (1983) began decades ago has evolved over time into a
combination of reflection, intention, and autosuggestion. All of these strategies have
shown to be mildly effective when used separately, but much more powerful when
combined together (Stumbrys et al., 2012). The Mneumonic-Induction-of-Lucid-Dream
(MILD) technique, developed by LaBerge (as cited in LaBerge & Rheingold, 1990),
combines all three of these elements as well but in a slightly different manner, and it has
been one of the most successful induction techniques that has also been tested a multitude
of times (Levitan, 1989; Levitan & LaBerge, 1994; LaBerge 1980a; LaBerge, 1988;
LaBerge & Levitan, 1995; LaBerge, Phillips, & Levitan, 1994). In order to elucidate the
contribution of each one of these elements to the technique, they will be covered here
individually in a concise manner.
Reflection. In a systematic review of induction techniques, reflection by itself was
given the highest grade of green on a scale of red to yellow to green (Stumbrys et al.,
2012). It involves developing a contemplative frame of mind about one’s perceptions and,
when trying to induce lucid dreaming, this reflection is best exercised through the
technique of reality checks. This involves frequently asking oneself throughout the day
whether one is in a dream or not and searching for possible evidence that the answer is
yes (Tholey, 1983). Reality-checks have shown to be an effective induction technique on
their own and they have been researched more extensively than most other induction
techniques (Stumbrys et al., 2012). Physiologically, it makes sense that reality-checking
would assist in dreaming lucidly because this kind of mental activity is associated with
self-reflective awareness, and the part of the brain linked with this capability has shown
to activate during lucid dreaming (Dresler et al., 2012).
Intention. A grade of green was also given to intention as a technique used to
induce lucid dreams by itself (Stumbrys et al., 2012), although it appears to be less
effective than reflection (Schlag-Gies, 1992). The intention part of Tholey’s (date)
combined technique consists of envisioning that one is dreaming even if awake. During
this time, one visualizes recognizing the dream and following through with the intended
actions for the lucid dream. This should be done occasionally throughout the day and
much more before falling asleep at night (Tholey, 1983). In the morning, one should also
set the intention to recognize certain instances throughout the day as opportunities to
become more aware of experiences such as a feeling of bizarreness or experiencing a
powerful emotion. This practice exercises the prospective memory, which is used to
remember future intentions (LaBerge & Rheingold, 1990).
Autosuggestion and posthypnotic suggestion. By itself, autosuggestion was only
given a yellow in the systematic review of induction techniques (Stumbrys et al., 2012),
but others found that it produced similar effects on intention (Schlag-Gies, 1992). In
regards to the phenomenon of lucid dreaming, autosuggestion is the act of simply telling
oneself to dream lucidly. For best results, it should be used within a relaxed state such as
when falling asleep. An important part of this technique is refraining from any effort of
will while suggesting to oneself that the next dream will contain lucidity (Tholey, 1983).
It worked better for the frequent lucid dreamers of one study, but the effects were still not
shown to be significant even for this group (Levitan, 1989). There are a couple of
individuals who have had remarkable success with this technique, averaging around five
lucid dreams a month with it (Garfield, 1979; LaBerge, 1980a), but these particular
persons were also highly motivated and, thus, not the average dreamer. Alone,
autosuggestion is not a great induction technique, but when combined with reflection and
intention it makes a powerful tool for inducing dream lucidity.
Posthypnotic type of suggestion is essentially autosuggestion within a hypnotized
or relaxed state (Dane, 1984). Someone else can give the suggestion to a hypnotized
person or people can use it on themselves while in a deep state of relaxation. Doing this
in such a relaxed state tends to increase the power of the suggestion, resulting in stronger
effects (LaBerge & Rheingold, 1990). Tart (1988) noted that a, “very high degree of
control is possible with posthypnotic suggestion” (p. 99), which is an ideal characteristic
of an induction technique for the aspiring lucid dreamer. It was given a yellow in the
systematic review of induction techniques (Stumbrys et al, 2012), but this is to be
expected since autosuggestion was given the same grade. Posthypnotic suggestion is
essentially covered under the autosuggestion part of Tholey’s combined technique in
which one of the steps is to tell oneself that the next dream will be lucid while falling
asleep (Tholey, 1983). Since it is happening during the stages of deep relaxation right
before sleep, this would qualify as posthypnotic suggestion, or hypnagogic affirmation
depending on the source (Morley, 2013).
Reality-testing. Reality-testing is the reflection facet of Tholey’s (1983)
combined technique put into action, so it could be counted as a separate technique or as
part of a whole depending on how one wants to divide them. Usually it is paired with
another technique such as external stimulation, but it has been tested by itself multiple
times and results showed an increase in dream lucidity (Dane, 1984; Levitan, 1989;
Levitan & LaBerge, 1994; Purcell, 1988; Purcell, Mullington, Moffitt, Hoffmann, &
Pigeau, 1986; Schlag-Gies, 1992). None of these increases were drastic and one study
even found no effect when it was used (LaBerge, 1988), but overall it does seem to be
better than many other induction techniques (Stumbrys et al., 2012). In order to get
results, most recommend using it at least 5-10 times a day, with more always being better
(Levitan & LaBerge, 1994; Tholey, 1983). It might take several days or weeks before
fully experiencing its effects (LaBerge & Rheingold, 1990), but this lag is probably
because creating a new mental habit and way of viewing reality can take a while before it
starts to feel natural.
Wake-back-to-bed. Most names of lucid dreaming induction techniques are self-
explanatory and the Wake-Back-To-Bed (WBTB) follows this pattern. WBTB requires
the participant to awake after a period of sleep, stay awake for a while, and then fall back
asleep attempting to dream lucidly (LaBerge et al., 1994). It is suggested that the
participant wait until after getting 4-6 hours of sleep before trying this technique, and the
reasoning behind this is twofold. One is so the participant is not tired since lucid
dreaming takes a level of mental effort difficult to achieve when fatigued. The another
reason is for timing purposes because most of the restorative deep sleep happens in the
beginning of the night and most of the Rapid-Eye-Movement (REM) sleep happens
afterwards in the early morning. REM sleep is ideal for those looking to dream lucidly
because it has shown to be the stage when a majority of lucid dreams take place
(Holzinger, LaBerge, & Levitan, 2006).
After awakening, participants are told to remain awake while engaging in quiet,
non-intensive activities for a certain amount of time (LaBerge et al., 1994). Staying
awake allows the participant to become alert, reactivating parts of the brain that were
inactive during the previous sleep session and crucial for developing dream lucidity in the
next session. The prefrontal cortex, for example, remains relatively inactive during deep
sleep but has high amounts of activation when dreaming lucidly (Dresler et al., 2012).
Theoretically, this reactivation from awakening carries over into the next sleep session
and increases the probability of experiencing a lucid dream. Timing of this arousal is
critical though as too much produces insomnia and too little leads to falling asleep
unconsciously again.
A series of tests were conducted in order to decipher the precise timing that
should be used for this technique (Edelstein & LaBerge, 1992; LaBerge et al., 1994;
Levitan, 1990a; Levitan, 1990b; Levitan, 1991; Levitan, LaBerge, & Dole, 1992). When
comparing morning naps to afternoon naps, the morning naps contained more lucidity per
dream but both groups showed an increase in lucid dreaming over the night sleeping
(Levitan, 1990a). In another study, none of the participants had lucid dreams while taking
an afternoon nap but almost all of them experienced dream lucidity during their morning
naps (Levitan et al., 1992). The average time spent asleep in these naps was roughly 1
hour while the nap length for the other study was 2 hours (Levitan, 1990a). A third study
used a nap length of 90 minutes at three different times of the morning: after waking
early to stay awake for a while, waking early then immediately napping, and after waking
naturally. Lucid dreaming was experienced the most in the first condition of waking up
early, staying awake for a while, and then taking the 90 minute nap, occurring in 2/3 of
the participants (Levitan, 1991).
Precision of this technique was honed through testing what length of time would
be best to stay awake before taking a nap (Edelstein & LaBerge, 1992; LaBerge et al.,
1994). Unfortunately, ambiguity of instruction led to confounding outcomes for one of
the studies that compared wakeful periods of 10 minutes versus 90 minutes (Edelstein &
LaBerge, 1992). The other did a comparison of three varying wakeful periods: 10
minutes, 30 minutes, and 60 minutes. Longer periods of wakefulness correlated with
many more lucid dreams than the short period, nearly quadrupling the amount of lucid
dreaming found in the 10 minute period (LaBerge et al., 1994). Sixty minutes of being
awake resulted in slightly more dream lucidity than 30 minutes, so that is what was used
for this project. Using the WBTB technique improves the odds of inducing WILDs
because they are more likely to occur in naps regardless of whether they are in the
morning or afternoon and, since this project is focused on WILDs, the WBTB technique
was chosen specifically for its unique capabilities at inducing this type of lucid dream.
Mindfulness meditation. Meditation and lucid dreaming seem to share many
psychological and physiological characteristics (Alexander, 1987; Gackenbach, 1990),
and some have even argued that lucid dreaming is a kind of meditational state itself
(Gackenbach & Hunt, 1992). Meditation has shown to be positively correlated with lucid
dreaming (Gackenbach, Cranson, & Alexander, 1986). One study found that lucid
dreaming occurred more often in meditators than in non-meditators with long-term
practitioners experiencing the most (Mason et al., 1997). This outcome is not the
intention of meditators; however, meditating enhances one’s ability to dream lucidly
because it builds the mental habits necessary for experiencing that particular state of
mind. One of these mental habits, which is key to lucid dreaming, is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is described as having two main components: self-regulation of
attention on immediate experience and an attitude of openness (Bishop et al., 2004).
Morley (2013) explained it more simply by saying that mindfulness is, “knowing what is
happening, while it is happening, without preference” (p. 89). His reasoning behind its
efficacy as an induction technique stems from the continuity hypothesis of dreaming
(Hobson & Schredl, 2011). The thought is that mindful awareness during the day turns
into mindful awareness at night, thus, inducing dream lucidity. He also claimed that
mindfulness meditation is the original lucid dream induction technique and, although this
is surely not the case, it likely precedes almost all methods that have been concocted to
date. Hunt (1989) shed light on this connection by explaining that lucid dreaming,
“entails the same tenuous balance between our ordinary attitude of active participation…
and that attitude of detached receptivity that characterizes the goal of long-term
meditation practice” (p. 120).
In those studies that have shown connections between meditation and lucid
dreaming, the protocol for meditation has been through to be a program referred to as
Transcendental Meditation (Gackenbach et al., 1986; Mason et al., 1997). However, due
to time constraints and financial restrictions, this precise program was not used for the
project at hand. Instead, a practice of mindfulness meditation was exercised.
Transcendental Meditation and mindfulness meditation appear to be comparable on a
phenomenological level since the former, “allows your mind to effortlessly settle inward,
through quieter levels of thought, until you transcend the thinking process and experience
the most silent and peaceful level of your own awareness” (Maharishi Foundation, 2014),
while the latter is said to be an, “ideal meditation practice for lucid dreaming [by] settling
the mind in its natural state…you do not alter or control any of the mental phenomena
that appear to you…you simply pay attention to everything that arises without grasping”
(Wallace, 2012, p. 63).
One of the only major differences between these two types of meditation is the
use of a mantra in the Transcendental method. Shinzen (Young ,1998) commented on this
when he said, “mindfulness meditation in essence turns each ordinary experience into a
mantra” (Mantra practice vs. mindfulness, paragraph 5). The overall likeness of these
meditation techniques means that using mindfulness meditation in this scenario should
produce results of dream lucidity akin to those found with Transcendental Meditation. A
recent study supports this theory by showing that meditation is correlated with lucid
dreaming, regardless of the method (Sparrow, Thurston, & Carlson, 2013). According to
Gackenbach (2010), meditation significantly surpasses other lucid dream induction
techniques, though dream lucidity is merely a by-product of the practice and not the goal.
Sleeping-lion posture. A series of sleeping postures have been used by the
Tibetan Buddhists for centuries as a way to assist the induction of lucid dreaming (Katz,
2011; Rinpoche, 2002; Dalai Lama XIV, 1997), however, this project only focused on one
of them. It is one of the main positions referred to as the sleeping-lion posture, and it
consists of lying on one’s side with the head facing north (Norbu, 2002). Males are to
sleep on their right side and females on their left due to the reversal of position in solar
and lunar channels between sexes. Legs are together with a slight bend at the knee, and
one hand is under the pillow while the other rests on top of the legs (Wangyal, 1998).
Some say to close both nostrils (Evans-Wentz, 1958) while others say to close only the
right nostril (Norbu), and still others claim that the nostril of closure depends on the sex
(Wangyal, 1998). As seen, the details of this posture technique remain disputed (LaBerge,
2003), and unfortunately science has yet to settle any of these arguments through
Science, at this point in time, cannot provide any definite answers about the
efficacy of this sleeping-lion posture technique at inducing dream lucidity because there
has only been one study to date that has investigated it. In 1991, LaBerge and Levitan
published findings from a pilot study they conducted exploring this precise topic. They
found that lucid dreaming was 3 times more likely to occur to those sleeping on their
right side as opposed to their left. Additionally, this result was not specific to sex so
females experienced more dream lucidity while on their right side, too, not just males as
the texts have said. Another result of the pilot study sheds some light on the issue of nasal
laterality. Women were 3 times more likely to experience dream lucidity when they
dilated their left nostril and not their right, but this finding did not hold up for males.
These small numbers demonstrate the weak potency of this technique, but they are
encouraging as they make a step in the direction towards dream lucidity (LaBerge &
Levitan, 1991).
Hypnagogic transition. Hypnagogia are the hallucinations commonly
experienced when transitioning from the waking state into dreaming, and they can be
visual, auditory, or even somatic (Laberge & DeGarcia, 2000). To date, concentrating on
hypnagogia as a lucid dream induction technique has not been tested empirically, but it
has received good reviews anecdotally (LaBerge & Rheingold, 1990; Tholey, 1983). The
authors of a recent systematic review of induction techniques even mentioned that it
warrants further investigation because of its ability to produce WILDs (Stumbrys et al.,
2012), which is the main reason that is was added to the repertoire of techniques of this
Compared to other induction techniques, hypnagogia has received little attention
with only a couple authors describing their process of utilizing hypnagogic hallucinations
to initiate dream lucidity. Of these authors, LaBerge and Rheingold (1990), Tholey
(1983), and Morley (2013) have made some of the most excellent contributions to this
subject matter. After reviewing what each one had to say, a pattern emerged that follows
the same relative steps of relaxing, observing passively, and entering the dream lucidly.
Of the three authors, Tholey (1982; 1983; 1989) was the first to address this
technique of hypnagogic induction and has written the most extensively on the topic.
According to him, a critical component of this approach is holding the stance of a
detached observer. He expands on the rationale behind this saying that one should not
seek the scenery actively because this usually causes it to disappear. To remedy this, he
suggested that a passive stance be taken towards the dream and one will drift into it.
LaBerge and Rheingold (1990) echoed this emphasis on nonparticipation stating, “Do not
try to actively enter the dream scene, but instead continue to take a detached interest in
the imagery” (p. 99). Remaining passive all the way up to the point of dream entry and
further seems to be an important aspect of this technique.
A more recent publication by Morley (2013) elucidates the mechanism that makes
this technique generate lucid dreaming, asserting that, “the imagery is your mindfulness
support and is used to keep the thread of your awareness engaged while the rest of you
falls asleep” (p. 100). Rinpoche (2002), from the religion of Tibetan-Buddhism,
expounded on this metaphor saying hypnagogia, “are the cause of dreams, so if you
recognize them, like inserting a thread through the eye of a needle, you will continue to
dream” (p. 81). Other methods besides hypnagogic imagery have been used to entertain
the mind while the body falls asleep such as counting or breathing (Levitan, 1991), but
none have shown a high degree of success. During the transition, hypnagogic
hallucinations become progressively more intense and intertwined until a vivid scenario
evolves into a fully-formed dream. This gradual construction of hypnagogia is
acknowledged by each author with a unanimous agreement that an attitude of detached
observation should be engaged at this time (LaBerge & Rheingold, 1990; Morley, 2013;
Tholey, 1983). This mentality should persist until after a fully-developed dream is
apparent, an event that might be accompanied by feelings of kinesthetic movement
(Morley, 2013). Once the dreamer has faith in the stability of the surrounding
environment, he or she can start to exert influence over the dream content and proceed
with any intended actions.
The only participant in this project was myself, Elliott Gish, making it a case
study design. I made a good candidate for participation because I have little lucid
dreaming experience, which is an ideal characteristic for testing the efficacy of an
induction technique. Therefore, there is no need to discuss recruitment procedures since
none were utilized for this project.
Handedness. Handedness has been linked with dream recall (Schredl, Beaton,
Henley-Einion, & Blagrove, 2013) so it has been included here as an extra measure
because dream recall has shown to be correlated with frequency of dream lucidity
(Schredl & Erlacher, 2004a; Schredl & Erlacher, 2011). For the aspiring lucid dreamer,
dream recall is an ability that is imperative to succeeding and this makes sense because
people can have lucid dreams but not remember them if their dream memory skills are
poor. I am right-handed so, according to the cited study, this predisposes me to having
higher dream recall than a left-handed person and, thus, possibly more lucidity.
Gender. Some researchers such as Gackenbach (1981, 1990) have claimed a
gender difference in lucid dreaming, although there have been several large-scale studies
that have not found this to be true (Erlacher et al., 2008; Gruber, Steffen, & Vonderhaar,
1995; Schredl & Erlacher, 2004a; Stepansky et al., 1998). Differences have been found
favoring women, but only one has shown a significant difference (Schredl & Erlacher,
2011). Dream recall might be the factor affecting this difference since a recent meta-
analysis including over 40,000 participants did show that women remember their dreams
more often than men (Schredl & Reinhard, 2008). Being a male, I might have been at a
slight disadvantage for this project, but I do not see this as interfering with results much
because I have a high dream recall (Schredl & Erlacher, 2004b), which should negate the
gender difference found amongst lucid dreamers.
Age. Many studies have found no differences in age and frequency of lucid
dreaming (Doll, Gittler, & Holzinger, 2009; Erlacher et al., 2011; Mota-Rolim et al.,
2013). However, there are also many others who have found it to be negatively correlated
with age (Blackmore, 1984; Schredl & Erlacher, 2004a,; Schredl & Erlacher, 2011;
Watson, 2001). This variance might be accounted for, in part, by dream recall, as several
studies have found as people age there is an inverse relationship with dream recall
(Schredl, 2008; Stepansky et al., 1998), including the previously mentioned meta-analysis
with over 40,000 participants (Schredl & Reinhard, 2008). Although, this issue of dream
recall and age is controversial because others have found no relationship between the two
(Schredl & Piel, 2003; Voss, Frenzel, Koppehele-Gossel, & Hobson, 2012), this surely
could not fully explain a possible age effect on lucid dream frequency.
Inconsistencies in this area of lucid dreaming could be prompted by other factors
that have shown to greatly influence dreaming such as culture (Laughlin, 2011) or one’s
attitude towards dreams (Schredl, Ciric, Götz, & Wittmann, 2003), both of which will be
discussed later. Overall, age does not appear to be extremely influential in the sphere of
lucid dreaming, but I will still make my personal information on this matter available for
the project: I am 24 years old, meaning that lucid dreaming might be easier for me than
older populations.
Dream recall. A number of studies have found a significant correlation between
dream recall frequency and lucid dreaming frequency (Doll et al., 2009; Erlacher et al.,
2008; Erlacher & Schredl, 2011; Schredl & Erlacher, 2004a; Voss et al., 2012). Dream
recall has shown to have one of the strongest relationships to lucid dreaming to date,
standing the test of replication repeatedly. These findings are not surprising since a lucid
dream is simply a dream accompanied by some insight and awareness, so their
frequencies are likely to be related.
There are many other variables that interact with dream recall, as well, like age
(Stepansky et al., 1998), gender (Schredl & Piel, 2003), setting (Schredl, 2008), attitude
towards dreams (Schredl & Doll, 2001), and openness to experience (Watson, 2003). The
ability to recall dreams appears quite variable, even within the same individual (Conesa
2002), and, thus, should be measured when experimenting with lucid dreaming in order
to determine its contribution to the findings. To know of such a robust relationship in the
field and still not track it during an investigation would be unprofessional; therefore, I
kept track of all my dreams that I remembered during this project by writing them down
in order to keep count of my recall.
Prior experience. According to Paulsson and Parker (2006), Tholey’s (1983)
combined technique produced better results for those who had previous experience with
lucid dreaming. They had more lucid dreams in addition to higher degrees of lucidity
throughout the intervention. However, anyone who has had at least one lucid dream
qualified as an experienced lucid dreamer, which depending on the survey, includes
anywhere from 26-100% of the population (Erlacher et al., 2008): therefore, experienced
is somewhat of a misnomer. Unfortunately, there have not been any other studies to my
knowledge that measure the effect of prior lucid dreaming experience on the efficacy of
induction techniques; for this reason, more research in this particular area is needed.
The old saying “practice makes perfect” would certainly seem to apply in this
case since there are several anecdotal reports of this kind of learning curve happening
amongst those who have experienced hundreds of lucid dreams (Garfield, 1979; LaBerge,
1980a; LaBerge & DeGracia, 2000; Waggoner, 2009). Personally, I am in a unique
position because I have written down every lucid dream I remember having in my life,
which has consisted of the last 40 months and 39 lucid dreams, averaging out to nearly
one a month (Appendix B). My definition for a lucid dream during this time was the
same one used for this project, too, although I am unsure of whether the amount I have
experienced defines me as experienced or not. The spikes seen in January and February
of 2014 in Figure 1 are very likely due to month-long tests of induction techniques, which
included supplements and sleeping positions.
Fig. 1. Lucid dreaming history of participant
Culture. Tart (1988) spoke on this subject articulately when he said, “the
experimenters and the subjects have been acculturated within a specific culture to share a
relatively common set of views, including attitudes about the importance of dreams, their
nature, and the degree to which they can be deliberately controlled” (p. 71). Due to these
cultural variations, some people experience lucid dreams more frequently than others.
Studies measuring the average rates of lucid dreaming in countries around the world
demonstrate the substantial contribution of culture to the phenomenon. In Switzerland, it
is reported that 26% of the population have a lucid dream at least once a month
(Fingerlin, 2013) while, in Japan, only 8.4% of the population experiences it at this rate
(Erlacher et al., 2008). The Swiss population seems to experience about 3 times as much
lucid dreaming as the Japanese population, providing evidence for the impact of culture
on dream lucidity. Brazil appears to have even more lucid dreaming than Switzerland
with a reported 12.2% of population experiencing it at a rate of at least once a week, as
opposed to once a month (Mota-Rolim et al., 2013).
Laughlin (2011) recognized this discrepancy of cultural dream lucidity in his
extensive dreaming anthropology, saying, “culture has an enormous influence on lucidity
and how lucidity is used by the dreamer” (p.161). Culture has a great impact over how
often people will experience lucid dreaming, but the reason behind this remains
unknown. One educated guess to explain this connection is through the mediation of
dream recall. Culture affects one’s attitude towards dreams, and, not-surprisingly, one’s
attitude towards dreams is correlated with one’s ability to recall them (Schredl, Ciric,
Götz, & Wittmann, 2003). Dream recall, in turn, impacts rates of lucid dreaming through
the aptitude of memory. To gauge my cultural perspective for this project, I have included
my personal information on the matter. I was born and raised in the United States of
America, in a household that put little value on dreams so they were rarely discussed. I
currently reside in the state of Colorado.
Attitude toward dreams. There are only a couple traits that have shown to
reliably alter people’s dream recall, and one of them is their attitudes toward dreams
(Cernovsky, 1984; Rochlen, Ligiero, Hill, & Heaton, 1999; Schredl, Ciric, Götz, &
Wittmann, 2003; Schredl & Doll, 2001; Schredl, Nuernberg, & Weiler, 1996). In a meta-
analysis, other factors effecting dream recall, such as absorption and thin boundaries,
were attributed to secondary causes like measurement, but the effect of one’s attitude
toward dreams was consistent in influencing one’s ability to recall dreams (Beaulieu-
Prevost & Zadra, 2007). This relationship appears to remain even when it is studied
anthropologically as Laughlin (2011) commented on multiple societies that that will not
tolerate a member of the community forgetting his or her dreams: they will either kick the
person out or consider the person a mental and emotional cripple. It is probably safe to
assume that everyone in this kind of dreaming culture remembers his or her dreams on a
regular basis. Having this type of attitude toward dreams would encourage this behavior
due to the stigma of its alternative.
LaBerge (in LaBerge & Rheingold, 1990) touched on this issue of attitude and its
effect on lucid dreaming by emphasizing adequate motivation as one of the three basic
requirements for experiencing dream lucidity on a habitual basis. Without taking any
surveys, I know that I fall on the positive end of the spectrum regarding attitude toward
dreams because I think dreams hold incredible potential to change lives. I believe a lot
can be learned from them and more time should be spent investigating them, individually
as well as scientifically. This positive attitude toward dreams of mine should be noted as
a possible influence on my dream recall and, in turn, my lucid dream recall. However, the
effect is more than likely minimal (Schredl, Brenner, & Faul, 2002).
Personality. Personality traits that are directly associated with lucid dreaming
remain debatable. Although several studies have investigated the subject, their mixed
results make for vague conclusions. Field independence, for example, has shown to be
correlated with rates of lucid dreaming (Patrick & Durndell, 2004), but has also shown to
not be correlated with it either (Blagrove & Tucker, 1994). This incongruity has happened
with the dimension of creativity as well, showing both a significant correlation with lucid
dreaming (Blagrove & Hartnell, 2000) as well as no difference at all (Blagrove & Tucker,
1994). Two aspects of personality that show the most stable connection to lucid dreaming
are a need for cognition and an internal locus of control. A need for cognition was
correlated with high amounts of lucid dreaming in two different studies (Patrick &
Durndell, 2004; Blagrove & Hartnell, 2000), but the samples for both of these were fairly
small at 22 and 24 participants, respectively. These studies, along with a study mentioned
earlier (Blagrove & Tucker, 1994), also showed a significant difference in locus of
control with lucid dreamers being more internal.
Openness to experience is another characteristic of personality linked with lucid
dreaming (Schredl & Erlacher, 2004a), but it has also been correlated more generally
with dream recall on multiple occasions (Schredl, Ciric, Götz, & Wittmann, 2003;
Watson, 2003). Since dream recall frequency affects one’s frequency of lucid dreaming, it
might account for the relationship that dream lucidity has with openness to experience.
Overall, the correlation between certain personality traits and lucid dreaming frequency
seems rather small. Also, most of the connection they share can be explained through the
mediator of dream recall (Schredl & Erlacher, 2004a). As a result, personality was not
taken into consideration as a factor in this project.
Video-gaming. One hobby that has shown to be associated with lucid dreaming is
video-gaming. More broadly, interactive media use has shown a connection to
experiencing lucid dreams, and video-gaming is one of the most interactive forms of
media available (Gackenbach, 2010). It is thought that absorption is a key factor in this
connection, engaging players in a way that makes them feel truly involved in the virtual
reality of the game (Gackenbach, 2006). This outlet offers the participants an experience
with a virtual-reality, which can translate to improving their skills at navigating various
realities other than the waking state, such as lucid dreaming (Gackenbach, 2009).
Video games have shown such a strong link to lucid dreaming that one individual
went so far as to create a video game about it where the goals are related to inducing
lucid dreams (Penderson, 2013), although it has yet to be tested empirically. Since I play
video games on a regular basis and I am in the 87th percentile of the Tellegen Absorption
Scale (Tellegen & Atkinson, 1974), I kept track of the amount of time I spent playing
each day throughout this project to calculate its contribution.
Individual differences. Lucid dreaming can be defined in many ways because it
covers a wide range of dreaming phenomena. This breadth of experience is so large that
lucid dreaming can be quite different depending on the individual and his or her talents. A
chapter written by LaBerge and DeGarcia (2000) is exemplary at illustrating this
principle by comparing the personal lucid dream records of the authors. One of the most
striking differences came from the way they induced their lucid dreams with DeGarcia
having WILDs for 43% of his 114 lucid dreams while LaBerge’s WILDs only made up
8% of his 388 lucid dreams (2000).
Prior experience with lucid dreaming is an important individual difference to take
into account because it typically makes them easier to induce (Zadra, Donderi, & Pihl,
1992) and last longer (LaBerge & DeGarcia, 2000). When people have their first lucid
dreams, the lucidity usually only lasts a few seconds before the dreamer is pulled back
into non-lucidity or wakes from excitement of the feeling (LaBerge & Rheingold, 1990).
“With experience, some lucid dreamers learn to maintain lucidity without any special
effort,” (LaBerge & DeGarcia, 2000, p. 303) like LaBerge, who gradually became better
at not losing lucidity during the three years of his doctoral dissertation. Throughout the
first year, 18% of the dreams lost their lucidity, but only 1% did during the second year,
and a mere 0.4% during the third year. However, this is not always the case as can be
seen by looking at DeGarcia’s increasing records of lost lucidity from 17% in year one to
21% in year two, and 40% in year three (2000).
It is not only the length and strength of lucidity that can be dissimilar among
individuals: there can also be differences in lucid dream content, as well. Overall,
LaBerge and DeGarcia (2000) explained that LaBerge had much more environmental
imagery than DeGarcia as evidenced by their percentages of lucid dreams containing only
a void: 32% for DeGarcia and 3% for LaBerge. Skills are another factor contributing to
the individual differences of lucid dreaming. Synder and Gackenbach (1988) suggested
that people who are better at spatial and vestibular activities are predisposed to
experience more lucid dreams than others who do not share these aptitudes. The bottom
line of this section is to demonstrate that whether or not the findings of this project show
success at inducing lucid dreaming, it should be kept in mind that the results could be the
product of individual experience and may not be generalizable.
Measurement Instruments
To measure dream lucidity, I used the newly-developed Lucidity and
Consciousness in Dreams (LuCiD) scale survey as it seems to be the most valid
instrument developed to date in regards to this phenomenon. I do have some qualms with
the wording on a few questions but, for the sake of standardization, the instrument was
used, as is, for this project. Dream journal entries were also read by an independent
judge, Dr. Ian Wickaramasekera II, to verify instances of the phenomenon in question.
Measuring dream lucidity with a combination of instruments such as the dream journal,
independent judge, and LuCiD scale survey, allowed for a more accurate outcome than if
only one was used on its own. Through data triangulation like this, construct validity of
the study was increased (Yin, 2014), which was needed for this particular project design
due to its lack of validity. Other factors shown to influence dream lucidity were recorded
such as the timing of sleep cycles, time spent playing video games, and ingestion of
brain-altering substances like caffeine. Additionally, the dream was rated as lucid or not
by myself in addition to distinguishing whether it felt like a DILD or a WILD.
Dream journal. Amongst the instruments that have been constructed to measure
dreaming, the old-fashioned dream journal still seems to be one of the best. Robert and
Zadra (2008) demonstrated that retrospective reports in dream research, such as monthly
estimate questionnaires, are far more inaccurate than their prospective counterparts that
measure the phenomenon on a more constant basis, such as dream journaling. This should
come as no surprise since dream memory fades quickly (Horton, 2011; Rosen, 2013) and
memory in general can be quite faulty at times (Storbeck & Clore, 2005). A study
comparing dream journaling to dream questionnaires revealed a clear distinction between
the two measures when it showed dream journals to be more accurate in several ways
(Schredl, 2002). As an instrument, dream questionnaires lack comparable validity to the
dream journal so if a study about dreams needs to improve this area, such as this project,
then the dream journal is the choice to make. One study that compared dream journaling
to another prospective measure, which was a checklist log, reported more accuracy for
dream journaling as well (Zadra & Robert, 2012).
Independent judge. Dreaming is extremely subjective by nature: as a result,
studying it in an objective manner can be a significant challenge. Being as objective as
possible is important to producing reliable, valid results, especially within the field of
lucid dreaming. Using independent judges can assist in this process of generating
impartial findings because they do not have any vested interest in obtaining certain
results; therefore, the chance of them biasing the data is minimal (Creswell, 2009). An
independent judge can be used as a way to validate participant reports, which, in this
case, would be instances of the phenomenon lucid dreaming and how it was induced. Due
to the case study design, this project needed as much validity as possible so it was
decided to add an independent judge who verified instances of the phenomenon in
Ignorance is another problem for this specific field of research that can be helped
with the use of an independent judge because not everyone knows exactly what a lucid
dream entails. As a consequence, people will claim to have lucid dreams when they really
do not. This lack of awareness can lead to drastically different results during studies since
the participants are confused, sometimes unknowingly, about what they are reporting.
Multiple researchers have brought up this issue of unfamiliarity (Bogzaran & Deslauriers,
2012; Hobson, Pace-Schott, & Stickgold, 2000; Schredl & Erlacher, 2003) suggesting
various solutions, including the use of nonbiased and knowledgeable persons for judging
the outcomes. For purposes of this project, Dr. Ian Wickaramasekera II was chosen to be
the independent judge because he has studied lucid dreaming both personally and
professionally; he is well-informed on the topic. Being well-educated granted him the
ability to distinguish various nuances of the experience, which was important for this
project, since it investigated certain types of lucid dreaming.
LuCiD scale survey. The Lucidity and Consciousness in Dreams scale (Appendix
A) contains 28 questions that measure various dimensions of lucidity and primary
consciousness during the dream state. These aspects are broken down into eight
categories: insight, control, thought, realism, memory, dissociation, negative emotion,
and positive emotion. Each question is a 6-point Likert scale ranging from “strongly
disagree” at zero to “strongly agree” at a 5 rating. Reliability of these subscales was good
overall, exceeding 0.75 (Cronbach’s alpha) on all but three: dissociation, negative
emotion, and memory. Insight, control, thought, and positive emotion are the subscales
that show the largest difference between lucid and non-lucid dreams so low that
reliability on those others is not much of a concern. Construct validity for this scale was
verified using both exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, meaning that it does
indeed measure lucid dreaming (Voss, Scheremelleh-Engel, Windt, Frenzel, & Hobson,
This LuCiD scale survey was chosen over other instruments measuring this
phenomenon, the Dream Lucidity Questionnaire (DLQ) and the Metacognitive, Affective,
and Cognitive Experience questionnaire (MACE). The DLQ was constructed to deal
more directly with lucid dreaming by measuring levels of one’s awareness, control, and
remembrance (Stumbrys, Erlacher, & Schredl, 2013) but it is only 10 questions long and
does not measure certain facets of the experience such as emotion, which is primarily
positive (Voss et al., 2013). The MACE was constructed to measure various
characteristics of cognition that could be compared across states of consciousness such as
sleeping, dreaming, and waking (Kahan, LaBerge, Levitan, Zimbardo, 1997). It was not
chosen for this project because the primary elements, namely metacognition, cognition,
and reflection, are also incorporated in the LuCiD scale survey. Additionally, control is
not measured with the MACE and, even though it is not in the strict definition of lucid
dreaming, it is regarded as a significant part of achieving high levels of dream lucidity
(Dresler et al., 2014; Prescott & Pettigrew, 1995; Voss et al., 2012). Since dream lucidity
is more of a continuum, as discussed before, measuring this extra component provided
more information about the degree of lucidity that was attained.
For a time period of 14 consecutive days, I actively participated in the techniques
mentioned above as a means of increasing my overall dream lucidity. A rough estimate of
the daily amount of time spent on the activities of this project fell somewhere in the range
of 2-3 hours. The process consisted of asking myself whether I was dreaming or not at
least five to ten times a day (Tholey, 1983) and this was triggered by a random alarm
from my phone, something bizarre happening, or the experience of powerful emotions.
Following this check, I imagined that I was dreaming and thought about any
recent activity that might have proven this to be true (Tholey, 1983). Whether or not I
found it to be true, I followed this by attempting to remember my intended actions for the
lucid dreaming scenario and proceed to visualize myself executing them (Paulsson &
Parker, 2006). Since Transcendental Meditation is recommended for 20 minutes twice a
day (Maharishi Foundation, 2014), Morley (2013) recommended mindfulness meditation
for 20-30 minutes a day, and Wallace (2012) recommended at least 24 minutes a day. I
practiced mindfulness meditation for 30 minutes twice a day throughout the 2-week time
period of this project: once in the afternoon around 1-3pm and the other right before lying
down to sleep at night. This was executed by sitting comfortably with my spine erect and
continuously attending to my present experiences, being non-partial in my outlook to
anything that arose.
An alarm was set to wake me up 6 hours after I went to bed so I could practice the
additional techniques of WBTB, Tholey’s (1983) combined, and hypnagogic transition.
Once awake, I remained awake for 60 minutes writing down my dreams and meditating
before lying down again to attempt a lucid dream. For the purposes of this project, a
target time duration of the naps of approximately 90 minutes was chosen based on prior
research (Edelstein & LaBerge, 1992; LaBerge et al., 1994; Levitan, 1991), which also
works well physiologically since it is the typical length of an early morning sleep cycle
containing plenty of REM (Hobson, 2001). An alarm was set to wake me up 2 hours
before I normally arise. It should be kept in mind that the WBTB method has only tested
empirically in combination with the MILD technique, although this is not necessarily a
problem for this project, in particular, because the MILD was essentially practiced
through utilizing Tholey’s combined technique as they share many defining
Afterwards, I assumed the body posture of sleeping-lion. On a personal note, I
have also noticed myself awakening in this posture from lucid dreams on several
occasions. Since the technique takes little effort to complete and provides some
promising results, it has been added to the intervention of this project in hopes of
boosting chances of lucid dreaming, if only a little. For the purposes of this project, the
sleeping lion posture did not entail all the described intricacies. It was comprised of
sleeping on my right side with the head facing north. Hands and legs were in their
appropriate places as mentioned earlier, with no deliberate interference being made to my
breathing since results on this aspect were inconclusive.
After I was in position, I paid attention to the hypnagogic hallucinations that
appeared, focusing primarily on the imagery. An attitude of passive observation was
adopted towards any perceptions that arose until the hypnagogic hallucinations
manifested into a formed narrative situation capable of being classified as a dream. The
sense of detached surveillance was sustained but slowly intermixed with minor efforts to
influence content until both the dream and lucidity were solidified. Occasionally during
this process, I thought about myself retaining awareness while dreaming and tried to
avoid putting forth conscious effort into thinking it (Tholey, 1983). Upon awakening
naturally approximately 90-120 minutes later, I immediately recorded my experience by
writing it all down in a journal and then filling out a LuCiD scale survey (Voss et al.,
2013). An alarm was set to make sure I did not exceed the 120-minute nap limit.
Numbers from the dream journal indicate 39 dreams, of which three were lucid.
Of these lucid dreams, two were labeled as WILDs and one was labeled as a DILD.
Average word count for the dream reports was 370 with a high of 529 and a low of 251.
The independent judge confirmed instances of lucid dreaming, agreeing with the
participant in every case of dream lucidity. Additionally, the judge distinguished between
WILDs and DILDs, confirming the opinions of the participant in each case as well.
Therefore, discrepancies were nonexistent between the reports of the independent judge
and the participant.
For the LuCiD scale, a series of statistical analyses were used including a
multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and several one-way univariate analyses of
variance (ANOVAs). The MANOVA revealed an effect that was significant at alpha level
0.10 for overall group differences between lucid and non-lucid dreams across all of the
questionnaire’s subscales [F(1,14) = 3.277, p < .092]. Between groups analyses
(ANOVAs) were performed for each subscale to determine which ones contained the
largest differences when comparing the non-lucid dreams to the lucid dreams. Table 1
demonstrates these results, finding significant differences in the subscales of Insight,
Control, Thought, and Memory, when using an alpha level of 0.05. Negative Emotion and
Positive Emotion both revealed significance as well when an alpha of 0.10 was used. The
only subscales showing no statistically-significant difference were Realism and
Table 1
ANOVA of LuCiD subscales comparing lucid to non-lucid dream reports
Subscale F Df P
INSIGHT 503.7085 1, 10 <0.01
CONTROL 95.30602 1, 8 <0.01
THOUGHT 9.07441 1, 4 0.04
REALISM 0.207136 1, 4 0.67
MEMORY 6.202153 1, 6 0.05
DISSOCIATION 0.100554 1, 4 0.77
NEGATIVE EMOTION 13.448 1, 2 0.07
POSITIVE EMOTION 8.505105 1, 2 0.10
Figure 2, below, compares the mean scores for lucid versus non-lucid dream
reports, showing the drastic difference of Insight and Control. The subscales of Memory
and Positive Emotion also display a large gap between the two types of dreaming.
Subscales showing the least variability between the non-lucid and lucid dreams were
Thought and Realism. Dissociation and Negative Emotion were the only two subscales to
exhibit higher scores for non-lucid dreams.
Fig. 2. Mean scores of LuCiD subscales for non-lucid versus lucid dream reports.
Several possibly confounding variables were monitored throughout the project
but, after examination, their effects on the outcomes seem minimal. Sleep schedule was
one of these, but there was little variation of it throughout the project. The longest time
difference between nights was 1 hour, meaning that it hardly affected the sleep cycles and
probably did not alter the amount of lucid dreaming, either. Video-gaming is another
possible variable adding to the equation of dream lucidity, but it is unlikely in this case as
well since the average time spent playing each day was 1.14 hours. According to
Gackenbach (2009), this is on the low end of interactive media use so its contribution to
lucid dreaming was likely marginal if anything. It is safe to say that mind-altering
substances had no effect on the outcome of this case study because none were ingested
throughout its duration. I do not take vitamins, supplements, or prescription medications,
but I do drink alcohol and coffee occasionally. However, I abstained from consuming
them for the 2 weeks of this project, and since dependence of these is nonexistent for my
person, their effects should not have influenced the findings in any way. The average
word count of dream reports was also considered as a way of measuring the probability
of them coming from REM sleep and, according to the figures in this project, they did
(Stickgold, Pace-Schott, & Hobson, 1994).
When the results of the LuCiD scale are compared to those found by Voss and her
colleagues (2013), few differences are seen to exist. The Thought and Realism subscales
show the most compatibility between Voss (2013) and this project. It has been argued that
thinking is relatively the same across waking and dreaming (Kahan et al., 1997);
therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that lucidity would not add much to the cognition
category (Kahan & LaBerge, 1994). However, dreams are notorious for being bizarre,
unrealistic scenarios so it is surprising that lucidity does not have much of an impact on
this factor. The only subscales showing no statistically significant difference in this
project were Realism—which follows the pattern of the previous study—and
Dissociation, which has shown to be the most unreliable (Voss et al., 2013). The biggest
difference came from the subscale Dissociation, showing higher levels in non-lucid
dreams for this project but lower levels in non-lucid dreams in the Voss and colleagues
(2013) study. However, Dissociation had the lowest reliability of all the subscales so this
probably explains most of the difference, in addition to the incredibly small sample size
of this project. The striking similarities overall are encouraging because their sample size
was much bigger with 151 participants, thus conveying two messages. One message was
that the LuCiD scale seems to be a reliable measure of dream lucidity and the other was
that the lucid dreams experienced in this project seem to be legitimately lucid. Past
research was further replicated in this project with the subscales of Memory and Positive
Emotion, which displayed a large gap between the two types of dreaming (LaBerge,
2009; Voss et al., 2013). Investigation into the nature of dreaming (Hartmann, 2011) was
also supported in this project with the only two subscales that exhibited higher scores for
non-lucid dreams being Dissociation and Negative Emotion.
Dream recall during this 2-week period amounted to 39 dreams total, or 2.79 a
night on average. This is considered high dream recall (Schredl & Reinhard, 2008) and,
since dream recall frequency is correlated with lucid dream frequency, this means I
should be on the higher end of lucid dream frequency, as well. Someone on the high end
of lucid dreaming should experience it at least once a month (Patrick & Durndell, 2004)
and my overall average is close with 39 lucid dreams in 40 months. With this in mind, the
findings of this study show promising effects for the combination of induction techniques
that was used because three lucid dreams were experienced within the 2-week period.
This number is already higher than my average and could, theoretically, produce the
similar results for another 2 weeks, which would mean roughly six lucid dreams a month.
While these numbers are inspiring, there is little evidence that it is effective at inducing
WILDs since only two were experienced during the timeframe. This is somewhat
disheartening given that WILDs were the goal of this project; however, it is still too early
to tell if it is worthwhile.
The findings are more discouraging when other aspects are factored into the
equation, though. One of these is the degree to which lucidity was achieved. There are no
direct measures of this but the length of lucidity can be a clue and the lucidity
experienced during this project lasted only moments. When compared to other lucid
dreams I have had in the past, this is quite short. Details and colors were not as vivid as
other lucid dreams either, indicating a lower degree of dream lucidity. Overall, it is my
opinion that the degree of lucidity achieved during this project was low to moderate at
best: a feature that should be taken into account when testing the efficacy of induction
Another aspect that puts the results of this project into perspective is my personal
record of achieving lucid dreams. The most lucid dreams I have experienced within a 2-
week timeframe is eight, and six of these were WILDs. The induction technique used
during this period consisted of taking health supplements at certain times and the results
were astounding (Appendix B). It produced five WILDs within 6 days, which is by far
the most I have experienced in such a short window of time. Utilizing specific sleeping
positions worked well as an induction technique, too, producing five lucid dreams within
2 weeks, three of which were WILDs. Sitting up and sleeping-lion were the two sleeping
postures employed during this time, but this method proved to be exhausting and,
therefore, not applicable for the long term. Comparatively, the approach used in this
project was just as tiresome if not more so than the sleeping positions, and it still did not
perform as well. As Figure 3 demonstrates, some sort of strategy is necessary to
experience lucid dreaming, as the 2 weeks prior this project contained no techniques and
no lucidity. I would add that I do not feel proficient at lucid dreaming because I am still
in the experimental phase of figuring out which induction techniques work best for me,
which may affect results.
Fig. 3. Comparison of personal two-week trials using different induction techniques
Given the single participant case study design, there are many inherent limitations
to this study. The biggest of these is not being able to generalize the findings to other
populations because the intervention might not produce the same outcomes (Yin, 2014).
This reduces the external validity of the study so actions were taken to increase this
particular aspect. The timing of 14 consecutive days was one of these actions, bringing
the study closer to a real-world scenario as dream lucidity seems to be difficult to induce
repeatedly in succession (Stumbrys et al., 2012). Generalizability was also strengthened
by choosing to conduct the study at the participant’s place of residence as opposed to a
sleep lab. Several population characteristics were given in attempts to increase the
external validity as well (Yin, 2014). These included: handedness, sex, age, dream recall,
prior lucid dreaming experience, culture, attitude towards dreams, personality, sleep
schedule, hobbies, and substance ingestion. With all these added measures, the external
validity is still poor, especially because the method of data collection was researcher-as-
participant observation.
Researcher-as-participant observation is probably the largest limitation of this
project due to the biases built-in to subjective involvement. Possible data manipulation is
clearly the most prevalent of these biases (Yin, 2014) so an independent judge was added
to the procedure as way to help counteract this partiality. This does not eliminate the issue
but, given the fact the results were not extraordinary either (see Figure 3), it adds to the
confidence that tampering with data was not a major issue for this case study. There were
two reasons for choosing this form of data collection: the highly subjective nature of the
phenomenon in question, and, to test a new intervention using a pilot study context before
moving on to larger sample sizes. Unfortunately, not much more could have been done to
improve the external validity of this study but it can be strengthened through replication
in future studies with more representative samples. Although, as mentioned earlier, the
data collected in this project was comparable to the data collected in a larger group study.
(Voss et al., 2013).
Internal validity was not much of a concern for this project but there are a few
points that should be brought up regarding its strength. In observational research such as
this, the internal validity “may be compromised by not having a control group or by
having a control group that is not comparable to the exposed group in measurable or
unmeasurable ways” (Carlson & Morrison, 2009, p. 81). While there was no control
group designated for study, there was a quasi-control time period of 2 weeks prior to the
intervention during which no efforts were made to have a lucid dream. And, indeed, no
lucid dreaming took place. Investigator bias could be claimed to account for the results
(Yin, 2014) but the difficulty of inducing a lucid dream rules out most other causes that
may have led to the findings instead of the intervention, too. Also, the monitoring of
possible confounding variables and revealing many population characteristics increased
the internal validity of this project just as it did the external validity.
Construct validity is typically a problem for research into the phenomenon of
dream lucidity because the participants can be confused and varied in opinion as to what
exactly entails a lucid dream (Barrett, 1992). For this study, it is unlikely that the
participant misunderstood the definition of a lucid dream since he had prior experience
with the phenomenon. It is also unlikely because a strategy of data triangulation was used
to ensure strong construct validity. This strategy included using multiple sources of
evidence, the dream journal and LuCiD scale, in addition to “having a key informant
review the draft case study report” (Yin, 2014, p. 45). Given these safeguards, construct
validity is probably not an issue for this study.
Questionable test-retest reliability is a valid concern for the LuCiD scale of this
study since the instrument came out in 2013, only one year before this study, and has
received no external substantiation. However, most of the subscales demonstrated good
reliability in the initial study (Voss et al., 2013) so it can be assumed that this would stay
relatively the same for this study. Motivation might be the biggest threat to the reliability
of this project because the participant was not always enthusiastic about performing the
intricacies of the intervention. Future studies should consider monitoring this aspect since
it is reported as being critical to experiencing the phenomenon (LaBerge & Rheingold,
Adherence to protocol is also another possible limitation of this project. Although
this is doubtful since this researcher as the participant read about them extensively and
has had some experience with each one of them individually prior to the project. Only
one session of mindfulness meditation was missed, but there was trouble following
through with the hypnagogic transition technique because of falling unconscious shortly
after beginning its use. At least 10 reality-checks were ensured each day by setting 10
alarms on a cell phone, and the times were randomly generated using a tool online. The
highest number of reality-checks performed in a day was 17 with an average of 13.6.
Since the researcher-as-participant awoke in the same position throughout this study with
the exception of hand placement, adherence to the sleeping-lion posture technique was
not an issue. Neither was the WBTB technique with the assistance of alarms and timers.
One final limitation of this project that should be stated is its design. Since it was not a
randomly selected, double-blind experiment, findings can only demonstrate a correlation
between the two variables and cannot offer evidence of causation (Yin, 2014).
Future Directions
Overall, this combination of induction techniques did not do as well as personal
trials of other induction techniques, especially for attaining WILDs. Supplements seemed
to be the best in this regard, and I believe a key difference between the two is the idea of
rest. When I used supplements, I attempted a lucid dream every other night and did not
accompany it with any other induction techniques. This means that little time was spent
trying to induce a lucid dream, as opposed to this combination technique, which required
roughly 3 hours of effort every day. After a while, I found this intensive routine to be
exhausting, which negatively affected my motivation for becoming lucid in a dream. This
idea of rest should be considered when testing induction techniques because adequate
motivation is so central to having the lucid dreaming experience, as established by many
researchers (LaBerge & Rheingold, 1990; Synder & Gackenbach, 1988; Wallace, 2012).
Talking about WILDs, LaBerge and DeGarcia (2000) commented that, “this form of lucid
dream initiation is a skill that improves with motivation and practice” (p. 281) so a longer
time frame with more rest would probably be beneficial in determining efficacy of
induction techniques. WILDs appear to occur more often in a laboratory setting than a
home setting (LaBerge & Rheingold, 1990) so this should be considered as well when
testing techniques aimed at this form of induction.
The combination technique tested in this project did not show a drastic increase in
lucid dreaming, but it did show improvement. Perhaps with more time and more rest, it
would produce better results. I believe the hypnagogic hallucination method warrants
further investigation as well because, in my opinion, I did not implement it to the best of
what it offers. This initial phase of determining the most effective WILD induction
techniques will be more difficult than DILDs, but it will be better in the long run because
WILDs are much more conducive to scientific scrutiny. The conduciveness of them is
derived primarily from the characteristic that they seldom happen unexpectedly, meaning
that researchers would no longer need to wait for a spontaneous DILD to occur but can
deliberately plan the timing of a lucid dream investigation. The outcome of this would
likely be more studies involving the topic, leading to more knowledge about it developing
at a quicker pace. And since lucid dreaming appears to have a wide range of benefits, this
is a good thing for both science and humanity.
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Appendix A
The LuCiD Scale
0 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree
1. While dreaming, I was aware of the fact that the things I was
experiencing in the dream state were not real.
2. While dreaming, I was able to remember my intention to do certain
things in the dream.
3. While dreaming, I was aware that the self I experience in my dream
wasn’t the same as my waking self.
4. In my dream, I was able to manipulate or control other dream
characters in a way that would be impossible in waking.
5. While dreaming, I thought about other dream characters. 0 1 2 3 4 5
6. While dreaming, I was able to successfully perform supernatural
actions (like flying or passing through walls).
7. The emotions I experienced in my dream were exactly the same as
those I would experience in such a situation during wakefulness.
8. While dreaming, I was aware of the fact that the body I experience in
the dream did not correspond to my real sleeping body.
9. I was very certain that the things I was experiencing in my dream
wouldn’t have any consequences on the real world.
While dreaming, I was able to successfully control or change the
dream environment in a way that would be impossible during
11. While dreaming, I saw myself from the outside. 0 1 2 3 4 5
While dreaming, I thought about my own actions. 0 1 2 3 4 5
While dreaming, I had the feeling that I had forgotten something
While dreaming, I was able to change or move objects (not persons) in
a way that would impossible in waking.
15 While dreaming, I was not myself but a completely different person. 0 1 2 3 4 5
While dreaming, I often asked myself whether I was dreaming. 0 1 2 3 4 5
The thoughts I had in my dream were exactly the same as I would have
in a similar situation during wakefulness.
While dreaming, I had the feeling that I could remember my waking
While dreaming, I was aware of the fact that other dream characters in
my dream were not real.
Most things that happened in my dream could have also happened
during wakefulness.
I watched the dream from the outside, as if on a screen. 0 1 2 3 4 5
While dreaming, I often thought about the things I was experiencing. 0 1 2 3 4 5
I was able to influence the story line of my dreams at will/at libitum. 0 1 2 3 4 5
While dreaming, I was able to remember certain plans for the future. 0 1 2 3 4 5
While dreaming, I felt euphoric/upbeat. 0 1 2 3 4 5
While dreaming, I had strong negative feelings. 0 1 2 3 4 5
While dreaming, I had strong positive feelings. 0 1 2 3 4 5
While dreaming, I felt very anxious. 0 1 2 3 4 5
Appendix B
Personal Lucid Dream Data
Date Type Supplements
08/31/11 DILD
10/14/11 DILD
11/25/11 DILD
12/06/11 DILD
12/19/11 DILD
WILD 4mg galantamine, 100mg choline
11/01/12 DILD
WILD 8mg galantamine, 100mg choline
WILD 8mg galantamine, 100mg choline
DILD 8mg galantamine, 100mg choline
DILD 8mg galantamine, 100mg choline
WILD 4mg galantamine, 100mg choline
DILD 4mg galantamine, 100mg choline
WILD 4mg galantamine, 100mg choline
12/21/1 WILD 4mg galantamine, 100mg choline, 50mg EGCg
WILD 4mg galantamine, 100mg choline, 300mg alpha GPC
DILD 3000mg l-glutamate, 1500mg 1-aspartic acid, 200mg l-theanine
DILD 4mg galantamine, 100mg choline, 300mg alpha GPC
WILD 4mg galantamine, 100mg choline, 300mg alpha GPC
WILD 4mg galantamine, 100mg choline, 300mg alpha GPC
WILD 4mg galantamine, 100mg choline, 300mg alpha GPC
WILD 4mg galantamine, 100mg choline, 300mg alpha GPC
WILD 4mg galantamine, 100mg choline, 300mg alpha GPC
DILD 8mg galantamine, 200mg choline, 300mg alpha GPC, 60mg l-dopa
02/14/1 WILD
DILD 4mg galantamine, 100mg choline, 300mg alpha GPC
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