When the average person is shopping for a nootropic, they are likely doing so with the goal of enhancing concentration, creativity, motivation, alertness, memory, self-drive, critical thinking and mind response speed.
But these are not the only things that cognitive enhancers can do for you. A growing number of experts have alluded to brain supplements enabling lucid dreaming. How true is this? We are about to find out. But first, let’s get the definition out of the way.
What is a Lucid Dream?
A lucid dream refers to a state of dreaming where the sleeper knows that they are in a dream without exiting the state of dreaming.
This is different from conventional dreams where the sleeper is not aware they are dreaming. In some instances, the sleeper can control aspects of the lucid dream environment though this is not necessarily characteristic of all lucid dreams.
More than half of adults have had a lucid dream at least once. Lucid dreaming is an exciting topic and has been the subject of numerous studies. Yet, its causes remain little understood. One theory suggests it is triggered by elevated activity in the brain’s prefrontal cortex.
Pros and Cons of Lucid Dreams
Lucid dreaming has merits and demerits.
How to Induce a Lucid Dream?
There are several techniques. The most widely used are as follows.
You are subjected to external stimuli such as flashing lights when you are in the deepest sleep phase i.e. REM sleep. The idea is you will absorb the stimuli into your dreams thus causing lucidity. There are devices specifically designed to trigger lucid dreams through stimuli. They often come in the form of special headbands or masks.
Lucid Dream Journal
Maintaining a detailed journal of lucid dreams may over time increase your self-awareness while sleeping and elevate your likelihood of having lucid dreams.
Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD)
You practice differentiating reality from dreams while you sleep. For instance, when you wake up from sleep, you repeat a phrase like, ‘When I sleep next, I’ll recognize that I’m in a dream’. Typically, you will have someone wake you after five hours of sleeping to make this proclamation. Over time, this induces lucid dreaming.
You engage in tests and questions throughout the day to distinguish between being asleep or awake. One way would be to set an alarm that goes off every two to three hours during which you can perform this test. With repeated testing, this self-awareness eventually seeps into your dreams enabling you to attain lucidity.
Wake Back to Bed (WBTB)
You wake up in the dead of night then go back to sleep after anywhere from half an hour to two hours. WBTB is usually used in tandem with MILD.
Wake Initiated Lucid Dreaming (WILD)
Through intentional hallucination, you fall asleep with your mind still in a conscious state. It is relatively straightforward but hard to master.
These techniques are in addition to the basics of creating the right environment for lucid dreaming. This includes optimizing the bedroom for sleep by keeping it quiet and dark. There have also been claims that interactive video gaming increases the likelihood of lucid dreaming though this has not been as researched as the other methods.
Can Nootropics Help Induce a Lucid Dream?
Yes, you can induce lucid dreaming using nootropic agents. These agents do not trigger the chemical reactions that initiate lucid dreams in the same way. Some for instance do so by increasing acetylcholine in the brain.
Among the more effective nootropics for lucid dreaming include bacopa monnieri (Brahmi herb), choline, ginkgo biloba (maidenhair), huperzine-A (from chinese club moss), mugwort, oxitriptan, passion flower and valerian.
Nootropics can improve your likelihood of lucid dreaming. Nevertheless, you should consider them complementary to a foundation of positive sleep habits. As a precaution, talk to your doctor before using a nootropic for lucid dreaming. Also, lucid dreaming is not advisable for persons grappling with psychosis or sleep disorders.
Note that lucid dreaming is relatively uncommon and often spontaneous. So even when you employ nootropics and lucid dreaming techniques, expect most of your dreams will still be non-lucid.