Confused about what lucid dreaming is and how it differs from normal regular dreaming? Then you’ve landed on the right page. So, how is lucid dreaming different from normal dreaming?
In a normal dream the sleeper remains unconscious. These dreams are usually hazy, somewhat unclear and often easily forgotten. In a lucid dream the sleeper is fully conscious and aware. A lucid dream has the same texture and feel as everyday reality. In a specific type of lucid dream the dreamer can control every aspect of the dream without limitation and will experience it as though it were happening in the real world.
Lucid dreaming vs normal dreaming
To understanding the difference between lucid dreaming and normal dreaming we must look at both of them in a little depth.
Here I will outline how normal regular dreams are similar to lucid dreams but also point out the key areas in which they differ.
Before we begin I should note that normal dreams and lucid dreams are not that different in their fundamental makeup. Both these type of dreams stem from the same place, having the same origin and structure. A lucid dream is no different in structure and origin from a normal dream. In fact, they are both the same thing.
The difference between a normal dream and a lucid dream is that you remain unconscious in a normal dream while you become fully conscious and aware in a lucid dream.
This conscious awareness can have some amazing and exciting side-effects.
Before we delve into the exciting prospects that lucid dreaming promises we must first briefly look at normal dreams so we can compare and contrast the two.
Normal dreaming characteristics
We still do not know why we dream, although there are some very persuasive hypotheses on the subject. However, it is agreed by just about everyone in the field of dream research that dreaming is very important for maintaining a healthy psyche – one reason why it is not advisable to try to make every dream you have a lucid dream.
The exact reasoning for dreaming may still remain hidden but the negative effects that come from dream deprivation are very well known. So, we must experience normal dreams and experience sufficient REM sleep if we want to stay healthy. But what exactly are dreams and what characteristics do normal regular dreams have?
Regular normal dreams can occur at any stage of our sleep cycle. However, the most vivid dreams we have, and the ones we remember, occur at the end of each sleep cycle in the REM stage of sleep. (See this for more on the sleep cycles and the stages of the sleep cycles).
Most dreams that occur outside the REM stage are very hazy and unclear.
Although more vivid in nature, even dreams that occur in REM sleep can often be hazy and unclear.
Normal dreams can be often be disjointed without any apparent rhyme or reason behind them, while others can have a strong impact on us and even reveal things about ourselves, our lives or others in our lives, unveiling things that we were hitherto unconscious of.
In normal dreams the sleeper remains unconscious and unaware that they are dreaming.
So, normal dreams are amazing things that can teach us lessons, reveal hidden truths and help us heal emotionally or they can be just a collection of seemingly random and strange events that occur while we sleep. We have no control over them and they are often hazy and unclear and difficult to remember or recall at a later stage.
Lucid dreams, although they have the same structure and origin as normal dreams, have a very different effect on us.
Lucid dreaming characteristics
Lucid dreams and normal dreams are the same thing as far as their origin and structure go. Lucid dreams are not some mystical or esoteric phenomenon nor are they spiritual in nature and they don’t have any significant spiritual meaning.
Lucid dreams have very mundane physical causes that can be measured and even replicated.
In a lucid dream it is the consciousness of the dreamer that changes not the dream itself.
Specific brain functions that are usually only active while we are awake are activated in the brain of the sleeper and this leads to them becoming conscious, or awake, within the dream.
There are key techniques you can use, like those taught in this course, that allow you to activate these brain functions and thus induce a lucid dream. Because it is possible to train your brain to activate functions connected to conscious awareness it means that everyone can learn to lucid dream.
So, the main characteristic of a lucid dream is that the dreamer is conscious and aware within the dream.
In a lucid dream the sleeper is consciously awake and aware that they are dreaming.
Surely this is a rare phenomenon, you may be thinking. Well, lucid dreams are much more common than you may think. Approximately 55% of the population will have at least one lucid dream at some stage during the life and a huge 33% of the population lucid dream on a regular basis.
But … not all lucid dreams are created equal!
There are 2 types of lucid dream; the controlled and the uncontrolled.
I have covered the topic of the two types of lucid dreams several times on this website so I am not going to go into detail again and labor the point in this post. You can read about the two types in the article why can’t I control my lucid dreams and can lucid dreams be controlled. So, for the purpose of this article I will just briefly touch on both.
Lucid dreams that lack control
Contrary to popular opinion not all lucid dreams can be controlled by the dreamer. In fact, the majority of lucid dreams are the uncontrolled kind and are known as uncontrolled lucid dreams.
Why is this the case? This is because untrained lucid dreamers, who have spontaneous lucid dreams naturally, do not know how to take control over the dream. Likewise, people who only train themselves to induce a lucid dream but don’t go further to learn dream-control techniques will usually have uncontrolled lucid dreams.
Lucid dream induction and dream-control are not the same thing. Dream-control usually only comes with training.
So what is an uncontrolled lucid dream?
An uncontrolled lucid dream (like a controlled lucid dream) is a normal dream in which the sleeper is consciously aware, or awake, within the dream. It is the conscious awareness that you are dreaming that makes the dream feel much more real than a standard normal dream. In fact every lucid dream tends to feel like real life regardless of the level of control you have in it.
The state of being consciously aware within a dream is what makes a normal dream a lucid dream. It is also what makes the dream feel so real.
Being conscious in a lucid dream means you can interact with the dreamworld in exactly the same way you interact with the everyday waking world. You experience everything from first person perspective and can control your own actions and reactions within the dream. Unfortunately though, in an uncontrolled lucid dream, this is where your control ends.
In an uncontrolled lucid dream you have no power to manipulate and guide the dream nor can you change or alter anything in it. You are merely awake within the dream and can only interact with it in the same way that you can interact with the normal world.
Uncontrolled lucid dreams can be interesting as they offer you the opportunity to investigate and interact with a dreamworld that is completely fabricated but that feels just as real as the normal real world. They can also be super boring though!
I have mentioned a few times on this website an experienced I had with an uncontrolled lucid dream at a time before I learned the techniques that I could have used to change it into a controlled lucid dream.
In my uncontrolled lucid dream I became lucid, or conscious, within a dream environment that was a basic normal office. The office appeared to be in a basement or similar space as the windows were high in the wall, oblong and not very big, though they allowed plenty of light into the room. It was a very sterile environment and the room had a metal desk, a computer chair and several gunmetal grey cabinets which were locked. Unfortunately, the door of the office was also locked.
I thus found myself in a locked office that I could not get out of. As the cabinets were also locked I couldn’t even investigate their contents. As this was an uncontrolled lucid dream all I could do was walk around the office and bang on the door asking if anyone could open it and let me. No-one came. This was by far the most boring lucid dream I have ever had.
Luckily, I have since learned the dream control techniques that allow me to instantly transform an uncontrolled lucid dream into a fully uncontrolled. The strange this is though, I only ever had to do that once. After I demonstrated the technique I have never had another uncontrolled lucid dream again.
Lucid dreams that are under the dreamer’s control
The type of lucid dream where the dreamer can do anything, go anywhere and visit anyone they want, are the most popularly known type and the most commonly talked about. They are also the most common type of lucid dream experienced by people why have trained in lucid dreaming. These are known as controlled lucid dreams.
Although all lucid dreams share the same basic characteristic that the dreamer is conscious and aware that they are dreaming, in controlled lucid dreams the sleeper can manipulate the dreamworld, everything in it and every dream character. They can guide the narrative of the dream in any way they want to experience anything that they can imagine. And, what’s more, they experience it all in a way that feels just as real as real life.
Obviously, the first thing lucid dreamers do when they learn the skill of lucid dreaming and dream control is to experience their fantasies and satiate their desires. But controlled lucid dreams can be used for so much more than that (though experiencing your fantasies is pretty cool as well).
These type of lucid dreams are so powerful that they can be used to affect the everyday world in some truly amazing ways. Some lucid dreamers even claim that they can manifest and shift reality using their lucid dreams, though I leave you to make up your own mind about the validity of those claims.
However, as a means to program your mind for goal-attainment, and as a way to help you study better and improve sports and work skills, lucid dreaming is proven to be highly effective.
The downside is that you must train yourself to take control over your lucid dreams. Even when you learn how to induce a lucid dream you are not guaranteed to have control over it.
To ensure you can induce a lucid dream whenever you want and also have control over it you must get proper training. This is why I always advise would-be lucid dreamers to invest the small amount needed to enrol on this type of course because it not only shows them how to induce lucid dreams but also teaches advanced techniques to ensure those lucid dreams are under their full control.
Conclusion: lucid dreaming vs normal dreaming
Normal dreams are something that we all experience – even if you don’t remember your dreams, rest assured, you still have them.
Normal dreams occur when we are unconscious and unaware that we are dreaming. Most normal dreams are unclear and hazy and are difficult to remember once we wake up and they get more difficult to recall as more time passes.
Lucid dreams are dreams in which the sleeper is fully conscious and aware. This conscious awareness makes the dreamworld appear real. The dreamer interacts with the dreamworld in the same way they interact with the everyday world.
You can have an uncontrolled lucid dream where you can interact with the dreamworld but you have no control over it.
You can have a controlled lucid dream where you can interact with the dreamworld and also manipulate it and guide the dream. For most people, being able to experience controlled lucid dreams where they have total control over everything, requires a specific type of training.
Although all lucid dreams are clearer and more vivid than normal dreams, controlled lucid dreams are usually extremely clear and vivid and can be, in some instances, more vivid than real life. Everyone can learn to lucid dream as long as they follow a proven plan.