We have all heard about multiple lucid dreams happening at night. And, we have even heard of people experiencing false awakenings due to moving straight out of one lucid dream and directly into another one. It seems that in a prolonged period of sleep we can experience several lucid dream. But what about short periods of sleep? Can you lucid dream during a nap?
A nap offers an excellent opportunity to experience a lucid dream. The WILD technique works really well with a nap because the desire to nap is usually driven by REM deprivation which is caused by insufficient sleep. REM deprivation leads to REM rebound. Here we enter REM sleep (where lucid dreams occur) immediately upon falling asleep during a nap.
Why you can lucid dream during a nap?
Naps and lucid dreams are great bedfellows (excuse the pun). Experienced lucid dreamers will often use their nap time to induce a lucid dream because it is much easier to enter the dream directly, without losing consciousness, than it is at night or when you plan to follow your normal prolonged sleep routine.
When we go to bed as part of our normal sleep routine, which usually consists of between 6 – 8 hours of sleep, we go through several sleep cycles. These cycles consists of three different stages of sleep.
The three stages of a normal sleep cycle:
- Light sleep.
- Deep sleep.
- REM sleep.
As we complete one cycle of light-deep-REM, we will start the next cycle of light-deep-REM and we will repeat these cycles over and over again until we wake up. We will usually experience several sleep cycles in a normal prolonged sleep routine. For most people their prolonged sleep routine takes place at night but there are some people who sleep during the day and they will go through exactly the same process.
We go through these sleep cycles regardless of what time of day we sleep if we are sleeping for a prolonged period of time, for example several hours.
REM sleep in when lucid dreaming occurs and this is the sleep stage that we are most interested in as lucid dreamers (though as human beings we need all stages of sleep to remain healthy).
REM sleep, under normal circumstances, occurs at the end of each cycle, with each REM stage getting longer with each recurring cycle.
The first REM sleep stage, in the first sleep cycle, will last only about 10 minutes but as we progress through our sleep cycles, the REM stage gets longer each time with the final REM stage usually lasting about an hour long. This is often the period when most lucid dreamers attempt to become lucid so they can have a nice long lucid dream (though I should note that there are ways to make lucid dream last longer no matter when they happen).
In a prolonged sleep period the first 4 hours tend to be spent in the stage of deep sleep the longest while in the next 4 hours of sleep we tend to spend more time in REM sleep. This is an important fact, for lucid dreaming during a nap, that we will visit again later.
Remember the longest REM stage we are in is the period just before we wake to get out of bed,. It is the very last sleep stage we experience just before we wake up naturally at the end of our sleep routine. This is important.
When we wake, or are woken, before we have completed a natural sleep routine (i.e. we are woken before our body has had enough sleep when it would have woken up naturally) we usually experience REM deprivation. REM deprivation occurs because we miss the last REM state or only experience a short amount of it.
Of course it is possible to be woken while in a state of light or deep sleep but most times when we feel tired during the day, when we feel that we didn’t get enough sleep, it is due to REM deprivation. This thus indicates that we awoke before we could complete and finish a sleep cycle i.e. we were deprived of completing the REM stage during our final sleep cycle.
We when also consider that most restorative deep sleep occurs in the first 4 hours of sleep during the deep sleep stages, while longer periods of REM occur in the next 4 hours of sleep we can see why not getting enough sleep can also lead to REM deprivation. Even if you did finish all stages of your sleep cycles you can still be deprived of REM sleep simply because you didn’t sleep long enough.
REM sleep deprivation can aid us when it comes to lucid dreaming during a nap.
You see when we experience REM Deprivation the brain and body will take steps to rectify the deficiency by using a mechanism known as REM Rebound.
Why nap time is great for lucid dreaming
When we feel like taking a nap it is usually due to the fact that we have not had enough sleep during our normal prolonged sleep routine. We have seen that because REM stages of sleep happen more in the second half of your sleep period, missing out on sleep means you will be deprived of much-needed REM sleep time. This leads to REM Deprivation.
REM Deprivation drives you unconsciously to want to take a nap to rectify the deficiency. We experience this drive as tiredness.
When we have REM deprivation and take a nap the brain will skip the light and deep stages of sleep and immediately go into an REM sleep state in order to make up for the REM deficiency it experienced in the earlier sleep routine. This is known as REM Rebound.
When we experience REM Rebound we not only enter REM sleep much more quickly than normal, usually immediately upon falling asleep by skipping out light sleep and deep sleep, but the REM stage is usually very long and may last as long as the entire length of the nap. The fact that we skip the other sleep stages and enter REM directly gives us the opportunity to enter a lucid dream directly from the waking state without ever losing consciousness. And, because this nap REM stage lasts so long we also have the opportunity to experience an exceptionally long lucid dream.
Lucid dreaming nap method
Although there are multiple lucid dreaming induction techniques, the easiest way to use a nap for lucid dreaming is to induce a lucid dream directly using the WILD technique. WILD stands for wake initiated lucid dream or wake induced lucid dream.
The WILD (wake induced lucid dream) technique is about staying conscious while your body falls asleep. You retain consciousness while your brain builds the dream around you. This usually starts with you seeing colorful swirling lights while your eyes are closed though some people hear voices or see faces.
If you just passively watch these images and don’t get freaked out by them and wake yourself up, the images will start to become less ethereal and whimsical and will firm-up into solid objects as a dream begins to unfold before your closed eyes.
This is much easier to do when you have a nap than it is during a night’s sleep because the REM rebound effect puts you into REM sleep immediately upon falling asleep. This makes it easier to stop yourself from falling into unconsciousness because the whole thing happens so quickly.
Another great thing about having a lucid dream during a nap is that REM Rebound usually makes your lucid dreams much longer than they would usually be as your brain stays in the REM state longer in order to address the previous REM imbalance.
As I have already mentioned a wake induced lucid dream is much easier to have when you have a nap, as opposed to a normal long sleep at night, because we usually enter the REM state immediately upon falling asleep when we nap. This gives us the opportunity to enter a lucid dream (which happens only during REM sleep) directly without losing consciousness.
Obviously WILD is perfect for inducing a lucid dream during a nap because it requires no preparation. Whereas, to use WILD during a normal sleep routine you must wake yourself up after approximately 4 hours of sleep before attempting to use it, which is far from ideal if you have to go to work the next day.
I have given the seven steps for using WILD during a nap in bullet point format below for ease of viewing.
Here are the 7 simple steps of the WILD technique:
- As you lie down to fall asleep allow your body to relax completely while you maintain your normal focus.
- When having a nap you will enter REM very quickly, if not instantly, allowing you to maintain consciousness as your body falls asleep. You have probably experienced the next step unintentionally a few times before and it will therefore not be new to you.
- As your body start to drift off to sleep your brain will start to enter REM and you will begin to see images forming before your closed eyes. It is possible to see images and hear voices but the most common imagery comes in the form of swirling colorful lights. You are entering REM and if you maintain your focus and conscious awareness you will enter a lucid dream.
- Hold in mind the intention to stay conscious as you simply witness the hypnagogic imagery being displayed before your closed eyes.
- As you maintain your level of consciousness and focus, more concrete and substantial images will start to appear.
- At this point you will become aware that your body is completely paralyzed. You are now experiencing something known as sleep paralysis and it is at this point that you are most at risk of failing to enter the lucid dream simply because sleep paralysis scares a lot of people and they wake yhelsemves up. So, relax, accept that your body is being temporarily paralyzed so you don’t act out your dreams in the real world and maintain your focus while you remain relaxed mentally.
- If you stay relaxed mentally the dream will solidify before your closed eyes and you will become lucid.
At this point you will be in a lucid dream and no longer seeing imagery but will find that you are a part of the dream itself (unless you choose to experience the dream in third person view as opposed to first person view but that would require a concerted effort on your part through an act of will or intention). Being consciously aware with the dream you can now proceed to enjoy this state of lucity. You have just become a lucid dreamer!
If you want more lucid dreaming induction techniques, and training to become omnipotent in your lucid dreams, consider making the small investment in a really good lucid dreaming course. You won’t regret it.