Since the release of the film Inception there has been growing interest in the art of lucid dreaming This growth of interest in controlled dreaming has lead to many lucid dreaming aids and induction techniques. One of those aids is lucid dreaming music. But, whether it is lucid dreaming induction music or simply ordinary tunes, can you lucid dream while listening to music?
You can lucid dream while listening to music. As we often unconsciously incorporate real-time environmental factors into our dreams we can hear, in a dream, the music that is playing near our sleeping body. It is also possible to use music to trigger a lucid dream.
Does listening to music while you sleep affect your dreams?
It has long been known that things that happen close to a person’s sleeping body, or things being done to their body, can find their way into that person’s dreams. Does this mean that if you listen to music while you are sleep it will affect your dreams?
Listening to music while you sleep can affect your dreams. As we often incorporate real-time environmental factors into our dreams, music being played in close proximity to your sleeping body can affect the nature of your dreams. You might hear the music within your dreams or the music may subtly influence the narrative of the dream. This is one reason why music is sometimes used to induce lucid dreams.
In a scientific study conducted into the effect that music has on our sleeping dreams, Shara Sand, Psy.D. and Ross Levin, Ph.D. concluded that music can have measurable effects on a sleeping person’s dreams. So how does music impact the dream of the sleeper?
I am sure at some stage of your life you have experienced a dream that incorporated, or mirrored, a real-time real-world event that was taking place close to you as you slept. For example, you may have heard several loud bangs in a dream only to wake up to find that someone was knocking on your door. Or, you dreamed of someone calling your name and awoke to find that someone was in fact calling for you.
We have all had similar experiences to these and if you remember having such a dream then this should be proof to you that outside stimuli and environmental factors can affect your dreams. This includes music.
It is completely natural for the sleeping brain to incorporate physical stimuli into our dreams. The subconscious mind is ever vigilant and registers everything that reaches the brain through the fives senses. Even in sleep these senses are still active though your sleeping body remains temporarily paralyzed.
This phenomenon is important for lucid dreaming. Some lucid dreaming aids have been created that use this phenomenon to trigger the state of lucidity.
Lucidity aids that are designed to signal you that you are dreaming work on the premise that external stimuli can affect dreams. Lucid dreaming masks are one example, though most modern lucid dreaming masks don’t work because they have a key design flaw. Let’s look at the ones that do work and how they use external signaling to induce lucidity in dreams.
When you enter the REM stage of sleep the mask emits LED light signals to the sleeper. Those lights are then usually incorporated into the dream. This can take the form of flashing car headlights, brake lights or blinkers, or may be seen in the form of flashing railroad crossing lights or some other form of flashing lights.
If the sleeper has trained themselves to look for dream signs, and dream cues, then seeing those flashing lights in a dream can trigger lucidity because they will remember the true source of the lights lies in the mask they put on. With this realization comes the realization that they must be dreaming because they are not wearing a mask and are in fact sleeping. The act of realizing that you are dreaming is enough to make you lucid.
Can you hear music in your dreams?
Music plays a big part in the lives of most people. As human beings we can use music to evoke strong emotions, motivate us into action, make us feel sad or melancholy and it can even trigger long forgotten memories. We are so tuned-in to certain songs and melodies that we can recognize them even if we hear them indistinctly from a far off or just hear them intermittently in broken pieces. Sometimes just one or two bars of a tune is all we need to recognize it. So does this mean you can recognize and hear music as you sleep? Can you hear music in your dreams?
You can hear music in your dreams. It is possible that music being played in proximity to your sleeping body will be incorporated into your dream. It is also possible to hear music as a part of your dream without any external source. This may be music you are familiar with or a completely new tune. Some famous songs were first heard in dreams.
Just as you can experience any other normal activity within a dream you can also hear music. Music that is generated within the dream itself can be something that is known to you, or a tune that you have heard before but are not that familiar with, or an entirely new composition. Some truly great songs were gifted to artists in dreams. A great example is when Paul McCartney dreamt the song Yesterday … and we’re glad that he did!
But this isn’t the only way you can hear music in your dreams.
Hearing music, in a dream, that is actually being played within earshot of your sleeping body is also possible.
Although you may find that your brain naturally incorporates the music into the dream directly, i.e. you hear the song being played in your dream as it is being played in the real world, it is also possible that the song will influence your dream without you hearing the actual song being played. How does this work? I will give you a simple example to illustrate this point.
An instance of a song being incorporated into a dream, without you actually hearing the song, can be seen in the following example: Imagine you take a nap and fall into REM sleep immediately upon falling asleep. You then begin to dream just as the song The Boxer, by Simon and Garfunkel, is playing close to your physical body. While you sleep and dream your brain may use that song to build a dream that mirrors the sentiment of the song.
That may mean that within the dream you find that you are taking part in a world championship boxing match. Or, your brain may create a dreamworld that reflects the particular meaning you give to that song. In my case, I associate unemployment, a feeling of destitution and lack of hope with that particular song due to the slightly depressing nature of the lyrics and so I would not be surprised if I dreamt of living a life of destitution were that particular song played while I slept and dreamed.
Though, having said that, I could just as easily hear the song and be completely unaffected by it because sometimes external stimuli has no effect on our dreams at all.
Will wearing headphones help you hear music in a lucid dream?
Wearing headphones can help you hear music while in lucid dream but it can also has some drawbacks.
If you wear headphones that are sending music directly to your ears while you lucid dream, lik headphones or earbuds, you may find that the music being played becomes overwhelming within the dream. The music may be very loud and overpowering. You may find that you can’t turn it off, reduce the volume or even ignore it because it takes prime position within your lucid dream. For that reason, and for good ear safety, I recommend you only play music at low volumes and use sleep headphones instead of headphones or inner earbuds.