Lucid dreaming is awesome, like VR on steroids. But unlike a plugged-in VR headset that you can wear as long as you like, each lucid dream has a finite lifespan. So, you may be wonder how long do lucid dreams last?
A lucid dream can last anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour. We dream several times per night with each dream becoming longer as the sleep cycle progresses. Your first dream will be short while your last dream will be long. You can become lucid in any of those dreams.
- How long does a lucid dream last?
- How long do lucid dreams last in the dream?
- How to have longer lucid dreams
- Why do I wake up when lucid dreaming?
- How to stop waking up from a lucid dream
How long does a lucid dream last?
Lucid dreaming is a lot of fun and offers some truly amazing benefits, including giving you the ability to actually affect reality is some very cool ways. But what good is lucid dreaming if the dreams are short. How long does a lucid dream really last and can you do anything to make it last longer?
Let’s explore those questions now.
The sleep cycle and how it affects dream length
Dreaming occurs during the R.E.M. (rapid eye movement) cycle and you will have several of these each night.
Most people will sleep an average of 8 hours per night. During those 8 hours they will enter several different sleep stages each of which accumulates in R.E.M. This means you have several dreams every night – even if you don’t remember them.
The first sleep stage of the night usually takes about 90 minutes to complete, from the time of falling asleep to end of the first R.E.M cycle. This first R.E.M cycle in the shortest of the night lasting approximately 10 minutes.
As you progress through the sleep stages each R.E.M cycle gets longer eventually culminating in a dream state that will last approximately 1 hour. Because you can become lucid during any one of the several dreams you have nightly, this means you could have a lucid dream that lasts anywhere from 10 minutes to one hour.
How long do lucid dreams last in the dream?
Now that you know how long lucid dreams can last in real world time you may be wondering how long they last in the dreamworld.
A lucid dream can last from a few minutes to several decades within the dream. You can experience time normally or live out many years in a lucid dream by jumping from one time-frame to another seamlessly, like you often see in movies. You can make a lucid dream feel longer than it is through specific time-jumping techniques.
There are very specific things you can do in a lucid dream to make the dream feel longer than it actually is and the most potent is to time-jump as I will cover later in this article.
How to have longer lucid dreams
You don’t have to be content with the length of your current lucid dreams.
It is possible to extend the length of your lucid dreams by using some simple, yet advanced, lucid dreaming techniques.
By experimenting with these dream-lengthening techniques you will find that you are able to make your lucid dreams last much longer than normal.
We will explore these techniques now.
How to make your lucid dreams last longer
There are several ways to make your lucid dreams last longer. Below are 10 of them.
11 things you can do to make a lucid dream last longer:
- Stay calm.
- Breathe deeply for the count of two, then release for two.
- Spin around several times.
- Look at your hands intently until they start to get solid.
- Rub your hands together vigorously until everything gets solid.
- Refocus your attention on your dream surroundings.
- Remove your focus from the waking world.
- Intend to stay in the dream in the same way you make intentions to change the dreamworld.
- Call out aloud for the dream to solidify and stay clear.
- Take to the air and fly while looking down at the world beneath you.
- Change the dream scene. Make the intention to move somewhere else in the dreamworld.
I have listed ‘staying calm’ as the first thing to do to remain in a lucid dream, that is fading, because this is the action most lucid dreamers find works best, at least for beginners.
Staying calm is by far the best way to stay in a lucid dream for reasons I give below. Getting excited or having strong emotions (such as fighting to stay in a lucid dream) can wake you from a lucid dream, especially if you are new to entire experience.
The rest of the 10 tips above, for making a lucid dream last longer, involve becoming more engaged with the dreamworld.
It seems that the more you engage with the dreamworld the better are your chances of staying in it. When we allow our attention to wander away from the dreamworld around us the faster it starts to fade. This can be exaggerated by the fact that as the dream starts to fade we naturally realise that we are going to wake up and this draws our attention to the waking world, which in turn, makes the dream fade even more.
So, to stay in the lucid dream we must focus on the dream and remove our focus from the waking world.
Be aware though that although you can use the above tips to lengthen a lucid dream you cannot make a lucid dream last indefinitely. Just as you cannot get stuck in a lucid dream neither can you extend it long past your normal R.E.M cycle.
If you find it difficult to control your lucid dreams in a way that will allow you to lengthen the dream read this article.
Advanced lucid dreaming techniques, and access to a lucid dreaming community, can greatly help you to develop the skills you need to make your lucid dreams last longer.
How to make lucid dreams feel longer in the dream
Making a lucid dream last longer is not the only way to increase the time spent in the dream. At least, it’s not the only way to increase how long the dream feels.
Have you ever wondered why some dreams seem to last much longer than others? Does time pass in slow motion during a dream? Does it pass slower in some dreams than others?
These are questions that have often been discussed with varying points of view emerging on the subject.
However, as I have already highlighted, some dreams do actually last longer than others, with our dreams becoming longer as we progress through our natural nightly sleep cycle. The last dream of the night is usually much longer than the first dream of the night. But regardless of the actual length of the R.E.M cycle, some dreams tend to feel much longer than others.
Why do some dreams feel so long?
Some dreams feel long because you time jump within the dream. Instead of progressing naturally through a time-related sequence of events you jump from one time/event to another, some of which can be decades apart. Just like you sometimes see in movies.
Lucid dreaming experiments, my own and those of dream researchers, indicate that the time spent in the dreamworld corresponds exactly to time spent in the real world, i.e., 10 minutes spent doing something in the dreamworld equals 10 minutes sleeping in the real world. This is why lucid dreamers often prefer to have become lucid in the last dream of the night – the longest R.E.M. dreaming period – so they have more time to explore and interact with their lucid dream worlds.
So, you have seen that you can lengthen the actual lucid dream time through some easy-to-use techniques but can you also make your lucid dreams feel longer? It is possible to experience longer periods of time in the short window of dream time that you have while you are lucid?
The answer is simple. Yes, you can. All you have to do is use time jumps to your advantage!
How do you do that and how does it work? I can best explain what time jumps are by using movies as an illustration.
I remember the first time I watched the movie bicentennial man starring Robins Williams. Although the film only lasted 132 minutes I thought it had lasted much, much longer. I experienced a similar phenomenon when I watched the movie A.I.
Why did these movies feel longer than they actually were? The answer lies in the time jumps they employed in the plot and movie’s narrative.
Several time jumps occur in both movies that progress the story decades in some instances and hundreds of years in others. Because we suspend disbelief while watching a movie we do not question the narrative nor contradict what we are being shown. We accept that time has progressed and this can make the entire story feel as though it has taken place over a much larger span of time than we are use to (with most movies staying within a small time-frame).
The same thing can happen in your dreams.
What’s more, you can deliberately employ time jumps to make a lucid dream feel much longer than it actually is. For example, a quick time jump could involve moving from one dream scene to another. Instead of walking, taking a car ride, to a destination you just ‘will’ yourself there, thus cutting out the journey and the time it would take to complete it.
You can also do this with larger time gaps. By jumping years, or even decades, you can experience an entire lifetime within a one hour lucid dream. If you want this to feel real, it will feel real because you can do anything in lucid dreams and have complete control over the entire experience.
The biggest problem for lucid dreamers, when it comes to the length of their lucid dreams, is waking up from a lucid dream before the R.E.M. cycle has completed, i.e., they wake up when the dream could have, and should have, lasted longer. This is especially a problem for beginner lucid dreamers.
Let’s take a look at the causes for this and the cures.
Why do I wake up when lucid dreaming?
If you continually wake up from your lucid dreams, and/or cannot keep yourself in the dreamworld, thus shortening the length of your lucid dreams you will likely be wondering why this happens.
When you become too excited during a lucid dream this can cause you to wake up. Focusing your attention on your sleeping body, or the fact that you actually asleep in real life, can also wake you from a lucid dream. Though these causes are more common with beginners any lucid dreamer can experience them. There are techniques to stop this from happening.
Be aware that in the beginning, your lucid dreams may be much shorter than you would like. Waking suddenly from your first few lucid dreams is very common.
Although, there are very specific brain functions that are associated with lucid dreaming, it is the act of realising that you are dreaming that is the main cause for becoming lucid in a dream. Unfortunately though, what makes you lucid in the first place can also be what awakens you from the lucid dream – though this is mainly a problem for beginner lucid dreamers.
If you stay focused on the fact that you are just in a dream, and keep recalling that your body is really asleep in bed, this focus can draw your conscious attention back to your physical body and wake you from your sleep. It is fine to remember you are in a dream but don’t keep thinking about your physical sleeping body. Allow the dream to feel real even though you realise that it is not.
As we have discussed, when you first realise that you are actually in a dream this is all that is required to make you fully conscious within that dream. But, with beginner lucid dreamers, the shock of waking up in the dreamworld can be enough to wake their physical body. It is very common for new lucid dreamers to be awe-inspired by everything they see. This can have two effects, both of which are likely to wake you up:
In your first few lucid dreams it is common to:
- Get so over-excited that you wake up in the real world.
- You start to think about how amazing it is that your body is actually asleep in bed and this refocuses your attention to your physical body and wakes you up.
These two potential causes for awakening from a lucid dream become less of a problem the more you experience lucid dreaming. Once you have a few lucid dreaming experiences it is unlikely that either of the above scenarios will awaken you from the lucid dream.
However, before I leave this topic I should tell you that there may be times when you actually want to wake up from a lucid dream or even stop them from happening. For the reasons behind this read this article.
How to stop waking up from a lucid dream
A common occurrence for many lucid dreamers, especially those new to the skill, is waking up from their dreams too early.
If you have experienced, or continue to experience, waking up from your lucid dreams suddenly, or find that you are unable to stay in a lucid dream, use the points I mentioned above. I will repeat them below for ease of reading.
11 things you can do to stop waking up from a lucid dream:
- Stay calm and try not to get over-excited.
- Breathe deeply. Breath in for a count of two. Breathe out for a count of two.
- Spin yourself around fairly fast several times.
- Look down at your hands and focus intently on them for a few seconds.
- Rub your hands together vigorously.
- Refocus your attention on your dream surroundings. Pick something to focus on intently.
- Stop thinking about your sleeping body and the waking world.
- Make an intention to stay in the lucid dream – just as you do when changing things in the dream.
- Speak out aloud that you want to stay in the dream and ask the dream to solidify and stay clear.
- Take off from the ground and fly around for awhile making sure you can see the world beneath you.
- Instantly change your dreamworld surroundings. Make the intention to move somewhere else in the dreamworld and have a different experience.
Following the above advice will stop you from waking from a lucid dream and allow you to continue exploring your dreamworld.
You should also consider joining a lucid dreaming community (that comes as part of a kick-ass lucid dreaming course full of advanced techniques) to develop your lucidity skills and get more from your time spent lucid dreaming.