Lucid Dreaming Supplements: How Effective Are They?
Boosting Lucid Dreams with Supplements?
Lucid dreaming is the skill of becoming self-aware in the dream. Ordinarily, learning how to lucid dream can be a difficult ordeal. However, there are some reliable short cuts to lucidity, such as intense dream incubations, prolonged meditation, and the use of lucid dreaming supplements.
While some may hope that a pill alone will provoke a lucid dream, the truth is more subtle. Yes, some supplements can increase the likelihood of lucid dreaming by promoting the conditions in the brain that strengthen REM sleep (also known as dreaming sleep) and increasing dream bizarreness.
However, without learning how to strengthen your intention to have a lucid dream as well as developing mental practices that encourage lucidity, these supplements will only lighten your wallet at best, and promote creepy nightmares and sleep paralysis at worst.
Top 5 Lucid Dreaming Supplements
- Galantamine. This supplement, sometimes called the "lucid dreaming pill," is derived from plants such as the common daffodil and the red spider
lily. The compound, which has been approved by the FDA for Alzheimer's
Disease, is a cholinesterase inhibitor. It
increases the levels of acetylcholine in the brain for several hours.
As seen in memory research, high levels of acetylcholine are associated
higher memory function, a stronger REM sleep cycle, and more
dream vividness and lucidity. Here's more information about the lucid dreaming pill.
- The Dream Herb. Also known as Calea Zachatechihi, this herb has been used for centuries by Chontol shamans in Mexico. Although the mechanism of action is unknown to science, the herb is well-known to enhance lucid dreams in two ways. First, it promotes hypnagogic sleep (light sleep) which is a gateway to lucid dreaming through the less common Wake-Initiated-Lucid-Dream (WILDs). Secondly, it temporarily depresses REM sleep in the begining of the night, causing a strong REM rebound in the second half of the night. This greatly increases the odds of lucid dreaming in the morning hours.
- 5-HTP. This supplement is a precursor to serotonin, an important neurotransmitter for the sleep/wake cycle. 5HTP actually inhibits REM sleep in the first half of the night, which causes a "REM rebound effect" in the second half. REM rebound dreams tend to be more vivid and bizarre than ordinary dreams -- and sometimes more nightmarish too, so watch out. However, may people report a calming effect as well.
- Vitamin B5 and Choline. This cocktail of common enzymes and over the counter vitamins is the raw material for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is associated with highter dream recall, dream vividness, and lucid dreaming. Take in moderation.
- Melatonin. This is commonly prescribed as a sleep aid, but it also enhances dreams and lucidity. Don't overdo it, because melatonin has a powerful effect on the sleep/wake cycle. Also, research into melatonin has shown that it also increases dream bizarreness. This is key to realizing you are lucid dreaming, but can be sometimes an unpleasant way to become lucid.
Easy Does It
While lucid dreaming supplements can increase the chance of self-awareness in dreams, I recommend to experiment carefully. Some of these dream herbs and supplements can result in bizarre and disturbing dream experiences, and possibly some sleepless nights.
Also, keep in mind that the success of any supplement will be tripled if taken in association with a prolonged lucid dreaming incubation and a strong intention. In fact, developing intention is the real skill to learning how to lucid dream, which takes time and patience.
But don't worry, we have our whole lives to dream!
Recommended Reading and Products
Yuschak's book reviews the research on lucid dreaming supplements and provides detailed explanations and guides for safe experimentation.
My favorite introduction to lucid dreaming. Waggoner has a lot of tangible advice for moving beyond those mental blocks that get in the way of building intention.
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