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sleep experiments

Lucid dreaming

Lucid dreams are dreams in which you feel as if you are conscious inside your dream and are able to control your actions. I first read about them, although I wasn't aware of the name for them, from reading a book involving a physicist named Richard Feynmann. The book was called 'Surely You Are Joking, Mr Feynmann!'

I've just had a look around, and the book is available to read online, here, although you'll need some kind of Macromedia plug in to view it. I recommend buying it because it is very good.
The whole book is very interesting, but the part that I'm talking about here starts at page 18. Mr Feynmann decides to observe what happens when he falls asleep. He gets so good at doing this, he ends up observing himself whilst actually being in a dream. He then does various experiments inside the dream.

After forgetting about this for a while, a comment on an online forum made me remember it and I then starting searching around various websites for more information about this kind of stuff. The one that I ended up on the most is called Dream Views. It gave me lots of ideas on how to get started with lucid dreaming.

So, the first thing that Dream Views recommended was to try to improve your 'dream recall'. This sounds pretty straight-forward, and it is. All you do is try to remember what happened in your dream when you wake up from it. This normally involves writing down what happened in your dreams before you forget - a dream diary, in fact. So, around the end of September 2007, I started doing this. However, I soon found out that writing out my dreams was taking a very long time every day and I couldn't really be bothered. So, instead, when waking up, I decided to just lay for a while and just try to go over my dreams in my head. As well as improving dream recall, you are supposed to try to recognise traits in your dreams so that you might be able to tell that your dreaming. I discovered that I often meet some celebrity, such as Brian Wilson, or Nick Frost, and also I often do things with people that I went to school with more than twelve years ago. This hasn't yet helped me in any way, but it might by useful in the future!

Next, you start doing what is known as 'reality checks' during waking hours. These are certain little things that you can do very quickly in order to check whether you are in a dream or not. My wife bought me a watch for my birthday on the Second of October, and I set it to beep every hour, which reminds me to do a reality check. If I'm busy, I just look at the time quickly, remember it, look away, and look back. If the time changed significantly, I'm probably dreaming. If I'm not busy, I do a couple of additional checks. For example, I examine my hands to see if they look normal, or I pull a finger to see if it stretches.
Now, this all seems utterly bizarre, but the point is that, in your dreams, you normally don't noticed that the world is all messed up and dreamy. You behave as if all the crazy things that are happening are completely normal. But, if you've conditioned yourself to do frequent reality checks, you might by chance happen to do one whilst you are dreaming. When this happens and you notice that you're dreaming, *BANG*, you get yourself a lucid dream!

On the Eighteenth of October, I had my first such experience. It was a Thursday, and on Thursdays, I drive up to Swindon at 5am, which takes an hour, and I then have a couple of hours sleep on my back seat before I go into the office. I've since found out that this is ideal for lucid dreaming, because I've got the initial (boring) sections of sleep out of the way. I'm therefore ready to go straight into the REM phase, which is where your dreams happen.

The method that I've described to get this dream is commonly called 'DILD', which stands for 'Dream Induced Lucid Dream'. My account of it is here:

18/10/2007 dild001.

After I awoke from this dream, I was very excited about having done something new and interesting. I expected to be able to have another lucid dream very soon, having achieved my first one. However, DILDs don't really work that way. It's all down to luck, really. So, I decided to start trying another method. This method appears to be what Mr Feynmann was using. It is called 'WILD', which stands for 'Wake Induced Lucid Dream'. You observe yourself going to sleep, effectively keeping your mind active whilst your body nods off, and and you end up directly inside a lucid dream.

After trying this out for a couple of times and failing, I actually managed to do it the next Thursday morning, again on the back seat of my car! Here is the account of it:

25/10/2007 wild001.

Six days later, and I had another one, but it was disappointing in comparison to the first two. Ah well, it's all experience!

31/10/2007 wild002.

Nearly a month has passed, though I've been attempting more lucid dreams, I only eventually managed another DILD nearly a month later. This time at home, which is a first!

22/11/2007 dild002.

Three weeks later, and I had another one. This time, it's quite a good one.

13/12/2007 wild003.

Just before Christmas, I had a DILD. It was very long, but I didn't write it down and I've since forgotten large parts of it.

22/12/2007 dild003.

I went to Japan and Australia for a few weeks in January. I had a fourth DILD one night in Japan, but I can't remember a thing about it.

I had a sequence of lucid dreams in one session at the beginning of February. Again, I didn't write them all down, so my memory of them all isn't very good, except for one.

04/02/2008 wild004.

I've had another two WILDs over the last couple of weeks.

18/02/2008 wild005.
25/02/2008 wild006.

And another, but I'm in a dry spell now (06/04/2008). I did have a sort of semi-lucid DILD involving sports cars, the beach, piers and occasional stormy weather, but I don't remember any detail.

13/03/2008 wild007.

I've broken my dry patch with a bit of a rubbish one, really...

08/05/2008 wild008.

Since then, I have the occassional lucid dream. I'm going to stop the write-ups now, unless I have a really outstanding or interesting one.

Total number of lucid dreams: 20+

Polyphasic sleep experiment


The other day, I came across this page for the second time. I remember reading it a couple of years ago, only this time I found more inclined to give the idea a go.
To summarise, most people have one big chunk of sleep each day, even though the most essential phase of your sleep only occurs over a period of a few minutes. This phase is called REM.
With polyphasic sleeping, you attempt to get your body used to having several smaller chunks of sleep over each day. For example, six half-hour sleeps at four hour intervals. This means that you only sleep for a total of three hours each day, thereby giving you several more hours to do things that you wouldn't otherwise get time to do!
Obviously, your body needs time to adjust to this new regime. It is not an easy thing to do, as can be seen from various internet blogs. I will be using this page to record my experience.


I shall start by attempting short naps of half an hour in the daytime, fitting around my work and gym schedules. I shall attempt two longer periouds of sleep at night, gradually shortening them until they (hopefully) end up being around the length of the daytime naps.
I have read that it is essential to have things to do whilst in the period of adjustment, so to help me, I'm going to keep a list of things to do.

Attempt 1

Week 1

Attempt 2

Week 1

Attempt 3

Week 1

Attempt 4

Week 1

Attempt 5

Week 1


I just found that this Wikipedia article references me in its list of failures! I was actually quite chuffed to be linked to from Wikipedia, but I would prefer not to be a failure. So...
Here we go with another things to do list, and another attempt at polyphase sleeping...

Attempt 6

Week 1

Hmm, well that was a failure. I'm writing this on Wed Jan 9 2008. I think the last attempt only lasted a couple of days, if my memory serves me well. And I'm no longer on the wikipedia article either. I currently have no plans to try again. If I ever do, it will probably be on an Everyman schedule, rather than an Uberman one. Uberman is what I tried here, and is said to be rather fragile - if your naps are not dead on time, you're in a whole heap of trouble.