Can we induce lucid dreams? A pharmacological point of view

Summary. The phenomenon of lucid dreaming, in which an individual has the ability to be conscious and in control of his dreams, has attracted the public attention, especially in the era of internet and social media platforms. With its huge pop- ularity, lucid dreaming triggered passionate individuals, particularly lucid dreamers, to spread their thoughts and experi- ences in lucid dreaming, and provide a number of tips and techniques to induce lucidity in dreams. Scientific research in the field of sleep and dreams has verified the phenomenon of lucid dreaming for decades. Nevertheless, various aspects regarding lucid dreaming are not fully understood. Many hypotheses and claims about lucid dreaming induction are yet to be validated, and at present lucid dreaming still lacks efficient and reliable induction methods. Understanding the molecular basis, brain physiology, and underlying mechanisms involved in lucid dreaming can aid in developing novel and more target-specific induction methods. This review will focus on the currently available scientific findings regarding neurotransmitters’ behavior in sleep, drugs observed to affect dreams, and proposed supplements for lucid dreaming, in order to discuss the possibility of inducing lucid dreams from a pharmacological point of view.

Just a summary of previous research with no recommendations. Text here Download the PDF

3 Likes

I worry a bit about the widespread use of pharmacologicals such as galantamine by folks who may not have prepared themselves for lucidity through the more classic protocols.

It has taken our brains a very long time to develop systems that work…including a system that prevents us from being completely conscious while we are dreaming. I see inherent dangers in short circuiting those systems without looking really hard at the possible ramifications involved.

That said, after two strong nights of building lucidity…I’ll be taking 8 mg tonight. :sunglasses:

2 Likes

Pleasant dreams. Can’t wait to hear your report.
Steve

2 Likes

:slightly_smiling_face:

4 mg at 1:00 AM produced strong lucidity with interacting dream characters. I let the dream run its course.

4 more mg at 3:00 AM produced even stronger lucidity where I was able to dissolve dream characters. A second dream during that period was with happy dancing children. I watched them with a strong feeling of blissful emptiness.

Woke up feeling that bliss.

:slightly_smiling_face:

3 Likes

My hero :vulcan_salute:

1 Like

Could you elaborate on this? What specific dangers do you see in unprepared people experimenting with “lucidogens”?

~ArthurG

2 Likes

Well…if I have it right, a chemical is released in the brain that inhibits cognitive oversight during REM sleep. This allows our dreams to run their course without us assuming any responsibility for trying to control them. Galantamine blocks that chemical. My question is…why did this function evolve? And…what sort of psychological damage do we risk by allowing a sudden increase in cognitive dream control without truly preparing for it through longer term protocols? We are, after all, messing with the chemistry of our brains here.

This, btw, from the guy who took large doses of LSD and other more organic hallucinogens in the early 70’s in the hope of consciousness expansion. Even back then we did things like fasting and meditation to prepare. :sunglasses:

Perhaps we are in the process of a slow evolution toward cognitive dreaming as a species. Some folks who are naturally lucid must be releasing less of the chemical already and those of us with a proclivity toward lucid dreaming are already “plowing the field” for “baseline lucidity” so are prepared for more radical cognitive oversight.

I did not look to galantamine until I had spent over a year of intensive daily and nightly training on this amazing path…and my first 4 mg dose pretty much knocked my socks off. :wink:

I worry a bit about folks who are looking to lucid dreaming for recreational release and think that a “lucidogen” can get them there without the hard work of mental and even physical preparation.

:slightly_smiling_face:

4 Likes

Why worry . . . . . ?

1 Like

Good point, my friend.

That is not usually my style. :wink:

image

4 Likes

I don’t think that’s correct. My understanding is that galantamine enhances memory by raising acetylcholine levels in the brain (by inhibiting the breakdown of that neurotransmitter), and also increases the duration (and maybe intensity?) of REM sleep.

In any case, I agree with you that set and setting are important when working with oneirogens, just as when working with psychedelics. Ryan Hurd has a great article on galantamine that talks about how it works and has a section that resonates with your initial point about working with it in a more deliberate way:

Recommendation: Combine with Mental Practices

I personally believe galantamine should be handled with care and with a healthy respect, just as for all oneirogens, and all mind-altering substances in general.

As they say, set and setting .

Know why you want to be more lucid, and mentally prepare yourself for the journey.

Don’t just pop the pill and flop down to bed after watching a horror movie or after a night of drinking. Instead, prepare for sleep mindfully, perhaps by listening to relaxing music before bed, or by journaling about what you want to do when you realize you are dreaming.

The effects of galantamine can be accentuated if you combine the supplement with some kind of regular meditation or mindfulness practice. Specifically, middle-of-the-night meditation in combination with galantamine has been found to be more effective for inducing lucid dreams than either alone (Sparrow et al., 2018).

Because solidifying intent is really the hard part of learning how to lucid dream, taking a pill alone will not do the trick, although the actual behavior of swallowing a medicine is a strong ritual act that is in itself a behavioral artifact of intention.

Mindfulness during the day, and especially right before bed, is a great way to become more lucid during the night.

For example, because the best practice is to take galantamine in the middle of the night (in order to not effect early night deep sleep as well as be closer to the longer REM cycles of the morning), a simple exercise is to set the alarm after four and half hours (three sleep cycles of 90 minutes), wake up and take the pill with some water, and then do 10-15 minutes of concentrative meditation such as watching your breath while sitting upright.

Another effective variation for me has been to read for 10-15 minutes, especially to read about lucid dreaming. These activities increase activity in the frontal lobe, and will result in more opportunities of staying lucid as you fall back asleep.

~ from Galantamine: Reviewing The Lucid Dreaming Pill, Ryan Hurd

2 Likes

I think this is a good discussion. I kind of like to know what’s going on up there when I mess around like this.

I have read that galantamine in an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. So that begs the question…what is being inhibited?

This is from a way over my head article entitled: Basal forebrain acetylcholine release during REM sleep is significantly greater than during waking

Cholinergic neurons of the basal forebrain supply the neocortex with ACh and play a major role in regulating behavioral arousal and cortical electroencephalographic activation. Cortical ACh release is greatest during waking and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and reduced during non-REM (NREM) sleep. Loss of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons contributes to sleep disruption and to the cognitive deficits of many neurological disorders.

I know I probably don’t quite have it right and I wonder if anybody else can chime in. I need to go back and listen to that Ryan Hurd interview again.

2 Likes

Hi.
Very interesting for this “newbie” following the more experienced here. I have been experimenting on and off with “ chemical supplements in the 5 months I have been following this practice . Choline, B6, Mugwort, 5-HTP, THC, Melatonin ( not all at once, of course). I have a very sensitive stomach and many of them have bothered it, especially Mugwort. I’m listening/reading Andrew’s new guide to lucid dreaming and it’s wonderful . I’m really exploring using Meditation and having some incredible experiences.
I finally bought a bottle of Galantamine and tried 4 mg with Wake back to sleep with no effect. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’m having less success now than I did in my first two months of the practice.
I must admit, right now I am seeking the “ recreational” aspect of LD but am very open to moving beyond that.
I was thinking of trying 8mg of Galantamine with WAke back 2 sleep to “kickstart “ me and aid with some of the frustration I’m feeling at not even having “this must be a dream” moments for almost 2 months now.
However, after reading an above post, I am wondering if it is still to early in my journey and may do more harm than good. As a side note, I have zero experience with mind-altering drugs besides marijuana, as I was always fascinated but scared that I would experience an “overly vivid nightmare “ from which I couldn’t wake up. I have always had a very vivid imagination and suffered from horrible night terrors as a small kid.
Any thoughts as to when might be the right timing for trying the 8 mg of Galantamine?
Thanks and sorry for such a long post.

2 Likes

Are you able to sleep and dream without any supplements? If yes, that’s a super foundation! Considering what you have done over the past couple of months, your statement above seems to be a reasonable way to proceed. It’s hard to advise about taking supplements when so many variables are in play. For me Galantamine has helped promote some lucidity while for others report no success or even lack of sleep.

I like Steve’s approach of making sure good daytime practices are used, which include working to improve one’s attitudes and reactions/responses to the vicissitudes of life while we’re conscious, making the nighttime practices a complement to an already good day. I know the frustrations of going weeks, months without lucid dreams, but I’ve experienced so much positive personal growth through the past two years of trying, that by widening my view, I know everything is moving along well, though not exactly along a straight path.

I truly believe that this course will get you there faster and more comfortably than supplements. Be specific with your meditation. Vipashyana meditation, in particular, has been well documented as a strong path toward lucidity as it enhances your awareness.
Even as a recreational dreamer spend some time looking into the Dzogchen principles of emptiness and non-dual radiant awareness and try to start thinking along those lines during your days. Immerse yourself in these patterns in the daytime and you will begin to take them with you into the dream where you will begin to see the dream as the illusion that it is.
Most of all…don’t get discouraged. If you really want this to happen…it will happen. Immerse yourself in a soup of lucidity research.

I had developed a strong feeling of stable presence and awareness in my dreams before I took 8 mg. That first experience was like being swept from the calm water near the shore into a maelstrom of crossing currents filled with images. But I was ready for that.

1 Like

Thank you both so much into the comments and support. I will look into your suggestions. Interestingly, I just woke from a series of very vivid dreams ( non-lucid) and believed it is related to the fact that I had just written my post before going to bed. Just like when I wrote a few nights ago how I wouldn’t play “nightmare mode” in the VR Game “Richie’s Plank Experience” and went on to have my first night of bad dreams in a while. It’s possible the act of writing these dream related ideas before bed is having a stronger effect on me than repeating the suggested affirmations in my head or even out loud . Maybe I will try writing positive lucidity affirmations physically to paper before bed.
Oh, one other thing. Yesterday, during a 17 minute, silent meditation, I had a moment where I “physically “ felt a “change “ in my body, as if it was lengthening and a whooshing sound, I remember thinking “wow, that was cool.” Not sure what that meant.
Thanks again,
Steve

Writing is a form of thinking and in some ways more powerful because you can edit your thoughts/writing to say just what you want to say and rewrite it till you get it right. Look at all the wisdom books we have available from teachers who are long-gone. Charlie Morley uses written dream plans and has participants create them in his workshops. They include pictures and words and strong intentions.

1 Like

I’ve got an article for that! @Steve_Gleason!

Went on a ‘shiny research binge’ a while back and funny - I saved one on this very topic.

Choline. It’s kinda important for both the brain and DNA!

Brain: I’d suggest taking Galantamine produces the side effect of becoming lucid in a dream. As in, dream recall and lucidity (should one have that natural slant) is a sign of a healthy brain. Just a hunch, but I think I know I’m right. :wink:

Brain: Acetylcholine is hugely implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. Such that Galantamine is offered by prescription and actually covered by Medicare. (go Big Pharma! :+1: :roll_eyes:) Galantamine comes from a plant. Specifically, a bulb type flowering plant. Sad tulips :wilted_flower: the day Big Pharma patents nature.

(right word? That 7-year window where they charge insane prices and no generics are allowed?)

Which is likely what lead to “prescription methylated B9”. Yes, a vitamin now has a patent. And the drug reps are greasing the doctors up to write prescriptions for - - - vitamins! NOT covered by Medicare or any insurance, because you can get it OTC.

I digress…

DNA: Only 4 peptides or nucleic acids or WHATEVER create the entire blueprint of your body and it’s various potentials, expressed or not. A, C, G, T. And if that’s not ridiculously simple to grow something like a human, they only pair with one other. So there’s essentially 2 “codes” that make up your genes, those blobs of spiraled stairs. A only links to T, and G only links to C.

Hmm, much like computer programming. The most highly abstracted coding languages/methodologies like object oriented or even 4GL (a pretty front-end) all get parsed down into machine language: 1’s and 0’s.

(starting to feel my inner geek get excited about this significance of “duality” lol!!!)

DNA: By some magic in the body, DNA first replicates before it splits into 2 new cells. “Transcription process” I think it’s called. And somehow, specific amino acids are related to specific nucleic acids (I think).

I’m being vague because I only just learned this.

My so-called “dis-ease” is inherited, is genetic. What it appears to do is mess up that transcription process, for part of one specific gene and (they think) for only types of cells (endothelial? something to do with barrier cells: the blood/brain imaginary barrier and the gut barrier is what they currently know). The way it messes up the transcription is by causing Choline to replace Tyrosine randomly. Those are amino acids. The result is progressive genetic mutation, which is why I linked amino acids to nucleic acids. “Systemic infiltration” is the result.

So from personal experience, I can tell you that choline is VERY important!!! Be it acetylated or methylated, it’s critical to a lot of stuff.

Ok, the article!

Abstract:

This review summarizes the brain mechanisms controlling sleep and wakefulness. Wakefulness promoting systems cause low-voltage, fast activity in the electroencephalogram (EEG). Multiple interacting neurotransmitter systems in the brain stem, hypothalamus, and basal forebrain converge onto common effector systems in the thalamus and cortex. Sleep results from the inhibition of wake-promoting systems by homeostatic sleep factors such as adenosine and nitric oxide and GABAergic neurons in the preoptic area of the hypothalamus, resulting in large-amplitude, slow EEG oscillations. Local, activity-dependent factors modulate the amplitude and frequency of cortical slow oscillations. Non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep results in conservation of brain energy and facilitates memory consolidation through the modulation of synaptic weights. Rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep results from the interaction of brain stem cholinergic, aminergic, and GABAergic neurons which control the activity of glutamatergic reticular formation neurons leading to REM sleep phenomena such as muscle atonia, REMs, dreaming, and cortical activation. Strong activation of limbic regions during REM sleep suggests a role in regulation of emotion. Genetic studies suggest that brain mechanisms controlling waking and NREM sleep are strongly conserved throughout evolution, underscoring their enormous importance for brain function. Sleep disruption interferes with the normal restorative functions of NREM and REM sleep, resulting in disruptions of breathing and cardiovascular function, changes in emotional reactivity, and cognitive impairments in attention, memory, and decision making.

Neurotransmitters/neuromodulators (Systemic or icv effects)
Acetylcholine Systemic muscarinic antagonists (177, 555, 744). Increase in EEG delta waves. Increased high-voltage spindles (sharp waves/ ripples). Block of PGO waves.
M2/M4 double knockouts (434). No effect on sleep-wake
M3 receptor knockouts (434). REM 22% ↓
Rats reared on a diet lacking choline (1256). Reduced NREM and REM sleep

First major experience with Galantamine,
Hi friends, (sorry if this is too long)
I wanted to share my first experience with 8mg of Galantamine. I had, in a previous post, mentioned that I had tried 4 mg about a month ago with no effect.
It’s now over 6 months that I have been “religiously” engaged in my lucid dreaming practice with daily journalling, meditation, reality checks, visualization and studying Andrew’s wonderful training course.
After trying (on different nights) Choline, 5-HTP, and Mugwort at bedtime with help from Melatonin or Valerian Root, I wanted to try to kick start things with Galantamine. Although my dream recollection got really bad for a few weeks, it has been very good lately, although nothing “lucid” or even repeating past experiences of thinking “Am I Dreaming?” or “This must be a dream”.
I took some Valerian before bed and set my alarm for 5 am. I had a protein bar and some water ready at my bedside with 8 mg of Galantamine. After I woke and took the Galantamine with the protein bar (I have a very sensitive stomach) I did a 25 minute “Deep Meditation” session with my “LIMINA” mind machine.
Here are my impressions:
Many many very vivid dreams…Many times I became aware that I was dreaming but never did a reality check (I do them 10-20 times every day). In one dream, I was being hassled by these 3 punks and I thought I can just kick this guy in the leg since I am dreaming so I did. They all piled on top of me to start wrestling me and I just made myself disappear , so that is control. In another dream, I was riding my mountain bike quickly on this trail in the woods when I came up to what was usually a 3 foot dry stream bed that I usually ride through, but when I got there it had turned into a 300 foot wide river below a cliff…It would have been really cool to think “I am dreaming. I can just fly over the river” but instead I went around and over a bridge.
The biggest moment is a period where I was sure I was out in the day and I was no longer in bed. I figured I must have lost track of time and was outside with clear blue skies, etc…nothing special going on…Then I realized I was still in bed and the “dream” faded. I realized that this was a moment of TRUE LUCIDITY. When I think about it, my dreams have a kind of 'filtered" quality to them. As if they are shot thru a gauzy fabric, Nothing seems as clear and vivid as waking life. For that brief moment, EVERYTHING, was SO REAL that I was sure I was awake.
I am thinking that that was my biggest breakthrough (with the help of Galantamine) and something to strive for without it. Maybe going forward I can get “control” and guide things when I get to that state.
I really look forward to any feedback from all of you.
All the best,
Steve

4 Likes

Great to read Steve. My experience has been similar including having something for my stomach if needed (occasionally). Andrew talks about Galantamine as his go-to device for lucid dreaming and I believe if I or anyone get in a good rhythm using it, not abusing it, it is not a big worry, since the pill doesn’t cause lucidity directly, just aids the memory process—so perhaps it’s an indirect cause.

At one of the Hangouts a man expressed the concern that because he could not get lucid without Galantamine, could he get lucid in the Bardo where he would not be taking the pill? As I recall Andrew didn’t think it would be a problem since there is some teaching about experiencing lucidity during life a number of times would ensure it during the Bardo, but for some older folks such as the questioner, and me, it really gives us a boost. It’s not cheating any more than doing all the other fake-it-till-you-make-it practices we try. It also means we need to do as you are doing, spending waking time “engaged in . . . lucid dreaming practice with daily journalling, meditation, reality checks, visualization and studying . . .”

Looking forward to reading about more of your experiences.

2 Likes