Insomnia – How to Overcome Sleeplessness

In this comprehensive article on insomnia, I describe the most common treatments for sleeplessness. I begin with Western Medicine’s pharmacologic treatment, which is very efficient but its effects are not lasting. Then, I take a look at various cognitive, spiritual and behavioral treatments, which have a curative value, but are not always effective. I go over some herbal remedies which have been put to the test for treatment of insomnia before I introduce my own approach which I refer to as Paleolithic Sleep. I believe that compared to how we existed for the most part of our existence as a species, in our modern life we are making lifestyle choices that in some predisposed individuals become insomnia. Once you get used to living on a healthy schedule as well as adopt a balanced diet and a relaxed state of mind, insomnia goes away.

By the time you finish reading this article, you will know exactly what you need to do and change in your life in order to attain better sleep.

For one-on-one support, schedule a sleep counseling with me.

Table of Contents – Where do we begin?

Medications (Treat Insomnia as a Symptom; this is NEVER a Cure)

Non-drug Treatments for Insomnia (Closer to an actual Cure)

Herbal Remedies (in case you were wondering whether they are effective…)

Paleolithic Sleep (Start here for my Innovative Approach)

Bottom Line – How to Cure Insomnia?

FAQ (Any questions?)

Or, you can always start at the beginning:

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia (Sleeplessness) is a disorder in which a person experiences difficulties initiating or maintaining sleep not due to time constraints. So if you’re unable to get enough sleep because you’re just too busy, that will not make you officially an insomniac. Also, if you feel perfectly well the following day, you will most likely not be regarded as suffering from Insomnia Disorder; to establish this diagnosis, a daytime impairment must be there as well (e.g., sleepiness, fatigue, cognitive memory problems.) However, you will still benefit from reading this article as the suggestions I will present below (and my sleep coaching services) are relevant and would be tremendously helpful to anyone who is unsatisfied with the quality of their sleep.

How many people suffer from insomnia?

It is estimated that between 10% to 22% of the adult general population (more women than men) suffer from insomnia, depending on how broad the definition is. Even more than 20% of people (closer to 50%!) say that they are not happy with the quality of their sleep and/or suffer from at least one symptom of insomnia.

And these percentages seem to be going up over time.

Risks of Insomnia

Among other things, suffering from insomnia may increase your chances of becoming depressed or start abusing substances, such as alcohol and sleeping meds.

Another Sleepless Night

Causes of Insomnia

Insomnia may be caused by medical conditions, substance abuse or by other sleep or mental disorders (Co-morbid/Secondary Insomnia), or it can occur independently (Primary Insomnia).

Co-morbid/Secondary Insomnia are associated with and may be caused by many medical conditions (such as chronic pain), sleep and psychiatric disorders (such as depression), substance abuse (including alcohol, drugs and medications such as stimulants, corticosteroids, blood pressure meds and anti-depressants.)

Escitalopram, a very popular anti-depressant sold under the brand names Cipralex and Lexapro, may cause insomnia as a side effect in up to 12% of the people taking using it.

The causes of primary insomnia vary and may generally be classified to short-term vs. chronic insomnia:

Short-term/episodic/acute insomnia – You are able to recognize the stressor causing your sleeplessness. When you adapt to the stressor or its power is reduced, the insomnia goes away. The whole thing shouldn’t last more than 3 months.

Chronic/Persistent Insomnia lasts at least 3 months (and is known as Recurrent Insomnia if it occurs more than once per year). Its causes may vary based on the subtype of the disorder, which include:

  1. Psychophysiological insomnia – With high arousal during the day, you are not getting enough exercise during the day, are not able to relax at night, and oftentimes experience anxiety due to your inability to sleep.
  2. Paradoxical insomnia – You don’t feel as tired as you should have been with the little sleep you have been getting.
  3. Idiopathic insomnia – You have suffered from insomnia since you were a child.
  4. Poor sleep hygiene – You may be hurting your sleep by lifestyle choices, such as sleeping in a noisy environment or a non-darkened room, going to sleep at different hours every day, napping, using alcohol, caffeine or nicotine before going to sleep or not taking the time to wind down and relax before bedtime. This is the easiest type of insomnia to cure. Just a few lifestyle changes may be all that’s needed in this case.

Insomnia Medications (Helpful Drugs)

Several types of medications are used for the treatment of insomnia. Most of them require a prescription and therefore can only be used by people who are diagnosed as suffering from chronic insomnia.

What are the requirements for an official diagnosis of chronic insomnia?

  • Insomnia which lasts at least 3 months
  • Minimum 3 nights per week
  • The condition is causing distress or interferes with the patient’s functioning the following day

It is estimated that only about 10% of the population suffer from chronic insomnia disorder. What about the other 12-40%? What if you suffer from occasional insomnia? Some medications may still help, but it would be more difficult to get a prescription. If you are unable to get a prescription, then you can use an over-the-counter drug, such as melatonin or an anti-histamine, or even better, resort to a non-pharmacological treatment (see below.)

Sleeping Pills for Insomnia

Benzodiazepines – First-line Hypnotics

The safest and most effective class of drugs for the treatment of both daytime and nighttime symptoms of insomnia are benzodiazepines (BZDs), commonly known as benzos. This name is a bit misleading though; while not all of these drugs are benzodiazepines themselves (nonbenzodiazepines which act like benzodiazepines are known as BzRAs, or benzodiazepine receptor agonsits), they all act in the same way by binding to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain and increasing the activity of an inhibitory neurotransmitter known as GABA.

Since benzodiazepines exert their effect by increasing the efficacy of GABA, might GABA supplements be helpful?

Probably not. At least there’s currently no evidence that GABA can even cross the blood-brain barrier and reach the brain.

FDA Approved Benzodiazepines (BZDs)

  • Estazolam (ProSom)
  • Flurazepam (Dalmane)
  • Temazepam (Restoril)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)
  • Quazepam (Doral)

FDA Approved Benzodiazepine Receptor Agonists (BzRAs)

  • Eszopiclone (Lunesta)
  • Zaleplon (Sonata)
  • Zolpidem (Ambien, AmbienCR, Edluar, Intermezzo, Zolpimist)

The main difference between the different benzos is in their duration of action. Based on your idiosyncratic needs, your physician will choose one of these drugs for you, as well as a proper dose.

Benefits of Benzos

  • Most of these drugs will make people suffering from chronic insomnia fall asleep faster and increase their total sleep time. They may reduce the number of nightly awakenings and improve the quality of sleep.
  • There’s usually no problem of drug tolerance, meaning a higher dose of benzos is not required once the patient gets used to the drug.
  • They can help even when the insomnia is a symptom of other disorders (secondary insomnia), such as rheumatoid arthritis, depression, anxiety and chronic pain.
  • Most people who take them report improvement in sleep quality and are generally very satisfied with the drugs.
  • Benzodiazepines also improve daytime consequences of insomnia, such as alertness, ability to function and a physical sense of well-being.
  • Substance abuse almost never happens with this type of drugs.

Sounds great? Hold your horses…  There are some downsides to using benzodiazepines.

Benzos – The negatives

While benzodiazepines are very safe, in rare cases mild adverse reactions may occur, such as amnesia and residual drowsiness, but these are usually dependent on dose and duration of action so they can often be avoided by adjusting the dose and/or type of benzodiazepine used. You definitely don’t want to be sleepy while driving in the morning, which can happen when the nightly dose is too high. To tackle this problem, your doctor will most likely start you up with a very small dose and then increase it gradually as needed.

Contraindications (do not use if you suffer from…) – severe COPD (due to a risk of respiratory failure); obstructive sleep apnea; substance abuse disorder (or a history of drug and/or alcohol abuse); advanced liver disease. It is advised not to drink alcohol while taking benzos. Do not use while pregnant or if it is not possible for you to sleep for at least 5 hours from when you take the drug.

Another problem with benzodiazepines occurs when patients stop taking them. The discontinuation of the drug causes rebound insomnia so your insomnia might get even worse than it was for a couple of days. This phenomena can be evaded by using longer acting benzos or gradually reducing the dose until stopping.

Withdrawal – after long-term use of benzodiazepines, patients may also experience a withdrawal syndrome which consists of unpleasant symptoms, such as irritability, increased tension and anxiety, panic attacks, hand tremor, shaking, sweating and more, which may last up to a few weeks.

Older adults may have an elevated risk for falling when using benzodiazepines. It may also increase their risk for cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s dementia.

Finally, there are some conditions associated with benzodiazepine use but have not been proven to be caused by it, such as somnambulism (sleepwalking) and even an increased mortality rate.

To conclude

Benzodiazepines are recommended for people whose insomnia is either causing significant distress or may have deleterious effects on their health and/or safety. Their effects are immediate, while curing insomnia through non-pharmacological methods may take up to 2 months or even more.

A good idea might therefore be to use the drug (if your doctor prescribed it for you), starting at the lowest dose and revving it up (according to your doctor’s instructions) until the distress is gone and you can function, at least close to normal. Then, use a non-pharmacologic method to cure your insomnia while gradually weaning off the drugs.

Other Drugs for Insomnia

While benzodiazepines are considered first-line pharmacotherapy for insomnia, other drugs may sometimes be prescribed, depending on different factors, which we will consider next.


Melatonin is mostly indicated for children who suffer from insomnia, including those with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as ASD (Autism spectrum disorder), as well as for older adults with Alzheimer dementia. With no risk for abuse, melatonin may also be a great choice for people with a history of substance abuse.

In some countries, including the United States, melatonin is available as an over-the-counter medication, therefore no prescription is usually required. Doses are typically 2-6 mg.

While melatonin is available also in a delayed release preparation, it mostly affects sleep onset rather than sleep maintenance and duration.

Side effects include headaches. Melatonin is not recommended for men and women who are trying to conceive since it may cause a temporary disruption of ovulation and sperm generation.

Two pistachio nuts, or a handful of tart cherries, may provide a clinically significant dose of melatonin minus the side effects.

Ramelteon (Rozerem) – Melatonin Receptor Agonist

Ramelteon works in a similar way as melatonin and is used for treating sleep-onset insomnia in people suffering from COPD (a condition which is regarded a contraindication for the use of benzodiazepines, as mentioned above) and sleep disordered breathing (SDB) since unlike benzos, ramelteon does not exacerbate breathing problems.

Like melatonin, it is taken before bed. Dose is 8 mg. Its main effects are a shorter sleep latency (takes less time to fall asleep) as well as possibly increasing total sleep time.

At the normal dose, side effects include headache, dizziness, fatigue and nausea. The only contraindication with ramelteon is severe liver failure. Like melatonin, there is no risk of abuse so it can be used even with people who have a history of substance abuse.


Antihistamines are medications which are capable of reducing or even stopping an allergic reaction. They are used to treat patients who suffer from allergies as well as upper respiratory infections. Some of them, specifically diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and doxylamine (Unisom), can also be used to treat insomnia. They are over-the-counter medications, so they do not require a prescription. In fact, diphenhydramine is the active ingredient in most OTC sleep aids. It has a long half-life, which means that you may still feel groggy or drowsy after 8-9 hours of taking the drug.

Adverse effects may include dizziness, psychomotor/cognitive impairment, dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, urine retention and weight gain. Antihistamines have no abuse potential.

Diphenhydramine and doxylamine should not be used by people suffering from asthma, COPD and severe liver disease.


Antidepressant medications are used to prevent or relieve depression and elevate mood. However, in much lower doses they are sometimes also used to treat insomnia.

Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline (Elavil), doxepin (Silenor) and trimipramine (Surmontil), are used to treat insomnia when it is accompanied by major depressive disorder (MDD), chronic pain and/or anxiety and in individuals with a history of substance abuse (since they have a low abuse potential).

Doxepin is also used for early morning awakenings and could be beneficial when insomnia is accompanied by allergies. Do not combine Doxepin with MAOIs (a type of anti-depressant, but also present in plants such as Banisteriopsis caapi, Syrian Rue, Passionflower, and Yohimbe).

While trimipramine will improve the quality of sleep without making you fall asleep faster, doxepin improves sleep quality, daytime well-being as well as sleep onset and maintenance.

Potential side effects include daytime sedation, dizziness, weight gain, postural hypotension, dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation and urinary retention, but they are more common in the higher doses given to patients with depression than with the lower doses used for insomnia. Tricyclic antidepressants should not be used by people with a history of heart disease, seizure disorder, bipolar disorder and liver disease.

Trazodone (Oleptro) is another antidepressant which can be used to treat insomnia in people with a history of substance abuse (since it doesn’t appear to have an abuse potential). It helps both with falling asleep and maintaining sleep. Potential side effects include daytime sedation and drowsiness, fatigue, cardiac arrhythmias, dizziness, headache, dry mouth, blurred vision, hypotension and light-headedness, weight gain, anxiety and rarely priapism (which may lead to impotence; if you are a man, you might want to try a different drug). It’s contraindicated for people with liver or kidney disease and for those suffering from bipolar disorder.

Mirtazapine (Remeron) is also used for major depressive disorder and it can be useful in cases where the patient is also suffering from sleep disordered breathing (e.g., obstructive sleep apnea) in addition to insomnia and for people with a history of substance abuse. Its effects may include falling asleep faster and improved sleep maintenance. Potential side effects include daytime sedation, dry mouth, increased appetite, weight gain and constipation. Mirtazapine is not to be used by patients who are overweight or those with bipolar disorder or with liver/kidney disease.

Suvorexant (Belsomra) – Orexin Receptor Agonist

Suvorexant is effective for preventing early morning awakenings and also makes it easier to fall asleep. It’s used for people with mild to moderate COPD as well as for people who may require a long-term treatment with medication (as it doesn’t appear to cause dependence). Potential side effects may include daytime sedation. Narcoleptics and people with a history of substance abuse should not use this drug.


While antipsychotic drugs, namely olanzapine (Zyprexa) and quetiapine (Seroquel), are normally used to treat psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia as well as other mental disorders such as anxiety, mania and depression, in some cases they are used to treat insomnia, albeit in much lower doses. Olanzapine is capable of improving duration of sleep, while quetiapine can potentially reduce the time it takes patients fall asleep.

There’s no abuse potential with antipsychotics so they can be used in patients with a history of substance abuse, however side effects may include cognitive impairment, dry mouth, postural hypotension, weight gain, glucose intolerance and a higher risk of death in people suffering from dementia. They are contraindicated in patients who are overweight or suffering from heart or liver disease.


Anticonvulsants are a type of drug that is used to treat seizures caused by epilepsy. Some of them are also useful for pain, periodic limb movement disorder, restless legs syndrome (RLS), bipolar disorder and insomnia. Gabapentin (Neurontin), which is also used for alcohol dependence and withdrawal, and pregabalin (Lyrica), which is also given to patients with fibromyalgia, are great examples.

There may be a potential for abuse though with pregabalin. Side effects of both drugs may include sedation and dizziness. They should not be used by people with kidney disease.

Tiagabine (Gabitril) is another drug used for partial seizures. Its main effects are to increase the deeper levels of sleep (slow wave sleep), but it won’t make you fall asleep faster or improve your sleep maintenance. Side effects may include sedation, dizziness, nausea and possibly seizures. It may be inappropriate in patients with liver disease.

Chloral hydrate

Chloral hydrate is mostly used by patients who are elderly or by older adults with mild dementia. It has a high abuse and dependence potential, may damage the liver and kidneys and an overdose can kill. Side effects include nausea, diarrhea, psychomotor impairment and parasomnias. In short, this is a drug you might want to avoid.

Sodium oxybate (Xyrem)

Sodium oxybate is normally used to treat fibromyalgia and narcolepsy (specifically cataplexy and daytime sleepiness). Its effect is rather short lasting, thus a second dose is usually taken in the middle of the night.

It is useful for both shortening the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and improving sleep maintenance. Side effects may include headache, nausea, vomiting, excess salivation, parasomnia and amnesia. It also has an abuse and dependence potential. An overdose can lead to coma and delirium. Avoid if you suffer from COPD or respiratory problems including sleep disordered breathing.

Best Drug by Main Symptom

Sleep-onset Insomnia – zaleplon, triazolam, ramelteon

Sleep-maintenance insomnia – suvorexant, doxepin

Sleep-onset + sleep-maintenance – eszopiclone, zolpidem, temazepam

Best Drug by Comorbid Condition (Insomnia + …)

While benzodiazepines are regarded as first line therapy for insomnia, some people, such as those with a substance abuse history, those who do not respond to or tolerate benzos, or those who suffer from one of the below conditions, may benefit from using other types of drugs.

Alcohol dependence or withdrawal / a history of substance abuse

  • Gabapentin
  • Trazodone


  • Doxepin
  • Mirtazapine
  • Diphenhydramine
  • Doxylamine
  • Amitriptyline
  • Trimipramine
  • Trazodone
  • Olanzapine
  • Quetiapine

Alzheimer dementia

  • Melatonin


  • Amitriptyline
  • Doxepin
  • Trimipramine
  • Olanzapine
  • Quetiapine


  • Suvorexant
  • Ramelteon


When one drug for both conditions is desired (otherwise use eszopiclone, zolpidem or clonazepam with non-sleep inducing antidepressants):

  • Quetiapine
  • Mirtazapine
  • Trazodone
  • Amitriptyline
  • Doxepin
  • Trimipramine


  • Pregabalin
  • Sodium oxybate


  • Sodium oxybate

Neurodevelopmental disorders in children

  • Melatonin


When a single drug is preferred for both pain and insomnia:

  • Gabapentin
  • Pregabalin
  • Amitriptyline
  • Doxepin
  • Trimipramine

Partial seizures (epilepsy)

  • Gabapentin
  • Pregabalin
  • Tiagabine

Psychosis / schizophrenia / bipolar disorder / mania / hypomania

  • Quetiapine
  • Olanzapine

Restless legs syndrome / periodic leg movement disorder

  • Gabapentin
  • Pregabalin

Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB)

  • Mirtazapine
  • Ramelteon

Upper respiratory infections

  • Diphenhydramine
  • Doxylamine


The main problem with the pharmacological approach to treating insomnia is that it consists of treating the symptoms; you’re not curing the underlying cause and will therefore need to keep taking the medication to maintain its effects.

Also, there’s the problem of liver/kidney damage which can happen with many medications, even safe ones such as benzodiazepines.

For example, recently there was a case of a Japanese man who had been taking lorazepam (Ativan), one of the most popular benzos, for 5 months until he was admitted to a hospital suffering from drug-induced liver injury.

This is a Dream...

Zolpidem, another popular benzodiazepine used to induce and maintain sleep, is increasingly reported to have an abuse potential. One particular case study published recently in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (2018) reported that a 29-year-old man who was prescribed 300 to 1,200 mg/day of zolpidem, but started abusing it to feel energetic during the day. Unfortunately, he got into a car accident, apparently because high doses of the medicine may cause a subjective feeling of wakefulness with an underlying excessive daytime sleepiness, which the patient is often unaware of.

When using hypnotics, you should steer away from alcohol, and that may also be a problem for some people. They might also exacerbate any existing tendencies of complex behaviors during sleep, such as sleep driving, sleepwalking and sleep eating.

If you don’t want to be dependent on drugs, you should probably resort to a non-pharmacologic treatment, which will be the focus of the rest of this article.

Non-Pharmacologic Treatments

Some cognitive and behavioral therapeutic methods are highly effective in improving sleep (80% of patients) and curing insomnia (in approximately 50% of patients), even in patients who suffer from conditions such as depression, cancer and chronic pain in addition to insomnia, as well in older adults and chronic users of hypnotics.

Issues emphasized in this kind of psychological therapy include:

  • sleep-scheduling issues
  • poor sleep habits
  • conditioning
  • hyperarousal
  • excessive worrying
  • erroneous beliefs about sleep

Since they are not less effective than pharmacological treatments, cognitive-behavioral treatments should be considered first-line therapy and treatment of choice for insomnia (although they rarely are in clinical practice.)

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I)

What methods do sleep therapists use?

  • Sleep restriction – a method to increase the duration of sleep by restricting the time spent in bed to just the actual sleeping time, gradually increasing that sleeping window until optimal sleep duration is achieved.
  • Stimulus control – Stimulus control involves practices such as to only spend time in bed when sleepy. If unable to sleep, don’t just wait there waiting for sleep to come; get out of bed and do something else. Napping is not allowed, a consistent wake up time is maintained and the bedroom is only used for sleep. Yes, this means not watching TV or reading in your bedroom.
  • Relaxation – requires daily practice of practices such as biofeedback, meditation including yoga and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR; a scientifically standardized practice of mindfulness meditation), breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery over a period of at least 2-4 weeks. This approach is especially helpful for people who suffer from anxiety or stress. Even just taking a hot bath before bed may be helpful.
  • Cognitive therapy – a process in which a therapist helps their patients reduce excessive worry about sleep and change their beliefs, attitude and the way they think about sleep and their condition through conversation and behavioral experiments.
  • Sleep hygiene education – involves educating the patient about health and environment factors that influence sleep and how they can modified in order to improve the quality of sleep. Sleep hygiene guidelines includes maintaining a cool room temperature, winding down before bedtime, avoiding stimulating activities and substances, naps and alcohol, establishing a fixed sleep schedule, etc.
  • Paradoxical intention – confronting the fear of staying awake in an effort to eliminate the anxiety surrounding the patient’s ability to fall asleep.

CBT-I (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia) involves a combination of cognitive and behavioral methods. For example, a CBT therapist may focus on sleep restriction and stimulus control as well as cognitive therapy and sleep hygiene education. There are also purely behavioral approaches which leave out the cognitive component.

Self-guided Internet-based approaches as well as using printed materials/DVDs are available (and effective) for people who are unable to physically visit a therapist. Group therapy is also helpful (and cheaper.)

How long will it take to overcome insomnia with CBT?

The first stage in which most changes take place lasts for 6-8 weeks, during which patients spend around 4-6 hours with their therapist. An example schedule could consist of a weekly one hour session for 6 weeks or half an hour per week for 2 months. Afterwards, follow-ups may be scheduled based on the specific needs of the patient.

While CBT seems to be the best approach for treating chronic insomnia (approximately 70-80% of patients will benefit from it), there’s no evidence that it works for acute insomnia.

CBT-I works well also in the treatment of secondary insomnia, such as that which often accompanies fibromyalgia.

Side Effects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

If CBT is so great, then why are there still people suffering from insomnia? Well, on the one hand, there is the interest of the pharmaceutical companies, which will do everything in their power to keep pushing their merchandise to patients. And they are extremely powerful, especially over doctors. By providing a lot of funding to medical research and even sponsoring physicians, they ensure that sleep doctors keep prescribing medicine over non-pharmacological treatments.

But then there are the insurance companies, which are also quite powerful. And their interest is to push CBT. Why? Because it’s so much cheaper than medicine and other long-term treatments for insomnia. CBT is supposed to cure insomnia. Fast. And a fast treatment means a less costly alternative to psychotherapies which may sometimes last months and years or medications, which require taking them forever since they are only treat the symptoms and not the underlying condition.

Unfortunately, there are both unwanted events (consequences of inadequate treatment) and side effects (negative reactions) in cognitive behavioral therapy which should be taken in consideration when deciding on a course of treatment for sleeplessness.

In a study published in Cognitive Therapy and Research journal (2018), hundred CBT therapists were interviewed in order to determine whether there are side effects and unwanted events involved in this kind of therapy and what they are. 372 unwanted events and side effects were reported, the most common of them being:

  • negative well-being/distress (27% of patients)
  • worsening of symptoms (9% of patients)
  • strains in family relations (6% of patients)

21% of patients suffered from severe or very severe, and 5% from persistent side effects.

While unwanted events can be prevented by choosing a qualified therapist (which is not so easy nowadays as the high efficacy of this treatment led to a large number of CBT therapists with not enough experience and inadequate training), side effects are unavoidable and are common even in well-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy.


A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials examined the effect of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) on insomnia. The results, published in the Behavioral Sleep Medicine journal (2018), suggest that MBIs appear to be effective in the treatment of insomnia, however there is a lack of studies which examine long-term effects of this treatment.

Mindfulness Meditation for Insomnia

I’d like to suggest that perhaps a better way to think about mindfulness would be that it shouldn’t be taken as a time-limited intervention but rather as an attitude that ought to be cultivated throughout the lifetime of both insomniacs and people who don’t suffer from insomnia.

Other Non-Drug Approaches for Treating Insomnia

Complementary/alternative therapies are sometimes used in the treatment of chronic insomnia. Some examples: acupuncture, tai chi, hypnosis, exercise and CES (cranial electrotherapy stimulation; also known as electrosleep therapy).

But how effective are they?

Acupuncture / Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture is a method used by practitioners of Chinese and Japanese medicine, in which thin needles are inserted into the body at various points to effect physiological changes.

Several studies put acupuncture (and a few of its variants, including acupressure, auricular magnetic and seed therapy and transcutaneous electrical acupoint) to the test for treating chronic insomnia. There were some positive results, such as a general improvement in sleep quality, but no change in time it takes to fall asleep and in total sleep duration.

Acupuncture for Insomnia

Another review of the literature found that acupuncture was more effective than benzodiazepines for treating insomnia and improving sleep.

Both reviews conclude that due to methodological problems, the positive results are not conclusive. Currently, there doesn’t seem to be enough evidence justifying treating insomnia with acupuncture unless the insomnia is secondary to health problems acupuncture does improve, such as chronic low-back pain.

Auricular acupuncture is a sub-type of acupuncture focusing on the ear. A randomized clinical trial was conducted and its results published in the Medical Acupuncture journal (2018). The improvement in the Insomnia Severity score of patients receiving ear acupuncture was better than that of those who received the usual care. The researchers concluded that “[w]ith the heightened focus on the opioid crisis in the United States, this easy-to-administer protocol may be an option for treating military beneficiaries who have chronic pain and insomnia.”

Chinese doctors oftentimes also use herbal medicine to treat insomnia. The most commonly used herb appears to be seeds of a type of Jujube fruit, specifically Ziziphi spinosae (suan zao ren). The herbal formulae which are frequently prescribed include Wen dan tang, Suan zao ren tang, Ban xia shu mi tang and Gui pi tang. A review of randomized controlled trials published in Sleep Medicine Review (2012), which put these Chinese herbal medications (CHM) to the test for treatment of insomnia, concluded that “the current evidence is insufficient to support the efficacy of CHM for insomnia […] Further studies with a double-blind placebo-controlled design are needed to accurately determine the benefits and risks of CHM for insomnia.”

Yoga, Tai Chi

Yoga is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices. Nowadays, when we say yoga, we usually refer to the physical aspects, such as stretching and breathing. Some studies found that yoga improves sleep quality and reduces symptoms of insomnia secondary to chronic medical conditions. One study found that Kundalini yoga, which stresses breathwork and meditation, improved total sleep time and sleep quality in people suffering from insomnia disorder. Unfortunately, one small study is not enough evidence and so treating insomnia with yoga is currently not warranted.

Tai chi is a Chinese meditative martial art practiced mainly for its health benefits. It can apparently improve sleep in sedentary older adults with moderate sleep disturbance. It may also be great for COPD, depression, fibromyalgia and improve sleep in general.

But can it cure insomnia?

While they may make some generally healthy people sleep better, there’s no evidence that either Tai chi or yoga can cure insomnia. Admittedly, not much research has been done.

Music Therapy

“Music seems to help the pain…” but can it help people with insomnia?

A review of the literature attempted to answer this question by going through 20 studies which used music therapy for people with primary insomnia.

Music-associated relaxation was found to be effective in terms of overall sleep quality, efficiency and latency (time to fall asleep).

The authors include that when “considering the efficacy, music intervention seemed to offer clear advantages for adults with primary insomnia.”

Hypnosis / Hypnotherapy / Autogenic Training / Guided Imagery

Hypnotherapy is a type of complementary and alternative medicine which uses hypnosis to help with a variety of problems.

Can it help you if you’re suffering from insomnia?

One systematic review looked at several studies on hypnotherapy as well as studies on autogenic training and guided imagery. No generalizable positive effects were found.

Electrosleep therapy (cranial electrotherapy stimulation; CES)

In cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES; also known as electrosleep therapy, cranial-electro stimulation and transcranial electrotherapy), a small, pulsed, alternating current is delivered to the brain via electrodes on the head.

A systematic review of the literature found that while CES may be slightly beneficial for patients suffering from anxiety and depression, it doesn’t seem to improve insomnia symptoms.

Herbal Remedies for Insomnia

Is Cannabis Helpful for Insomnia?

As cannabis is becoming more and more legitimate in more and more US states and EU countries, advocates of using this drug for alleviating sleep problems abound.

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is a mild sedative/depressant at low doses and an hallucinogen at higher doses, which is commonly abused. Many people with a substance abuse problem complain of insomnia, and cannabis withdrawal, which may occur in about 50% of cannabis users, sometimes involves sleep disturbance as well as anxiety and depression.

However, some people claim that cannabis helps them sleep better.

Cannabis for Insomnia

What are the effects of marijuana on sleep?

First, it should be mentioned that the cannabis plant contains many cannabinoids. Two of the most commonly known cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

The THC component of marijuana may reduce REM sleep and increase total sleep time and slow wave sleep (deep, restorative sleep). However, when taken over a long period of time (every day for one week), it may suppress slow wave sleep. The data suggests that a low dose of THC (4-20 mg) may be used every once in a while for sleep support, but not every night. Higher doses of THC (50 mg and above) do not seem to be helpful for sleep. On the contrary, they may reduce both REM sleep and SWS.

Side effects of THC consumption may include psychosis and anxiety.

The only condition for which cannabis seems to help is in insomnia which is accompanied or caused by pain, especially neuropathic pain, and in people suffering from PTSD.

One interesting study had subjects use a mobile app known as Releaf App to measure their insomnia symptoms, marijuana consumption patterns and side effects. Here’s a summary of the results:

  • The severity of symptoms was reduced by 4.5 points (on a 0-10 scale).
  • Use of pipes and vaporizers was associated with greater relief than joints.
  • Using a vaporizer was associated with less negative effects.
  • CBD was associated with greater symptom relief than THC.
  • Cannabis sativa was associated with more negative side effects than cannabis indica or hybrid strains.

Another study concluded that CBD may hold benefits for insomniacs and that while THC may make you fall asleep quicker, it could impair sleep quality in the long run.


Passiflora incarnata (a.k.a Passionflower) acts as an nervine (calms the nerves) and hypnotic (sleep inducing). It has sedative and soothing properties and is used to treat insomnia, specifically when it’s an acute condition and not chronic. Meaning, if every once in a while you experience insomnia, Passionflower may help. And unlike medications, it does not cause hangover + it has other useful properties, for example, it is anti-inflammatory.

Passionflower for Insomnia

Keep in mind that you should probably not take it in addition to other sleep inducing medications, blood-thinning drugs or MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) such as selegiline and some anti-depressants. Do not use while pregnant (it contains alkaloids). Always a good idea to consult with your doctor before using such powerful herbs.

Dosage: 0.25-2 grams dried herb infused in hot water (10-15 minutes) before bedtime. Capsules/tablets and tinctures are also available.

There are scientific studies that put this plant to the test and found that it indeed works for inducing sleep. See this one for example from Sleep Science Journal. Passiflora incarnata was found to increase total sleep time and slow wave sleep. Time spent awake and REM sleep were reduced.


Valeriana officinalis, a plant native to Europe and Asia, has been used to treat insomnia for centuries. Dosage ranges from 400-900 mg per day. While some studies found it is effective, many others didn’t, thus there’s no scientific confirmation it actually works. However, with little to no side effects (when used together with Skullcup, it may cause hepatitis) and no abuse potential, it may not hurt to try it, especially if you’re only suffering from mild insomnia, do not want to take pharmaceutical drugs and do not suffer from liver disease.

Valerian for Insomnia

Dosage: 2 teaspoons dried herb per cup of boiling water (cover the cup to avoid essential oil evaporation). Tinctures are oftentimes used.

Do however consult with your doctor before using valerian or other OTC sleep aids, keeping in mind that the official medical consensus is that they are not recommended.

As with Passionflower, scientific studies are yet to demonstrate a positive effect on insomnia disorder.

Other Helpful Plants

In addition to Passionflower and Valerian, which are the most effective herbs for insomnia, there are other plants which are known to have a strong hypnotic, sleep-inducing effect, such as  Eschscholzia californica (California poppy), Humulus lupulus (hops), Lactuca virosa (wild lettuce), Piper methysticum (kava kava), Aloysia citriodora Palau (lemon verbena), and Polygonatum sibiricum (King Solomon’s-seal).

How to Cure Insomnia? My Approach – Paleolithic Sleep

In most cases, insomnia is not a disease. A disease is something that happens to us. Insomnia is often something we do to ourselves, a lifestyle.

Insomnia is a certain way of life. It’s the modern way of life. In our nature, we should not be sitting in front of a computer the whole day. We need to walk, run and do physical work for at least 8 hours every day. When we rest too much during the day, we most likely will get less rest during the night when we’re sleeping. There’s no need. We already rested during the day! So the body and mind are restless during the night.

Animals do not experience insomnia in nature. Horses which are kept in stables suffer from severe insomnia and a strong drowsiness during the daytime as well as exhibit symptoms, such as sleepwalking and night terrors.

Natural humans most likely did not experience insomnia.

For thousands, nay more than a quarter million years, we’ve been living like that. The men were out all day hunting. The women were taking care of the children and foraging. At least 8 hours per day we used to work. Even when farming was invented, most of us still spent much of our time working in the fields, cutting wood, carrying water, etc. The sedentary civilization is completely new. Not more than a few hundreds of years.

Modern humans experience insomnia because as we grow richer as a society, some people have the luxury of not exerting themselves at all. The poor people do all the hard labor. And in the future computers and robotics might even replace those last manual laborers. Then we will all be insomniacs. Maybe sleep will disappear altogether. It will not be needed anymore. But we’re not there yet. Our body is still the body of an animal. And we need to act as one, at least in regarding to sleep.

Human Evolution/Devolution

My approach therefore might be likened to those nutritionists who advocate the Paleolithic diet. I personally do not recommend this diet for many reasons including that industrialized animal products are generally of very low quality in comparison to the natural, game meats the paleolithic people used to eat. We also work out less than ancient man and eat much less fiber.

But this article is not about sleep nutrition. Let me just say here that the best thing you can do for your sleep for a nutritional perspective would be to have normal weight. Obesity in particular may cause sleep disorders. The easiest way to make sure you have a healthy weight is to follow a whole food plant-based diet.

Oh, and eating schedule matters too. You should pay attention not just to what you eat, but also when you eat it. Briefly, try to take most of your daily calories during the daytime. Your final meal of the day should be at least 4 hours before bedtime to allow ample time to digest the food properly.

Paleolithic activity and sleep is the cure for insomnia I would like to share with you. Exert yourself during the daytime when the sun is shining as if you were a stone age human, and at night you will be able to sleep like one.

The way our body works is very simple. Anyone who has kids knows this. If you don’t tire your kids enough during the day, they will have difficulties falling asleep. And the same goes for adults. If you work hard for 8 hours during the daytime, when it gets dark your sleep hormones will naturally lead you to sleep. But we rest during most of the day and when night comes, we turn on bright lights and screens and ingest stimulants, such as caffeine and nicotine, and then we wonder why we can’t sleep?

This fact becomes even clearer when we notice how insomnia rates are continuously going up as living in this world becomes easier and easier for most people, or when we compare insomnia rates in rich vs. poor countries. In India, Africa and Indonesia insomnia is rare (if we control for disease, such as HIV, which are more common in Africa, and cause insomnia. But when people from Africa move to the US, their insomnia rates become similar to those of Americans. Maybe even worse, as there seems to be a genetic variability in the need for exercise. The more exercise a person’s genetics require, the higher the chances that the lack of exercise will cause sleeplessness for them.

The pathophysiology of insomnia (its disordered physiological processes) strengthens and further elucidates this theory. It is currently believed that underlying insomnia is a perpetual state of hyperarousal, constantly activating the sufferer’s flight or fight response, which requires physical action to relieve, without which high stress and wakefulness-promoting substances in the brain will interfere with sleep. The more hyperarousal one experiences, the more exercise they will need in order to be able to sleep at night.

As people grow older, insomnia becomes more prevalent, which perhaps can be explained by the fact that older people in general do less work. University students suffer more from insomnia. Maybe it’s because they spend so much of their time sitting down, while they should be working, moving, exercising, being physically active. Women suffer more from insomnia than men. Unsurprisingly, they also get less physical activity than men.

So the first thing I suggest for my clients is to increase the amount of active time they’re getting throughout the day and decrease time spent resting. You don’t necessarily need to exercise. Instead of hiring a gardener or a cleaning service, instead of eating out, tend your own garden, clean your house by yourself, shop for and cook food for your family and yourself.

Can’t sleep? Then forget about it. Go work out. When your body is tired enough, it will sleep. There’s no way to avoid it. But sleep cannot be forced, shouldn’t be forced.

Insomnia is your body telling you are not giving it what it needs.

How did Paleolithic people and other ancient humans sleep?

If we ignore the effect that the original paleolithic diet had on gut health (they after all ate way more fiber than we do) and therefore on sleep as well and just focus on the paleolithic sleeping habits, what can we learn from them?

There are two lifestyle elements characterizing the ancient way of sleeping:

  1. Wake up around sunrise. Sleep while it’s dark.
  2. As mentioned above, 8 hours a day of physical activity where not unusual for ancient humans.

Notice that I didn’t say that ancient people slept more hours than us. On the contrary, there’s evidence they were sleeping less, or about the same. However, less sleep may be okay if sleep is sound and occurs at the right time and under ideal conditions.

The Timeline of Primitive People

So how come these pre-industralized civilization don’t have a word for insomnia? How come they are healthier than us even though our sleep duration is not less than theirs?

Let’s go over these two elements now and see why they are so important and why we should strive to incorporate them into our lives.

Circadian Rhythms (How to sleep?)

A research paper published in Current Biology on October 15, 2015 examined the sleeping habits of three pre-industrial, hunter-gatherer societies in order to gain insight into the sleeping habits of ancient humans. Here is a summary of their findings:

  • Duration of lying down to sleep was 6.9-8.5 hours with actual sleep time of 5.6-7.1 hours.
  • During the winter, they slept 1 hour less than they did during the summer.
  • Sleep began on average 3.3 hours after sunset.
  • Sleep ended usually before sunrise.
  • They always went to sleep and woke up at the same time
  • Sleep period occurred during nighttime when environmental temperature was declining.
  • Napping occurred on less than 7% of winter days and less than 22% of summer days
  • They were exposed to light mostly during the morning, while seeking the shade around noon

The researchers conclude that “[m]imicking aspects of the natural environment might be effective in treating certain modern sleep disorders.”

Another interesting study compared two communities of historic hunter-gatherers, one with access to electric lights and another which relies solely on natural light. The community who had access to electricity slept less, went to sleep later at night and took more time to fall asleep. The researchers conclude that their study “supports the notion that access to inexpensive sources of artificial light and the ability to create artificially lit environments must have been key factors in reducing sleep in industrialized human societies.”

To understand the benefits of this Paleolithic pattern of sleeping, we need to go over some basic sleep science. There’s a natural process taking place in our body in response to environmental stimuli which naturally leads us to sleep at night.

In short, there is an organ in our brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the so-called “biological clock,” which regulates behaviors, biochemical and physiological reactions which recur naturally on a 24-hour cycle. Actually, the cycle is almost 24 hours, but not exactly (it’s 24.16 hours). Cues from the environment, including light and darkness, fine tune it to the specific environment in which we live.

Melatonin accumulates in our bloodstream from near sunset until after sunrise. Light, specifically blue light which is present in sunlight as well as in the light emitted from the screens of our electronic devices suppresses melatonin. Using a computer after sunset thus increases alertness, the time it takes to fall asleep and morning sleepiness in comparison to spending the evening hours in dim light conditions, such as the light emitted by the fire our ancestors cuddled by throughout most of the existence of our species.

And if I mentioned the fire, it’s worthwhile to also briefly discuss the correlation between sleep and temperature. Research shows that a hot bath (or sitting near a fire) before sleep can help you fall asleep faster. Normally, the body temperature peaks during the early evening (6-8 pm), and then as the temperature declines, sleep occurs. We can emulate this process by exposing ourselves to external heat just before sleep, and then as the body temperature starts declining, we can ease into sleep.

Exercise (How to be awake?)

The second important element of the Paleolithic lifestyle is how we spend our daytime. As I mention above, ancient humans (and even not-so-ancient humans) were a lot more active than we are. Here I would like to describe scientific studies that focused on the relationship between exercise and insomnia.

In a study which conducted a randomized controlled trial lasting 16 weeks was published in JAMA (1997), the subjects, older adults with moderate sleep complaints, went through four 30-40 minute endurance training sessions per week, which consisted of low-impact aerobics/brisk walking at 60-75% of heart rate. They showed significant improvement in sleep quality, time it takes to fall asleep and sleep duration compared to the control group.

A study published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry (2018), assessed the effects of resistance exercise on sleep in chronic insomnia patients. Moderate-intensity resistance exercise lead to significant improvement in the patients’ Insomnia Severity Index, time it takes to fall asleep, total sleep time and sleep efficiency compared with the control group.

Another study, published in the Sleep Medicine Journal (2010), found that moderate aerobic physical activity (a 16 weeks-long intervention) with sleep hygiene education was more effective in improving sleep quality, falling asleep time, sleep duration, daytime dysfunction and sleep efficiency in patients 55 years or older suffering from chronic insomnia compared to sleep hygiene education with no physical activity.

Even Zero Time Exercise, an exercise routine designed for people who spend a lot of time sitting or standing and cannot be active, was found to be beneficial and to reduce insomnia severity in comparison to sleep hygiene education.

Clearly, exercise helps insomniacs. But how much exercise is enough?

That’s very individual. If you currently suffer from insomnia and do not exercise at all, start with just fulfilling the minimum official recommendation of 20-30 minutes per day of moderate exercise (e.g., brisk walking). If you already have an exercise routine but still suffer from sleep problems, then gradually increase your workout time and intensity until your issues are resolved.

Optimally, you should try to hit at least 90 minutes per day of moderate exercise, or 40 minutes of vigorous exercise (such as jogging.)

However, for some people even that may not be enough. And of course, you should not forget the importance of a proper light and dark schedule I mentioned in the previous section to complement your exercise routine. So ideally try to get your daily exercise between sunrise and sunset, killing two birds with one stone.

Bottom Line – How I Cure Insomnia?

The course of treatment will be different for every patient. As I said, I do not cure your insomnia since insomnia is not a disorder. It’s a way of life. I can just help you to reorganize your life in way that you will become natural again, just like you were as a kid (You will “sleep like a baby…”) Just like those primitive early humans, which lived naturally, according to the body’s wisdom. When your lifestyle becomes balanced and starts accommodating your body’s needs, your insomnia will be cured.

After taking into consideration all the relevant information, it will be possible to offer you a plan that will suit you best. In general terms, the process of ridding yourself of insomnia will include the following components:

  1. Deciding on an optimal schedule for your everyday life, including fixed sleeping hours.
  2. Improving your diet – both what you eat and when you eat it.
  3. Designing a daily exercise routine and incorporating it into your schedule.
  4. Behavioral intervention/s, such as sleep-restriction, relaxation and stimulus control.
  5. Learning how to adhere better to sleep hygiene recommendations.
  6. In some cases, using drugs at least during the early phase of the treatment will be helpful.
  7. If your insomnia is secondary or co-morbid with a different condition, then obviously we would need to take care of that as well.

However, these are just the broad categories of treatment with plenty of flexibility within each of them. Don’t struggle with this alone. Start working with a sleep coach now and get rid of your sleep problems once and for all. Life is too short to waste it being tired, irritable and depressed. Take your first step in the direction of restfulness, joy and productivity.

Get in touch with me today for a FREE consultation!

…or read on if you still have any questions about insomnia.

Insomnia (Sleeplessness) FAQ

A condition plaguing the lives of far more people than one would think, insomnia can indeed be quite the thorn in one’s side, to say the least.

What is it though, what causes it, and how can you get rid of it? Can one actually die from insomnia? These are some of the questions that we answer below.


What does it mean to have insomnia?

To make it really brief and to-the-point, insomnia is the inability to get a good night’s sleep, for whatever reason.

Unlike snoring and sleep apnea (which can lead to serious complications of their own), insomnia is more than a relatively minor annoyance. It can and will prevent people from functioning optimally in their day-to-day existence.

Insomnia has several symptoms, and there are several types of insomnia.

The inability to fall asleep is its most obvious symptom. A person suffering from insomnia will also wake up several times during the night and find it extremely difficult to go back to sleep.

Feeling tired after waking up in the morning and waking up way too early, are also symptoms of insomnia.

As far as types of insomnia go, there’s straight-up insomnia, which itself is the main problem.

Secondary insomnia on the other hand is caused by some kind of other illness/condition, like heartburn, depression and asthma, and as such, it is more of a symptom, rather than the actual cause of a problem.

Depending on how long it lasts, insomnia can be short-term and long-term. The short-term variant typically lasts from one night to a week, while the long-term version can turn one’s life into hell for months on end.

What is the cause of insomnia?

The causes of this annoying and rather debilitating condition can be physical, psychological or even chemical in nature.

Life stress is one of the main triggers. Insomnia can be triggered by traumatic life events such as job-loss, the death of a family member, or even something much more trivial, such as moving.

Stress does not have to be extreme to result in insomnia though. Even mild physical/emotional discomfort can spark the problem, together with uncomfortable temperatures, noise, lighting-related problems and plain-old jet lag.

Jet lag is indeed a major cause for sleep disorders, as it really turns one’s biorhythm upside down.

As far as medication goes, we are looking at chemicals used to treat asthma, high blood pressure, depression, as well as various allergies and cold.

Regarding long-term insomnia, many of the causes are similar, though long-term stress clearly plays a more prominent role.

How can I stop my insomnia?

Prevention is the best way to altogether avoid insomnia and all the discomfort/suffering that comes with it. Prevention is also quite straightforward, and the good sleeping habits on which it is predicated are beneficial in other areas of life too.

Setting a proper schedule is the first preventive step. Going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning, will play right into the body’s own bio-clock.

Taking naps during the day may be tempting, and those suffering from insomnia will indeed often encounter periods of extreme drowsiness in the middle of the day, but it should be avoided at all cost.

Avoiding chemical stimulants is recommended all through the day, but the closer it gets to bedtime, the more strictly this avoidance should be observed.

The stimulant effect of caffeine is well-known and recognized, but late-evening physical exercise can elicit a rather similar effect too. Getting regular exercise at proper times through the day is highly benefic, on the other hand.

Another issue insomnia sufferers should eliminate is using the phone/various other mobile devices that emit light, right before bed. It has been proven that the light hitting the retina confuses one’s organism into “believing” it is not bedtime yet.

How do you get rid of insomnia?

Those who already suffer from the condition have no other choice but to attempt to treat it.

The good news is that short-term/occasional insomnia does not really have to be treated. It will likely “go away” on its own, provided one does indeed observe healthy sleeping habits.

Those who find that even mild forms of insomnia make it impossible for them to function properly during the day, may resort to the use of sleeping pills. Such pills always have to be described by qualified doctors/health care providers, and the rapid-onset, short-acting types are recommended. Such pills make it less likely that the user shall experience drowsiness the following day.

Some cases warrant deeper analysis, performed at a sleep center.

Long-term insomnia is usually linked to an underlying physical condition, and in such cases, this condition needs to be eliminated before considering treatment for the sleep disorder.

Sometimes behavioral therapy may be called upon too, if the sleep disorder persists past the elimination of the underlying health issue. Behavioral therapy will obviously be focused on the promotion of healthy sleeping habits, and it will take the form of sleep restriction therapy and relaxation exercises.

As with most health issues though, it needs to be kept in mind that insomnia prevention is cheaper, easier and ultimately more effective than treatment.

What is the best treatment for insomnia?

As said above, the best way to treat insomnia – once onset – is to institute drastic lifestyle changes. Such an approach is most likely to eliminate the underlying causes of the condition, thus directly treating the root of the problem and not its symptoms.

Lifestyle changes cover a wide range of tweaks, from dietary issues, to setting a sleeping schedule, sticking to it and to being more active physically. Taking naps during the day is also a major no-no.

Generally adopting a healthier way of thinking regarding every aspect of life is also a major step in the right direction. Behavioral therapy is said to reduce interrupted sleep.

Medication should be thought of as a last-ditch solution, given the potentially negative implications that it carries. Users can become dependent on sleep medication, and this is true for the elderly as well. This will result in one’s complete inability to fall asleep without the use of sleeping pills.

Besides dedicated sleeping pills, we are also looking at antidepressants here, which have a calming, soothing effect that can promote proper sleep. Nonprescription medication is also an alternative to consider, together with natural sleep remedies. There are also foods out there that cause anxiety and insomnia. Such foods have to be researched and thoroughly avoided.

What are the best foods to help with insomnia?

There are some melatonin-containing foods, which can apparently help people sleep. Melatonin is a sleep regulating hormone, naturally produced in our body.

Melatonin is destroyed when you’re exposed to light, including the light emitted from your computer screen, TV and cellular phone. Therefore, getting melatonin from food may improve sleep.

The best food sources of melatonin include pistachio nuts, goji berries, raspberries, almonds and tart cherries.

Can a person die from insomnia?

The simple answer to that would be: theoretically yes.

The truth is though that no person has been recorded to have ever died from insomnia.

To understand why this is the case, one has to understand the difference between insomnia and sleep deprivation. The two might go hand-in-hand in some cases, but they denote different conditions.

Insomnia refers to difficulty falling asleep and getting quality sleep. Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, is about getting a less than adequate amount of sleep (or, in extreme cases, none at all).

Long story short: the effects on the cognitive system of sleep deprivation are far more radical than those of insomnia.

The bottom line is though that people seem to be able to function relatively unimpeded (from the point of view of an outside observer), even when deprived of sleep for incredibly long periods of time. There is a rare disease, which – when associated with insomnia – can be fatal, but on the whole, on a practical level, it is safe to say that insomnia will not result in death, in and of itself.

How long can you go without sleep until you die?

This question is almost impossible to answer.

Though several experiments were performed in this regard, with the record-holder having logged 11 sleepless days, there is no way to know how long a human can stay awake, because in the case of extreme sleep deprivation, the very concept of “awake” becomes blurred.

A long period of sleep deprivation will induce an altered state of mind in people undergoing such experiments, allowing them to log periods of micro-sleep. Cognitive and motor functions are gradually lost, and past a certain point, people become virtually incapacitated, while remaining “awake.”

In rat studies, however, researchers have found that death would inevitably set in, following about 2 weeks of sleep deprivation. That there is certainly something to bear in mind.

Why do I keep waking up after 4 hours of sleep?

Waking up after about 4 hours of sleep is characteristic of middle-of-the-night insomnia. This type of sleep problem leaves sufferers unable to go back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night. It usually results in next-day exhaustion, and impaired cognitive functions.

The causes behind this type of insomnia can be numerous. One of them is sleep-apnea, which can be a serious and even life-threatening condition in some cases.

Anxiety, pain, pregnancy, working in shifts, erratic sleeping patterns and the need to urinate can also be triggers for this type of sleep disorder.

Why is it so hard to go back to sleep after waking up?

Your organism is somehow tricked into becoming alert, by a series of psychological/physical/chemical triggers, as specified above. There is not much you can do about it when it occurs, other than to learn a few techniques to deal with the situation.

To remedy the problem, most specialists recommend getting out of bed and forgetting about staring at the clock. Making sure it is not too bright and getting relaxed is the next step. Progressive muscle relaxation and even biofeedback can help accomplish that.

Feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions regarding sleep and dreams.

For more suggestions to improve your sleep, schedule a FREE consultation with a Sleep Coach.


Astral Projection (3 Easy Steps)

Astral projection is a process in which our subtle energy body dissociates from our physical body. It is a very natural phenomena that happens to us every night while we’re sleeping.

We’re normally unconscious when it happens though, and we usually do not remember it upon waking up.

The exception is the experience of waking up abruptly with a falling sensation. This happens when we become conscious before the astral body returns to the physical body.

Out of body experiences (OBEs) have a very special appeal, just ask anyone who’s ever had them.

My first such experience happened a while ago, in 1999, and since then, I have been obsessed with recreating it, learning about it and teaching others about my findings.

I must say I’m rather fortunate that I managed to intentionally trigger such experiences (though it took me quite a bit of trial and error to get there).

The purpose of this guide to astral projection is to help people experience astral projection consciously and at will, and to remember it upon returning to the physical body.

There are 3 easy steps that will allow you to astral projection consciously and at will, and they are:

  1. Relaxing the physical body.
  2. Allowing the body to fall asleep while the mind remains awake.
  3. Moving away from the physical body.

In this article, I will explain the practical aspects of astral projection as well as provide you with some very important astral projection tips, such as using recommended supplements (and staying away from others.)

But first of all, let me answer some basic questions regarding astral projection.

What is Astral Projection?

Also known as an out of body experience, an astral projection is one of those things in life that you have to experience to believe.

Yes, there are scores of skeptics out there, and there was a time when yours truly belonged among them too. That is obviously no longer the case though. An outer body experience is also something that will change your outlook on life and your physical existence forever.

While there is no scientific evidence that during an astral projection episode, the person having the experience goes anywhere, you will certainly travel and go places – only not in your physical form.

Those who have experienced such episodes will describe them to you differently. Some people describe it all as floating above their beds and looking down at their own physical bodies, while others travel through space and time and experience amazing conversations with superior beings.

The concept of astral projection casts doubt over the very concept of reality. Is there indeed one reality, or are the realities of different people different indeed?

Do we all experience the same reality in our heads, or do we all create and live our own realities?

Some believe astral projections and OBEs are nothing more than tricks our minds pull on us.

For my part, I can tell you that you’ll only be able to answer such questions for yourself, once you too experience them.

The human constitution is made up of several bodies of energy – or so that theory goes. Of these, I can personally confirm the existence of the physical body and the astral body, the vibrations of which are the closest to one another, and which are also linked through a sort of cord people call the silver cord or astral cord. I personally prefer to call it the latter, since in my experience, this cord does in fact stretch right into outer space.

Why does the astral body separate from the physical one, and why does it leave it behind?

Through an astral projection experience, the physical body remains as a sort of “anchor to reality,” as the astral body ascends.

Some have stated though that by doing so, the astral component of the body seeks answers from the spirit world, it attempts to read into the future and it even meets other astral beings.

During an astral projection experience, the consciousness leaves the physical body and it joins up with the astral body instead.

Apparently, astral projection does not take some kind of special skill or talent, though learning to induce astral projection voluntarily can be a lengthy and tedious process.

Everyone can astral project, but some people can do it sort of naturally. For others, the removal of their consciousness from their physical body never even comes up and they never learn to do it.

Why is astral projection called “astral”?

Astral projection is just one of several different kinds of projections the human consciousness is apparently capable of. In my humble opinion, the definition of astral projection is simply incomplete without including the information below.

Astral projection sees the projector (or traveler) ascend to a domain without any obvious links to and parallels with the real, physical world.

The environments of this astral plane can be populated or not, they can be completely abstract, beautiful or scary.

Physical laws do not apply in this astral realm: projectors can float or fly.

The visual quality of the environments can range from crude, barely discernible, to highly detailed and vivid.

What’s more, astral projectors can travel from one such realm to another, seemingly at a whim.

A theory of mine is that those who have dreams are actually traveling the astral plain, without being aware of it. Indeed, some common dream scenarios, such as falling, flying or walking through quicksand, are expressions of the astral body in action.

Ethereal projection

Unlike astral projection, ethereal projection sees the ethereal body travel to a plane which is indeed the near-perfect copy of mundane physical reality.

In this realm, the projector travels about in a sort of near-invisible form, floating and flying.

Technicalities cast aside, the lines are often indeed blurred between astral and ethereal projection. In many ways, the definition of astral and ethereal projection is the same.

The ethereal body for instance, can be separated in a manner similar to the one described above, from the physical body, to which it remains linked through a sort of umbilical cord.

Mental projection

Mental projection gives consciousness yet another plane where it manifests itself. Unlike in the case of astral- and ethereal projection, through a mental projection, even abstract thoughts, such as mathematical concepts, take on a physical sort of presence.

The Akashic Records

At the boundary between the astral and mental planes, there’s a sort of library, which was named the Akashic records by the theosophists, encompassing all past and present knowledge (from the perspective of the projector, or course) in addition to a slew of future possibilities.

The future part of this equation is uncertain, in the sense that it can indeed shift and morph right under the watchful eyes of the projector.

Astral Projection and Catholicism

In addition to having delivered this more or less proper definition of astral projection, I also have to mention that the Roman Catholic church generally frowns upon these concepts. Astral projection, as a practice, is in fact forbidden.

The interesting thing is that according to the church, the soul (the consciousness separated from the physical body, having moved into the astral one) is susceptible to harassment from demons – without the protection of religion.

What this tells us is that astral projection is not just a fact in the view of parapsychology, spirituality and esoteric science: even mainstream religion treats it as such.

How does astral projection happen?

Astral projection can happen naturally, or it can be voluntarily induced by the projector. The voluntary induction of this phenomenon is not easy to accomplish and it does indeed take some time to master.

The astral projection experience differs from one person to another.

For some, astral projection is akin to dreaming, until they “wake up,” that is. At this point, one may find him/herself lucid dreaming, with his/her astral body hovering near the ceiling, with his/her consciousness “stuck” in it, looking down on his/her physical body in the bed.

Such an experience can indeed be shocking for some – my first time was exactly that for me. Panicking in this situation may make it difficult for the two bodies to join up again.

The best course of action is to just stay calm and let nature take its course: your astral body will soon rejoin your physical shell, and you will proceed to wake up properly.

How do you know that you are having an astral projection experience?

Some people have reported hearing a slight popping sound, as their astral body separates from their physical one. I personally haven’t experienced that, but I have always felt what “science” defines as the “astral wind.”

It is due to this wind and to your changing perspective, that you’ll first realize your consciousness has left your physical body behind.

Astral Projection Dangers

According to some, there are certain dangers involved in the voluntary induction of astral projection, though I personally haven’t had any bad experiences with it whatsoever.

Astral projection does not carry any negatives under normal circumstances.

Some say that people who manage to induce astral projection are more prone to meeting with other negative astral bodies, that might try to draw them into what’s known as the “Phantasmagoric Plane.”

According to some, this is where fatal nightmares can occur, although I personally do not know much about that, and I don’t really like to dwell on it either.

The bottom line is that whether you are prepared or not, you are not likely to see any negative effects from astral projection episodes – self-induced or otherwise.

How to perform astral projection

Step 1 – Relax your body

Deep physical relaxation is one of the most important prerequisites of successful projections and OBEs.

The reason why many oneironauts and AP-enthusiasts fail to achieve proper conscious-exit projection is that they neglect the role of deep physical relaxation, in favor of more interesting things further down the line.

After all: how difficult is it to relax and to achieve a certain level of trance?

If one manages to stay awake till a state of trance is reached, he/she has more or less successfully completed the first part of the AP mission, right?


What exactly does trance translate to?

During the trance state, the physical body is asleep, while the mind is still awake. Despite being asleep, the body may still be riddled with muscle tension and it may be in a stressed-out state. Such a physical body will not allow for proper projectable double generation and separation.

This phenomenon simply does not work at the areas where physical tension is present. Thus, the effort will result in partial projections and eventually, an inability on the part of the projector to progress any further. Frustration soon strikes, further complicating the problem.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) and the deep physical relaxation it achieves, is nothing less than the very foundation on which the entire successful AP/OBE experience rests, and it should be treated as such.

PMR also lends itself well to practice, in the sense that it becomes easier and easier the more one does it. The key is to go about it the right way and to practice it often.

The simplicity of PMR is exactly why it is so exasperating to see many potentially successful APers struggle with problems they could easily avoid by focusing more on deep physical relaxation.

While an actual PMR session should not take longer than 10-15 minutes, the “right way” requires that you go about it very methodically. You have to complete several preparatory phases before you even get to the point where you apply actual PMR techniques.

One method used to tweak PMR is to incorporate relaxing imagery. Such imagery can range from the very simple – such as imagining your various body parts bathed by the warm rays of the sun – to the complex – such as imagining yourself out in the woods, on a sunny clearing, among buzzing bees and colorful flowers.

The use of guided imagery is meant to add to the effects of PMR, complementing them. Imagining a safe place, or any spot to which one is linked by fond memories, and then imagining oneself transported to that place, is the way to go.

One of the most important prerequisites of proper PMR is that the practitioner should be well rested. If you are sleepy, you’re not in a good position to begin PMR, especially if you plan on doing the required exercises lying down.

In this regard, you may want to avoid doing the PMR exercises after a copious meal. In that well-fed condition, you are much more likely to doze off from relaxation.

If you find it impossible to achieve even the minimum required relaxation to begin the exercises, taking a bath may help, as it has a soothing and energy-draining effect on the body.

It is recommended that you do you PMR sitting up in an armchair, where you have good support for your back, neck and arms. Loose clothing is recommended as well, as you do not need circulation-related problems distracting you from your deep physical relaxation.

Finding the proper posture is important for the same reason: during deep physical relaxation, your head may sag for instance, creating a circulation hiccup again, which will disturb your relaxation.

While the use of a bed (and lying down) is not recommended, it can be a last-resort type of solution.

The good posture recommendation goes for the whole body, obviously. Sagging in your armchair will result in joint and muscle strain, thus defeating the very purpose of your exercise.

Have a blanket at the ready in case you start feeling cold due to the relaxation. Indeed, the lowering of the heart-rate, which results from the exercise, can have such an effect on some people.

To wrap up your preparations, take five to ten deep breaths. Such deep breathing will put your body into “relaxation-mode.” Some also recommend that you do a full body stretch before you get down to the actual exercises.

Progressive muscle relaxation is about tensing and then relaxing various muscle groups in your body, thus teaching yourself the difference between the two states and giving yourself a valuable tool for achieving relaxation much easier further down the line.

In the beginning, you will benefit from listening to a set of instructions (such as those provided below) that guides you through the process step-by-step. You can also memorize the instructions and follow them by heart.

It is best to go through the routine methodically, starting with the feet and working your way up the body to the neck and the face.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation Instructions

Once you’re settled in and ready to start, take a deep breath through your nose, then exhale through your mouth.

The feet

Take another deep breath and curl your toes on your right foot as tightly as you can. Hold the tension in the muscle while you hold your breath for 5-10 seconds. Breathe out and release the tension, focusing on the way your foot feels when it relaxes.

Repeat the same move for the left foot.


Next, tighten your calf muscle. You can accomplish this by sort of pretending to push down on something with your foot. Remember to correlate the tightening and relaxing of your calf muscle with the above described breathing technique. Again: repeat for the left calf.

You can involve the front part of your lower leg too, by pulling your toes upward as much as you can. This move stretches the calf-muscle and tenses the frontal muscle group. Tense, hold and relax, while inhaling and exhaling as said above.

Theoretically, you can do these exercises for both feet/legs at the same time, but it’s best in the beginning to focus on just one muscle group. Later on, as you become better at PMR, you’ll be able to take such shortcuts without compromising the quality of the exercise.


Let us move on to the thighs. Squeeze your thigh muscles (by locking your knees and sort of attempting to lift an imaginary weight forward with your legs). Hold the tension, then release.

You can repeat the move for your inner thighs as well. This time around, you shall be “attempting to squeeze your knees together.” The technique is the same as described above. The same goes for the hamstrings.


The next muscle group is the buttocks (the gluteous maximus and everything linked to it). Squeeze your buttocks together and hold the tension while holding the breath you’ve just taken through your nose. Relax after 5-10 seconds while breathing out.

The core

The abs are next. Give them the sort of squeeze you would if you attempted to roll into a ball. Hold the tension, then release as specified above. Suck in your stomach next, and hold that position for the required amount of time. Relax.

Straighten your back and attempt to push your upper body backward, even as you’re pushing your bum out and backward too, to tense up your lower back muscles.


Let’s do the arms next. Once again, everything you do on the right side should be repeated on the left.

Make a fist and squeeze it hard. Relax. Lock out your elbows and give the triceps (the biggest muscle-group of the upper arm, located on the back of your arm) a squeeze too.

Engage your biceps by flexing in the “make a muscle” fashion. Relax them too, while breathing out and focusing on just how good it feels to let go of the tension.


Next up, we have the neck and the shoulders. While the shoulders themselves are difficult to engage without actually pushing a weight above your head, you’ll use your trapezius muscles to pull your shoulders upward and inward, towards your ears. The traps go up all the way into your neck, so they’ll engage that area as well.

If you are prone to injury in this area, exercise increased caution when tensing. Relax your muscles, while breathing out and focusing on how the tension flows out of the targeted muscle group.

The face

The facial muscles are next. We shall be focusing on the mouth (jaw), eyes, and eyebrows here.

Open your mouth as widely as you can, stretching the muscles of the jaw, while taking a deep breath through your nose. Hold the position for 5-10, then relax while breathing out.

Close your eyes and squeeze them shut as tightly as you can. Relax them.

Raise your eyebrows as far up as you can, hold them in position, then relax.

Remember to take some time at the end of it all, to focus on the complete physical relaxation of your body. You’ll be amazed by how good it feels.

Step 2 – Allowing your body to doze off while the mind remain awake / entering sleep paralysis

Sleep paralysis is not exactly astral projection, but the state that it triggers – being awake/aware of yourself/your surroundings, while being unable to move – is exactly the state of consciousness you need to be in to succeed in astral projection.

In the context of astral projection, sleep paralysis is referred to as trance.

How to Enter Trance

A clear mind (and by that I obviously mean the surface mind and not your deeper consciousness), is also a major requirement. While to some, the clearing of the surface mind might be a challenge, it is normally a rather simple exercise. If you have any nagging thoughts on your mind, simply take a minute to ruminate them for a few brief moments and then let them go for good.

To aid with your trance-induction, you will want to use a mental technique as well. Though slipping into trance is possible without such an apparent artifice, something like the falling mental technique can move things forward in this regard for you by leaps and bounds.

As far as readily describable sensations are concerned, the state of trance is characterized by warm and cozy feelings in the body, as well as a general sensation of heaviness.

The mind begins to ramble, often incoherent thoughts running through it. Such incoherence is usually caused by physical and/or mental exhaustion, and as such, it is obviously an obstacle in the path of lucidity at this point.

The heaviness in the body (which turns into complete paralysis as one wades into deeper stages of trance) is a clear sign that one has indeed achieved trance.

Some say that the meaning of this sensation is that consciousness has withdrawn from the physical shell, into a sort of inner projection of self, called the ethereal body. That does indeed explain why with trance, one takes a major step towards external projection.

Light Trance

The light trance state is obviously the easiest to attain and the most tenuous to maintain.

Much like a daydream, this stage of trance is characterized by the above described warm and fuzzy feelings in the body, coupled with occasional hypnagogic imagery projected onto the backs of the subject’s eyelids.

A feeling of dissociation from one’s physical shell and environment is also present during this stage of trance.

External projection is already possible at this point, but as already mentioned, this state is quite tenuous and even the slightest physical discomfort can break it. This is why deep physical relaxation is so important, among other reasons.

Full Trance

As one sinks deeper into trance, he/she will arrive to the state of full trance, which brings a few more elements into the sensations-picture.

In addition to the body feeling heavier and heavier, as the links of one’s consciousness are slowly but surely severed with it, a slight sensation of falling rears its head too.

Since trance can best be described as a continuous battle one’s consciousness wages against the draw of the abyss of sleep, or a sort of balancing act even, with the deepening of trance, the draw of sleep becomes more pronounced as well.

As the REM sleep stage sneaks up on the person in trance, occasional dream imagery may sneak into more-vivid-than-before hypnagogic imagery that often accompanies this stage of trance. This should be viewed as an indication that – most likely on account of less than sufficient sleep – the subject is losing his/her grip on trance and is slowly falling asleep.

Most of those who achieve this trance-depth will have to fight off bouts of such REM-temptations, which is best done by simply ignoring them.

Deep Trance

This is the stage, during which the loss of control over one’s physical shell can indeed become complete, leading to a sleep paralysis-like state, which can be scary to some.

Some oneironauts have reported a continuous falling sensation during this stage too, which can also startle some people.

It is important to remember that – much like sleep paralysis itself – this trance stage is wholly harmless, despite the radical sensations it generates. One can attempt to pull out of it by repeatedly attempting to perform some sort of minute physical movement, such as wiggling a toe, but if all else fails, and one really wants to exit, simply falling asleep is perhaps the best strategy.

If you’re looking for external projection, a light trance is the stage you need to be in. There’s no need to reach a deep state of trance.

I’d even go as far as to assume that if you have reached a sleep paralysis-like state, you have probably already projected, but your consciousness missed the opportunity to slip into your astral body.

In such a case, you can opt to simply terminate the experiment by allowing your mind to follow your physical body into the realm of the Sandman.

For proper trance, mental relaxation and a well-rested state are both extremely important. This is the very reason why most people find it easier to slip into proper, controlled trance early in the morning, after waking up, or even during the night.

Some people find it easier to attain a state of trance after waking up an hour earlier than normal. Others set their alarms and awaken during the night for the exercise. In such cases, preparatory actions are usually not required. The deep physical- and mental relaxation needed is provided by the sleep that leads up to the trance attempt.

My recipe for attaining a deep-enough level of trance to make AP possible

What I have personally found efficient in this regard is what I call the falling technique. It consists of imagining and visualizing a scenario about falling, and then focusing on this feeling. As pointed out above, the sensation of falling is part and parcel of the deeper trance experience.

Going down a spiral staircase - Trance Induction

Through this technique, you will essentially be ushering in this deeper trance stage, “by force” so to speak.

Sample trance-inducing mental technique

Having gone through all the preparatory steps and having achieved proper physical and mental relaxation, I like to imagine myself stepping off a concrete diving platform, backwards.

It does not hurt to have already attained a shallower degree of trance before commencing this mental exercise.

As I start falling feet-first (and even before that), I try to focus on the texture of the structure supporting the platform. I usually imagine a concrete/metal combination in this regard, and I see lower platforms whizzing by on my left.

My fall does not actually end with a splash in the water though. It just goes on and on, as the feeling of slight vertigo in my stomach persists.

If you like to be reminded of what this feeling is really like, go and ride an elevator downward, focusing on the moments right after it starts moving.

As I’m falling further and further, I have found that my trance level becomes deeper and deeper.

The mantra I keep repeating in my head while falling is “Let go, let go…” The interesting thing about such mantras is that over time, you can condition your mind to instantly conjure up the whole above described scenario, as soon as you say them once.

This technique is just a sample, in the sense that you don’t actually have to stick to it word-by-word.

In fact, I recommend that based on it, you should develop your own falling technique, based on a situation/experience closer to your own soul.

You can indeed imagine yourself being in an elevator which has one of its walls removed to expose a side of the elevator shaft.

You can also picture yourself falling through colored clouds, or even slowly floating downward on a massive feather. There are no boundaries in this regard, and once you get the hang of the technique, you will find yourself coming back to it time and again.

Step 3 – Exiting your physical body

The actual projection-phase (the moment when one’s projected double breaks free of his/her physical body) is viewed as some sort of Holy Grail by OBE enthusiasts.

Astral Projection Exit Techniques

The exercise could be summed up as trying to exteriorize one’s sense of self/body awareness. That’s what it all comes down to really.

Bounce Loosening Method

Create a mental image of the room in which you are, and begin an “awareness” bounce through your body. As you settle into a rhythm, slowly expand the boundaries of this bouncing action, until you reach the ceiling above and the floor below you.

At this point, your awareness shall indeed bounce right through your body, from floor to ceiling.

Try to focus on the texture of the ceiling and then the floor, as if you were indeed physically there to see it up-close.

This mental exercise can then be expanded to actually feeling your whole spatial position at all times, during the bounce. Try to focus your attention on the moments when your awareness bounces off the ceiling and the floor, and ignore the instances when it passes through your physical body.

To wrap up the exercise, you will then focus on bouncing your awareness back and forth, in line with your face. If you are lying down, this will still involve the floor and the ceiling, but if you’re sitting more or less upright, you will have to shift your attention to the walls behind and in front of you.

The goal of the bounce technique is obvious: by focusing your awareness onto a point well outside your physical body, you achieve exit projection, even if it’s just for a brief moment.

The Breathing Method

The breathing method is a lot like the above-detailed bounce method, only its focus is on – obviously- breathing.

Once again, you start out by positioning yourself into the perfect state for projection and by creating a mental image of the room around you.

Then, as you breathe out, you focus on collapsing your awareness into your physical body, all the way to the point when you feel you are but a tiny speck in a vast space, which is your room. Physically feel the distances between the walls grow larger and larger, until they become almost infinite.

When breathing in, on the other hand, feel your awareness expand, past your physical frame, all the way to the point when it fills up the entire room.

The Spin Loosening Method

The spin loosening method takes a slightly different approach to awareness-loosening. With this method, you will take the bounce method a slight step further.

After bouncing your awareness back and forth a few times, you begin to spin around the room in a clockwise direction. Throughout this spinning movement, you touch every wall you encounter, again focusing on its texture/details.

Make the movement relatively fast: it should not take more than 3-4 seconds to complete an orbit around your physical body. You can actually pick the speed with which you are most comfortable. The above 3-4 second orbit recommendation comes from my personal experience.

Once again, focus on the texture of the walls and the changing perspective as you move around.

It is an obvious truth that holding an immobile external projection is much more difficult than holding a moving one. This is what the spin loosening method takes advantage of.

Through this method, you’re going to spend more time outside of your physical body, so be aware that spin loosening can indeed act as an actual projection trigger.


Your imagination is always handy, available and free, so why not try to use it for loosening your projected double? The sky is indeed the limit in this regard.

You can for instance simply imagine your projected double leaving your physical body and heading out the door. When engaging in such an exercise, you need to pay keen attention to actually feeling your physical body being left behind. Also remember that to make the holding of your projected double easier, you need to move around.

Once you have imagined yourself leaving your body, there is no reason for you to limit your movements to your room. Move out and away and imagine yourself flying to a different town for instance.

If – at any point during this mental exercise – you begin to truly feel where you are imagining yourself, while you sense a surge of energy through your innards and bones, accompanied by a sensation of vertigo, chances are you have managed to accomplish full projection exit.

The beauty of this method is that indeed, suddenly you may find projected double fully escaped and already in a remote location.

The Rope Projection Method

When it comes to go-to projection triggers, not much can equal the rope projection method, and there’s good reason why that is the case.

The method is based on the imagined scenario of the oneironaut pulling him/herself out of his/her physical shell by pulling on a rope hanging from the ceiling.

For this exercise, you will have to position yourself lying on your back, face up towards the ceiling.

It goes without saying that you need to be mentally and physically relaxed and preferably in a light state of trance.

Allow your imagination to conjure up a thick, coarse rope, hanging just above your chest, in a position in which you can effortlessly grab onto it.

Use your awareness hands to grab the rope, and focus on its texture. You have to feel its rough, ropey touch in the palms of your hands.

Use your awareness hands to start “climbing” up the rope, by pulling on it.

Remember: do not allow your physical body to tense up from the imagined effort. This is an effortless climb, the sort that will in effect extract your projected double from your physical shell.

Focus on the actual climbing motion, as you pull the rope in with one hand, while holding onto it with the other. It is important that you keep both your awareness hands engaged at all times.

Try to hit a climbing pace you find comfortable. On my part, I have found that allowing one second for each hand action is about right.

If the technique works (and it does indeed work), you will feel a slight tingling and then vertigo in your stomach. If you experience these sensations, keep going: you are on the right track.

Sooner or later, you will trigger the projection reflex.

This is a Dream...

There are several variations of the rope method, but for starters, the above one will do.

Just remember: if you run into some sort of conundrum while performing the technique, such as bumping into the ceiling, unable to rise any further, use visualization to do away with these problems.

Simply “imagine away” the ceiling.

Astral Projection Tips

Is it required to Decalcify the Pineal Gland?

Considered the “Seat of the Soul” and the “Third Eye” by many, the pineal gland is beyond any doubt an organ, the importance of which far exceeds anything we currently know about it.

Researchers have linked it to the regulation of mood and sleep cycles, but above and beyond that, it may in fact be the very source of dreams and of more intricate phenomena, such as out-of-body experiences and astral projection.

The Pineal Gland

The bad news is that this “all-seeing eye” of ours is vulnerable to calcification, which is a process not entirely dissimilar to how our bones are formed.

As such, its triggers are not exactly well-known, despite what some snake-oil salesmen would have you believe.

According to such people, modern lifestyles and diets are to blame for this problem.

The narrative goes that due to the pesticide and fluoride infestation of drinking water and scores of foods, the pineal gland undergoes a gradual calcification, which eventually all but disables this important organ, causing serious disturbances in the lives of those who suffer from such a condition.

Having defined the problem so “eloquently,” the snake-oil peddlers then obviously offer a solution too: the decalcification of the pineal gland calls for a two-pronged approach, meant to deal with detoxification as well as active functional support.

Adopting a lifestyle that promotes the pineal gland is extremely important.

Ditching foods that contain fluoride, discontinuing the use of sunglasses, eliminating processed foods and embracing the light as well as the darkness, while combining everything with meditation, is apparently the way to go.

While none of those recommendations will do a body any harm, some of them are a little unhinged to say the least.

Moreover, there is no scientific evidence concerning the possible benefic effects of any of those “treatments.” Sure, they may aid with overall health and well-being, but the actual science of the pineal gland is a little more convoluted than that.

These all-knowing “PG-specialists” then obviously advise us to start taking actual supplements that “decalcify and actively promote” the function of the PG.

I mentioned above that the true triggers of PG calcification are not well-known, and while this is indeed the case, some of the risk-factors are indeed known. However, they do not seem to be linked to long-term fluoride exposure in any shape or form.

For one thing: the prevalence of pineal gland calcification problems seems directly related to age. To a certain point, the older one is, the more likely he is to encounter such problems.

Scientifically conducted medical studies have found that F (fluoride) does indeed readily accumulate in the pineal gland. Its concentrations in this organ far exceed its concentrations in the muscle for instance.

Its presence in the PG is also directly correlated with the presence of Ca (calcium) too, so calcification IS real.

Where the problems come in, is that PG F-concentrations are in no way correlated with bone fluoride concentrations. Bone F concentrations have long been known to be reliable indicators for long-term F-exposure and body burden.

Since no link between Bone F and PG F exists, it is safe to say that PG F is in no way influenced by fluoride exposure and body burden.

Long story short: you cannot raise the level of F in your pineal gland by drinking F-laced water, or exposing yourself to the otherwise rather toxic element in other ways. Therefore, you cannot raise the level of Ca in your PG either.

Thus, PG calcification is NOT brought about by environmental factors/exposure and diet choices. It is a process controlled by some kind of other mechanism.


Pineal gland calcification leads to melatonin-deficiency, which in turn, wreaks havoc on one’s sleep/wake cycles.

Without a doubt, melatonin supplementation can and will have a positive impact on this problem, but it will likely not do much for the calcification issue.

It simply corrects one of its ill-effects.

Given its impact on the REM sleep stage and its apparent ability to promote sleep paralysis, melatonin makes the list of supplements recommended for astral projection.

My theory in this regard is that due to its above said effects, melatonin makes it easier for astral projectors to reach the hypnagogic state, that is indeed the critical point in every out-of-body experience.

Moreover, since melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland, which is believed to be the “third eye,” it’s very possible that taking melatonin may facilitate third-eye-mediated phenomena, such as astral projection.

Some people report that melatonin helps them reach the vibratory stage of astral projection faster and that the vibrations are more intense than usual.

Another mechanism by which melatonin may improve one’s chances to successfully project is by bringing about sleep paralysis, as I explained above.

I can personally attest to the fact that under the effect of melatonin, astral projection is indeed quicker and easier to achieve.

If you’re practicing astral projection while not being tired enough to enter the trance state, melatonin may help prepare your body to fall asleep. (But don’t forget that light destroys melatonin, so make sure you’re in a dark room when attempting this.)

Useful Astral Projection Supplements

Besides melatonin, there are other supplements which may be beneficial for astral projection, including Huperzine A, Calea zacatechichi, galantamine and choline.

Huperzine A

The acetylcholine-boosting effects of Huperzine A, which make it not only a medicine for Alzheimer, but also a great way to improve dream recall and induce lucid dreams, mean that Huperzine A may also be beneficial for astral projection.

Calea zacatechichi

I have personally found it very useful in this regard. Obviously, no supplement will trigger an on-demand OBE for you, but Calea z. will certainly help with your induction techniques.

The fact that it is capable of projecting vivid imagery onto the back of your eyelids seemingly at all times (even when you are awake but close your eyes for a few seconds, to perhaps rest them), is in and of itself a major asset astral projection-wise.


Galantamine makes a noticeable impact on the induction of the experience, which is the most difficult thing about it. WILD bears some similarity to the induction of OBEs, and as pointed out above, galantamine works great for WILD.

Added lucidity and control is always more than welcome in an OBE too.


While astral projection is far from being the equivalent of a lucid dream on steroids, it is induced in a rather WILD-like manner.

I have personally had a handful of outstanding OBEs while on the above described supplement combination, and I have to say that I found the induction of these experiences much easier than usual – a fact I quickly jotted down to the effects of choline/galantamine.

Furthermore, unlike galantamine – all choline-based dream-enhancing supplements are exceptionally well tolerated by the body.

The Bottom Line: Astral Projection Practice Routine

According to “mainstream” wisdom, the best time of the day to try to induce astral projection is in the morning, near dawn in fact, when one is still drowsy and not completely awake.

Relaxation is extremely important for this exercise, so if you feel you cannot completely relax for whatever reason, do not push it. Find an area of your house where you’re most likely to achieve complete relaxation. Set the place up: draw the shades if needed and keep out all outside disturbances.

Before you start, make sure you have time set aside for this purpose, during which no one will bother you in any way. Turn off your phone, and choose a secluded corner of your house. You may even want to consider dimming the lights.

Lie down while on your back or sit on a comfortable chair, try to focus your thoughts on the way your body feels, while locking out all other thoughts. Breathe deeply, but do not strain. Relaxation is the key word, and that goes for your breathing too.

To give yourself the best possible chance at projection exit, you need to be physically and mentally thoroughly relaxed, for the above-explained reasons.

You also need to achieve a relatively shallow state of trance. Indeed, it is important that you do not slip into deep trance, as by doing that, you’ll bring about bouts of REM imagery and falling asleep becomes a real possibility. Light-to-moderate trance is what you need here.

This is the stage where – if you do everything right – you should sense the onset of vibrations. These vibrations are the heralds of your astral body preparing to leave you physical shell behind. Do not become panicked at this stage, as that will throw you out of your meditative state and your astral projection experiment will be interrupted. Instead, try to surrender yourself to these vibrations…they are perfectly natural and should be present.

Next, imagine yourself getting up from the bed and heading across the room (or try a different exit technique). Once again: I’m not talking about a physical act here. Use your mind and your mind alone to visualize the room, and then your body moving across it. If you look back at your bed and see your physical body lying there, you’ve accomplished your first foray into the astral realm.

Your silver cord should pull you back to your body without any kind of an effort on your part. Once you feel you’ve reentered your physical body, move your fingers and toes (this time physically) to complete the process.

One thing to remember if you do indeed successfully projection-exit: keep your initial OBE only around 10 seconds in length, then get back to your physical self.

Such short OBE experiences are easier to remember and they will radically increase your chances to recreate the induction process.

Projection exit is often accompanied by a surge of energy and excitement. Try to keep calm and fend off this excitement as it may prevent you from accomplishing full exit, right when you are on the verge of pulling it off.

If you fail at this point though and you find yourself fully paralyzed, do not panic. You have projected and you missed the exit, as your consciousness got stuck in your physical body. Wait calmly for your projected double to return and just snap out of it all.

That’s all it takes.

By following this example schedule, or by modelling your own schedule based on the 3 steps I described in this astral projection induction guide, you will definitely succeed.

Work with a OBE coach today if you would like to start exploring the astral realms!


Lucid Dreaming Guide (7 Steps For Fast Results)

Imagine if there was a simple technique you could adopt, that would enable you to experience lucid dreaming whenever you wanted.

Now, imagine there were 7 easy lucid dreaming techniques that taken together would mean not only reaching your goal of having lucid dreams, but reaching it FAST.

Let’s face it.

Many people spend months and years practicing lucid dream induction techniques, such as reality checks, with little or no results.

Are you one of them? I was.

And before I learned how to lucid dream at will, I felt I was wasting my nights and days, not able to make use of and to enjoy this spectacular phenomena.

I wish I had access to the simple lucid dreaming tips I will share with you in this article, as it would have probably saved me years of hard work.

By reading this easy-to-implement, step-by-step guide, you will become a proficient lucid dreamer in no time.

You will then finally be able to reap the tremendous benefits lucid dreaming provides.

Lucid Dreaming Benefits

  • Wish fulfillment
  • Physical, emotional and spiritual healing
  • Working through nightmares and recurring dreams
  • Rehearsing, decision making, creative problem solving
  • Receiving teachings
  • Spiritual enlightenment
  • Preparing for death
  • Conditioning your subconscious as a way to alter the real world

And the list goes on and on. The benefits of lucid dreaming are overwhelming, which often made me wonder why isn’t everyone obsessed about them as much as I am.

So what are the 7 steps to lucid dreaming?

They are:

  1. Dream recall.
  2. Avoiding the obstacles.
  3. Programming your mind to be aware during dreams.
  4. Learning to fall asleep consciously.
  5. Early morning practice.
  6. Naps.
  7. Optimizing your brain chemistry (by using lucid dreaming pills & foods).

We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get started right away.

7 Lucid Dreaming Tips – How to Induce a Lucid Dream?

Step 1: Dream Recall

Remembering your dreams is absolutely essential for lucid dreaming.

The problem in this regard is that our brains seem “programmed” to erase our dream-related memories as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Writing your dreams is essential for dream recall, and hence for lucid dreaming

Your first step is to keep a dream journal

This is easily accomplished by placing a pen and paper next to your bed, so when you wake up and the memories of your dreams are still vivid, you can write them down.

This will help you identify your dream patterns, and tell you when you’re most likely to dream.

So how do you go about remembering your dreams?

Your first move is to get plenty of sleep. This is needed for several reasons.

First of all: to have long and proper REM sleep stages, you need to be well-rested and on a healthy sleep schedule.

When you awaken and you do indeed remember a dream: know that you MUST record it. Otherwise, if you go back to sleep, you brain may well erase it all by morning.

When you wake up, remain in the position in which you were upon awakening and try to remember what you dreamt. Try to grab onto a memory-fragment if you have no clear idea in this regard and try to work backwards from it.

If you feel up to it, you should really provide a detailed description of the dreams you do indeed remember.

Write down everything about them: dialogues, colors, sensations, feelings various dream scenarios elicited in you, tactile sensations and temperature-related ones.

Draw pictures of your dream scenarios, as well as of the symbols and various faces that you encounter.

In addition to your on-the-spot recording, prepare yourself to record dreams throughout the day. Sometimes dream recall strikes when you least expect it, and it would really be a shame to let these memories go to waste, just because you have your mind filled with other thoughts at that point.

Even if you only manage to recall some dream fragments, note them all down, with special attention to detail.

If you already have a dream journal going, read through it before bedtime. This is an interesting way to lull your brain into dream-mode, and to give your dream-related thoughts priority over the day’s issues, or other thoughts linked to mundane existence.

Step 2: Overcoming the Obstacles

There are several common obstacles that must be averted if you’d like to enjoy lucid dreaming.

Basically, anything that disturbs the natural course of sleep is to be avoided.

Here are some sleep hygiene tips you should follow on your way to become a lucid dreamer:

Avoid stimulants (e.g., caffeine, nicotine) for several hours before bedtime

Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants. Therefore, no surprise they cause trouble sleeping.


When designing your daily schedule, keep in mind that caffeine takes about 1 hour to kick in and that its duration of action is 3-4 hours.

Caffeine use significantly disturbs sleep in susceptible persons.

It would be wise therefore to avoid drinking coffee in the late afternoon or evening hours. Try to have your last caffeinated beverage at least 5 hours before you intend to go to sleep.

Additionally, try to drink not more than 3 cups of coffee per day.

And remember, caffeine exists in other places besides coffee. Tea, some soft and energy drinks and chocolate also contain caffeine. The only caffeinated beverage that might be an exception would be green (or white) tea.

Raspberry Tea
Try a cup of fruit tea as a nightly alternative to coffee

Regarding nicotine, when it is smoked, its onset is within seconds. The half-life of nicotine is 1-2 hours and while its primary effects last 10-45 minutes, it may take 2 hours for it to really wear off.

Nicotine dependency may cause nocturnal awakenings.

I seriously suggest that you quit smoking if you do, but if you must smoke, take your last cigarette at least 2 hours before your bedtime.

Avoid alcohol and marijuana around bedtime because they fragment sleep


While low doses of alcohol don’t seem to cause any noticeable effects on sleep, drinking larger amounts before going to sleep causes an increase in the deeper stages of sleep while suppressing REM sleep.

REM sleep is the stage of sleep in which most dreams occur.

By the end of the night, the effect wanes and a REM rebound occurs where you may experience an increase in REM sleep. This may be accompanied by intense (albeit difficult to remember) dreams in the early morning hours after a drinking night.

Alcohol causes your sleep to be more broken and less refreshing than normal.

Drinking just 1-2 drinks might not cause any problems at all. But if you drink more than that, try to do so at least 4 hours before your bed time.

A glass of wine with dinner will likely not be an issue.


Ingesting marijuana (specifically THC) causes sleep disruption. It is characterizing by a reduction of REM sleep.

Chronic THC ingestion causes a long-term suppression of slow-wave sleep.

If lucid dreaming, or even just remembering your dreams, matters to you, try to avoid using cannabis regularly.

Unwind - Use candlelight for reading / meditation
Use candlelight to read and meditate during your unwinding hour

Allow at least a 1-hour period to unwind before bedtime

Take the time to prepare your body to sleep at least 30-60 minutes before your bedtime.

During your final waking hour, try to dissolve all your worries and tensions by meditating or engaging in a quiet and relaxing activity that you enjoy.

Let go of everything that happened to you during the day.

Clean your mind and calm your body.

Reading about lucid dreaming might be particularly helpful.

An important consideration for your winding down time would be to avoid exposing yourself to light, which can decrease your sleep hormone (melatonin) levels.

This includes screens.

Yes, your computer and smart phone screens can hurt your sleep if you are exposed to their light just before bedtime.

If you can’t go to sleep without watching your favorite TV show, then consider using glasses that block blue light in the hours before bedtime. Alternatively, you can use your operating system’s blue light settings.

Here’s how this setting is configured on Windows 10.

Right click on your desktop, click “Display settings,” then on “Night light settings.” You’ll see the following window:

Windows 10 Night Light Settings

Just schedule night light to turn on sunset to sunrise and you’re all set!

Keep your bedroom environment quiet, dark, and comfortable

Maintaining a comfortable sleep environment is very important.

Make sure your room is quiet and dark. Noise and light (even dim light) may interfere with your sleep.

If there’s light outside during even part of your sleep hours, make sure to cover your windows so that the daylight doesn’t interfere with your sleep.

The temperature in the room should also be comfortable. Try to keep it not higher than 75 degrees Fahrenheit (about 24 degrees Celsius).

If it’s warmer than that, turn on the AC!

Remove electronic devices from your bedroom

Electronic devices emit not only light, but also sound, heat and electromagnetic radiation which may influence your sleep.

Not to mention if that Facebook notification or SMS actually wakes you up when you were just about to drift off to sleep…

If possible, see to it that there will be no electronic devices whatsoever in your bedroom.

Step 3: Programming your Mind to Become Conscious During Dreams

The most common technique for induction of lucid dreaming is known as DILD (Dream Initiated Lucid Dreaming).

In DILDs, one goes to sleep “properly” and has what one would call a “normal” dream, during which, he/she suddenly becomes lucid for whatever reason.

Lucidity is usually achieved as a result of a sudden realization that something is “not right” within the dream, or through the recognition of a pattern.

While DILDs can be entirely spontaneous, there are a number of techniques one can employ to increase the odds of having a such a lucid dream.

Dream-Induced Lucid Dreaming (DILD)
DILDs are dream-induced lucid dreams

How to Achieve a Dream-Induced Lucid Dream?

There are quite a few ways to bring about a DILD, or rather, to help it pop up on its own.

The most common technique is to conduct reality checks.

Reality Checks – Useful Lucid Dreaming Technique?

The practice is based on the performing of reality checks throughout the day, which can be intricate (like reading text off a piece of paper or checking a clock, while asking “am I dreaming?”), or really simple, like trying to put one hand through the palm of the other.

When these reality checks become second nature, one will in essence be compelled to perform them within his/her dreams too.

When done in a dream, the results of the checks will be different of course, and this realization will likely spark lucidity.

The problem with reality checks is that it’s essentially a “practice and pray” technique.

You spend a lot of energy during the day to question the reality of waking life, but will you remember to do the same questioning during the dream?

For some people, this technique works fine. For others, they may practice it for months, or even years, without success.

Still, I wouldn’t recommend not making any efforts towards reaching the lucid state from within the dream.

Just use an easier method.


The method I find most effective and easy is auto-suggestion/self-hypnosis, one that doesn’t require spending more than 5 minutes per day.

This is a Dream...

One way to do it is to imagine oneself descending a flight of stairs while in a state of deep relaxation. With every step, one goes deeper and deeper into hypnosis. Repeating “I experience a lucid dream” and “I’m taking control of my dreams” during the exercise is also in order.

Another technique which I learned from Robert Waggoner is to spend 5 minutes before going to bed at night, looking at your hands and repeating “Tonight in my dreams I’ll see my hands and realize I’m dreaming.”

By practicing the above described technique(s) that you find most effective and rewarding, you won’t just temporarily increase your chances of triggering a DILD.

You will in fact become more and more skilled at bringing about the experience, and with time, you may grow to be able to trigger a DILD almost every night. You can indeed become a DILD-master.

Step 4: Learn to Fall Asleep Consciously

A big shortcoming of the DILD method is that it does not allow for the on-demand triggering of lucid dreams.

For that, you will have to turn to the Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming (WILD; a term coined by Prof. Stephen LaBerge) technique, which is about keeping the mind awake as the body goes to sleep.

Wake-Induced Lucid Dreaming (WILD)
WILDs are wake-induced lucid dreams

How can you achieve on-demand LDs through WILD?

The first step is setting up the right sleep environment, which in this case means eliminating any and all potential sources of distraction within your bedroom. You will need to achieve complete and perfect relaxation while completely motionless, so you cannot afford to have your thoughts distracted by anything.

Having set up your room, it’s time to assume the “corpse pose.”

Lie on your back, completely motionless, and be aware that what’s about to happen is essentially what you go through every night when you go to sleep, with one difference: this time around, only your body will be trusted to the Sandman, your mind will stay awake and lucid.

At this stage, it is important that you do not move. Sort out all your itches and other mobility-linked issues beforehand, and if you happen to make a move during your corpse pose-stage, start over.

Try to break free of all worries and concerns you may have, by pushing them all away in the distance. Think of them as issues you might handle tomorrow, but which carry no significance for the here and now.

Relax every part of your body, paying special attention to your face. There’s usually a lot of pent-up tension in the face, tension which goes unnoticed by most people during the day. Focus on ridding your face and your jaw of this tension.

Focusing your attention on your breathing is the third step.

What’s important here is to breathe deeply, but by no means in a manner that takes an extra effort, or is uncomfortable in any shape or form.

After you spend some time in the above described relaxed state, you will notice how hypnagogia slowly creeps up on you. At this point, your objective is to simply observe this hypnagogic state.

Closing your eyes, try focusing on the cavalcade of phosphorescent patterns and shapes that will commence behind your eyelids, by literally looking into the back of your eyelids.

As you drift deeper and deeper into this hypnagogic state, you will at one point start feeling sensations such as tipping and floating, and you may even begin to hear faint sounds in the distance.

Use your still-awake consciousness to tell yourself that you are indeed dreaming.

While the temptation to let your consciousness “catch up” with your physical shell and fall asleep, is greatest at this point, this is where your actual lucid dream experience begins, so do not give in to that urge.

The 4th step is about slowly beginning to build up your lucid dream scenario. Depending on the depth of your hypnagogic state, you can start off with modest elements such as simple shapes, or you can cut right to the chase and build a complete scenario.

As always, taking things one step at a time is best for beginners.

Try to visualize something simple, like a circle, first. Make it go away, then bring it back.

Bring up different shapes, such as triangles and squares. Get handy controlling them: move them around and spin them.

Once you’re past this stage, try conjuring up more intricate images. Visualize a beach or a forest.

The best technique is this regard is to focus more on actually seeing the environment and not on creating it. Imagine that the whole thing is already there, you’re just not seeing it.

The next step is to insert yourself into the dreamscape.

Move around and make the most of the sensations that will surround you. If you’re on a beach, feel the warm sand under your feet. Look down and see if you can make out your feet and your hands.

Be amazed by the vividness of your dream, and keep telling yourself that you are in fact in a dream.

Completely let go of your body though, even deny its existence. You are your consciousness at this point, and you are indeed in a lucid dream induced through the WILD technique.

Step 5: Use the Early Morning Hours to Practice

Another important technique to incorporate into your daily practice schedule is known as MILD (Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreaming).

Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD)
MILD is a mnemonic lucid dreaming induction technique

Stephen LaBerge is the one credited with the development of the technique, and indeed, I can tell you from my own experience that it works well.

There are two steps to this techniques, which should be practiced repeatedly one after the other, again and again, after waking up from a dream.

Upon waking up, the dreamer will usually remember a previous dream. The problem is that often, one is so drowsy at this point that he/she will go right back to sleep. It is important to achieve a fully awakened state instead of dozing right off again.

Having woken up completely, the dreamer then needs to go back to sleep, while practicing the two steps of the MILD technique.

Step one involves setting a strong intention to remember your next dream. Repeat to yourself: “Next time I’m dreaming, I will recognize I’m in a dream.” Eliminate all other thoughts and just focus on this intention.

In the second step, imagine that you’re back in the dream from which you just awakened, but this time imagine you recognize it’s a dream and then carry off one of your lucid dreaming goals (like flying).

Repeat these two steps over and over until you fall asleep.

If properly done, the dreamer will often re-enter the same dream he/she had just before awakening, only this time around, lucidity shall be achieved.

Step 6: Take Naps During the Daytime

Afternoon naps are also capable of triggering lucid dreams.

If you can get two opportunities instead of one per 24 hour period to attempt lucid dreaming, it would double your chances of succeeding.

Actually, naps may improve your chances by more than double since during afternoon naps, not only do you go directly into REM sleep without having to go through deep sleep, but your general level of alertness is higher, which also enhances your ability to be conscious in the dream.

This also means that afternoon naps would be the perfect time to practice the WILD technique from step 4.

The ideal nap duration would be anywhere from 20 minutes to 60 minutes.

As for the timing, try not to nap during the evening (as it may interfere with your night sleep).

One thing that’s certain about daytime naps though is that they will aggravate insomnia, so if you are an insomnia sufferer, you should probably steer clear of daytime napping.

Step 7: Tweaking Your Brain Chemistry for Best Results (by using lucid dreaming pills & foods)

Some people find that no matter what lucid dreaming techniques they try, they aren’t able to become lucid in their dreams, or even remember their dreams.

This can result from a brain chemistry that is not conductive to dream recall and alertness.

For example, most people normally wake up from REM sleep. That happens even in the middle of the night, but we usually forget those nocturnal awakenings.

But what if you woke up from light sleep instead? The more time passes between REM sleep and awakening, the less likely it is that you will be able to recall your dreams.

Other people may spend a lot of time in deep and light sleep and too little in REM sleep, reducing their chances to dream lucidly and recall their dreams.

Luckily, there are some foods and supplements that by changing your brain chemistry can create the ideal conditions for dream recall and lucid dream induction.

Specifically, the two neurotransmitter that have the most effect on dreams are serotonin and acetylcholine.


Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which plays a role in the regulation of sleep. The problem is that taking serotonin, or eating serotonin-rich foods, such as kiwifruit, has no effect since it cannot pass the blood-brain barrier, and thus cannot reach your brain.

Fortunately, there are two substances, namely melatonin and 5-HTP, that do reach the brain, and once they do, they increase the amount of serotonin.


Melatonin is a hormone which regulates your sleepiness. Your brain produces constantly, making you drowsy and ready for sleep.

To produce melatonin, your body uses an amino acid called tryptophan.

Tryptophan cannot be produced by the body; it must be obtained from the food we eat.

Which foods are high in tryptophan?

  • Seeds, especially pumpkin and squash seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and flaxseeds.
  • Nuts, especially pistachio nuts, cashew nuts, almonds and hazelnuts (filberts).
  • Soy products, such as soybeans, tofu and tempeh.
  • Whole grains, especially whole oats and buckwheat.
  • Beans and legumes (especially white beans, black beans and lentils).

So if you find yourself looking for something to eat at midnight, why not grab a high-tryptophan, melatonin-production-supporting snack?

High melatonin levels also facilitate vivid dreams and lucid dreaming.

Certain foods are known to naturally contain melatonin, such as pistachio nuts, almonds, raspberries, goji berries, tart cherries, bananas, grapes, pineapple, oranges and plums.


Synthetic melatonin can also be used, but is less recommended.


A direct precursor of serotonin, 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is one of the commonly used lucid dreaming supplements out there.

Given its links to serotonin, 5-HTP is obviously a promoter of deep-sleep stages, and a suppressor of REM.

Serotonin – The Happiness Hormone

Serotonin’s acetylcholine-busting effects may actually result in longer periods of REM sleep towards the morning hours, after the effects of the supplements responsible for the serotonin spike earlier on, have mostly worn off.

This is why – unlike acetylcholine-boosting supplements – serotonin-aimed supplements should be taken right before going to bed.

To make a long story short: serotonin (boosted by 5-HTP) suppresses REM sleep during the first few sleep cycles of the night.

Towards the morning, during the last couple of sleep-cycles of the night, REM stages become naturally longer.

With the boosting effects of 5-HTP out of the system by this point, these sleep stages become even longer and deeper, thanks to the REM-rebound effect, hence the more vivid dreams and better dream recall.


Acetylcholine is a compound which has been found to regulate REM sleep. By taking a supplement that increases acetylcholine levels, you’ll effectively make your dreams more vivid, and you’ll advance your likelihood of having a lucid dream.

High acetylcholine levels are apparently linked to longer and broader REM sleep stages.

My favorite acetylcholine boosting supplements are Alpha-GPC and Huperzine A, however galantamine also deserves a mention due to its high effectiveness.


Choline is aimed at the boosting of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter which is responsible for the lengthening of the REM sleep stage, and thus the promotion of dreams as well as lucid dreaming.

Alpha-GPC Choline
Best choline supplement for lucid dreaming

Alpha-GPC’s effects on dreams can be quite spectacular when combined with galantamine, although in this case, it’s a bit of a tricky exercise telling exactly which supplement is mostly responsible for these effects.

The resulting dreams are exceptionally vivid and long, and lucidity is relatively easy to attain within them. As said above, this supplement combo (perhaps rounded out through the addition of 5-HTP taken before bedtime), is great for WILD too.

When it comes to dosage, due to the very nature of this supplement (it is, after all, an essential nutrient), one can tinker about within a rather generous range. Alpha-GPC can be taken in 600 mg, 900 mg and 1200 mg doses, with 8 mg of galantamine.

Huperzine A

Huperzine A is one of the supplements most lucid dreaming enthusiasts swear by. It is available without a prescription, it is relatively cheap and by all accounts – including my own – it does indeed work when it comes to LD induction and enhancement.

Huperzine A

Huperzine A also acts upon acetylcholine, effectively preventing the breakdown of the neurotransmitter in the brain, by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase. This way, Huperzine A is claimed to improve memory, as well as mental function.

Huperzine A (through its effects on ACh) is used for the boosting of the REM sleep stage.

That said, the boosting of ACh levels shouldn’t happen until after you’ve put in 4-5 hours of quality sleep. That’s the approximate point when REM sleep takes over, and serotonin levels naturally decrease, as ACh takes over.

This way, you won’t just end up with increased ACh and deeper/longer REM sleep, you’ll have kept your sleep quality intact as well.

Due to the nature of acetylcholine, the impact of supplements like Huperzine A is two-pronged. On one hand, they extend the length and enhance the vividness of lucid dreams; on the other, they make it easier for the dreamer to remember the LDs.

The benefic effects of ACh on lucid dreaming are undeniable. What’s more is that it helps with MILD as well as WILD lucid dreams. Elevated ACh levels can indeed greatly help with the WILD variety of LDs, which is quite a leap forward, given how this type of LD can be induced at will.

The only other supplement that comes close to Huperzine A, LD-related effects-wise is galantamine, which acts in a manner similar to Huperzine A: it inhibits AChE, to thus prevent the breakdown of ACh in the brain. Still, Huperzine A is the clear winner for me and for many others out there.

Before I begin comparing the two supplements, let us set one thing straight: they both work for LDs, and efficiency-wise, there’s really not much of a difference from one to the other. They’re both at their best when combined with other supplements and – as said above – they both act by the same mechanism.

What I have personally found though it that galantamine packs quite an additional punch – and not in a good way. Whenever I wake up in the morning following a galantamine-aided LD experience, I feel like I had a few drinks too many the previous night.

With Huperzine A, I’m always refreshed, a good nights’ sleep behind me. For someone who engages in lucid dreaming as much as I do, this is quite a deal-breaker as far as galantamine is concerned.

This fact alone makes Huperzine A vastly superior to galantamine.

The Bottom Line: Daily Schedule for Lucid Dreaming Success

Any of the above 7 steps can potentially trigger lucid dreams on its own.

Combining all 7 steps into your daily routine is a recipe for achieving lucid dreaming almost instantly.

There are different ways to combine the different steps in your routine, here’s one example schedule, which incorporates all the above steps.

If you would like to receive a personalized plan to accommodate to your schedule and preferences, feel free to contact me.

Lucid Dreaming Induction Schedule – Example

For the sake of the example, let’s say you’re an average adult (who needs 8 hours of sleep per night) and normally wakes up at 6 am. In order to allow for a one-hour nap, for this example I’ll allocate only 7 hours for night sleep.

Make sure to carry your dream journal with you at all times. Upon waking up from sleep, or anytime during the day, if you recall any dreams, write them down in as much detail as possible.

If you don’t remember at least one dream per night, go over the list of common obstacles. If you regularly use cannabis or drink alcohol in the evening hours, you will probably need to let go of these habits while learning lucid dreaming.

5 pm – Last opportunity to have a caffeinated beverage.

6 pm – For dinner try to consume tryptophan-rich foods, such as nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains.

8 pm – As a night snack, have some melatonin-rich foods, such as almonds, goji berries, tart cherries and raspberries.

9 pm – One hour before bed, take some time to unwind, avoiding artificial lights and screens. Meditation and/or reading by candlelight about lucid dreaming would be ideal ways to spend this hour.

Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool, and will remain like that for the duration of your sleep.

Don’t forget to go over your dream journal to remind yourself you need to remember your dreams as well as to gain any insights that might prepare you to the night practice.

10 pm – Just before hitting the sack, down some 100-150 mg of 5-HTP. (This step is optional.)

In bed, relax your body and repeat over and over that “tonight in my dreams I’ll see my hands and realize I’m dreaming.” This should be your last thought before drifting off to sleep.

4 am – Set an alarm to wake you up. Write your dreams in the journal.

Optional – Take some Huperzine A, as well as 600-1,200 mg of Alpha-GPC.

Spend about an hour meditating and/or reading about lucid dreaming by candlelight. (Not on the computer/mobile phone, heaven forbid.)

5 am – Practice MILD as you go back to sleep.

6 am – Wake up, and start your day.

12 pm – At noon (or during the early afternoon), take a break from whatever you’re doing and practice the WILD technique until you drift off to a 20-60 minute nap. For better results, take Huperzine A and Alpha-GPC before attempting this.

That’s all it takes.

By following this example schedule, or by modelling your own schedule based on the 7 steps I described in this lucid dreaming induction guide, you will definitely succeed.

For help with achieving lucid dreaming, schedule a FREE consultation with a lucid dream coach.

Reality Checks for Lucid Dreaming (Ultimate Guide)

“Pinch me! I must be dreaming…” A reality check is a conscious effort to determine whether your current perception of your environment and your self-awareness is indeed a perception of the real world. Due to its intricacies and peculiarities, the human mind seems to be extremely good at tricking itself into believing that dreams are reality. For some reason, the mind is designed to keep dreams and reality separate, by “selling” dreams as reality when it conjures them up. This is the sort of natural balance that oneironauts look to break through lucid dreaming. One of their most effective tools in this regard are reality checks.

When used for lucid dreaming, reality checks harness the power of habits. Lucid dreamers use such reality checks during their wakeful lives. As they develop them into a habit, the likelihood of reality checks popping into their dreams increases. Oneiranouts hope that through such an in-dream reality check, they can recognize the fact that they are dreaming and achieve lucidity.

The science surrounding reality checks is not only tenuous, it is by no means exact either. No amount of reality checking can guarantee in-dream lucidity in any shape or form. Also, some authority sources consider consciousness within a dream a paradox.

That said, lucid dreaming does exist, and by all measures it is a fantastic and potentially very useful experience.

Again: the goal here is to ask yourself whether you are dreaming, within a dream. Then, you can obtain an answer to that question through a reality check. Lucid dreams which are induced through reality checks are known as DILDs (Dream-Induced Lucid Dreams) in contrast to WILDs (Wake-Induced Lucid Dreams), in which you go straight from the waking consciousness to dreaming lucidly without losing awareness.

Table of Contents

While there is plenty of literature out there about reality checks, not many authors point out the fact that there are two basic types of reality checks:

Physical and Mental Reality Checks

Of these, the physical checks are easier to perform and therefore more popular. According to frequent lucid dreamers, combining the two types of reality checks is the most productive. Also, this sort of approach may provide a longer term solution to the issue of habituation which kills the effectiveness of reality checking over time. More on that towards the end of this piece though.

Physical Reality Checks

This type of reality check is about performing a physical deed (like pinching yourself) or some kind of psychical interaction with the dream environment (attempting to push your hand through a wall/table).

Physical reality checks provide an immediate and definitive result. This result should- under normal circumstances – allow you to recognize whether you are dreaming or not. As already stated however, there is nothing “normal” about lucid dreaming. Sometimes, even when in possession of definitive proof, the mind will concoct some far-fetched explanation to prevent lucidity.

The Spinning Top Physical Reality Check

Inspired by the 2010 movie Inception, the spinning top works well as a physical reality check option.

Make it a habit to take a top with you wherever you go, and give it a spin every now and then. As the laws of physics impose their presence, the top slowly runs out of momentum and it spins to a halt.

In your dream environment, the laws of physics obviously do not apply. When spurred on by your waking life habit, you give your top a spin in a dream, you will notice that it may not ever stop spinning. Your brain may however try to cook up an explanation for this. Since your analytic mind is at pause while dreaming, you are likely to readily accept any such explanation, no matter how far-fetched.

Your brain may even attempt to prevent you from using your reality check. You might find yourself unable to spin the top, or you may not find it at all.

I personally use this reality test with the “Forever Spin” Top, but there are cheaper tops available on eBay.com. For Dream Work, I recommend going with a Silver Top because silver provides protection from nightmares and night terrors while promoting psychic and lucid dreams.

Pushing Your Fingers Through the Palm of Your Hand

This reality check is one of the most basic and popular ones. Simply try to push one of your fingers through the palm of your other hand. Do this several times a day while awake.

If you attempt it in a dream, you might find that your finger goes through without problems. The same check can be performed pushing your fingers into a wall, through a table, etc.

While we are discussing hands and fingers: simply look at your hands while dreaming. They are usually not normal: you will have fewer or more fingers or generally garbled-looking hands.

Putting Your Hands Together

Simply attempt to push your hands together, while interlocking your fingers. In waking life, this little experiment yields an easy-to-anticipate result. In a dream, you will find that your hands go through one another, without exerting any pressure.


In real life, Earth’s gravity is quick to make your limits very obvious, every time you attempt a jump. In a dream, things happen a little differently.

Make it a habit to attempt a little jump a few times through your wakeful day. It does not have to be a maxed-out high jump. Any little skip will do fine.

If your habit then carries through to your dreams, you will notice that the landing after your jump is a much softer one. You may even hover for a while, or take off flying.


Attempting to take off may not be the most practical reality check for real life. Unless you’re alone and safe from the eyes of the public, you may want to cut this one from your list.

Flying on the other hand is one of the greatest experiences in a dream. While it is not easy to perform in a dream either, it can definitely be considered a sign that you are dreaming.

Turning on the Light

Within a dream, technology, various devices and machinery in general tend to not work the way they do in real life. In fact, most of the time such contraptions malfunction.

Switching on the light is yet another one of those mundane actions that seemingly lend themselves well to reality checking.

In a dream, light switches will most often not work, so that can be a telltale sign you are not experiencing reality. Again, instead of being an asset however, the mundane nature of the act itself works against the efficiency of the reality check.

Taking a Look at a Clock and Trying to Tell Time

As simple an exercise as this is in your wakeful life, it is quite impossible to perform in a dream. Since this gesture is one that you likely perform scores of times every day, it may theoretically lend itself well to reality checking.

This apparent advantage is a major liability however. Reality checks need to be performed a certain way for them to be effective and a mundane gesture such as checking the time does not fit the bill.

In a dream, it is quite impossible to make out the numbers on digital time pieces. Even the hands of analog clocks may be missing or appear garbled.

Looking at Clock (Reality Checks)

Driving a Vehicle (and Generally Using Machinery)

As mentioned, in-dream machinery tends to malfunction. When you drive a car for instance, it will not respond to steering/braking/acceleration, the way it does in real life.

Again, the efficiency of this reality check may be hindered by the mundane nature of the real life act. In some cases however, that may in fact help it. For someone working with a power drill during the day, it is much easier to have a dream involving the machinery. It will also be more obvious for such a person when the drill malfunctions.

Trying to Catch a Glimpse of Your Own Nose

In real life, when you close an eye and try to look at your nose with the other, you will catch a glimpse of its side. In a dream, you will never see your nose.

This reality check is not about a mirror: that is a different one. You do not need a mirror to see the side of your nose in real life.

This one is an easy check to perform during the day and it will not expose you to ridicule. It should theoretically work well within a dream too, especially if you combine it with another physical or mental reality check.

Looking at Your Reflection in the Mirror

In real life, you are bound to take a few looks at your reflection in the mirror every single day. When using it for reality checks, make sure you think hard about whether or not your crisp and clear reflection is indeed reality. Doubt what your mind readily tells you in this regard and then convince yourself.

That is the only method to work your way past the problem posed by the mundane nature of the check.

In a dream, mirrors will either not reflect you, or your reflection will be hazy.

Clasping Your Nose Shut and Trying to Breathe Through it

This reality check is in fact a very good candidate efficiency-wise. It is not based on a mundane act, therefore it does not pose any issues associated with some of the above discussed reality checks.

Whilst in reality, you will find it impossible to breathe through your nose when you have it pinched shut, in a dream, you will be able to breathe just fine. If you manage to remember to do this one in a dream, your “impossible” result is almost guaranteed.

This is a Dream...

Checking Your Tattoos or Other Bodily Marks

In waking life, you know where your tattoos or possible birthmarks are. In a dream, you will find that they are either completely missing, or they have changed.

Such “constants” cannot possibly morph around unless you are indeed dreaming.

Biting Your Tongue

Make sure you do not overdo this one, as it can be quite painful. Pain is in fact what you are looking to achieve through this reality check, but you only need it in moderate amounts.

In a dream, biting your tongue will not result in pain. You may also find yourself unable to bite your tongue at all.

The Colors of Various In-dream Objects

In waking life, the color of a given object is a constant: it always remains the same.

While you are dreaming however, this is not necessarily the case. Try to take note of the color of an in-dream object, then look away. When you look back, note if the color has changed. If so, you are in a dream.

Taking Your Glasses Off

This one is of interest to oneironauts with poor eyesight, who normally wear glasses. In real life, when they take their glasses off, their eyesight immediately deteriorates.

Take off your glasses in a dream and see what happens. If your eyesight remains unaltered, you are definitely dreaming.

Flipping a Coin

Since the laws of physics do not work in the realm of dreams the way they do in waking life, everything that involves jumping or the tossing of an object, may produce a realization that you are dreaming.

The coin flip reality check is about simply flipping a coin and expecting it to float. In waking life, it will obviously not float. If it does, you are in a dream.

Playing a Song

If you happen to hear a song that you know playing, pay closer attention to it. Does it sound the way it is supposed to sound, or does it have certain elements (such as a bass line) missing?

This too can be a valuable reality check.

Catching a Glitch in the Detail Matrix

Pay closer than normal attention to details of your environment. Note various patterns in brick walls or floor tiles. Look away briefly, then look back. Have the details changed?

If they have, you are indeed in a dream.

Trying to Read or to Look at Some Text

Text-reading is a classic physical reality check. The part of your brain which deals with such complex exercises is at pause while dreaming. Therefore you will find it impossible to make out what the text says. Or, you may be able to read it, but as soon as you turn away and look back, you will find it changed to something else.

Reading Text (Reality Checks)

To take this check further, you may attempt to write something yourself. You will likely find that you are unable to do it.

Using a Phone

Nowadays, phones are ubiquitous. As such, they are highly likely to pop up in your dreams too.

Take a closer look at your phone. Check if the digits/numbers on it are where they should be. Your smart phone display is one of the things that are almost impossible to replicate in a dream.

If you notice that you cannot read any numbers or text on your phone, or that the display is hazy or obstructed by something, you are dreaming.

The Scene Shift Reality Check

This one originates from the movie Inception as well. Whenever you begin dreaming, you find yourself in the midst of a setting/scene, without knowing (or ever questioning) how you got there…

You go through quite a few scene shifts in your waking life as well. Therefore, you get plenty of opportunities to work on this reality check. Whenever you find yourself in a new setting, ask yourself how you got there and try to doubt your explanation.

Within a dream, you will not be able to provide such an explanation at all. This reality check is a sort of hybrid between the physical and the mental.

Changing Up Your Appearance

This one might be a little radical for some, but it is in fact a pretty subtle, and potentially very effective reality check.

Grow a beard for instance. Then, during the day, check every now and then whether it is still where it should be.

If you suddenly find your recently acquired facial ornament missing, you probably just caught yourself dreaming.

Mental Reality Checks

Unlike a physical reality check, a mental one does not require you to perform a physical act. Instead, it is a simple mental exercise. Due to the state of the brain during sleep and dreaming, even such simple mental exercises are borderline impossible to perform.

This is one of the reasons why mental reality checks are generally less favored by oneironauts.

Trying to Remember the Past

In a dream, it is impossible to recall even the near past. In real life, such a mental exercise is extremely simple, while not being very mundane either.

Just ask yourself what you were doing ten minutes ago.

It requires some degree of mental focus of exactly the same type you will need in the dream to ask that same question.

The problem is that most dreamers will likely find themselves unable to produce that kind of mental focus in-dream.

Trying to Recognize People in Your Dream

In our waking life, we recognize people around us all the time, automatically. Sometimes it takes a bit of memory-gymnastics to pinpoint from where exactly we know certain people.

With that in mind, the same practice hardly seems practical within a dream. That said, this exercise is considered a reality check. On the upside: if you can muster that type of mental focus within a dream, you’re probably very close to achieving lucidity anyway.

Reconstructing Mental Links to Certain In-dream Objects

If you thought trying to recognize in-dream people was an intricate mental exercise, try establishing mental links to objects…

Take a hamburger on the table for instance. Try to remember the last time you had a hamburger. In a dream, you will not be able to establish such connections.

Asking Questions about Yourself

In waking life, you know exactly who you are, and chances are you ponder quite a bit where you are going in life.

In a dream on the other hand, you will most likely not be able to answer such questions. If you find yourself unable to even establish who you are, you are most likely dreaming.

To many, mental reality checks may seem paradoxical. After all, while dreaming, the logical part of the dreamer’s brain is shut off. Therefore intricate mental exercises of the types described above are normally well above its abilities.

The truth is however that there are different levels of consciousness and awareness. Mental reality checks are perhaps best used as complementary reality checks in the wake of physical ones. When your brain is already closing in on in-dream lucidity, such checks may bring it all about faster.

Through such mental reality checks, you may also extend your periods of in-dream lucidity.

The picture of mental and physical reality checks would not be complete without:

Dream Signs

Stretching the scope of its definition, the Dream Sign can be considered a sort of reality check as well.

A dream sign is a person, an object, a location or anything else the dreamer notices within a dream, that clues him/her in on the fact that he/she is dreaming.

The problem with dream signs is that they do not fit any sort of generalized mold. They are unique to every person.

  • You may see a person who is dead or inexistent, frequently in your dreams. Thus, whenever you see that person, you should know that you are dreaming, and you should become lucid.
  • The presence in the dream of a person from your past, who has been out of your life for a while, is also such a sign.
  • Various locations can also be considered dream signs. They do not have to be inexistent ones either.
  • Certain in-dream objects may also acts as dream signs. If you see such an object frequently in your dreams, chances are you are indeed dreaming when you spot it again.
  • Behaviors from certain in-dream characters can also be dream signs. This is especially true for characters who act in a peculiar, out-of-place manner.
  • Dream guides are in-dream characters who guide people through their dreams. The presence of such a guide is obviously another very prominent dream sign.
  • Possessing certain super powers in the dream is yet another give-away. You may be obsessed with certain physical accomplishments in real life. Such obsessions often carry through to dreams, where you gain super powers that help you accomplish those physical deeds with which you are obsessed. One relatively common reoccurring dream sign is the ability to breathe underwater. If you find yourself exploring an underwater realm, without any kind of issues breathing-wise, you are dreaming. In such cases, you will obviously not feel the pressure of the water either, no matter how deep you dive.
  • There are certain reoccurring situations which may also act as dream signs. You may for instance dream that you have an exam coming up the following day and you haven’t studied properly for it. By recognizing such an in-dream situation for what it is – a dream sign – you can avoid a great deal of stress. You may even become lucid as a result.

The best way to discover dream signs that work for you is to keep a dream journal. Read your dreams often and try to find patterns that you experience often. By doing that, I discovered that my vision is almost always blurred in normal dreams. So now whenever I become aware that my vision is blurred, I realize that I’m dreaming and become lucid.

Dream Journal
Dream Journal

How to Properly Do Reality Checks

The theory of reality checks is simple: make them a habit in your waking life, with the goal of thusly transferring them to your dreams. There, they will help you achieve lucidity.

As straightforward as this theory is, the practice of reality checking is prone to failure from scores of different angles. This is why it is important to learn to properly do reality checks. Only this way can you maximize their effectiveness in bringing about in-dream lucidity.

The first key to proper reality checks lies in the way you do them in your waking life. As already alluded to above, simply going through your scheduled reality checks in a semi-automated manner will not suffice. This is why gestures that are already very much part of our daily routines, tend not to yield good results.

A proper reality check involves the doubting of reality. As we go about our daily lives, most of the time, we are not fully aware of our own surroundings.

When you are doing a proper reality check, you disrupt this flow of normalcy. You stop, take a moment and become truly aware of everything around you. Then, you begin seriously doubting reality. In the end, you convince yourself that proof indicates you are indeed experiencing reality.

Why is this ritual so important?

If you believe using a reality check in a dream and then successfully achieving lucidity within it is easy, you are woefully mistaken. You do not just need the ability to perform your reality check in-dream. You also need it to trigger the described mental processes to achieve lucidity.

As mentioned, the dreaming brain has a knack for explaining away the “impossible” results of your reality checks. You need to defeat it in this regard, and for that, you need to achieve a higher level of awareness.

This is what you also need to turn into a habit, in addition to performing your reality check. The reality check itself is not a goal. It is but a means of bringing about a higher level of awareness that will eventually usher you into lucidity.

Remembering to Do Reality Checks in Your Dreams

Remembering to do your reality checking ritual during waking life is easy enough. People set alarms, put up wallpapers and screensavers on their computers, develop certain rituals etc. Some use special items called totems, which remind them of reality checking whenever they happen upon them.

Remembering to do a reality check in a dream is an entirely different beast though. For this, the theory of dream continuity offers some guidance.

According to this theory, our dreams are a continuation of our waking life. We tend to dream about things we think about and do in real life. Whether these things are positive or negative is a different question. As long as they leave a deep enough mark on our psyche, we are likely to dream about them.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we are most likely to dream about such things the first night after they happen. The second through the 5th nights, the likelihood of dreaming about such events decreases. On the 6th and 7th nights however, this likelihood increases yet again.

The best way to put this theory to the test is to pay attention to your dreams after you travel somewhere. You are only really likely to start dreaming about your new surroundings after you have been there for at least 6 days.

Knowing this, you know when you are most likely to have your reality checks pop up in your dreams.

When Should You do Your Reality Checks During the Day?

Doing a proper reality check every couple of hours makes perfect sense. This way, by the end of the day, you will have accrued some 8 reality checks.

You can also link your reality checks to some sort of event that occurs regularly throughout your day. For instance, you can do one after you go to the toilet.

Using a totem item (something you can carry around on your keychain for instance) is also an option.

To Sum it All Up:

  • Achieve full awareness in your waking life reality checks. Focus on this aspect every time.
  • Induce a state of doubt. You will need this when your reality check pops up in your dream. Without doubting your reality, your reality checks will be simple routine rituals and they will NOT help you achieve in-dream lucidity.
  • Turn all this into a habit. Through the path explained by the dream continuity theory, this habit will carry over to your dreams. This is how you inject your reality checks to where you need them most.

Reality Checks Will not Always Work

Even if you do them properly, reality checks will fail quite a bit. The reason is that there are scores of variables involved in the equation of lucidity that we simply do not understand. The practice of reality checks only has anecdotal support, but that is all we have in this regard.

In some cases, oneironauts find that everything about their reality checks remains the same, whether they are awake or dreaming.

The most likely cause of such problems is the overdoing of one type of reality check. Improper focus during the reality check could also be a problem. Indeed most often, these two problems are correlated.

The solution is to mix up your reality checks and to combine physical ones with mental ones. If a reality check becomes automated, you will stop seriously considering whether you are dreaming or not. This defeats the very purpose of the exercise.

Yet another issue is that while you do your reality checks when awake, they never make it into your dreams.

Focusing too much on reality checks does not address this problem in any way. To be effective, the thought of the reality check needs to pop into your head effortlessly. Otherwise, it simply will not carry over to a dream.

Choosing some type of in-dream trigger is of the essence here. As a matter of fact, you will likely need to choose a multitude of such triggers, to be as effective in conjuring up in-dream reality checks as possible.

Problems Associated with Reality Checks

Even if you do everything right with your reality checks, several issues may hinder your quest for lucidity.

  • First of all, there is the problem of remembering to do your reality checks while awake and in your dreams. To this, you may want to add the problem of transferring reality checks from waking life to dreams, via the dream continuity theory.
  • Secondly: there is nothing natural about in-dream lucidity. Your brain seems to fight it every way it can. You need to defeat its opposition to lucidity through various tricks covered above.
  • Thirdly, we have the daunting problem of habituation. What does it mean? Habituation is a medical term denoting the reaction of an organism to stimuli. While in the beginning, a given set of stimuli elicit a certain reaction, over time, the body reacts to the same set of stimuli in a less obvious manner. Given enough time, the reaction may disappear completely. The same is unfortunately true for reality checks. They may be useful for the stimulation of lucid dreaming, but they are hardly biologically relevant stimuli. As such, they are doomed to end up on the garbage heap of habituation.

What this means is that no matter how well a certain combination of reality checks works for you, over time you may have to resort to different solutions.

That said, it always makes sense to record what works. Make a note in your dream journal in this regard. As long as it helps you achieve lucidity, do not be afraid to “abuse” a given reality check or dream sign.

The Bottom Line

Reality checks are meant to accomplish two basic objectives:

  1. At the very least, they need to act as a Trojan horse of consciousness smuggled into your dreams.
  2. Ideally, they will also put you in an investigative state of mind. This will allow you to open up the Trojan horse and set lucidity free within your dream.

Read my Complete Lucid Dreaming Guide. You may also contact me or leave a public reply below this post if you have any questions or need assistance.

Mexican Magic Mushrooms

Mexican magic mushrooms, known as Teonanacatl (literally “divine mushroom;” teōtl means “god, sacred” and nanācatl means “mushroom”) by the Aztecs, and scientifically as Psilocybe mexicana, has been used for ceremonial, religious, and shamanic purposes for hundreds if not thousands of years in its native land which nowadays is known as Mexico, Costa Rica, and Guatemala.

Psilocybe mexicana

Since the 1960s, this magical mushroom has been one of the popular “shrooms” used by oneironauts in the West after Albert Hoffman, the discoverer of LSD, isolated from them the active ingredients psilocybin and psilocin in 1958.

As with other magic mushrooms in particular and entheogens in general, Mexican magic mushrooms should not be taken for recreational reasons. This is not a “party drug,” but a potentially life-transforming substance, which can generate an incredibly positive or terribly negative experience based on the state of mind of the person using it, the preparation one goes beforehand, and the environment – physical and social – in which the mushrooms are taken.

Traditionally this mushroom was used mainly by female shamans and mostly for divinatory and healing purposes (especially of fever and gout, but also toothaches, stomach and intestinal disturbances, migraines and headaches, swelling, broken bones, epileptic seizures, acute as well as other acute and chronic ailments), not even for entheogenic purposes. As the famous Mexican shaman María Sabina remarked “[b]efore Wasson, nobody took the children [the shrooms] simply to find God. They were always taken to cure the sick.” The mushrooms are said to determine causes of disease, localize lost objects, and even reveal answers to familiar problems.

Even though the mindset and setting have a great influence over the experience, entheogens seem to have a “will” of their own that accommodates the real need of their users. You may think that by following all the instructions for positive set and setting, you will definitely have a positive experience. But that might just be an “ego-trip.” If the “spirit” of the mushroom feels that a seemingly negative experience is what you really need for your healing, then that is what you will get. This is the main reason why I do not regard entheogens and most other hallucinogenic drugs as fit for purely recreational purposes.

In the following article, I will describe the rituals and preparations used traditionally by Mexican Indians, as described in The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants by Christian Ratsch.

Table of Contents

Preparing to Use Mexican Magic Mushrooms

Know what to expect

Usage and Dosage

Psilohuasca: Empower the Experience with Syrian Rue

Smoking Mexican Magic Mushrooms



Music, Sounds, Noise


Traditional Mexican Magical Mushrooms Ritual

Mexican Magic Mushrooms as an Oneirogen

After the Session

Final Words & Purchase Options

Disclaimer: I do not condone ingesting mushrooms where they are illegal. You are responsible for finding out whether or not they are legal in your region. Also, you MUST consult with your doctor and get her permission before using psychoactive substances, including magic mushrooms, especially if you’re using any medications or suffering from medical conditions, including psychiatric and psychological disorders. Even hypertension may be a risk factor. If pregnant or lactating, avoid taking any drugs.

Preparing to Use Mexican Magic Mushrooms

It is not recommended to ingest entheogenic substances, including magical mushrooms, spontaneously. There are important steps to be taken in preparation for the “trip.”

If you’re hunting the mushrooms yourself, never do so without an expert. It is very easy to confuse magic mushrooms with poisonous ones, such as Inocybe. One way to identify psilocybin containing mushrooms is by bruising them. If the bruise turns blue, then they may contain psilocybin.

The tradition of picking up magic mush had been preserved in writings of Christian missionaries who ironically sought to uproot this culture, which they believed was idolatrous. One cleric for instance wrote that “to collect them the priests and old men, appointed as ministers for these impostures, went to the hills and remained almost the whole night in sermonizing and in superstitious praying. At dawn, when a certain little breeze which they know begins to blow, they would gather them, attributing to them deity.”

According to a different source, the “mushrooms are collected in the forests at the time of the new moon by a virgin girl.”

Psilocybe mexicana - Identification

Although fruiting from May to October, it is said that Mexican magic mushrooms should be harvested in summer.

Once you find (or grow) Mexican magic mushrooms, traditionally, a prayer is said before harvesting them. Offer three candles, kneel before the magical mushrooms, and say:

Tum’Uh. Thou who art the queen of all there is and who was placed here as the healer of all sicknesses. I say to you that I will carry you from this place to heal the sickness I have in my house, for you were named as a great being of the earth. Forgive this molestation, for I am carrying you to the place where the sick person is, so that you make clear what the suffering is that has come to pass. I respect you. You are the master of all and you reveal all to the sick.

After collecting the mushrooms, place them on an altar for three days, offering incense to them. During these three days, it is customary to avoid all sexual activities, and refrain from drinking alcohol, using drugs or medications, engaging in agricultural work, and eating poultry, pork, eggs, and vegetables.

On the morning of the fourth day, take a bath and eat a light breakfast. Traditionally, this meal was made from corn.

Fast for the rest of the day until you eat the mushrooms.

Know what to expect

Once you ingest the mushrooms, the experience should begin within 15 minutes to an hour.

The peak is reached within 2-4 hours, and the whole trip may last for up to 8 hours in total. This of course depends on dosage. The effect of consuming a low dose may only last 4 hours.

The visions that appear on the magic mushroom trip may be shaped by the culture of the person ingesting them. Mexican Indians are said to often see visions of snakes and jaguars, the sun and the moon appearing as a boy and a girl, the children of the wind, and Mother Earth.

However, there is also a possibility that the Mexican magic mushrooms will induce a “Mexican-Indian” experience, especially if one is aware of the fact that the shrooms one is using are indeed of the Mexican variety. This phenomena is exemplified in Albert Hoffman’s own experience as described in The Botany and Chemistry of Hallucinogens:

As I was perfectly aware that my knowledge of the Mexican origin of the mushrooms would lead me to imagine only Mexican scenery, I tried deliberately to look on my environment as I knew it normally. But all voluntary efforts to look at things in their customary forms and colours proved ineffective. Whether my eyes were closed or open, I saw only Mexican motifs and colours. When the doctor supervising the experiment bent over me to check my blood pressure, he was transformed into an Aztec priest, and I would not have been astonished if he had drawn an obsidian knife. In spite of the seriousness of the situation, it amused me to see how the Germanic face of my colleague had acquired a purely Indian expression.

Some people do not experience visions but hear voices providing advice, diagnoses, or inquiring about the reasons for ingesting the mushrooms.

Whether the experience is visual or auditory, most people can expect to obtain profound insights into their state of health and learn how they may become healthier and more complete.

You may also experience intense emotions, such as excitation and sorrow. You may find yourself singing or crying.

Usage and Dosage

Mexican magic mushrooms are traditionally consumed either fresh or sun-dried. Sometimes only the caps are eaten.

Dried magic mushrooms produce a light trip when up to 2 grams are eaten. For absolute beginners, stick with 0.8-1 grams until you feel comfortable to increase the dosage. A more common dose is 2-4 grams, while anything higher than that will produce a strong trip.

Dried Magic Mushrooms (Psilocybe mexicana)

If you’re using fresh mushrooms, double these numbers by 10, thus a common dose will require 20-40 grams of fresh mushrooms.

If you’re using magic truffles (an underground clump yet to mature into a mushroom, which at the time of writing is legal in the Netherlands), a light dose is 3-7 grams and the common dose is 7 to 12 grams. For a strong trip, more than 12 grams are required, whereas anything over 15 grams is said to produce a heavy trip. The length of a truffle trip is shorter, only 3-5 hours.

It is customary among Mexican Indians to eat the mushrooms in pairs. Children eat 3 pairs, women 7, and man eat up to 9 pairs of shrooms.

On festival days, the mushrooms are often taken first thing in the morning.

A cacao drink is sometimes ingested beforehand, and the mushrooms are eaten with honey, pulque (an alcoholic beverage made from agave), or chocolate.

Psilohuasca: Empower the Experience with Syrian Rue

If you only have a very small amount of mushrooms or you want to experience a stronger trip than the mushrooms produce on their own, it is possible to enhance, lengthen, and strengthen their effects by consuming a plant containing MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) together with the shrooms. This admixture is known as Psilohuasca (psilocybin + ayahuasca).

The MAOI containing plant often used for this purpose (not by Mexican Indians though) is Syrian Rue.

Smoking Mexican Magic Mushrooms

Anyone who read Carlos Castaneda’s books about the teachings he received from Don Juan, a shaman who allegedly made use of several psychoactive plants, may wonder whether it is possible to smoke Psilocybe mexicana. The smoking blend used by him was described as containing sage and powdered psilocybe mushrooms among other undisclosed ingredients.

Here’s an excerpt from Castaneda’s book A Separate Reality, which clarifies this issue:

Don Juan’s procedure to utilize the mushrooms was to let them dry into a fine powder inside a small gourd. He kept the gourd sealed for a year and then mixed the fine powder with five other dry plants and produced a mixture for smoking in a pipe. In order to become a man of knowledge one had to “meet” with the ally as many times as possible; one had to become familiar with it. This premise implied, of course, that one had to smoke the hallucinogenic mixture quite often. The process of “smoking” consisted of ingesting the fine mushroom powder, which did not incinerate, and inhaling the smoke of the other five plants that made up the mixture.

While some people report experiencing psychoactive effects smoking shrooms, others report none and even harmful consequences, which they suggest may result from “inhaling directly a combination of spores, dust, and other fungal growth.”


Your mindset throughout the process of preparation and ingestion should be of utmost respectfulness to the power of the mushrooms. We all possess “egos,” or a feeling of self-importance, at least until we become aware of our Buddha nature through years of meditation and spiritual work, which reveals that in reality there is really no self at all.

By cultivating respect toward the shrooms, you at least acknowledge your imperfection and become less identified with it, and invite the experience to be therapeutic, to dissolve your ego. Any “ego-trip,” or clinging to your sense of self-importance, will make the process of ego-death brought about by consuming entheogens a lot more difficult.

With entheogens, such as magic mushrooms, you will be going through a mini death experience. Death of the ego. Unlike the ego death which is the consequence of spiritual enlightenment through meditation, the process here will occur at once and with no preparation. The more you cling to your ego and identify with it, the more difficult the experience will be.

Also, be careful that any goals you have for the session are not ego goals. Wanting to have power over others or anything else that sets you aside from other people are not legitimate wishes from the spirit of the shrooms. Healing yourself and others or gaining knowledge for the benefit of others are.

It is necessary to believe that the mushrooms have the power to heal you.

Moreover, suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders, may also make the experience more difficult. In these cases, I do not advise to avoid the experience since it may provide the healing you need, but I would recommend to go through the process with an experienced guide that will help  ground and calm you throughout the experience and properly integrate it once it’s over.

Again, the experience produced by ingesting magic mushrooms may not be a “fun” experience, even if the trip is positive.

For me, when I first took shrooms as a 19 years old mildly depressed young man, I experienced God-consciousness and infinity (being aware of being aware of being aware of being aware ad infinitum) for short periods of time which when I emerged from caused great panic. For the first time in my life, I realized that I do not exist as I thought I do. I’m not separate from the whole. I am the whole.

This was not a comforting thought at all; it was scary. I thought I was losing my mind rather than reaching drug-induced cosmic consciousness. The life that I thought I was living was infinitely insignificant and meaningless compared to the true reality which was revealed to me. I had no one to help me integrate the experience, which I thought will leave me forever depressed, knowing how futile my life is. Only after several years, I came to see how incredibly positive and transformative this difficult experience truly was.

I was also not physically well, and suffered from a cold at the time. This again is not a contraindication for using mush. Perhaps if it was a recreational drug, such as marijuana, then I would say it is (though it can help with some symptoms of disease such as nausea and pain). But magical mushrooms, and other entheogens, have the power to heal both mental and physical disorders.

Nevertheless, if you are experiencing a passing illness which requires no cure besides the passage of time, such as a cold or even a flu, it might be wise to let it the disease run its course before embarking on this divine trip. But for chronic disease or illnesses which normally require medication, magic mushrooms may provide the cure you need or at least insight into what that cure might be.

To summarize this section on proper mindset, avoid using mush while not in a positive mindset which has persisted for at least a few weeks.


In what environment should you eat Mexican magic mushrooms?

Should you do so alone or with other people?

Following are some factors to take into consideration regarding the setting of the trip, which consists of the physical and social environment.

Most important is to take mushrooms in a familiar and pleasant environment in which you feel safe.

Music, Sounds, Noise

It is believed by Mexican Indians that entheogenic plants, including magical mushrooms, do not “like” noise and will not speak if they feel disturbed. This is true from my own experience. This knowledge can be used as a double-edged sword. In Shamanic ayahuasca rituals, various musical instruments are often available for use by the participants. When the room is silent, the trip can reach its full power. If it becomes too powerful, one can play sounds or sing, which produces grounding and reduces the intensity of the trip.

In Santo Daime ayahuasca rituals, most ceremonies involve the singing of hymns and dancing. This allows the participants to remain grounded throughout the experience. Only in Concentração (concentration) rituals of meditation, when the group sits silently, or in the short moments between hymns, the full power of the experience may be felt.

Depending on the goal of your session, you can decide whether you want a silent environment or to include sounds and music.

One thing though to keep in mind is that outside noises may be disruptive unless they are sounds of nature. Sounds such as those of traffic, honking, or non-participating people shouting or speaking are best avoided during the trip. Preparing a set of headphones can be helpful where you are unable to prevent disrupting external noises.


Traditionally, the person eating the mushrooms is accompanied by 1-2 friends/family members, which function as “trip sitters.”

The trip sitters’ responsibilities include paying attention to the things that the person who eats the mushrooms says. They may also use copal (in Nahuatl language copalli means “incense”), when problems arise. The incense which was used traditionally was likely a resin from the Copal Tree (Protium copal) or from Coyol Palm, scientifically known as Acrocomia aculeata (formerly Acrocomia mexicana).

In our culture which is not always sympathetic to the use of mind-altering substances, it may be difficult to find a supporting friend or family member willing to serve as a trip sitter. In such cases, it may be tempting to eat mushrooms alone. I do not recommend it, especially for people who are inexperienced, suffer from mental issues, or if more than a minimal dose is taken.

Your trip sitter should be a trusted person, ideally an experienced psychonaut, who is willing to remain sober and be with you for at least 8 hours.

I may be available to serve as a trip sitter. (Learn more.)

Psilocybe mexicana (Mexican Magic Mushrooms)

Traditional Mexican Magical Mushrooms Ritual

Place two eggs next to the mushrooms.

Light a candle and burn some incense.

Speak the following prayer:

Thou who art blessed. I am now going to swallow you so that you heal me of the illness I have. Please give me the knowledge I need, thou, who knows all of what I need and of what I have, of my problem. I ask of you the favor that you only tell me and divine what I need to know but do nothing bad to me. I do not wish an evil heart and wickedness. I only wish to know of my problems and illness and other things that you can do for me. But I ask you, please do not frighten me, do not show me evil things but only tell all. This is for the person with a pure heart. You can do many things, and I ask you to do them for me. I now ask your forgiveness for being in my stomach this night.

After the mushrooms are swallowed whole with water, sit in silent meditation.

Vomiting or sweating indicates that the sickness is being released so you shouldn’t try to suppress it.

If you’re looking to gain knowledge, you may ask your questions and wait for an answer. This shamanic use of mush is described by well-known Mazatec shaman María Sabina (published in Plants of the Gods):

There is a world beyond ours, a world that is far away, nearby, and invisible. And there is where God lives, where the dead live, the spirits and the saints, a world where everything has already happened and everything is known. That world talks. It has a language of its own. I report what it says. The sacred mushroom takes me by the hand and brings me to the world where everything is known. It is they, the sacred mushrooms, that speak in a way I can understand. I ask them and they answer me. When I return from the trip that I have taken with them, I tell what they have told me and what they have shown me.

If you want to dive deeper into the trip, it may help to put on headphones and a blindfold to simulate a condition of sensory deprivation.

If the trip becomes too intense, sing or play some music or sounds that you have prepared beforehand. Taking a walk, especially in nature, may also ground you and reduce the intensity of the experience.

In modern mushroom ceremonies, the shaman often chants for hours. María Sabina’s chants in particular has been studied. Here’s an excerpt:

Woman who thunders am I, woman sounds am I.
Spiderwoman am I, hummingbird woman am I.
Eagle woman am I, important eagle woman am I.
Whirling woman of the whirlwind am I, woman of a sacred, enchanted place am I,
Woman of the shooting stars am I.

Smoking cannabis may also help for people who normally use marijuana, though some strains may make any anxiety you are already experiencing worse. Keep in mind that cannabis often amplifies feelings and emotions.

Mexican Magic Mushrooms as an Oneirogen

Sleepiness can occur during a mush trip, especially if one is really tired, and if it does, I encourage you to go with it and see what dreams the mushrooms induces for you.

Mexican Indians are reported to have beautiful dreams in which they believe they are very rich and possess many slaves, while others have embarrassing dreams where for instance they are caught while committing adultery or of being wicked forgers or thieves facing their punishment.

After the Session

When the trip is over, it is time to start integrating what you have experienced. To do so, it helps to describe your visions, experiences, and dreams to your trip sitter, or to write them down in a journal.

On the morning after the session, it is customary to eat a large quantity of chili peppers.

Abstain from meat and alcohol for the following month. I believe this is necessary mostly for lengthening the “afterglow,” or the residual state of consciousness, including feelings, emotions, and thoughts, which accompany one after using entheogens.

This is a Dream...

Do not trip again until you feel you have fully integrated your experiences and readjusted to regular life.

Final Words & Purchase Options

Experimenting with magical mushrooms, including Psilocybe mexicana, the Mexican Magic Mushroom, will probably change your life profoundly. With adequate preparation and proper mindset and setting, you can minimize the possibility of experiencing bad trips or lingering negative experiences. The mushrooms will provide the healing and evolution that you truly need (not desire), whether it is physical, emotional, or spiritual.

They are incredible, fantastical gifts from God or nature, making me wonder if part of the reason they are shunned by Modern society may be the financial damage they may cause to the whole medical profession, including doctors, psychiatrists, insurance companies, psychologists, therapists, and drug companies. The other, more significant reason in my opinion is that the political structure and organized religion dread the possibility of people waking up and having a free consciousness unbounded by irrational, irrelevant norms, laws, and values.

Indeed, the prosecution of users of Mexican magic mushrooms began during the Spanish conquest of America when Catholic missionaries saw this culture as idolatrous, allowing them to communicate with devils. The indigenous use of the mushroom was not only forbidden, but also brutally suppressed by the Spanish Inquisition. Sadly, they are still suppressed today, not by torture in most countries, but you can definitely spend years in jail if you are caught possessing them.

So whether you’re looking to heal yourself or others, find answers to any questions you may have, or to take steps towards your spiritual freedom,

Purchase Magic Mushrooms and Growing Kits

or Book a Trip to Jamaica / the Netherlands, where they may be legal!

I will end this article with an excerpt from Timothy Leary‘s experiences with Mexican mush:

I laughed about my daily pomposity, that narrow-minded arrogance of the scientist, the impertinence of the rational […] I was gone, off to the department for fantastic optical effects. The palaces of the Nile, the temples of the Bedouins, shimmering jewels, finely woven silk garments that breathed colors, of muso-emerald glistening mosaics, Burmese rubies, sapphires from Ceylon. There were jewel-encrusted snakes, Moorish reptiles whose tongues flickered, turned and reeled down into the drain in the center of my retina. Next there followed a journey through evolution […] I slipped down the channel of recapitulation into the ancient production rooms of the midbrain: snake time, fish time, big-jungle-palm time, green time of the ferns. Peacefully I observed how the first ocean creature crawled onto the land. I lay next to it, the sand crunching under my neck, then it fled back into the deep green ocean. Hello, I am the first living creature […] I came back a changed person […] I learned more about the mind, the brain, and its structures than I was able to during the preceding fifteen years as a busy psychologist. […] I experienced that the brain is an unused biocomputer that contains billions of unexplored neurons. I learned that normal waking consciousness is a drop in the ocean of intelligence. That the brain can be programmed anew.

Got any questions or comments? Want to share your experience with magical mushrooms, especially of the Mexican variety? Feel free to leave a public reply below or contact me privately.

Kanna – Dream Potentiation, Euphoria, etc.

A succulent South African plant, Kanna is also known under a number of alternative names, such as Channa and Kougoed (Dutch for “something good to chew”). The scientific designation of the plant is Sceletium tortuosum.

Kanna is well known for is mild psychedelic and anti-depression effects. Apparently, it also works quite well as a dream enhancer. Its uses cover a much wider range of effects however, making Kanna one of the most interesting psychoactive, plant-based concoctions out there.

Its effects (most likely the ones pertaining to mood-uplifting and the attenuation of hunger) have been appreciated by the original inhabitants of “Kanna land” since ancient times.

The Khoikhoi people of the area (Hottentots) have used Kanna since at least 300 years ago, when the first European explorers arrived. While the latter reported on the inebriating effects of the concoction, they unfortunately never bothered to precisely pinpoint its botanical origins.

Sceletium tortuosum is assumed to be the plant which used to be smoked, sniffed, or chewed by the local pastoral peoples. It was not until the end of the 9th century that this deduction was made however.

The Kanna plant is a herbaceous one, with succulent, fleshy roots, stalk and leaves. The leaves themselves do not have stalks. They are attached directly to the low-growing branches which spread out laterally.

While Sceletium tortuosum has been becoming rarer in the so called Kanna land area of South Africa, some commercial farming has sprung up. Thus, the Kanna that you buy from your local ethnobotanical store, most likely does not originate from the wild.

Kanna (Sceletium tortuosum)
Kanna (Sceletium tortuosum)

Table of Contents

The ritual use of Kanna

Methods of preparation

How do you consume kougoed?


Tolerance and addiction

What kind of Kanna-based products are available out there?

What it feels like to consume Kanna

The science

Is Kanna legal?

Buy Kanna

The ritual use of Kanna

Given its psychoactive effects, the plant has always naturally lent itself to ritual use.

Apparently, several peoples, such as the San Bushmen as well as the Khoikhoi, called the eland antelope Kanna as well. This is hardly a coincidence however. This antelope was a sort of “trance animal” for the tribesmen, also featured in their rituals for centuries, together with the psychoactive herb.

Often smoked together with Dagga, Kanna was an essential accessory of divination, healing, and communal trance dance rituals.

Nowadays, Sceletium is mostly a recreational drug, in much the same way Cannabis sativa is in Western Society.

Methods of preparation

Over the centuries, users of this psychoactive herb developed a very specific methodology concerning its preparation. That said, detailed descriptions of this method have only surfaced relatively recently.

If you plan on buying an actual plant and trying to produce your own kougoed, this is essential information for you.

It is apparently important to collect the plant material in October. This is when its constituents – including the ones in which you are interested – are at their most potent.

The fresh plant is not suitable for consumption. It is apparently not psychoactive, and it contains oxalic acid, which can be irritating and allergic. Through the preparation process described below, most of this oxalic acid is allegedly eliminated.

  1. The first step is to crush the plant between two rocks. Apparently, its leaves, flowers, and roots are all good for later consumption.
  2. The crushed plant material is then placed in a plastic bag or container (those looking to stick to the traditional way, can use hemp bags or animal skins instead) and put outside in the sun.
  3. The fermentation process thusly triggered, the plant material oozes a juice, which condenses on the walls of the container (plastic bag) and is later reabsorbed.
  4. After three days out in the open, the bag is opened and its contents are stirred.
  5. Following 5 more days of fermentation, it can be opened for good and the plant material can be dried.
  6. When dry, it can be ground into a fine powder, suitable for sniffing, or it can be chopped up to a more coarse consistency, for chewing.
  7. An alternative preparation method for those in a hurry is to simply dry the fresh plant material over glowing charcoals, and then grind it into a powder.

How do you consume kougoed?

Sceletium can be consumed in a number of ways. Apparently how one takes it makes quite a difference in regards to its effects.

It can be taken orally, sublingually (just put it under your tongue) and it can be chewed. It can also be sniffed, smoked, or insufflated (vaped).

According to anecdotal accounts, Kanna’s effects are most prominent when it is sniffed. Smoking elicits good effects as well. Chewing seems to be one of the least efficient methods of administration.

Again: all this is based on anecdotal evidence solely. It may work quite differently from one person to another.

Kanna’s effects

The herb elicits a bevy of real and perceived effects in consumers. Some of these effects (such as the one regarding dream enhancement) are backed by science. Others originate from purely anecdotal sources.

There are websites out there where users of the herb share their experiences. This is what you should understand by “anecdotal.”

The list of Kanna’s effects is so impressive, we need to break it up into several sub-categories.

The Physical effects start with hunger suppression.

In addition to that, Kanna also seems to act as a mild pain killer.

Other physical effects are:

  • Euphoria. Several users have reported feelings of physical euphoria. Such feelings are apparently brought about by muscle relaxation and an overall perception of lightness.
  • Stimulation. When snorted, Kanna exerts a stimulating effect. Apparently, the same holds true when users smoke it.
  • Sedation. Oral administration of Kanna seems to have a sedative effect on users. This is a little peculiar, in light of the fact that through other routes of administration, the same substance acts as a stimulant.
  • Increased sensitivity of the skin is yet another effect that Sceletium apparently elicits. Sexual arousal has been reported as well. Whether that effect is linked to the increased sensitivity or not, is not clear however.

Most of the effects covered above are positive. There are a few less-than-ideal bodily reactions to Kanna too however. Most of these negative effects come into play on high doses and they are usually mild.

  • Headaches accompany Kanna overdose quite frequently. They do fade away relatively quickly though.
  • Increased perspiration is part of the package too, together with heartburn, stomach bloating, mild nausea, dry mouth, diarrhea, pupil dilation, and unhealthy changes in heart rate.

As said, to stave off these effects, all one really needs to do is to steer clear of overdosing. Some effects experienced at very high doses, such as loss of motor control, can be quite scary.

More interesting than the physical effects of Kanna is its cognitive impact.

This is without a doubt the strength of the substance and this is the area that presents interest for dream enthusiasts.

The same way it acts in a seemingly contradictory manner on stimulation and sedation, Kanna acts on anxiety induction and suppression as well.

Apparently, to steer clear of anxiety induction, one needs to prime him/herself. Priming refers to the taking of smaller doses of the substance for a few days, before actual experimentation.

The anxiety suppressing effect of the herb is not particularly significant (it is comparable to a dose of benzodiazepine), and it is not always present.

  • Disinhibition and sociability enhancement come hand-in-hand with enhanced empathy and affection.
  • Dream potentiation is also present on the list of Kanna effects. Users who have taken massive doses of Kanna extract orally, have reported unusually vivid dreams and nightmares. The active substances of Kanna may even promote dream recall.
  • Increased sense of humor is one of the most often reported effects of Kanna. The resulting laughter as well as the degree of increase is comparable to the effects elicited by psychedelic drugs. It is worth pointing out that Kanna does not induce hallucination.
  • Thought acceleration may occur, as well as thought deceleration. Whether there is a dose-dependent variable in this equation is unclear for now. It may be that different people react differently to the active substances.
  • The mentioned duality is present with focus enhancement and suppression as well.
  • Other “positive” effects on cognition of the active ingredients of Kanna are better thought organization (which would explain improved dream recall) and increased motivation.
  • On the “negative” front we have language suppression, which manifests through slurred speech and difficulty building up proper sentences.
  • Some users have reported increased appreciation of music, but this may be due to the sensory impact of the substance.

Kanna’s visual effects are obviously the most spectacular.

  • Color enhancement is among the frequently reported effects of Kanna.
  • Depth perception issues and overall visual haze are sometimes present as well. Some users have reported unusually clear and sharp visuals however, which is at odds with the mentioned haze effect.

Auditory effects-wise, there seems to be an unusual clarity in hearing.

The after-effects of Kanna are due to neurotransmitter exhaustion. They include cognitive fatigue, depression, anxiety, as well as thought deceleration and headaches. Most of these unwelcome effects are brought about solely by overdosing.

Kanna greatly enhances the effects of other psychoactive substances if taken in combination with them. Thus, if taken with psychedelic drugs, Kanna will likely increase the feelings of euphoria, while reducing anxiety and negative effects. Again: this may vary from case-to-case, in a dose-dependent manner.

Kanna’s synergistic relationship with cannabis, caffeine, and alcohol is perhaps even stronger. It reduces anxiety while increasing euphoria in all cases.

Kanna tolerance and addiction

Based on anecdotal reports, Kanna is well tolerated. In fact, it elicits something called “reverse tolerance,” which means that in order to get the maximum effect, users need to “prime” up for about a week on the herb.

Following this priming stage, the effects of Kanna can no longer be enhanced.

As far as addictiveness goes, Kanna might pose a psychological problem. The sort of psychological addiction it produces is more or less the equivalent of what antidepressants such as fluoxetine create. Discontinuation of Kanna use allegedly does not result in withdrawal symptoms. Some users have however reported some mild withdrawal issues.

What kind of Kanna-based products are available out there?

Kanna powder is possibly the most popular presentation of this psychoactive plant. About 10 g of high quality powder will set you back some $35. It is indeed very affordable.

What about dosage though? Used as a snuff, all you really need is some 20 mg to attain a proper effect. If you decide to chew it into a piece of gum, you are best off going for a larger dose of about 100 mg. At any rate, a 10 g purchase will likely last you a long time.

In addition to its powder form, Kanna is also available as various extracts. Dosage on these is a little trickier, since the purity of the extract makes all the difference in this case.

In addition to these extracts and powders, seeds can be bought as well. These may be of interest to those looking to grow their own Kanna plants.

Sniffing formulas, which are sold as such, are usually made up of fine powder too.

To summarize dosage information:

If you are sniffing the compound, you can use 20-30 mg for a small dose, 50-60 mg for a larger one and 100 mg for a huge one (not really recommended to go overboard like that).

Some products combine rapé with Kanna for an added hit.

What it feels like to consume Kanna

Other than actually buying the stuff and consuming it yourself, there is only one way for you to gain a grasp of what Kanna’s effects feel like: read some anecdotal user reports.

While such reports may not be 100% accurate, they do tend to offer a pretty good picture of the sort of “high” that Kanna produces.

Most people in these reports insist on the anxiety angle. Some say Kanna makes them anxious, others describe a different sort of feeling, more akin to “stress without anxiety.” The bottom line in this regard seems to be that Kanna does indeed act upon anxiety, one way or the other.

Unfortunately, some of the time, some people overdose on Kanna – according to their own reports. In such cases, negative effects seem to abound. Headaches, confusion, anxiety, and jitteriness are all parts of the package in some cases. Body aches and something akin to caffeine overdose may also be present.

As mentioned, extra care needs to be exercised with extracts. At least one person consumed some 50 mg of mesembrine (one of the active substances contained in Kanna), to then experience major overdose effects.

Since mesembrine only makes up about 0.5% of Kanna powder, some 40 mg of it equals 80 g of Kanna. That is a mega overdose to say the least.

Dosage is therefore a major issue, especially with extracts. Make sure you understand how it should work with the specific extract that you are using.

People who do not go overboard dose-wise have reported overwhelmingly positive results. Euphoria and increased sociability are hailed as its most significant effects.

As enjoyable as it is, following a proper dose of Kanna, euphoria cannot be enhanced any further. It seems to reach a sort of plateau, where it remains regardless of additional amounts ingested/smoked/sniffed.

Another interesting thing concerning the effects of Kanna is that they seem to kick in almost instantly. Most feedback providers have been surprised by the speed with which Kanna began to act.

As far as visual effects go, more vivid color perception has been reported. This is sometimes coupled with weird sensations of objects moving past slower or faster than they should be, as the user walks past them.


There are many reports from Kanna users available on Erowid.org. I will share a few excerpts that I found interesting/useful.

Some people report it helps them overcome shyness.

I was so happy to talk to new people at my school (I’m very shy to new people). I was very satisfied with the oral ingestion because it lifted my mood greatly.

As a dream potentiator, you’d except reports of increased dream vividness such as the following:

Very intense dreams / nightmares […] Usually I don’t remember my dreams but these where so vivid. I dreamt I was being attacked by sharks as I was swimming through surf, I then dreamt I woke up (I was definitely still asleep as I thought I had a bright orange t-shirt on which was actually on the stool next to my bed), I then went into another dream where I was being attacked by a poltergeist who was forcing me into a cupboard using the cupboard door to do the forcing. […] even the nightmares were good as they were particularly vivid.

Some people compare it to MDMA without the adverse effects:

a wonderful experience.. I felt somewhat like I was rushing on mdma, with just the ‘high’ and no palpations or mashing, it was great.

My body felt light, like I really enjoyed walking, or sitting, or lying down, for that matter. My head felt very warm and slightly removed, but in no way dissociated. Perhaps this effect is comparable to the stoning accompanied with a low dose of codeine, or like slipping peacefully into dreams at night. Another pronounced and interesting effect may be described as similar to a very low dose of MDMA. I felt grateful for the chemical for pulling me out of the tedium and allowing me to just be content. However, Sceletium lacks the effusive outpour of emotion like on MDMA, and allows daily life to continue as normal. I haven’t noticed any hangover effects or other side effects.

Others compare it to Cannabis:

I smoked probably 300mg of powder. The taste of smoke was pretty good, much than I expected. Immediately after smoking I felt light headed, and I had a very pleasant feeling in my arms. Something like a small dose of cannabis, but without the slowed flow of thoughts and increased heart rate. I felt the sense of well being and I started listening to my favorite music. I closed my eyes and it was really nice feeling.

Reports regarding Kanna’s anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects are also common, for instance:

I felt peaceful, happy and connected with my peers; able to just sit outside for hours thinking about the world. This stuff works very well. Sceletium changed my life in that it has enabled me to actually feel at ease and content with things instead of the near constant dysphoria before. Now each morning I take 100mg of Sceletium Tortuosm. The effects have become permanent which always amazes me. What conventional SSRIs take 2 weeks to do and with less effectiveness and a variety of unwanted side effects, sceletium did in a few days.

I have suffered from general anxiety disorder for the past 5 years. I tried several treatments including risperidone, mirtazapine, quetiapine, prozac, benzodiazepines, valerian root, passion flower, hops, lemon balm.. (list goes on).. but none of them offered a long term solution. The only thing that really worked for my anxiety were benzodiazepines, however as tolerance grows it looses its efficacy. I decided that I would try kanna to see if it had something to offer that these medications didn’t. I obtained 50 grams of dried kanna herb, smokers cut from a local website and was excited to give it a try. I began rolling a large joint’s worth of kanna and proceeded to smoke it. My mindset before smoking was tense, a bit depressed and restless. After the first few inhalations I started to feel an interesting buzz sensation around my head, a little like an electrical impulse, a little like when I am physically exerted and stand up quickly, it was not intense or uncomfortable. The sensation lasted for about 3 minutes and came in waves, roughly 30 seconds apart, lasting about 5 seconds per wave and faded by the time I had finished smoking. There were no immediate effects felt after smoking the kanna. I didn’t feel tired, excited, anxious or anything in particular. I began to wonder whether kanna was all about the small buzz. Shortly afterwards I thought I would test my anxiety levels by doing something that would normally set it off. I went for a walk around the block with my boyfriend and it slowly dawned on me, the anxiety that I was usually plagued with had completely disappeared! I was not the least bit anxious, there was no tremor, no anxiety, no heart palpitations – Nothing! Since this experience I have been smoking kanna daily, 1 large smoke in the morning and 1 large in the mid afternoon; as the anti-anxiety effects start to taper off after around 5 hours. I have been using it for over a month now and the effect is always the same, there appears to be no tolerance. Effects Noticed: Anti-Anxiety: It is about as effective as a high dose of benzodiazepine without the drowsiness. It also has an effect of making me a lot more social. Analgesic: It also seems effective at treating tension headaches, which my boyfriend suffers from regularly. It rapidly alleviates tension headaches, however does not seem effective at treating other types of headaches. Antidepressant: After 2 weeks of using kanna daily, I noticed I was a lot happier, not just from the anti-anxiety effects but also I started laughing a lot more frequently and when I do, I sometimes can’t stop myself! Other: There is a mild muscle relaxant property as well, movements appear smoother. Addiction Potential: I tried going a day without kanna and had no withdrawal symptoms, my anxiety did come back but it was no worse than it was before starting kanna. There were no cravings to smoke it nor any withdrawal symptoms. Kanna has quickly become my favourite herb, it has given me a chance to live my life to the fullest, without fear and anxiety.

Some even claim that the herb may cure certain psychological ailments by rewiring the brain. The following report, for example, from a long-term user and advocate of the plant, who also encourages using a vaporizer as an effective way to consume Kanna.

I personally found vaporizing to be the best method. […] this herb has changed something with my brain chemistry, for the better. I do believe that it has made my serotonin receptors use the serotonin more effectively, possibly in a permanent aspect… this herb seemed to literally rewire/retrain my brain to use serotonin more effectively. […] I also find it really strange/fascinating how it took quite a few attempts of dosing in general for it to actually rewire my brain in a sense.

What is the science/chemistry behind these often conflicting yet very interesting psychoactive effects?

Zembrin is the standardized extract of the plant and as such, it is quite indispensable to the scientific studying of Kanna. Most proper studies do indeed involve Zembrin.

The standardized compound acts as an inhibitor of PDE4 and it also inhibits the reuptake of 5-HT. The 5-HT path likely represents the main mechanism of action of the substance on the main nervous system. You may have heard that Kanna acts as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Well, that is pretty much what 5-HT is.

Interestingly, 5-HT reuptake inhibitors have been used for the treatment of anxiety and depression for quite some time now. By inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin, they effectively allow the neurotransmitter to linger in the system.

The interesting twist is delivered by the PDE4 angle of action. Clinical studies of 5-HT reuptake inhibitor-based treatments have shown that repeated treatment upregulates PDE4. Long story short: over time, sensitivity to such treatment decreases.

Kanna on the other hand inhibits PDE4 too. This way, not only does it act upon anxiety and depression, it does so in a way that does not lose efficiency over repeated treatments.

There are four active alkaloids in Kanna (and in Zembrin):

Some of the products sold out there are mesembrine extracts. Mesembrine makes up a minute proportion of Kanna however, so it should be considered a super-concentrated extract of the plant, and it should be dosed as such.

The legal status of the plant and its various extracts depends on the jurisdiction where you reside.

That said, there do not seem to be many jurisdictions where Kanna is a controlled plant. The only countries where the problem of legality even comes up, are the US and the UK.

In the US, the plant is uncontrolled for the most part. On a federal level, people are free to buy, hold, cultivate, and distribute Kanna the way they see fit. Kanna supplements are governed by federal supplement laws and if sold as food, the plant is subject to the regulations of the FDA.

The state of Louisiana is the only exemption in this regard. There, Kanna is in fact controlled. It is therefore illegal to cultivate, possess, buy, and distribute.

The same is true for the entirety of the UK. The Psychoactive Substance Act, which went into effect in May 2016, has classified it a controlled substance. That means it cannot be imported into the country, possessed, or used in any shape or form.

If you reside anywhere else in the world, you are most likely allowed to legally purchase and use Kanna. Take a closer look at your local laws before committing to Kanna consumption though. It is always a good idea be extra cautious in this regard.

Buy Kanna

When you decide to buy Kanna, make sure you get it from a reliable source. Also, be aware that the cheapest product is not necessarily the best.

Pick Up Your Kanna Now

(also available on eBay.com)

Just make sure you fully understand how your particular product needs to be dosed. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or leave a public reply below.

This is a Dream...

Vitamin B6 and its Effects on Sleep & Dreams

In this article I describe the effects on sleep, dreams, lucid dreaming, and OBEs of vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is a very promising supplement for sleep induction and more importantly: for dream enhancement. In this respect, it is right up there with supplements such as melatonin. The problem with vitamin B6 is however that the science behind its effects on sleep is shaky.

There are few properly conducted scientific studies on it, and what there is out there in this regard has thus far yielded contradictory results. That said, anecdotal evidence behind the effects of B6 on dreams is plentiful. Despite slow progress and less than satisfactory results, science has untangled a few of the intricacies behind these anecdotal – but apparently very real – effects.


  1. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) promotes dream recall, as well as dream vividness, color, and intensity.
  2. Scientific evidence in this regard is not exactly convincing for the time being.
  3. Researchers have not yet agreed on the mechanism of action of vitamin B6 on dream recall.
  4. Vitamin B6 is considered an essential supplement for lucid dreaming and for OBEs like those attained through astral projection.
  5. It is possible to overdose on vitamin B6.

Vitamin B-6 (Nature's Bounty)

The Ebben Study of 2002

A study concerning the effects of pyridoxine on sleep- and dream quality, by the City College of New York in 2002, is the scientific cornerstone of our current understanding of the matter. Despite its shortcomings, the said study delivered some much-needed evidence that does indeed support anecdotal observations.

What exactly did the Ebben Study prove?

The aim of the study was to verify observation-rooted assumptions concerning the ability of vitamin B6 to enhance dream recall and the dream experience. Obviously, due to the self-reported methodology used in the experiment, its assessments were perception-based.

The study made heavy use of the concept of dream salience, which describes the subjective intensity of the dream experience.

Defined in 1974, the Dream Salience Hypothesis uses a number of factors, such as vividness, bizarreness, emotionality, and color, to provide a sort of scale against which the quality of the dream experience can be measured. It is obviously subjective in nature.

Another problem with dream salience is that it can, in and of itself, influence its own results. Dreams that are more salient automatically carry a bigger psychological importance for the dreamer. Therefore, they are obviously easier to remember too.

The study used a minute sample of 12 people (6 men and 6 women). Each test subject was subjected to three stretches of 5-day long treatments consisting of vitamins of different doses/placebo administered 5 minutes before going to sleep. The study subjects all went through all 3 treatment-phases: placebo, 100 mg of pyridoxine and 250 mg of pyridoxine.

Subjective sleep logs were used to record the results.

The results of the Ebben study showed a clear increase in Composite Dream Salience scores, triggered by the 250 mg dose, compared to placebo. The effects were dose dependent.

Although the 100 mg dose did not elicit statistically significant differences the way the 250 mg dose did, it did increase the Composite Dream Salience score too, compared to placebo.

Conclusions drawn from the Ebben Study

The question raised by the above detailed findings is: to what can these effects be attributed? Explanations in this regard abound.

  • Vitamin B6 has been found to improve memory. Its effects on dream recall could indeed be written down to that.
  • The neuro-chemical theory is backed by evidence as well. Pyridoxine is needed for the conversion of tryptophan to 5-hydroxytryptophan, and then further, for the conversion of 5-HTP to serotonin. Serotonin however suppresses the REM stage of sleep…how does B6 promote dream experience through this path then?

Apparently, following the initial suppression of REM sleep, a rebound effect happens, which deepens the REM cycle, thus promoting dreaming in general. This rebound effect would come into the picture during the last few hours of sleep. That explains why dream recall is enhanced in such cases too.

Several studies support this hypothesis. It is well known that acute administration of vitamin B6 results in increased serotonin synthesis in the brain. Also, administration of 100 mg of B6 at 5 PM was proven to extend the REM sleep stages.

A word of caution

Some have speculated that the B6-5-HTP link may carry hidden dangers. The two supplements should not be taken together, because it may lead to the formation of serotonin in the gut instead of the brain. On one hand, such serotonin goes to waste, given that it cannot cross the blood brain barrier. On the other, it may cause heart damage, circulating in the blood.

Whether this is true or not is debatable. Even at best though, taking the two supplements together offers no advantages whatsoever.

The same applies to the concurrent taking of B6 and L-dopa supplements (like Mucuna pruriens).

  • Sleep interruption is yet another theory attempting to explain the mechanics by which B6 impacts dream recall. According to this theory, high doses of vitamin B6 may cause sleep interruptions. Thus, they generate opportunities for short-term dream memories to be transferred to long-term memory.

The Ebben study however does not provide sufficient evidence in this regard.

A 2018 study in Australia, by the University of Adelaide, attempted to recreate the results of the Ebben study. It also explored the effects of a vitamin B complex formula on sleep and dreams.

This study used a much larger sample size (some 100 people took part in it) and it explored the impact of pyridoxine hydrochloride on dreams, with lucid dreaming in mind. It used 240 mg of vitamin B6, placebo, and a vitamin B complex formula, which included a dose of 240 mg of vitamin B6. In addition to it, it also included vitamin B1, B3, B5, B7, B9, and B12, but not vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), which colors urine and is therefore readily detectable.

Participants recorded a much wider range of variables as part of this study. These variables included Dream Recall Frequency, Dream Count, Dream Quantity, Vividness, Bizarreness, Color, Time Awake during the night, Sleep Quality and Tiredness upon waking up.

Surprisingly, Dream Recall Frequency and Dream Count were the same for the placebo group and the pure B6 group.

A statistically significant difference between the two test groups was observed in the Dream Quantity category, which effectively quantified the amount of dream content recalled by participants.

This is a Dream...

Researchers drew the conclusion that vitamin B6 could indeed be used for dream enhancement.

Dream color, Vividness and Bizarreness also failed to produce statistically significant differences between the placebo and the B6 groups however, seemingly invalidating that conclusion. Furthermore, these results contradicted the findings of the Ebben study.

What was the reason behind this unexpected turn of events? After all, in the Australian study, B6’s impact on the overall dream experience was much less significant than in the Ebben study.

A logical explanation would be that the study participants had already been sufficiently supplemented with the vitamin through their diet. Vitamin B6 deficiency is extremely rare in Australia. Many foods (such as bread and various cereals) are supplemented with B6. It makes sense that for test subjects already “laden” with B6, additional supplementation would not elicit a significant impact.

After all, poor dream recall is considered a symptom of vitamin B6 deficiency. If there is no deficiency, then there is no poor dream recall and consequently, there is much less room for improvement in this regard.

Another interesting twist resulting from the Australian study was the lack of impact of the B complex concoction. Apparently, it had no effect on dreaming whatsoever. This happened despite the fact that it featured the same dose of vitamin B6 as the pure B6 capsule.

A logical explanation in this regard would be that some other component of the B complex formula counteracted the effects of B6. Exactly how this counteraction worked and which component was responsible for it, was unknown and the study did not yield any conclusions in this regard.

What we do know is that vitamins B1, B3, B5 and B9 all have a role in serotonin synthesis. Vitamin B1 in particular is thought to increase REM sleep, by acting on tryptophan conversion.

The study also concluded that vitamin B6 supplementation did not negatively affect sleep quality. On the other hand, the complex formula did just that. Vitamin complex formulations do indeed tend to have such an effect on sleep in general.

Yet another takeaway from the study was that the theory concerning vitamin B6 supplementation and sleep disruptions was most likely not valid. No significant differences in sleep quality were found between the B6 group and the placebo group.

On the other hand, the REM rebound effect theory was not disproven. In fact, the study ended up recommending more research in that direction.

Vitamin B6 may indeed act synergistically with other B vitamins towards dream enhancement. Complex formulations do not work in this regard however. More research is warranted in this direction as well.

Link between vitamin B6, dream salience and lucid dreaming

If vitamin B6 is indeed an efficient promoter of dream salience, it may have a role as a supplement in the induction of lucid dreams. Dream salience describes a combination of psychological conditions that facilitate dream recall. Such conditions are also conducive to lucid dreaming.

Why is this role of vitamin B6 potentially important?

Lucid dreaming is much more than a mental exercise in which hardcore oneiranouts like to dabble. It is a very real phenomenon, the potential applications of which are almost limitless.

In the area of dream research, lucid dreaming would be an all-powerful tool. It could also be used for the treatment of nightmares, to great effect. Rehearsing and practicing skills in a lucid dream environment would also be a option. Last, but certainly not least, lucid dreaming would open up infinite possibilities in regards to entertainment, recreation, and creative problem-solving.

Lucid dreaming is most definitely a vertical worthy of a lot of scientific attention. Efforts in this regard are severely limited by the lack of reliable lucid dream induction techniques. Vitamin B6 could prove to be an aiding element in such a technique.

Vitamin B6 as an alternative to sedative drugs

Above and beyond dream research, vitamin B6 might provide a healthier alternative to sedation.

A 2017 study done in Italy confirmed the possible usefulness of vitamin B6 as a companion solution for melatonin treatment, in the induction of spontaneous sleep in toddlers/children.

The said study focused on ABR, an auditory response test performed on children under the age of 4-5. Such young children are often uncooperative. This means that medical staff is often forced to resort to sedation.

According to the findings of the study, melatonin worked well for the spontaneous induction of sleep in such children – as expected. Furthermore, researchers have found that adding tryptophan and vitamin B6 to melatonin resulted in even better sedation and testing conditions.

The use of such a solution could generally save costs as well as address parental anxiety to some degree. The study concluded that B6 was certainly an avenue worth exploring in this regard.

Vitamin B6 and nightmares

The relationship between vitamin B6 and nightmares is an interesting one. Because it promotes dreaming and supposedly enhances the vividness and color of dreams, vitamin B6 may be considered a promoter of nightmares. After all, nightmares are dreams too. They just stem from different psychological states than their more amiable peers.

On the other hand, as mentioned, vitamin B6 also promotes lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is a very promising avenue for the treatment of nightmares, so therein lies the vitamin B6 contradiction.

Based solely on anecdotal reports, we can however conclude that taking vitamin B6 before sleep might bring about nightmares later in the night.

Vitamin B6 and out-of-body experiences

Out-of-body experiences (OBEs) are altered states of consciousness, not unlike lucid dreaming. Since vitamin B6 promotes a sort of psychological condition conducive to lucid dreaming, it is safe to surmise that it also promotes OBEs, such as astral projection.

Obviously, scientific evidence is scant in this regard at best. That said, several Astral Projection portals have listed B6 as an essential supplement, together with galantamine, Huperzine A, melatonin, and choline.

If you are an AP enthusiast and you are not afraid of nightmares, by all means, make sure that your vitamin B6 levels are sufficiently high when attempting to slip into such a state.

Remember that you may not gain a noticeable “boost” out of B6, if you are already sufficiently supplemented with it, but you need it nonetheless.

Start off a smaller dose, like 100mg. Gradually work your way up to 250 mg, but do not exceed it. You can actually overdose on this vitamin.

Vitamin B6 sources

How can you make sure that you do indeed get a sufficient dose of vitamin B6? When it comes to dream enhancement/potentiating, supplements are obviously your best bet.

Other than that, you should be aware that vitamin B6 is an essential nutrient, needed for the synthesis of various neurotransmitters.

It will elevate mood, improve sleep, prevent panic attacks, and it may even have a role in the prevention of Parkinson’s disease. Proper dietary intakes of the vitamin are therefore essential.

Which foods contain higher levels of vitamin B6?

The richest sources of vitamin B6 are organ meats, such as liver, heart etc. Fish, poultry, and pork can all be included in this category. Unfortunately, these foods as well as eggs come with an unwanted “baggage,” including saturated fats and cholesterol.

Then we have wholegrain cereals and bread, various vegetables and fruits, potatoes, soybeans, peanuts etc. As far as vegetables go, dark leafy veggies, such as spinach, kai lan, and broccoli are your best B6 sources. Fruits-wise, avocados and bananas are your best choice in this regard.

If your diet is a fairly balanced one, you really do not need to bend over backwards to satisfy your normal daily B6 needs.

Adult males need about 1.4 mg each day, while females need 1.2 mg. Anything above that can be jotted down as “supplementation.”

You can see that the doses recommended for dream enhancement are much higher than that (from 50 mg to 250 mg).

Vitamin B6 side effects

While vitamin B6 is indeed an essential vitamin, it is possible to overdose on it. A daily dose of 200 mg, taken for an extended period of time (months on end), can lead to peripheral neuropathy. This is a condition affecting the nervous system, which results in loss of feeling in the limbs. Once the B6 overdosing is discontinued, symptoms usually subside. Sometimes however, they can become permanent.

Prolonged administration of high doses of pyridoxine can also lead to other forms of neuropathy. Extreme skin sensitivity, bone pain, numbness, and muscle weakness are all possible.

Other, shorter-term side effects of B6 overdosing are insomnia and cramps.

The bottom line

Vitamin B6 is an essential vitamin, which looks like a promising sleep/dream-modulating supplement.

The doses needed to achieve dream enhancement are rather high, so make sure you do not abuse it in this regard.

The scientific evidence currently backing the anecdotal reports of B6-generated dream enhancement is rather shaky and unconvincing. Science is not entirely certain by which mechanism pyridoxine acts upon dream recall either.

Pick up your B6 supplement right now, and delve into the realm of dreams one step closer to achieving on-demand lucidity.

eBay.com / Amazon.com

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a public reply below, or contact me privately.

Binaural Beats (Effects on Sleep & Dreams)

In this article I cover the topic of auditory beat stimulation through Binaural Beats and its effects on sleep, overall physical and mental well-being, and altered states of consciousness.

Auditory Beat Stimulation (ABS) has long been considered a way through which various parameters of human consciousness can be manipulated. ABS consists of auditory stimulation through simple audio tones, to which the test subject simply has to listen.

Over the years, hundreds of studies have been completed, aimed at verifying one or another alleged/real effect of ABS. These studies have often yielded contradictory data however. That said, it still makes sense to consider ABS as something that can yield potentially life-changing results in a non-invasive manner, on several physical and mental ailments. It can also be a valuable aid in achieving altered states of consciousness.

What is ABS thought to perhaps positively impact?

  • Cognitive processes (such as learning)
  • Mood states
  • Relaxation (by countering anxiety)
  • Memory
  • The ability to focus (attention)
  • Creativity (divergent thinking)
  • Physical performance in top-level athletes
  • Physical pain (Hemispheric brain synchronization achieved through binaural beat stimulation, has been used to partially replace fentanyl in surgeries).
  • Sleep
  • Dreams, lucid dreaming etc
  • Heightened cognitive states such as meditation and OBE (Out of Body Experiences)
  • ADHD
  • Traumatic brain injuries

The above considered, it is clear that ABS in general and Binaural Beats in particular, are certainly worthy of exploring in detail. That is exactly what we are going to attempt in this article.

Monaural and Binaural Beats in ABS

The first step is to understand how Auditory Beat Stimulation works. Learning exactly what binaural beats are, cannot hurt either.

In addition to the mentioned benefits of ABS on various mental and physical aspects of human existence, it has also been studied in conjunction with ASSR (Auditory Steady-state Response) and audio location.

Most of the studies about ABS have involved monaural and binaural beats. Binaural beats are the results of an auditory illusion produced by the brain. When two tones of slightly differing frequencies are applied to the two ears of a person, instead of the two tones, he/she will hear the frequency-difference between the two.

For example: we apply a 230 Hz tone to the left ear and a 235 Hz tone to the right one. The test subject will hear a 5 Hz (235-230=5) binaural beat. This beat is thought to be capable of achieving a number of responses in the human brain. It can allegedly elicit a Frequency Following Response (FFR) and it can even synchronize the waves of the two hemispheres of the brain. Binaural beats deliver most of their presumed positive effects through these two pathways.

In the above example, we are looking at a 5 Hz binaural beat, delivered through a 230 Hz carrier frequency.

What about monaural beats? Monaural beats consist of a single composite tone applied to both ears of the test subject (or to just one ear – their effects should be the same).

The two frequencies are mixed beforehand, resulting in a 5 Hz amplitude-modulated (AM) signal, which is then applied to the test subject’s ear(s). This way, the test subject never hears the carrier frequency, just the resulting monaural beats.

What are the practical differences between binaural and monaural beats?

  • Monaural beats are physical in nature: they do in fact objectively exist. Binaural beats on the other hand are an illusion generated by the brain.
  • Binaural beats are essentially presented as two neighboring frequencies, one for each ear. Monaural beats are presented as a single composite signal.
  • Monaural beats are perceived peripherally. Binaural beats on the other hand are perceived/generated centrally.
  • The composite signal that makes up monaural beats is decoded in the cochlea. Binaural signals originate in the superior olivary nuclei.
  • Either one or both ears are needed for the perception of monaural beats. For binaural beats, both ears are absolutely required.
  • An interesting twist is that binaural beats only come about at frequencies lower than 1,000 Hz. Monaural beats on the other hand seem to work fine with higher carrier frequencies too.

Science knows quite a bit about ABS in general. In fact, we possess a thorough understanding of exactly how auditory beats are processed on a neurophysiologic level. For the scope of this article however, it does not make much sense to go into too many details on that.

The Auditory Steady-State Response

What’s much more interesting for what we are discussing here is the existence of the Auditory Steady-State Response and its actual responses to monaural and binaural beats.

Defined as an auditory evoked potential, triggered by acoustic stimuli which are repetitive and persistent, the ASSR may be the key to brainwave synchronization and to the Frequency Following Response phenomenon. This is in turn the key to the effects binaural beats apparently have on memory, learning, concentration, sleep etc.

Let us take a look at how it all ties together.

Its mechanism of action and triggering extremely intricate, the ASSR is apparently the driver of EEG’s background activity. Several studies aimed at the ASSR have established that its amplitude is attention modulated, within the confines of certain modulation frequencies.

More importantly however, beat stimulation has been used to determine the source of ASSR. Findings in this regard have often been contradictory.

What is clear is that the ASSR’s of monaural and binaural beats are prone to synchronization. A number of studies have already confirmed theories aimed at monaural and binaural beats and phase synchronization. In fact, it has also been determined that beat stimulation can in fact alter EEG power, as well as synchronization.

Despite the apparently logical way the different theories seem to click together, it is currently not known exactly how binaural beats act upon modulation of mood, pain, and various cognitive processes.

Studies aimed at such effects only recorded weak and short-lived responses. Their results were thus quite irrelevant and often contradictory. There are scores of possible explanations as to why this is the case, but going into details on them does not serve the purpose of this exercise.

The Effects of ABS (Monaural and Binaural Beats)


Research concerning ABS-induced memory enhancement has yielded conflicting results as well. That is indeed rather regrettable, especially considering the promise binaural beats hold in this regard. The tests were conducted at the theta frequency. ABS in this frequency range has been shown to provide individuals a quicker path to meditation.

Two of the mentioned studies used a list of 15 unrelated words, that test subjects had to remember and recite. Long-term and working memory were both put to the test.

The first study used 7 Hz binaural beat stimulation for 30 minutes. The second one used a 5 Hz binaural beat, for 15 minutes, twice a day. The first experiment featured a one-time stimulatory session. The second one ran for 15 days.

The results – as mentioned – were quite unexpected. Apparently, the single-session stimulation with7 Hz binaural beats resulted in an immediate verbal memory decrease.

The 5 Hz experiment on the other hand, yielded a statistically significant increase in the number of memorized words.

The studies highlighted that memory enhancement though ABS was influenced by the binaural beat frequency as well as by the duration of the stimulatory program. It is also a possibility that the benefic affects of binaural beat stimulation may take a while to surface.


The effects of binaural beats on mood modulation have been studied through experiments quite similar to the ones detailed in the Memory section.

Several binaural beat frequency ranges were put to the test however.

One study took a close look at delta and theta frequencies. The theta part of the test featured a 7 Hz binaural beat, which test subjects had to listen to for 30 minutes. Again, this part of the test was a single session one.

The delta part on the other hand, used a binaural beat in the 0-4 Hz frequency range. Test subjects were exposed to these beats daily, for two months.

When the results rolled in, it was made clear that the theta test failed to yield any significant improvements mood-wise. In fact, it made depression worse. On the other hand, the delta treatment managed to decrease fatigue, anxiety, confusion, and tension, thus elevating mood.

In a separate test, researchers used binaural beats in the beta range (16-24Hz), to successfully trigger mood improvement.

The bottom line is obviously that the theta frequency range does not sit well with mood. Even small frequency tweaks can have a major impact on the outcome of such studies. The length/frequency of the treatment is yet another variable.

It bears repeating that most of these tests feature self-reporting and are therefore not entirely reliable accuracy-wise.


Anxiety represents a major target for binaural beat stimulation. Those living with the chronic form of this condition would certainly be willing to undergo binaural beat tests to alleviate their suffering.

Two types of anxiety can be delimited: temporary anxiety, triggered/temporarily sustained by an event/short-term situation, and persistent anxiety, which is a personal trait in many people.

The tests aimed at ABS’s effect on anxiety have used the delta frequency range for binaural beats. In one such test, the subjects were patients awaiting surgery and experiencing pre-operative anxiety. Interestingly, the delta binaural beats achieved a 26.3% decrease in their anxiety.

Still more interestingly: in another test, with 10 Hz binaural beats, even more significant levels of anxiety-reduction were achieved.

Other studies looked at commercially available binaural beat stimulation and assessed the effects of delta frequency stimulation on trait anxiety, with significant positive results.


One would think that the effects of ABS in something as difficult to define as creativity, would be quite impossible to assess. Researchers have come up with an ingenious way to overcome the hurdle though. They simply tested the effects exerted by alpha frequency binaural beats (10 Hz) and gamma frequency beats (40 Hz) on divergent and convergent thinking.

As part of the divergent thinking test, subjects were asked to name as many uses for various household items as they possibly could. Beforehand, they were treated to a 3-minute session of binaural beats. Their Eye Blink rates (an indication of the levels of dopamine in the brain) were also tracked.

The results of the tests were positive: binaural beats helped creative (divergent) thinking, while not having any notable effect on convergent thinking.

Subjects with low dopamine levels were helped by alpha frequency stimulation. Those with high dopamine levels on the other hand were not. Some were even impaired by gamma frequency stimulation.

Overall, the studies did yield some interesting data, though at this point it is quite impossible to draw definitive conclusions from them.

The Ability to Maintain Focus

Studies aimed at the assessment of ABS’s effects on vigilance turned up conflicting results, coupled with a handful of important conclusions.

One test, which used theta and beta frequencies to binaurally stimulate participants, came up empty-handed in regards to effects. Apparently, test subjects were unaffected by stimulation in regards to vigilance. Actual stimulation was applied for 4 minutes during the tests. This fact may explain why no effects were registered: the stimulation period was arguably too short.

Another test – which managed to produce positive results – used binaural beat stimulation for 30 minutes during the tests at the beta and theta/delta frequency ranges. Notably, it also featured lower carrier frequencies.

What’s obvious from the above is that binaural beat stimulation is impacted by a wide range of variables, of which duration of stimulation and carrier frequency levels are also parts.


The potential impact of ABS on attention might present a handy treatment path for conditions such as ADHD. Unfortunately, science has thus far failed to produce a proper body of research on the matter.

There is one study out there which used commercially available binaural beats embedded in nature-sounds to stimulate ADHD sufferers. Unfortunately, it failed to record the exact parameters of the beat stimulation. The results it produced were not particularly encouraging either.

After three weeks comprising three sessions per week of 20 minutes each, participants failed to score higher on objective attention tests. They did however report subjectively improved attention spans.

The bottom line is that more proper research should be put into matter. Some people really do have their quality of life negatively impacted by ADHD, and there does seem to be some promise in ABS in this matter.

Chronic Pain

ABS has been deemed effective in reducing perceived pain in chronic pain sufferers against placebo (a sham binaural beats-based treatment) by several scientific studies.

Chronic pain is a major public health issue in the US (and presumably elsewhere in the world too), where it affects from 10-50% of the adult population.

One study which evidenced the positive impact of theta frequency binaural beats on chronic pain perception, produced extremely encouraging results. It used 6 Hz binaural beats together with a 300 Hz sham tone. Some participants listened to the “real” binaural beats first and then the sham recording, for 20 minutes a day. Others reversed the order. The study lasted for 14 consecutive days.

The “real” binaural beat treatment resulted in a massive drop in perceived pain, some 77% bigger than the drop produced by the placebo tone.

There is certainly a real effect at work here, one that has been deemed significant enough to allow binaural beat treatment to supplant pain killers to a certain degree in some cases.

Athletic Performance Enhancement and Sleep

The negative effects of sleep deprivation on athletic performance have long been known and documented. A lot less is known about how improving sleep quality impacts athletic performance.

It is obvious that the path to athletic performance enhancement leads through sleep improvement – as far as ABS is concerned. It is therefore impossible to discuss athletic performance enhancement by binaural beats, without talking about sleep improvement.

How do binaural beats act upon sleep?

Binaural beat treatments take advantage of a phenomenon called Frequency Following Response. Apparently, persistent binaural beats prompt the human brain to synchronize its waves to them after a while. The phenomenon is known as brainwave entrainment. This way, not only will brainwaves follow the “lead” provided by the binaural beat, the two hemispheres will sync up as well.

It is important to point out that brainwave entrainment seems to be electromagnetic in nature, rather than acoustic. When electromagnetic headphones and speakers were replaced with air conduction headphones in experiments, the entrainment effect did not occur.

This is the path through which sleep improvement can be promoted. We know quite a bit about healthy sleep cycles and about the brainwave frequencies such sleep cycles entail.

  • Just before going to sleep, alpha frequencies (those in the 8-13 Hz range) dominate.
  • The first stage of sleep is characterized by theta frequencies (in the 4-7 Hz range). Brainwaves slow down significantly.
  • The second stage is the realm of theta frequencies, interspersed with sleep spindles. Brainwave frequencies are in the 11-16Hz range here.
  • As one transitions into deep sleep, delta waves takes over. Delta waves are much slower, with a frequency in the 0.5-2Hz range.
  • The fourth sleep stage still features about 50% delta waves, mixed in with higher frequency waves.

A sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes. A sound sleeper will cycle through 5-7 such sleep cycles every night.

Knowing the above and knowing about brainwave entrainment through binaural beats, the path to BB-triggered sleep improvement is obvious.

A sequence of binaural beats of varying frequencies, using a proper carrying frequency, can in effect mimic the healthy sleep cycle. Through the entrainment effect, it can then compel the brain to “execute” this cycle flawlessly.

The question in regards to athletic performance is therefore: do improved sleep and post-sleep states translate to improvements in this respect?

A study done in Germany attempted to answer that question, using young sub-elite soccer players as test subjects.

With this test group, increasing the amount of sleep was not on option. Therefore, focusing on quality was the only way forward.

Following an 8-week period of brainwave entrainment treatment, positive results were registered. Study participants gave higher subjective ratings to sleep quality, awakening, overall sleepiness, and motivational state.

Unfortunately, no translation of these improvements to physical performance was noted.

The study was deemed “first evidence” and as such, a possible trailblazer for future research into the matter.

The Hormonal Impact of Binaural Beats on Sleep

In addition to the direct promotion of healthy sleep cycles, binaural beats were found to have triggered some sleep-promoting hormonal changes too. Specifically, BB therapy affected three hormones: DHEA, melatonin, and cortisol.

Of these, DHEA and cortisol exert opposing effects on sleep. Also known as the stress hormone, cortisol causes alertness. DHEA acts to suppress cortisol, thus promoting relaxation and sleep.

Various scientific studies have found that binaural beat therapy caused increases of DHEA levels in more than 68% of test subjects. This increase was accompanied by a significant reduction in cortisol levels.

Study results were even more spectacular in regards to melatonin. Melatonin plays a major role in promoting and regulating sleep.

ABS raised melatonin levels in some 73% of study participants, by 97% no less.

In addition to all the above, given the complexity of sleep, it is hardly surprising that many of the afore-discussed cognitive processes influenced by binaural beats, also tie up into the sleep equation.

Binaural Beats for Sleep

This is a Dream...

Chronic pain and anxiety are two great examples in this regard. Memory enhancement has an interesting link to sleep as well.

The delta stage (slowest) of sleep, is apparently needed to consolidate memories. The learning process itself merely enters the data into the system. Slow-wave sleep is what thoroughly registers it afterwards.

A study which examined the effects of a 3Hz binaural beat with a 250Hz carrier frequency on sleep, found that it could modulate the duration of the delta stage of sleep and this way contribute to memory consolidation.

Again, the mechanism of action was brainwave entrainment. The 3Hz frequency proved to be ideal for the promotion of slow wave sleep. The extension of the delta stage of sleep was obtained at the expense of the previous stage, which may not be ideal. That said, the decrease in delta stage latency and an overall extension of this stage bodes very well for the memory and for a number of other mental processes. It may indeed have an impact on mood as well.

At the end of the day, everything discussed above seems to tie up nicely, with sleep being the common denominator.

With that in mind, it is safe to conclude that binaural beats exert benefic effects on sleep in scores of ways and through many different pathways. In turn, sleep impacts a number of conditions and cognitive processes.

Binaural Beats and the Realm of Dreams

Given the multitude of ways through which binaural beats act upon sleep, it makes sense to surmise that they can exert significant effects upon dreams too. The same goes for various other altered states of consciousness.

Lucid Dreams

Before we delve any deeper into this issue, let us put forth that the science linking brainwave entrainment to lucid dreaming and other altered states of consciousness is tenuous at best. At worst, it simply does not exist.

This is therefore the point where we leave the solid ground of science, venturing into the realm of pseudo-scientific deductions and theories. Some of these theories seem to be simple cases of “connect the dots” at first glance. Scientific reality is usually much more intricate than theories however.

The areas of most interest from the perspective of lucid dreaming are the gamma and theta brainwave frequency ranges.

Hemi Sync - Binaural Beats for Lucid Dreaming

Gamma Frequency Binaural Beats and Lucid Dreaming

The reason why the gamma frequency range is so interesting for lucid dreams is that there’s some scientific research out there that seemingly links the two.

First off, a study aimed at 40 Hz binaural beats found that they generated a steady state in the brain present in several areas at the same time. The 40 Hz frequency level stands out, because it has been associated with the waking state and normal wakeful consciousness.

Furthermore, other studies have suggested that 40 Hz gamma synchrony was reported to be present in instances when lucid dreams occurred. The conclusion drawn by researchers was that the gamma frequency band was instrumental in human conscious awareness. Apparently, self awareness may be triggered by the synchronous firing of cortical neurons in this frequency range.

Unfortunately, no one has thus far produced scientifically acceptable proof for this theory. Pushing this train of thought further regardless, lands us in the realm of effective lucid dream manipulation via binaural beats.

If 40 Hz waves are what the brain needs to become self-aware, through brainwave entrainment, such waves can be brought about artificially with binaural beats. Unfortunately, this part of the theory does not seem to work in practice. Binaural beats can be used for sleep manipulation to a certain degree, but lucid dreaming is well outside of their scope.

One simple explanation as to why 40 Hz brain entrainment does not deliver lucid dreams on demand, is that while 40 Hz synchrony may be a required prerequisite of lucid dreaming, it is not the only one.

To achieve self-awareness, the brain likely needs to be activated in several frequency bands in its different areas. 40 Hz gamma waves may only be one small piece of a large puzzle.

That said, no one has thus far disproved the theory either.

Theta Frequency Binaural Beats and Lucid Dreaming

Does the above eliminate binaural beats and brain entrainment as a potential way to trigger lucid dreaming? No. It may in fact have a powerful – albeit indirect – hand in the matter. Theta waves can help with conscious hypnagogia.

Associated with improved focus, meditation, and light states of sleep, theta waves may be key to retaining consciousness under the borderline states between sleep and wakefulness.

With that in mind, viewing binaural beats as a way to prepare the brain for lucid dreaming may be the best approach.

They will help the dreamer achieve a deeply relaxed state before actually falling asleep. This way, they will push at the boundary between sleep and wakefulness, perhaps opening up a little more room for maneuver there for the oneironaut.

Remember and stick to the essentials of lucid dreaming:

  • Keep a dream journal. Carefully document your dreams.
  • Perform reality checks throughout your day. Pushing a finger into your palm or pinching yourself is such a reality check. If you turn reality checks into a habit, you will likely perform them in your dreams too. It is at that point that you shall realize you are dreaming and achieve consciousness within the dream.
  • Put the WILD (Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming) and WBTB (Wake Back to Bed) lucid dreaming techniques to use.
  • As far as binaural beat stimulation is concerned, focus on the following:
    • Find a dark and quiet place.
    • Reserve some 15 minutes of your time for the exercise.
    • Use an eye mask if needed.
    • Use stereo headphones. You will need them to hear the carrier frequencies properly, thus allowing your brain to construct a proper binaural beat.
  • Make it your intention to stay conscious as you fall asleep.
  • Relax your body fully and let your mind wander off.

The ideal binaural beat for lucid dreaming is in the theta frequency range. Do not bother with the gamma band. As mentioned, gamma is associated with full consciousness and alertness. While it may be useful for lucid dreaming to have your brain entrained by gamma frequencies when already asleep, it is the last thing you need while trying to fall asleep.

The actual ideal binaural beat frequency is in the 4-7 Hz range. 6 Hz for instance, with a 250 Hz carrier frequency seems like a great idea.

There is actually a study out there which took a look at exactly this kind of binaural beat. The findings of this study were interesting to say the least.

According to it, a 6 Hz, 250 Hz carrier tone binaural beat induced a state in the brain similar to that seen during meditation. It is therefore recommended that such a BB be used for the quick induction of meditative states.

That does seem to fit the picture of WILD very well.

Binaural Beats and OBEs (Out of Body Experiences)

Out of Body Experiences such as Astral Projection have long been associated with brainwave synchronization and extremely deep meditative states. While they still reside in a scientifically grey area, OBEs have been studied quite extensively.

Recently declassified documents are testament to the fact that secret services have entertained the idea of perhaps using Astral Projection for spying/other covert purposes.

Officially, there does not seem to be a well-defined connection between astral projection and binaural beat stimulation. Some AP experts have used anecdotal evidence for years though, to paint binaural beats and ABS in general as useful tools in the arsenal of the astral plain traveler.

Binaural Beats for Out of Body Experiences

Whatever pointers we give you in this regard, originate from such anecdotal evidence and do not carry any scientific validation.

It needs to be re-iterated that in and of themselves, binaural beats cannot induce OBEs, the same way they cannot induce lucid dreaming. They should be viewed as facilitators rather than actual triggers in this regard.

To use BBs to help you achieve astral projection, you will need to know how to meditate and how to astral project. Also, you need to generally pay attention to the following:

  • Your sleep pattern needs to be a healthy one.
  • The same goes for your diet. Eating late or burdening your innards with difficult-to-digest foods will mess up your sleep.
  • Your meditation skills have to be at least decent.

Some say that there are special binaural beats created for astral projection. This is most likely just marketing hype. Now that you understand what binaural beats are and how they work, you won’t fall for such cheap shenanigans.

For binaural beats, you will need a stereo headphone. The tones fed to your two ears are different, and only a stereo headphone can preserve the frequency difference you brain needs to produce the binaural frequency you need.

The theta frequency range is perhaps your best bet when looking to ease into an OBE. A 250 Hz carrier frequency makes perfect sense in this instance too.

Once you settle down comfortably and start up your binaural beats, all you have left to do is to go into your preferred meditation/astral projection technique.

Conclusion & Ways to Purchase Binaural Beats

ABS in general and binaural beats in particular certainly have an impact on human consciousness. This impact is most evident in sleep. Indeed, most of the benefits derived from the use of binaural beats have some sort of connection to sleep.

That said, it is logical that binaural beats may affect altered states of consciousness somehow too. While scientific evidence in this regard is scant, ABS is certainly a promising path for scientific exploration.

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Buy Other Binaural Beats Products (Amazon.com / eBay.com / Ennora.com)

In order to use binaural beats, including Hemi-Sync products, you will need stereo headphones. Which headphones should you choose though? Ones that enclose the ear will help reduce ambient room noise and prevent distractions. Earbuds may be more comfortable for side sleepers. The headphones should also be wireless so that you don’t get entangled in the wires.

If you’re like me and you’re uncomfortable with using regular headphones, for example due to lying on your side, there are two options to consider. The first is to use conventional speakers. Though in this case, you will need position yourself between the speakers. The other option which is what I personally do is to use SleepPhones, which are comfortable even for side sleepers.

Buy SleepPhones


Buy Wireless Stereo Headphones (Amazon.com / eBay.com)

Buy Stereo Speakers (Amazon.com / eBay.com)

Any questions or comments? Feel free to leave a public reply below or contact me privately.

CBD & THC – Effects on Sleep

Cannabinoid use has been associated with many positive effects on health. From various neurological conditions, to vascular disorders, glaucoma, chronic pain, Tourette Syndrome, and psychosis, everything has been treated with Cannabis (C. sativa or C. indica), since ancient times.

There certainly seems to be some scientific proof regarding many of these anecdotal effects. Science is still too shaky for the most part on most of these alleged effects though. What we know thus far, definitely warrants further scientifically substantiated studies, supported by more solid methodology.

To understand the current state of science regarding the two major active constituents of cannabis and their effect on sleep as well as on various health conditions, we need to take a comprehensive look at the active ingredients of the herb. Recent scientific findings regarding the effects of these ingredients as well as breakthroughs in synthetic cannabinoids need to be considered as well.

The active constituents of Cannabis

The actual composition of cannabis is nowhere nearly as simple as a quick glance over the issue would have you believe. There are scores of chemicals involved that science has thus far managed to identify and isolate. There are probably scores more that are still unknown. Such complex constituent profiles complicate the issue of understanding the effect every individual compound exerts, on account of the synergistic nature of the whole.

That said, for the scope of this article, considering the two main constituents is sufficient.

Delta-9 tetrahydrocanabinol (THC) is the “euphoria” ingredient. Responsible for the “high” experienced by marijuana users, THC provides a number of benefits health-wise. It is however also responsible for almost all the undesired side effects of cannabinoid use, such as cognitive impairment, panic attacks, psychosis etc.

Cannabidiol (CBD), on the other hand, is a non-intoxicating constituent, which is almost side effect-free. It also has beneficial effects, without the problems caused by THC. What’s more, it even counters some of the negative effects of THC, so in some cases, using the two compounds together makes perfect sense.

By What Mechanism do CBD and THC Act?

The general area targeted by phytocannabinoid (plant-based cannabinoid) use is obviously the brain. Within it, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is the “landing site” of compounds such as THC and CBD.

The ECS can be loosely defined as a collection of receptors and neuromodulatory lipids, located in the brain as well as in the central and peripheral nervous system. That explains the effects that cannabinoids elicit in users and why they are so efficient at eliciting these effects.

The primary receptors of the ECS are CB1 and CB2. There are obviously scores of other receptors involved, like GPR55, TRPM8, TRPA1 etc. For the scope of this article, which is restricted to THC and CBD, we only really need to acknowledge the presence of CB1 and CB2.

THC acts on CB1, while CBD acts on CB2. Again: this is a very simplified look at the overall picture, but it does not skew it. It is also much easier to comprehend. In fact both compounds act on multiple receptors.

Synthetic Cannabinoids and Their Role

While marijuana use is on the rise, medical applications of the plant still continue to carry a sort of stigma. That said, there are synthetic derivatives out there, which have been used clinically for quite some time.

In regards to THC, such synthetic derivatives/extracts are dronabinole and nabilone. CBD has been isolated under the same name. Another interesting extract is Sativex, which is a THC/CBD 1:1 concoction.

As mentioned, many of these extracts are already used clinically. Some of them are prescribed for PTSD, others alleviate nausea/vomiting in cancer-related chemotherapy.

They also allow researchers to study the effects of the isolated compounds and thus to learn how specific cannobinoids act. Such research – though just a small part of the bigger picture – is essential for the eventual understanding of the full mechanisms through which these compounds elicit their effects.

The Endocannabinoid System

As mentioned, both THC and CBD act on the receptors of the ECS. The Endocannabinoid system is still a relatively poorly understood part of human biology.

What is known about it however, explains many of the health-wise positive effects of cannabinoids. The ECS has for instance been linked to the Circadian Sleep-Wake Cycle. Thus, it has a hand in the triggering, promotion and maintenance of sleep.

By acting on some of the above mentioned receptors, cannabinoids exert an effect on sleep. The ECS is also involved in the release of opioid peptides, which explains the role of cannabinoids in the management of chronic pain.

The Therapeutic Effects of Cannabinoids

While the focus of the article is on the sleep-related benefits of CBD and THC, the potential therapeutic applications of these compounds span a much wider range.

Various neurological conditions, such as: muscle spasms and multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, pain management (chronic pain relief too), Tourette’s syndrome, head injuries, psychosis and neurosis.

  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Glaucoma
  • Asthma
  • The stimulation of appetite
  • Antiemetic benefits (for chemotherapy patients)
  • Sleep improvement

Cannabinoids and Sleep

The effects of cannabis on sleep have been studied since the 1970s. Early studies often yielded contradictory results. In hindsight, the contradictory nature of some of the findings could probably be written down to the use of plant cannabis rather than isolated cannabinoids in the studies.

Despite the erratic nature of the findings, some conclusions could be drawn. It was observed that cannabis influenced sleep onset latency, wake after sleep onset, slow-wave sleep, as well as REM sleep. As such, researchers determined that cannabis was useful as a short-term sleep aid, especially in regards to sleep onset.

They also noted its long term adverse effects such as habitutation (the need to use more and more cannabis to obtain the desired sleep-promoting effects) and sleep disturbances, which are liable to result in user-relapse after quitting.

A more recent body of research originates from the 2000s. These studies have focused more on individual components of cannabis, such as THC and CBD. Thus, they added a number of new variables to the cannabis/sleep equation. The type of constituent, ratio of constituents, timing of administration, dosage, and method of administration have all been determined to play major roles in the resulting effect.

THC and Sleep

The cannabis constituent responsible for decreased sleep onset latency (falling asleep faster) is THC. It has been found that during THC administration, circadian rhythms are less pronounced.

The chronic administration of the compound leads to the development of tolerance however. Following discontinuation of THC administration, sleep disturbance (a classic cannabis withdrawal symptom) may occur, lasting as long as 45 days in some cases.

The euphoria-related effects of THC are obviously also undesirable when associated with therapeutic use.

CBD and Sleep

CBD counters some of THC’s undesired effects and it does not seem to elicit dubious effects of its own.

Still, the way it works on sleep is peculiar to say the least. Depending on the dosage, it can have radically opposite effects.

At low doses, it actually induces alertness in the user. At higher doses (around 160 mg per day), it acts as a sedative, improving the quantity and quality of sleep.

At that exact dose, it has been found that CBD increased sleep time, while reducing the number of arousals in insomnia sufferers. Given the overall positive feature-profile of the compound, that makes it the prime candidate for therapeutic use, out of all cannabis constituents.

While the findings were certainly promising, they do have to be taken with a grain of salt still. What we can certainly say is however that they definitely warrant new research in this direction.

Using the whole cannabis plant for improving sleep quality is still relatively common among medical users. The recommendation in such cases would be to go for high CBD content solutions.

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Cannabinoids vs Other Sleep Disorders

Cannabinoids and Insomnia

Given the effects of the two constituents (CBD and THC), the former has been deemed more fit to address the issue of insomnia. Defined as an overall dissatisfaction with the quality and quantity of sleep one gets, as well as difficulty falling asleep, insomnia is an ailment affecting almost 20% of the adult population of the US.

In animal studies, CBD was found to increase total sleep time. Interestingly, the effects of CBD were dose dependant. The best results were obtained with mid-range as well as high-dose CBD injections. Low-dose CBD actually worsened sleep onset latency, exerting a stimulating effect.

Another peculiarity was that high-dose CBD increased sleep latency on the day of the administration. Mid-range dose CBD, on the other hand, decreased REM sleep latency the day after administration.

The conclusion of the mentioned studies was that CBD likely exerted its sleep quality-improving effects through an anxiolytic pathway. That would also explain the findings linked to CBD and PTSD, detailed below.

In further studies on humans, CBD was combined with THC. According to the results of these studies, the combined compounds decreased stage 3 sleep.

While initially, THC promoted lower sleep latency (falling asleep quicker), over time, this effect dampened, suggesting the development of a certain degree of tolerance.

Cannabinoids and OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea)

Avery dangerous sleep disorder, often associated with cardiovascular problems, OSA plagues some 9% of all American adults. OSA is generally treated with CPAP machines – devices that keep the airways from collapsing, through continuous positive airway pressure. Such devices are cumbersome however and the discomfort they generate often renders them useless for most OSA sufferers.

Research based on animal models suggests that cannabinoids may provide a much more workable solution for the problem. One study aimed to uncover the effects of the endocannabionid oleamide and the exo-cannabionid THC on apneic events.

Its results were unsurprising: both compounds reduced the frequency of apneic events. Researchers drew the conclusion that the endocannabionid system can effectively suppress OSA symptoms that are serotonin-mediated.

A subsequent study used the synthetic THC extract dronabinol, injecting it directly into the nodose ganglion of rats. Its findings confirmed those of the above mentioned study: dronabinol effectively suppressed serotonin-mediated OSA symptoms as well.

Further dronabinol studies have found that the benefic OSA-related effects of the compound were exerted through both CB1 and CB2 receptors. Yet another study found no significant reduction of OSA symptoms in rats treated with intracerebroventricular dronabinol injections. The conclusion was that dronabinol acted against OSA through the peripheral rather than the central nervous system.

Studies were later extended to humans. Once again, the anti-OSA effects of endocannabinoids such as OEA and AEA were confirmed. Dronabinol doses of 2.5-10 mg per day were also found to elicit significant OSA event frequency-reduction. Furthermore, they found the extract safe and well-tolerated.

The bottom line on OSA is that synthetic cannabinoid extracts positively impact its symptoms, over the short-term at least. To confirm this effect over the long run, further studies are needed.

Cannabinoids and REM Behavior Disorder

This is one area of parasomnias which has hardly been investigated thus far in conjunction with cannabinoids. Still, the results yielded by a single study are promising. CBD has been found to positively impact the symptoms of RBD.

Four adults with Parkinson’s disease took part in the study and they all ended up reporting a significant reduction of their RBD symptoms after administration of CBD.

The small sample-size does not lend much credibility to the mentioned results however. At the very least, this same study should be repeated, using a much larger sample-size.

Cannabinoids and Nightmares

The cannabinoids-nightmares link was first explored in the context of PTSD. Persistent nightmares that accompany PTSD are apparently nearly impossible to eliminate or even alleviate. There is just one pharmacological solution available for it now, not a particularly effective one at that.

War veterans were the first to begin experimenting with cannabis for PTSD-related nightmares. Sparked by the anecdotal evidence resulting from that exercise, some actual research was done on the matter.

Researchers used nabilone, another synthetic version of THC, to determine whether cannabinoids could reduce the frequency and severity of PTSD nightmares. The results were encouraging.

In both military service members and prison inmates, nabilone reduced the presence as well as the intensity of nightmares. In addition to that, it also improved the quality and quantity of sleep.

While the results were hailed as a success, they came accompanied by a number of undesired side effects, such as dizziness, dry mouth, and headaches.

Cannabinoids and Daytime Sleepiness

Daytime sleepiness may not seem like a big deal at first glance, but its adverse effects on overall quality of life are significant.

People struggling with this condition get the urge to fall asleep during the day. Such sleepiness may be triggered by medication, by various medical conditions and psychiatric problems.

Sleep disorders such as OSA and narcolepsy may also be involved.

The limited studies done on cannabinoids and Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS) have yielded very peculiar results.

It has been proven for instance, that individuals with THC in their system (due to recent cannabis use) were much more likely to be affected by EDS. They also presented higher risk for narcolepsy.

Surprisingly, CBD was found to have a positive impact on the management of somnolence. It actually countered the sedative effects elicited by THC. Apparently, during the daytime, the two cannabinoids work in a manner which is the exact opposite of their nighttime effects.

Cannabinoids and Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is a major issue affecting a surprisingly large segment of the population. Around 20% of adults live (and sleep) with chronic pain, and the numbers are expected to get worse.

Obviously, chronic pain and quality sleep do not mix. Researchers have only recently sunk their fangs into the impact of cannabinoids on sleep and chronic pain. As such, there isn’t a solid body of research available on the issue yet. Most of what’s been done has been focused on Sativex, a 1:1 THC/CBD concoction, which yielded more than promising results.

This is a Dream...

The clinical trials featured a self reporting-based methodology, so their findings cannot be considered iron-clad. Most of the participants in the mentioned study reported improvements in sleep quality.

According to other similar studies however, Sativex did not increase objectively measurable sleep duration, despite the self-reported improvements in overall sleep quality.

Another synthetic cannabinoid trialed for chronic pain was nabilone. The effects of nabilone were compared to those of amitriptyline.

Interestingly, both compounds yielded improvements in sleep quality, but nabilone’s impact in this regard was more significant than that of amitriptyline.

Cannabinoids and Anxiety

Although anxiety is often an accompanying ailment of PTSD, it is not limited to PTSD sufferers. Childhood anxiety is for instance a real problem. Believe it or not, cannabionids have been considered for this problem as well.

Anxiety elicits its sleep-disturbing effects by affecting the REM stage of sleep. In fact, it suppresses REM sleep, thus depriving the sufferer of what’s possibly the most essential stage of a good night’s sleep.

CBD was shown to have positive effects on anxiety-induced REM sleep suppression. In fact, it quite successfully blocked this suppressive effect. It accomplished this without affecting NREM sleep in any shape or form.


Early research focused on plant cannabis yielded mixed results regarding the impact of the active compounds on sleep. Later, the confusing nature of these findings was explained away through the different effects that various cannabis constituents exerted in this sense.

According to our current understanding, THC may offer some short-term benefits regarding sleep. More precisely, it helps with sleep onset. Over time however, its benefic effects fade away. Its undesirable side effects on the other hand jump to the forefront. It suppresses the circadian cycles to a certain degree (makes them less pronounced). It ends up promoting daytime sleepiness, memory issues and negative mood.

Its synthetic extracts, dronabinol and nabilone seem to work well for OSA and nightmares though.

CBD is the more promising constituent. It is non-intoxicating, hardly addictive and it impacts sleep quality. In low doses, it is stimulating. In high doses, it acts as a sedative.

While by itself, high dose CBD improves sleep quality and quantity, effectively combating insomnia and a number of other sleep disorders, when combined with THC, it acts to the detriment of stage 3 sleep.

Interestingly, this sort of combination (Sativex) has been proven to improve sleep for chronic pain sufferers.

The bottom line on these studies and on the science thus far is that they warrant a further scientific push in this direction. The link that exists between the endocannabinoid system and the circadian regulation system makes it clear that this is indeed the right path to address and to eventually heal a high number of sleep disturbances.

Future research will have to focus on factors such as: dosage, timing of administration, route of administration, and constituent ratios. The key to better sleep may well be hidden in these details.

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Syrian Rue (Peganum harmala)

Peganum harmala is the scientific name for a plant from the Zygophyllaceae (Caltrop) family, more commonly known as Syrian rue, African rue, wild rue, harmal, hermel, or harmel, and esfand, aspand, or esphand.

The plant is said to be a psychedelic hallucinogen, and some regard it as one of the ingredients of the ancient entheogenic Persian drink haoma and/or the ancient Indian entheogen known in the Vedas as soma. The magical and divine Hermetic drink moly was also believed by some to be made from Syrian rue. It was possibly also used as an additive to kykeon, an initiatory drink used in the Eleusinian Mysteries, and as a secret inebriant used in the ancient Zoroastrian mystery cult Mithra. There are some who believe that Syrian rue was the Biblical burning bush experienced by Moses and a component of an ancient Jewish/Hebrew hallucinogenic ayahuasca type drink.

Wherever Syrian rue occurs may indicate that natives have used it as an hallucinogen, as well as for other religious and magical purposes. Even its name suggests that. Peganum in Ancient Greek is peganon, a name that may have been derived from that of Pegasus.

So are you ready to travel to another world on the back of a Pegasus and to experience spiritual visions, such as fireworks or kaleidoscope-like designs, flashing colors, and fantastic mandalas?

Be warned. This plant may change your life…

Esphand - Syrian Rue - Peganum harmala seeds
Esphand (Syrian rue)

Before getting to any potential hallucinogenic properties of Peganum harmala, let us take a quick look at some of its non-psychoactive uses:

  • In the baking of bread; the fumes being used to facilitate fermentation, help with the taste, and even to bleach wheat flour.
  • An extra-strength “rue” was made from it.
  • Dried capsules from this plant are strung and hung in homes, vehicles, or even as a personal amulet, to protect against “the evil eye” and it is widely used for protection against jinn and other evil spirits.
  • The seeds are often burned as incense, mostly for ritualistic purposes, spiritual protection, to bring success and good luck, or as an aphrodisiac. Sometimes, an incense is made by combining Syrian rue seeds with other herbs, such as Hyoscyamus and Juniperus.
  • Medicinally, Peganum harmama may be used as an anti-depressant, antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-protozoal, antimutagenic, cytotoxic, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, anthelmintic, and abortifacient agent, and is sometimes used to treat asthma, recurring fevers, pain and skin inflammations, including skin cancers, to kill body lice, to cure bites and stings from rabid dogs, scorpions, bees and wasps, and the like. It can allegedly make one immune to poison for a day. Other traditional cures made from the plant included “drying” sperm, “purifying” women after childbirth, curing earache, getting rid of spots and blemishes on the skin, and more.

Table of Contents

Is Syrian Rue Psychoactive?

What’s in Peganum harmala seeds?

Syrian Rue Experiences

Ayahuasca Analogs (Anahuasca) – Recipes, Experiences, etc.

Preparatory Diet for Ayahuasca and MAOIs

Syrian Rue Dosage, Usage, Side Effects


Smoking Syrian Rue

Vaping Syrian Rue Seeds

Is Syrian Rue Legal?

Procuring Syrian Rue

Is Syrian Rue Psychoactive?

Yes. While the main effect of harmala alkaloids is purgative, when higher dosages are taken, hypnagogic visions and other psychoactive effects may be experienced such visual trails, closed eye visuals, and oneirophrenia (a dreamlike state), even without combining it with other drugs.

The seeds are often used as an ayahuasca analog as they contain some of the same alkaloids as Banisteriopsis caapi, the original ayahuasca plant.

Ayahuasca is any plant which neutralizes an enzyme in our digestive tract that deactivates our internally generated DMT. DMT is the “spirit molecule,” associated with lucid dreams, out-of-body and near-death experiences, and spiritual visions.

We have small amounts of DMT in our bodies naturally, and we could (if it wasn’t illegal) ingest more orally, but it is destroyed in the body by an enzyme called MAO (monoamine oxidase). Ayahuasca plants, including the seeds of Peganum harmala, contain substances which are MAO inhibitors, meaning they block the MAO enzyme, thereby allowing internal DMT (or ingested DMT) to bring about its psychedelic effects.

The fact that we have small amounts of DMT in our bodies explain why Peganum harmala may be psychoactive on its own. However, a really strong effect would require ingesting extra DMT.

There are other monoamines as well which are replenished when a MAOI such as Syrian rue is ingested, including neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine) and hormones (melatonin, epinephrine, and norepinephrine). This also may contribute to the psychoactive effect of Peganum harmala, and is also why some MAOIs can be used as anti-depressants.

Combining MAOIs with other hallucinogens, such as mescaline, LSD, psilocybin, Ephedra, and even Cannabis and wine, may potentiate their effects. In Morocco, a harmel wine is available.

The potentiation provided by smoking Syrian rue may last up to 48 hours. (But more about smoking Peganum harmala later.)

What’s in Peganum harmala seeds?

Peganum harmala seeds are brown to blackish-brown in color, bitter in taste, narcotic in odor, slightly curved, triangular, and about 2 millimeters long.

Several harmala alkaloids that function as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are found in the seeds as well as other substances, including:

  • Dihydroharmaline
  • Dihydroharmane
  • Essential oil
  • Fatty acids
  • Harmane
  • Harmine (especially in the coatings of the seeds) – first isolated in 1847
  • Harmalicin
  • Harmaline – first isolated in 1841
  • Harmalol – first isolated in 1901
  • Harmidine
  • Harmol
  • Isoharmine
  • Norharmine
  • Tetrahydroharmane
  • Tetrahydroharmine – a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, which is typically only present in trace amounts
  • Tetrahydroharmol
  • Quinazoline compounds – vasicine (peganine), vasicinone, and deoxyvasicinone: uterotonics and possibly emmenagogues
  • Vitamin C

Beta-carboline is a class of indole alkaloids, which are widespread in plants and animals, and frequently act as benzodiazepine receptor inverse agonists. Many indole alkaloids are psychoactive. They are structurally similar to and biosynthetically derived from the amino acid tryptophan. Serotonin, melatonin, DMT, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors are all beta-carbolines.

Harmaline, harmine, and tetrahydroharmine are some of the beta-carbolines found in Peganum harmala, which are said to be responsible for the convulsive, anxiogenic, and memory enhancing effects of the plant. They are serotonin antagonists, CNS stimulants, hallucinogens, and extremely potent, short term MAO inhibitors.

Beta-carbolines also occur naturally in humans and other animals, playing a role in moods as well as dreaming. According to one theory, when our endogenous MAOI inhibits MAO, this allows endogenous DMT to give rise to dreams (if we’re asleep) or visions (if we’re awake). Theoretically, it should be possible for a Yogi, or a man with perfect control over his body and brain, to induce a spontaneous visionary state (not unlike that which is caused by drinking ayahuasca) by excreting DMT while inhibiting the excretion of MAO or excreting an endogenous MAOI.

Let’s take a deeper look at some of the more known alkaloids in Syrian rue.


Harmaline has entheogenic as well as anti-bacterial properties. Once used to treat Parkinson’s disease, harmaline is a central nervous system stimulant and a reversible inhibitor of MAO-A (RIMA). It may also be an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor as well as promote metabolism of serotonin to melatonin. Its effects as a a histamine N-methyltransferase inhibitor may explain its wakefulness-promoting effects.

Harmaline is said to be about twice as potent as harmine.

According to TiHKAL, pure harmaline ingested orally may create a 5-8 hour intoxication. Taking 150 mg induced the following experience:

In an hour and a quarter, there was a rapid-onset intoxication and I felt a little unstable. And a little bit numb. There was an unusual shimmering, in my lateral vision when I turned my head to the side. Everything was just a little bit down. Music was pretty much normal but I was missing the higher frequencies. Even light food sat heavily, and I wasn’t too hungry (and I was remembering to watch what I eat, with this monoamineoxidase stuff). Sex was difficult — probably due to some reduced sensations. I feel that this compound is unlikely to be attractive to most people, as its major effects are an intoxication with a clouding of thoughts and some disruption of musical relationships.

After taking 175 mg orally, Shulgin writes:

After about one hour I found myself becoming relaxed and a bit sloppy. By the end of the second hour, I had peaked, and was pretty much at baseline after five hours. At the peak, three areas of disturbance were obvious. There were obvious tracers — when looking at a bright object, and moving your eyes to the side, the image of the object lags in its leaving the visual field, and it leaves in the opposite direction. As to the auditory, it seemed as if the higher frequencies of music were attenuated, and the lower frequencies amplified. And as to touch, there is a definite numbing. I had no appetite, and the little I ate didn’t taste particularly good.

A 200 mg dose prompted the following experience report:

At about the two hour point I remember three things. The first was the effort to bring into reality the visual image of a face that was playing with my eyes-closed imagery. I got the mouth and, after a bit of work, I got the eyes. So I concentrated on the nose and it came into view, finally, but it was upside down. The second and third things were more easily defined. Nausea and diarrhea. Fortunately they alternated. This is not my trip of choice.

With 300 mg, Shulgin reports:

I was in a psychotherapy environment, so there was some suggestions and leading that influenced my responses. But I have great difficulty reliving my experience, in fact I don’t remember anything. I have only disconnected images. There is a girl — me — in front of a church on a dusty road, myself at communion, receiving the Host from an invisible hand at a grandiose alter. I feel that I am going crazy. Something inside. It is not anxiety. It is not depression. It is some of each, plus irritation and disorientation. I am dead but still have to come back to life. I am facing a reality of mine that I cannot accept.

400 mg was the highest dose that generated a bearable experience:

This is Fluka material, and has a nasty taste. I felt completely immobilized and sick to my stomach. Closed eyed visuals yielded native women, ‘organic’ colors and shapes, and a black panther!


A central nervous system stimulant that is entheogenic at high doses.

The harmala alkaloid harmine, once known as telepathine and banisterine, is structurally related to harmaline. Both are reversible MAOIs (RIMAs) of the MAO-A isoform of the enzyme. (But do not inhibit MAO-B.)

Alexander Shulgin suggested that harmine may be a breakdown product of harmaline.

Harmine may have some medicinal benefits, including insecticidal properties, reducing glutamate toxicity, anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties (cytotoxicity), promoting differentiation of bone-forming cells and cells in the cartilage, inhibiting the formation of bone resorbing cells, treating type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and more. It may also be anti-bacterial, and in the past was used to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Oral or intravenous harmine doses ranging from 30–300 mg have caused agitation, bradycardia or tachycardia, blurred vision, hypotension, paresthesias, and hallucinations.

The plasma elimination half-life of harmine is on the order of 1–3 hours.

Researchers who wanted to investigate whether harmine has hallucinogenic effects conducted 11 self-experiments in which they took 25-750 mg of harmine. They characterized their experience as

a retreat from one’s surroundings and as a pleasant relaxation with a mildly reduced ability to concentrate. Short-term and elementary optic hallucinatory phenomena were observed only to the degree that they would otherwise also appear naturally during reduced contact with one’s surroundings. With dosages above 300 mg, such undesirable vegetative and neurological symptoms as dizziness, nausea, and ataxia became more apparent, precluding any increase in dosage above 750 mg.


Tetrahydroharmine (THH) is another interesting alkaloid found in Peganum harmala. While it does not seem to play a significant role in the inhibition of MAO, it may contribute to the psychoactivity of the plant indirectly by its weak action as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor.

At a dosage of 300 mg pure THH, Shulgin reports similar effects to what he experienced with 100 milligrams of harmaline. (“I have tried this on two occasions, essentially without effect.”)

Syrian Rue Experiences

Alexander Shulgin shares his experience with Peganum harmala in his entry on Harmaline (TiHKAL, #13). He ground the seeds and placed them in capsules. 2 grams produced no effects, while with 5 grams, he reported:

At about 1:45 tinnitus was obvious. At 2:00 precise movements were problematical and nystagmus was noticeable. Mild nausea and diarrhea, but no vomiting. I was sensitive to light and sound, and retired to a dark room. Hallucinations were intense, but only with the eyes closed. They consisted, initially, of a wide variety of geometrical patterns in dark colors, getting more intense as time went on. They disappeared when the eyes were opened. Although the loose bowels and nausea were pretty constant through the first part of the trip, I was not afraid. It was as if the “fear circuits” in the brain had been turned off. The geometric shapes evolved into more concrete images, peoples faces, movies of all sorts playing at high speed, and animal presences such as snakes. It was like vivid and intense dreaming except that I remembered most of it afterwards. In another hour things became manageable and I could go out in public. My sex drive was pleasantly enhanced, and I slept very well.

Taking 7 grams made him very sick for 24 hours. This suggests that the safe dosage for dried seeds is probably 2-4 grams (when taken in conjunction with DMT) or 3-5 grams (when taken on its own).

Shulgin also experimented with an extract made from Syrian rue seeds. After ingesting 20 grams of this extract he wrote:

The is equivalent, probably, to a gram or so of the harmala alkaloids. This was ground up material extracted with hot dilute lemon juice. Within a half hour, I found myself both trippy and sleepy. Then I became quite disorientated, nauseous, and with an accelerated heart beat. I had the strong sensation of moving backwards, drifting, with faint visuals under my eyelids. Restraining the vomiting urge was an ongoing problem. I could have gone out of body quite easily, except that I was completely anchored by the nausea. After about three hours, I knew that it had peaked, and I went to sleep and experienced intense and strange dreams. The entire experience was a conflict between tripping and being sick. I want to explore this more.

Taking 28 g Peganum harmala seed extract took some time at first…

I sat up late one night drinking gulp after gulp of tea from about an oz. of seeds, periodically adding more water and simmering. This process took several hours, and though I had read up on harmaline, I didn’t know quite what to expect. Suddenly it hit me like a wall. It was starting to get light outside and as I shifted my gaze, zebra-like stripes of light and dark spiraled off the perimeter of the window silhouettes. Every time I shifted my focus my visual field would shudder and swirl before settling down. This visual effect had a physicality unlike those any other entheogen I’d experienced. Rather than patterns revealing greater order in sensation, these were waves of chaos revealing no particular order and urging the mind to retreat from the disturbing realm of sensation. Accompanying this was a pronounced auditory buzz. Lying down and closing my eyes I left the physical symptoms behind and explored the vivid spontaneous imaginations evoked by this state. Unfortunately, it is getting light, which made it harder to shut out the distracting world of sensation. I resolved to conduct future sessions in the night-time (and always in a quiet undisturbed place).

But a later, second attempt worked much quicker:

A second trial was made at the same level. This time it came on very fast. That tremendous buzz on the other side of which are the wondrous realms of the subconscious. The most memorable impressions from this trip were of weird animals. I imagined myself spinning on a merry-go-round of strange winged creatures. I started to feel very sick and negotiated my way to the bathroom to face the inevitable — voiding from both orifices simultaneously. It proved cathartic, and released me to experience the state more fully. I remember traveling to jungle-like places, full of imagery of vines, fountains, and animals. Minutes seemed like hours as I roamed in these spaces. Though the sensory effects were very disturbing when I got up, given high dose level, I could easily ignore my body when laying down and traveling in my mind.

Another interesting report from Ayahuasca Analogues (DeKorne), suggesting that Syrian rue could be a potent dream herb even on its own.

I once ingested 3 grams of crushed seeds (encapsulated). […] After one hour the P. harmala laid me out. I was unable to stand for the next four hours due to extreme dizziness. Lying down, mind racing, it took much willpower just to get comfortable. I saw very articulate visions of naked women in black and white. There were other visions too: black and white, no color at all! Very lucid dream-like, in that I could manipulate the visions at will effortlessly. Perhaps a gram or two before bed would be useful for dream work.

Compared to Banisteriopsis caapi, the original ayahuasca plant, Syrian rue is said to be “less heavy, and the entity more casual, garrulous and intimate. The caapi entity seems more formal, more experienced with human contact, especially in health and psychology, and seems to be a more powerful teacher.”

There are many experience reports to be found on Erowid and elsewhere from people who tried various combinations of Syrian rue and other psychoactive plants. I’ve chosen to include here some experiences written by people who took Syrian rue alone rather than as a potentiator of other drugs.

One person took 15 grams of Syrian rue extract. He summarized it:

The whole experience peaked/hit in about 2 hours, lasted about 5-6 hours. All in all, highly interesting, HIGHLY visual but limited to intense tracers and visual field ‘gliding’ when I moved my head around (the TV would actually follow along with my visual field after turning away from it. No profound mental insights, only weird daydreams that lead to nothing and made no sense, just entertaining. I still feel mental clouding as this experience was of last night).

The same person followed up his experience a few days later, saying that for several days he

had very unusual dreams, to the point that I can remember them quite distinctly. My REM-stage of sleep has been totally overloaded with crazy, out of this world dreams (more so then usual anyways), some pleasurable, and almost mood-lifting upon waking. Not the type of ‘cool’ dream that you wake up disappointed because it was only a dream. Mainly dreams of past memories, but distorted at the same time, and fun dreams, like floating and flying, etc.

Another person who took 3 grams seeds described his own afterglow experience with Syrian rue as “divine.”

Another person reported her experience with a very large dose of 15 grams seeds. Interestingly, she suggests that the “seeds were used to dye carpets in the ‘Aladdin’ era of time; the carpet makers would get the Syrian Rue absorbed into their skin, causing them to hallucinate and feel that they were ‘flying’ on the carpets.” She described her experience, which she shared with her husband:

The duration lasted about six hours, after effects lasted until I fell asleep that night. […] The effects could be described similar to the opiate family. Almost immediately after ingesting the drink I began vomiting. The effects kicked in almost simultaneously, the bathroom spinning before me and I was in a ‘heat haze’ (as if heat were rising from the ground, this was my vision at the moment). I heard buzzing in my head even though there was nothing there. I felt faint, dizzy and weak. It became hard to focus and move. I made my way back to the couch and watched the news, with the haze still continuing. Constant vomiting, impatience and anxiety. My husband described a ‘rushing’ feeling, similar to ecstasy. […] I could not function at all. I couldn’t bring myself to plug in my charger; this task was way too complicated and absorbed too much energy from me that I didn’t even have. I felt weaker and weaker and could only curl up in a fetal position with visions running through my head. […] I recall having visions of touching death. I can’t stress the fear that I constantly had of knowing how close I was to the verge of dying.

One person took 7 grams of Syrian rue seed tea and had an out-of-body experience:

The neighbor’s lawn mower was sounding as it always did and then very quickly the sound blended with every other sound in the universe into a cosmic familiar ‘OM’. […] I spewed for what seemed like hours while my closed eye visuals quickly overwhelmed me. I couldn’t handle the input my open eyes provided me and when they were closed I was seeing an endless stream of eyeballs coming directly at me and felt them passing through my head. […] The interesting part of the experience was that I could leave my sickened body at will and experience other cartoonish realities and then snap back into my body and promptly vomit again. My visions were set in the jungle and the dessert. I would feel sand between my toes then I was back in my bed and I would immediately throw up on my bedroom carpet. […] Years later I tried the substance again but heeded the warnings about dangerous combinations of food, alcohol etc. This time it wasn’t sickening like before but also there weren’t the hallucinations, OBEs or near death experience.

Here’s another interesting experience with a tea made from 1.5 tablespoons of Syrian rue, exemplifying the hypnotic properties of this plant:

Within 30 minutes I started to feel somewhat sleepy/somewhat trippy. […] At 1 hour […] I lay down on my bed. Felt strong ‘presence’. Steady noises sounded phased or warbled. Heart-rate was worrying. Began to feel strong sensations of moving backwards, drifting, faint visuals under my eyelids. […] I was very sedated and somewhat disoriented. I was having dream-visions (like intense day-dreams), these visions would go for a while then begin to get really intense/confused […] Fairly dissociative, I often lost track of my body (except when it was time to vomit). I also several times had very clear still images of being outside looking up a the stars. I had the impression that, where I not constantly being drawn back into nausea, I could have gone out-of-body fairly easily. […] After an 3 hours, (and it peaked towards the end of this period) I finally felt like I was not going to be sick anymore, and went to sleep, to very intense and strange dreams.

One person had an out-of-body experience after taking an alcohol extracted Syrian rue concentrate in capsules. Characterizing the general experience with the plant as “waking dreaming” and “a sense of flight to distant places” he writes:

I was floating in a disembodied realm of turquoise passageways and fog. […] It was neither heaven nor hell, but a sort of purgatory of lost souls. I imagined I might meet up with someone who had arrived there by a similar route. I listened to beings who inhabited this realm explain things to me with absolute authority. I felt there was much I understood on one level, but I couldn’t retain it on a conscious level. Nevertheless the sense of something gained, something deeply therapeutic, stayed with me. Periodically events in the room triggered vivid images.

Ayahuasca Analogs (Anahuasca) – Recipes, Experiences, etc.

As we have seen, Peganum harmala contains MAO-inhibiting beta-carbolines, and thus may be useful as an ayahuasca analog.

Before presenting some experience reports, here is the basic recipe:

Ayahuasca Recipe with Syrian Rue (Syrian Ruyahuasca)

  1. Crush 3-4 g Peganum harmala seeds to a pot. According to Shulgin, 1 teaspoon rue seeds weighs 3 grams and contains 60-180 mg alkaloids. So if you don’t have a scale, use about 1 teaspoon.
  2. Add the DMT-containing plant (see below; actually don’t, since it’s illegal in most if not all countries).
  3. Add lime or lemon juice (optional), as well as enough water to boil all the ingredients.
  4. Let cool, and drink.
  5. Chewing sliced ginger may help counteract the taste and nausea it may cause.

DMT-Containing Plants Used for Making Anahuasca

  • Classic Ayahuasca analog – with Chacruna (Psychotria viridis), Psychotria carthaginensis, or Psychotria poeppigiana.
  • Jerumahuasca or Mimosahuasca – with Mimosa tenuiflora or Mimosa scabrella. Other than classic ayahuasca, this preparation is said to be the most psychoactive and easy to tolerate.
  • Prairie Ayahuasca – with Desmanthus illinoensis root cortex (prairie mimosa, Illinois bundleweed, Illinois bundleflower). Especially popular in North America, pleasant experiences have been reported by those who tried this blend. In LSA/Desmanthus ayahuasca, a Argyreia nervosa seed is added for its LSA content, which makes this blend potentially dangerous.
  • Acaciahuasca – with Acacia phlebophylla, Acacia maindenii, or Acacia simlicifolia. Especially popular in Australia, this blend has been used with good success.
  • Reedhuasca or Phalahuasca – with Phragmites (Common Reed), Phalaris (Reed Grass), and Arundo donax (Giant Reed). These preparations can be dangerous.
  • Additional plants – Anadenathera peregrina, Desmodium, Lespedeza capitata, Mucuna pruriens, Diplopterys cabrerana, Virola, Dictyoloma incanescens, Limonia acidissima, Meliocope leptococca, Pilocarpus organensis, Vepris ampody, and Zanthoxylum arborescens.
  • Dangerous combinations – Peganum harmala is sometimes combined with San Pedro cactus, Peyote cactus (Peyohuasca), and Psilocybe mushrooms (Psilohuasca, also known as somahuasca).

Feel free to contact me for specific recipes.

Ayahuasca Experiences

Shulgin tried DMT together with an extract of Peganum harmala seeds.

3 grams extract with 40 mg DMT induced a mild experience, in which the “DMT was noticeably effective just over an hour following ingestion, and it built up to a peak rather quickly. It stayed there for an hour, then dropped off.”

After taking 5 grams of the extract with 20 grams of DMT he wrote: “There was a feeling of aliveness and excitement, above and beyond the effects of this amount of harmel seeds alone.”

Here are some interesting Syrian Ruyahuasca [sic] experiences from Erowid:

One person used Acacia confusa as the DMT source. He writes:

The feminine overmind was undaunted by my resistance, and would cycle me through new states (out of body experiences, feelings of isolation and despair from the world I knew), […] Having failed to purge up to this point, the experience then changed to one of out-of-body isolation, periodically I would return to a pseudo-reality existing in my earthbound bathroom, […] Each time I felt reconnection to the world in this way, I was plunged deeper into a dissociative experience on the other side. […] The purge having been completed, the negativity that had been cyclically present in my being up to that point in the experience/life faded completely, and I entered a space I can only refer to as a heaven of sorts. Here I was greeted warmly by the feminine overmind and waves of warm colors washed over my soul. It was similar in coloration to the initial entry phase (red, purple, orange, gold), but the background was of a vast cloudscape in white, impressionistic in detail. Angelic beings were there and made their presence known by telepathic means. I was completely convinced of my dwelling there for the rest of eternity, and time lost all meaning. All that mattered was experiencing the warm feelings washing over my soul and the shifting colors on the palette. The feeling of universal love was ever-present.

Another person used Diplopterys cabrerana as the DMT-containing plant. He reports:

I spent most of my time ‘passed out’ either on the floor or on the bed. The state was like a lucid dream or an out of body experience. I had no control over anything. I hummed uncontrollably, the hum resembled something a Shaman would hum in ceremonies. I’d like to emphasize that I had zero control over the compulsions of my body. My hands were constantly twirling my hair, my hair got into my mouth, and my fingers got into my mouth. I teared up a lot of the time, most of the time without even knowing I was releasing any tears, tears of the awe I was experiencing. It was as if some spiritual guide was taking over my body. This programmed world didn’t interest me much, but the times that I would tune back shortly to this world, I was barely able to walk. My body waved in a very fluid motion. My mind was very much disassociated from my body. I felt like I was another being looking down at the body of another human. Again, I had zero control. Even when back in this world of ours, I felt like I had completely been taken over.

People often use Mimosa tenuiflora as a DMT source for Syrian Ruyahuasca, like this person, who writes:

Translucent holograms of individual’s faces began to drift towards me. In quick succession individuals I had encountered throughout my life drifted transparent and beautiful in front of my face. Each hologram pressed through my head providing me with startling psychic sensations in which I experienced visions from the lives of the individuals. Each face bushed through me providing the sensation of me being pushed through a sort of gelatinous electric membrane. […] After this I began to receive strange visions of elaborate carnival festival settings. But not just visions, I was THERE. Giant carnival tents, jeweled and towering, vibrating with sound and energy appeared before me and I entered into them. In these bizarre constructs a multitude of interdimensional beings, along with humans, and aliens and all sorts of other archetypal beings were celebrating SOMETHING. Typical ‘Greys’ (so called aliens, though psychic messages conveyed that these were actually the time travelling hyper evolved future of humankind) floated inches above the ground, though they only had rounded nubs for hands/feet and scrolling glowing alien text on their bodies. I encountered more entities which were time travelers, future versions of humanity, now totally alien in appearance. Energetic Beings glowed, their neural structures externally apparent and vibrantly pulsating with light. Networks of light and energy swung between and through all the entities. Elves, demons, goblins, faeries joined in the celebration.

Preparatory Diet for Ayahuasca and MAOIs

Those who take synthetic MAOIs such as phenelzine have to go on a special diet, which requires avoiding cheese and other tyramine-containing foods, to prevent what’s known as the “cheese syndrome,” a hypertensive crisis caused by high intake of tyramine along with monoamine oxidase inhibitions.

Still, even though the harmala alkaloids in Peganum harmala and Banisteriopsis caapi are reversible and selective, there is a chance of experiencing serotonin syndrome, which results from serotonin levels in the brain becoming too high.

Maybe that is the reason some Amazonian shamans recommend going on an Ayahuasca Diet for at least 12 hours (but ideally 2-4 weeks) before ingesting ayahuasca and another 24 hours (or ideally 2 weeks) afterwards as well. (While some claim that this is a myth and that shamans in South American engage in this diet for just 6 hours before consumption of ayahuasca, keep in mind that the shamans’ day-to-day diets may be quite different than the standard American diet…)

This is a Dream...

During the ayahuasca/MAOI diet (which I recommend observing prior to consuming Syrian rue), you should avoid eating meat, shellfish, cheese, fermented foods (such as yeast products, yogurt, sour cream, soy sauce, tofu, and sauerkraut), alcohol including wine and beer, protein powders, aspartame, chocolate, beans, and peanuts. It is also recommended by some to avoid salt (including canned and processed foods), refined sugar (such as sweets and junk food), spicy food, oils, and caffeine.

Taking drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, marijuana, and amphetamines (such as MDA and MDMA), and even psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin, is not recommended during the ayahuasca preparatory diet. Even some prescription medications should be avoided (after consulting with your physician, obviously), especially narcotics, antidepressants (SSRIs, MAOIs), tranquilizers and sleep medications such as sertraline, barbiturates, antihistamines, and alpha- and beta- blockers.

Finally, it is recommended to avoid sexual activity including masturbation, while preparing to the experience by practicing meditation.

Syrian Rue Dosage, Usage, Side Effects

For psychoactive purposes, 3-6 grams crushed seeds (1 teaspoon) should suffice if combining it with DMT or other indole alkaloids.

If taken on its own, a dose of up to 28 grams may be taken, though ingesting more than 8 grams of this powerful plant is considered a heavy dose, may be dangerous and toxic, and should not be attempted without medical supervision.

According to Jim Dekorne, “high doses of harmaline are psychoactive, but […] unpleasant side-effects (nausea, vomiting) dominate the trip. […] To me, the most interesting properties of harmine and harmaline are their seeming ability to potentiate visionary tryptamines in general, and in particular their ability to make DMT orally active.”

A light dose is considered up to 3 grams seeds (1 teaspoon; containing 60-180 mg alkaloids). Up to 4 grams can create a moderate psychoactive effect, while up to 8 grams is a strong dose. 1 tablespoon (9 grams; containing 200-600 mg alkaloids), again, may be too much.

The intensity of the visual effects as well as the length of the effects seem most dependent upon the dosage of DMT so if you’re taking Syrian rue as a potentiator, you should experiment to find the minimum amount of Syrian rue that will make the DMT active, and stick with that amount.

If taking Syrian rue alone, take up to 1 teaspoon as a nootropic for a mild CNS stimulating effect, along with an increase in mental activity and a pleasant dreamy state. If you’re looking for an hallucinogenic effect, then you will probably need to take more than a teaspoon.

The active ingredients are said to be soluble in water, meaning that a hot water extract of the seeds can be made (like making a tea). This is the easiest way of preparing this plant for oral ingestion. It doesn’t even require grinding the seeds. When the liquid turns reddish brown, filter out the seeds, and drink.

Effects usually begin within 30-60 minutes of oral ingestion. The MAOI effect lasts for at least 3-6 hours, while the psychoactive effects may last 5-8 hours.

Side effects may include nausea, dizziness, ataxia, tinnitus, hypertension, vomiting, sweating, body tremors, increased heart rate, and anxiety.

To minimize side effects and negative experiences, make sure to keep hydrated, stick to a low dose, and remain in a safe, cool environment with people you trust, ideally with a trip sitter. Make sure that you will not be disturbed for at least 6-8 hours.

The effects of Syrian rue when taken on its own can be divided into 3 distinct stages:

  1. In the initial stage, you may experience mild auditory, tactile, and visual hallucinations, such as flickers of light, a sensation of flight, and closed-eye abstract visuals.
  2. In stage two, less abstract, dream-like visual sequences appear, which may have a personal character. Huge birds of prey, large jaguars, and snakes are said to be common hallucinations with harmala alkaloids.
  3. In the final stage, the vivid fantasy may fade gradually into the slow movement of shapes and colors. If you’re in a group, you may experience collective hallucinations, explaining the former name of harmine, telepathine.

Non-Oral Uses

Besides ingesting Syrian rue seeds orally (in a tea, as they are, or powdered in capsules) and smoking them, they can also used as a snuff to produce a clear mind.

Even as an incense, Peganum harmala can supposedly produce a clairvoyant trance and allow one to make contact with non-physical entities.


There are several ways that the active ingredients in Syrian rue may be extracted. The easiest way would be to just make a tea, but there are other ways that may allow for a more efficient extraction.

It is estimated that the total ß-carbolines are 2–7% by weight in the seeds of Peganum harmala.

One simple extraction technique involves a two-stage extraction using a slow cooker or an oven.

  1. Finely grind the seeds in a coffee grinder, spice mill, or food processor.
  2. Cover in water and a small amount of alcohol (e.g., vodka) or lemon juice (or acetic acid/vinegar) and simmer 30 minutes-12 hours with the lid on at about 100° Celsius or 200-215° Fahrenheit.
  3. Strain through a paper coffee filter and compress. Save the liquid.
  4. Simmer the marc in boiling distilled water (or again in lemon juice or acetic acid/vinegar) as you did in step 2 above.
  5. The result should be a yellow liquid with a fluorescent green tinge, possibly indicating the presence of harmine in the solution.
  6. Strain and compress. Discard the marc.
  7. Combine the liquids from the two extractions and evaporate on low heat (again, using a slow cooker works well, though this time the lid should be off.) Make sure it doesn’t burn!
  8. Scrape off the resulting reddish-brown dry crystalline residue.
  9. You can place the extract in gelatin capsules, use it as a snuff, smoke, or vape it.

Testing the Resulting Extract for Beta-carbolines

To identify the presence of harmala in Syrian rue seed powder, look for a dim glowing under blacklight. Extracts made from it should glow brightly under common UV.

Even just boiling the seeds should result in a yellow liquid that will glow under a blacklight or mineral light.

Alexander Shulgin writes:

Extraction techniques with harmala can be evaluated for effectiveness using UV light. Both of Peganum harmala’s major carbolines, harmaline and harmine, are rather intensely fluorescent compounds. If a small droplet of your extract is placed on some non-fluorescent surface (hard but unglossy paper like a blank business card, maybe, or a ground- silica covered glass plate), then the use of a long-wave UV light (such as a mineral light from the local hobby shop) will give a strong light emission in a darkened room. A series of spots from a set of serial dilutions will give a good comparative measure of the alkaloid content. And once this assay system works, you can easily see if two or ten extractions are needed to get your alkaloids satisfactorily out of the seeds, and which solvent works best for the job.

Smoking Syrian Rue

The original ayahuasca plant, Banisteriopsis caapi, is sometimes smoked as a hallucinogen in Amazonia. This suggests that Syrian rue could also be smoked since both plants contain harmala alkaloids, including harmine and harmaline. (Although the leaves of the Banisteriopsis may contain some DMT.)

Indeed, I was able to find a source that claims to have smoked a Syrian rue seed extract. For the first extraction, they boiled the ground seeds in vodka and water, and for the second extraction they used boiled distilled water. Each extraction was done for several hours. The second extract came out bright cloudy yellow.

After each extraction, the plant material was strained and compressed, and the liquids from both extractions were combined and dried on low heat. Retrospectively, they wrote that they “cannot see any clear advantages of extraction over that of smoking the original plant material due to the relatively minor concentration of the amount needed to smoke. A plain water infusion would also seem to be just as effective in removing the harmine and would result in less of the other plant components being extracted.”

The Syrian rue extract had long, thin, yellowish crystals in a brownish, red, hard, clear matrix. They smoked it until they had reached a subjective feeling of being “high.” Smoking more than this amount would serve only to intensify the physical side effects. The most effective “high” was produced when the material was boiled, rather than burned. They wrote that the “rue extract lends itself nicely to smoking in a ‘hash oil’ pipe with the flame heating the bowl on the outside.”

Effects of smoking the extract were not particularly psychedelic or hallucinogenic. Effects started about 5-10 minutes after smoking.

One feels calm. This calming effect is particularly noted by an observer as a significant change in facial expression and tone of voice. The limbs become heavy and lethargic and visibly tremble. Hypersalivation occurs, particularly at the back of the mouth, making for a particularly smooth smoke. A slight irritation of urethra and anus is sometimes noted. At higher dosages, dizziness and nausea set in with very little increase in the high. Closed eye imagery is at best hypnagogic. That is to say, faint, moving outlines can be discerned with closed eyes. If one has a particularly vivid imagination, ghostly outlines of figures can be discerned. The more literal minded just see dim shifting blobs of light and dark. No one who has experienced DMT or high dose mushrooms would ever call them visions.

As for dosage, the authors note that while “various field researchers estimate beta-carboline dosage in native brews to range between 300 to 500 mg, in our dosage we only needed dosages in the 50 mg range. […] We do not rule out the possibility of a second ‘switch’ at the 300 – 500 mg range that we might have missed.”

The authors of this paper also wondered how the effects of DMT would be affected by prior smoking of Peganum harmala. To find out, they smoked 15 mg of DMT 10 minutes after smoking the Syrian rue extract. They report the following consistent effects:

The overall impact of the trip was heightened far above the normally only threshold effects of a 15 mg dose of DMT. Subjectively, the dose felt more like 34-45 mg or roughly tripled in intensity.

The overall length of the DMT “flash” and subsequent patterns was lengthened. The “flash” of visions which is normally 2 to 3 minutes at a 40 mg dosage, was about 6 minutes with the beta-carboline predosing ….at 15 mg of DMT. The total period of intense closed eye imagery, normally less than 5 to 7 minutes (including the flash) was extended uniformly to about 9 minutes with an additional 10 minute slowly decreasing tail of closed eye patterns.

The auditory effects were so pronounced as to be almost overwhelming on several occasions. In fact, the auditory effects were stronger than even extremely high dose trips where we had smoked 50 to 70 mg of DMT all at once. The initial sounds, the so-called “carrier wave” or opening buzz that has been described as “tearing plastic” was greatly amplified. The DMT “music” which we describe as a xylophone-type sound which accompanies the visions was extremely loud and seemed to keep coming on to the point where it became disturbing on several trips.

The basic “jeweled dome” or “chrysanthemum” pattern, seen after the “vision flash” was fractured or separated. Instead of a uniform circular pattern, there seemed to be distinctive left and right halves of the pattern with a new, hard to describe pattern in the middle. The overall effect of the patterns seemed to us more mushroom-like, although we would be hard pressed to give a detailed explanation of why we felt this way.

Similarly, the visions seemed to unfold in a more leisurely fashion. Again, we were reminded of the mushroom. While the DMT effect still hits fast and hard, the rushed “million things at once” feeling of DMT smoked alone is quite muted.

The colors of the pattern are also shifted as compared to DMT alone. Again, since we can’t accurately describe colors in the first place, it is hard to pin down, but it could be characterized as less primary or jewel-like, with fewer or less saturated colors than DMT alone.

Finally, when one comes out of the vision state, the “woozey” feeling is quite pronounced for an additional 10 minutes or so. This feeling was very reminiscent of the mushroom “knock-down”.

The content of the visions was also altered. There were fewer “alien, self-transforming, elf-machines” and more visions of recognizable things. Strange animals and hooded figures marched in a bas relief procession. Griffin-like monsters rhythmically changed into beautiful naked women and back. The feeling-tone was serious, unlike the playfulness or cheerful (even though quite terrifying) hilarity of the “self-transforming elf machines” experienced on DMT alone. The intensity was altered. We hesitate to say increase, since DMT is intense by itself, but the change in feeling tone, the more serious, almost personally directed information of the trance, subjectively made the trip more intense. On one trip, one of us made contact with a highly serious, palpable entity whose message could be quite simply summarized as “Are you sure you want to get into this? This is far more extreme than what you have done before. It is the path to destruction of gnosis!”

Apparently, Peganum harmala can be used as a sort of “smokable ayahuasca,” when combined with DMT. This may be preferable to people who want to experience ayahuasca, but prefer the experience to be as short as possible without compromising on intensity. While the effects of Syrian rue may last up to 48 hours, the effects of smoking DMT seem to be limited to 9-10 minutes at the most. (Effects of oral ayahuasca ingestion may last several hours.)

As mentioned above, Syrian rue can potentiate other substances as well, such as LSD. Indeed, the authors write about the experience brought about by taking LSD after smoking Peganum harmala:

Subjectively, the dose feels three to four times more potent than it actually is. The closed eye imagery is greatly enhanced with circular highly detailed bright imagery visible on only 25 – 25 [sic] micrograms. On higher doses (150 – 200 micrograms) there was a feeling of an ancestral presence (we have never felt an outside presence on LSD alone in over several hundred acid trips but we have found it quite common when LSD is combined with another psychedelic) […]  The closed-eye patterns were “almost visions”. That is to say they were clearer than hypnagogic imagery but not as overwhelming or clear as DMT visions. The visuals were more like clear dream imagery. The mood elevation was quite astounding. At one point one of us shouted “You couldn’t possibly have a bad trip on this stuff.” There were no mood swings and the buoyant elation slowly receded to baseline over the course of the trip.

Another source said that smoking “harmala extract works very well. It seems to provide more of a cerebral effect and less of a body high when taken this way. I find that 50-75 mg of extract (acid/base method) is quite sufficient to synergize mushrooms or LSD. Wait till your coming on and then give it a whirl!”

Syrian rue are sometimes ingredients of smoking blends, mixed with tobacco and/or cannabis. The beta-carbolines may pass into the smoke, thereby potentiating the effects of THC or other substances.

Mixed with cannabis, one person reported: “I would say a very good mix, about 50/50 mix. Makes the high somewhat more visual, distortion like affects. Major body high, a strong buzz feeling.”

Vaping Syrian Rue Seeds

Is it possible to use a vaporizer with Syrian rue? One would think that the answer is negative because the boiling temperature of harmala alkaloids is much higher than the temperature most vaporizers can reach. However, vaping Syrian rue may be mildly effective due to sublimation of the harmala alkaloids (specifically harmaline, according to TiHKAL), which may begin at around 189 degrees Celsius.

I found one experience report (in DeKorne’s AA) that suggests vaping Syrian rue may indeed be effective:

You will love vaporizing Peganum harmala extract! Not only is there no puking involved, but the effects are much clearer and more cerebral. I find that vaporizing 50–75 mg of the extract usually does the trick; more than that doesn’t increase the potentiating effects but does seem to increase the body load.

To summarize, if you are looking for the mildest effects possible, try using a vaporizer.

The best option in order to maximize the effects though would be to either ingest the seeds orally (as in a tea) for the full experience or to smoke them for a shorter experience.

In Australia, harmala alkaloids may be prohibited by law except when required for medical or scientific research, or for analytical, teaching or training purposes, with the exception of herbs, or preparations, for therapeutic use, containing limited amounts of alkaloids.

In the United States, Peganum harmala is considered an invasive, noxious weed in some states, in which land owners may be required to exterminate infestations on their land or be fined. Moreover, it may be illegal to cultivate, possess, or sell plants of this species in some states.

According to the Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants, the seeds cannot be sold or imported in California. Although I was personally able to purchase seeds both in a physical shop (in Palo Alto if I recall correctly), as well as by ordering it online (to a California address).

The plant and/or its alkaloids may also be illegal or controlled in other countries, such as France, Finland, and Canada.

Procuring Syrian Rue

Where Banisteriopsis caapi is difficult to procure, Peganum harmala, or Canaanite Ayahuasca as I’ve come to call it because it grows in the land of Canaan (modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan), seems to be a great alternative. While the original ayahuasca comes from the jungle, Canaanite ayahuasca is native to desert areas.

Syrian rue is a dream herb, which can stimulate the imagination, as well as produce dreamlike states. It may also be a sleep herb due to its sedative, narcotic, and tranquilizing properties.

If you are able to travel to places such as the Negev desert or Yemen, then you will be able to collect the seeds during the summer and autumn months, though the winter seeds are said to contain more alkaloids; green, unripe, immature seeds may be preferable both due to higher levels of harmine and harmaline and lower levels of unwanted alkaloids.

It may be easier however to just order online:

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Important: Please consult with your doctor before using this powerful plant, especially if you’re suffering from disorders including mental illness or if you’re taking any medications or drugs. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid using it. Needless to say, you should not drive or operate heavy machinery under the influence of this plant.

Whether you ingest it orally or smoke it, on its own or together with other substances, Syrian rue is a must-have plant in the herb cabinet of any serious psychonaut and dimensional traveler.

Please share any experiences you may have had with Peganum harmala. You may contact me with any questions regarding sleep, dreams, and other altered states of consciousness, or leave a public comment below.

The Comorbidity of Insomnia and Paranoid Delusion

A paranoid delusion is a false belief that you are being sought after or being watched by a specific person or persons that have a negative agenda for you. This can take many form such as persecutory ideation and delusions, the roots of which reside in depression, anomalies of experience, and lowered mood.

Recent research has added insomnia to the above list of comorbidities. There does indeed seem to be a link between insomnia, paranoid delusions, and the rest of the mental/psychological conditions usually associated with it. It has been known for a while that people with persecutory delusion have a tough time initiating and maintaining proper sleep.

Why is this a potentially intriguing breakthrough?

It could mean that the effective treatment of insomnia could indirectly, yet significantly, alleviate paranoid delusion, persecutory ideation, as well as depression and anxiety.


Evidence concerning the insomnia-paranoia link

Scores of medical studies exist out there, confirming the link between insomnia and overall emotional distress. Other studies have focused on paranoia and anxious fear. Anomalies of perception and hallucination are the other components of the paranoia equation. These conditions have been linked to insomnia as well.

Furthermore, sleep problems are apparently also associated with schizophrenia. On a neurobiological level, an actual chemical link has been identified too. Over-activity of the D2 dopamine receptors has been observed in schizophrenia. This over-activity also promotes wakefulness, which is the precursor of insomnia.

Why is the insomnia-paranoia link important, above and beyond the additional treatment avenue it theoretically presents?

The prevalence of both conditions among the general population is much higher than one would believe.

While insomnia is generally well-known and discussed – probably because it does not carry the same stigma as paranoia – paranoia is much more of an unknown variable.

Some 30% of the population suffers from insomnia, with around a third of all sufferers struggling with the chronic version of the condition.

If the link between insomnia and paranoia is indeed as real and as direct as suspected, the prevalence of paranoia may approach, or even exceed that of insomnia.

Actual studies that have established the link

As mentioned, there are scores of studies that have independently verified the insomnia-paranoia link. It certainly makes sense to take a closer look at least at some of them.

A 2011 study took a look at no fewer than 2,382 participants in the 2000 British National Psychiatric Morbidity Survey. After the baseline assessment, the study followed the participants over 18 months and then re-assessed them.

The conclusions were unequivocal: a number of conditions were found to have impacted the inception of new paranoid thoughts, while supporting existing paranoid thinking. These conditions were: insomnia, depression, depressive thoughts, anxiety, and worry. Of these, insomnia stood out by a head and a shoulder. It was found to have led to a more than threefold increase in paranoid thoughts.

Worry was surprisingly paranoia-promoting as well.

Another study, the goal of which was to corroborate the findings of the above mentioned one, reduced its sample size to 300 people. The sample was taken from the general population. Added to it was another sample of 30 people, confirmed sufferers from persecutory delusion and non-affective psychosis.

They were all assessed for depression, anxiety, persecutory ideation, and insomnia. The study concluded that insomnia did lead to more anxiety and depression, and by extension: to higher levels of paranoid thinking. The “cascade” has yet again been confirmed.

The results were yet again quite unequivocal: of the subjects suffering from delusion, over 50% also suffered from severe or moderate insomnia. This kind of comorbidity is certainly indicative of a strong link between the conditions.

A study is always only as good as the methods used and its results should always be analyzed in detail. Scores of factors can impact these results, such as the fact that sometimes insomnia is nothing more than the result of daytime inactivity.

For the 330-person study, the ISI (Insomnia Severity Index) was used. The ISI is a self-report questionnaire, comprising 7 items. The purpose of the index is to provide a means for regular people to assess their difficulties in initiating and maintaining sleep and the distress caused by their inability to do so.

In addition to the ISI, the Sleep 50 Questionnaire was also employed, together with Part B of the Paranoid Thoughts Scale of Green et al. and the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales.

All the above methods were found to have entailed high internal consistency and reliability with this study.

Positive skew in the community segment of the study turned out to be an issue. This could probably be explained by the relative stigma associated with paranoia in particular, and mental/psychological conditions in general, in society.

This is a Dream...

According to the results, some 28% of the community sample had some sort of sleep-related difficulties. The most significant finding was however that some 70% of those falling into the highest category of paranoia had at least sub-threshold insomnia problems.

For those without paranoia, this rate was only 17%.

In the persecutory delusions group, only 17% were found to exhibit no insomnia-related symptoms.

Due to its methodology and sample size/nature, the study obviously entailed some shortcomings. The sample size of the clinical group was too small, the one of the community group may not have been representative.

Self-reporting is never a fully reliable way of collecting data either.

Above and beyond all else, however, none of the above studies really did much in the way of establishing the nature of the insomnia-paranoia link. They merely confirmed the existence of this link. The causality remains unknown.

Insomnia may in fact be a result of paranoid fears. A sort of vicious circle-like causality is more likely, however. It may well be that paranoid delusion feeds insomnia, which in turn promotes the former.

The bottom line

While the causal direction of the insomnia-paranoia axis remains unknown, the correlation of the two conditions (and those of anxiety and depression) is beyond doubt. Even if the mentioned vicious circle-like causality is present, the treatment of insomnia may still be a proper approach to treating paranoid delusion.

Need help? Get in touch with a sleep consultant.

FDA Slaps New Boxed Warnings on Prescription Sleeping Pills

We all knew sleeping pills such as Lunesta, Ambien and Sonata were not without dangerous side effects. Though evidence in this regard has thus far been anecdotal, and often the butt of jokes, the FDA has finally made it all official.

On April 30, 2019, the Food and Drug Administration has updated the mandatory warnings for medicines containing eszopiclone, zaleplon and zoldipem. That does indeed cover all the above mentioned brands and more.

What determined the FDA to make this move?

Reports have been mounting concerning dangerous side effects sparked by medicines taken by millions of people world over to combat insomnia. Such side effects include, but are not limited to: sleepwalking, driving in a cognitively impaired state, using a stove while not fully awake etc.

While some of these may seem funny, they are literally deadly-serious. The FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System logged some 66 reports of events provoked by the mentioned substances, some of which resulted in serious injuries and others in deaths.

Of the 66 cases associated with zaleplon, zoldipem and eszopiclone use, 20 resulted in death. These included carbon monoxide poisoning, car crashes, cases of hypothermia, falls as well as drowning.

The 46 non-fatal injuries covered self-inflicted gunshot wounds, attempted suicide, hypothermia leading to near-death, burns, blunt trauma associated with falls, as well as near-drowning.

Though such events are obviously not common, they are prevalent enough to warrant the addition of the newly mandated warnings.

As an insomnia sufferer, who uses of sleep medicine, you probably have some questions, such as:

This is a Dream...
  1. Which drugs are affected by the new warning regime?
  2. Do the new rules affect dosage/efficiency in any way?
  3. Why did all this come to light now? Zoldipem has been available for more than 20 years…
  4. What are complex sleep-related behaviors? Can doctors prescribe these sleeping pills to those who experienced such behaviors?
  5. Is there anything patients can do to alleviate next-morning mental impairment?

Eszopiclone is present in Lunesta, Zaleplon in Sonata, while zoldipem is used in Ambien, Edluar, Ambien CR, Zolpimist and Intermezzo. Obviously, other brands containing these components present the same dangers as the mentioned ones. Of these, extended-release drugs are the riskiest. Next-morning mental impairment results from zolpidem concentrations still present in the organism.

Women have a harder time eliminating the active substance than men, so they are at an increased risk.


As far as dosage goes, the FDA has contacted manufacturers in a bid to convince them to reduce the zoldipem doses of the mentioned products.

For women, the recommended dosage has been lowered from 10 mg to 5 mg for immediate release products. For extended-release versions such as Ambien CR, a drop from 12.5 mg to 6.5 mg has been floated.

The FDA would like to see the same dosage reduction for men.

The recommendations concerning dosage revision are only valid for zoldipem-containing products. For now, no such limitations are likely to be implemented for other sleeping pills.

Why now?

It essentially took the FDA this long to cobble together the relevant data. Sleeping pill-induced complex sleep behaviors are not easy to track. The causality of these behaviors is difficult to establish as well.

The FDA has been monitoring these substances since it approved them.

Complex sleep-related behaviors? What are they?

Sleep walking and driving while half awake are complex sleep-related behaviors.

If they fail to eliminate the active substances of sleeping pills from their systems before they wake up, patients will be at risk of such behavior. The tricky part is that one can experience an impaired mental alertness state, without even realizing it.

According to the FDA, health care professionals should not prescribe sleeping pills to patients with a history of complex sleep-related behavior. Also, patients should be verbally warned about the rare but possible serious side effects these medicines may produce.

What can you do to combat these side effects?

When it comes to sleeping pills, dosage is of the essence. It is extremely important that you should take exactly the prescribed dose. The only proper way to use such medicines is to take the minimum required dose to treat your insomnia. Anything above that is not only overkill, it can be extremely dangerous.

Do not self-dose sleeping pills. What you reckon is needed to treat your symptoms is most likely way off the mark. You need the active substances eliminated from your body before you wake up. Otherwise you will experience impaired mental alertness.

Bear in mind that the FDA has received more reports than the above mentioned 66 that involved serious injuries or death.

More than 700 such reports were logged by the Adverse Event Reporting system concerning impaired driving abilities. These reports were deemed serious enough to prompt label changes on zoldipem-based products back in 2007.

New information has then been added to the warnings and precautions section. The measures raised a media frenzy, which in turn resulted in more such reports being submitted to the FDA.

While they did raise awareness, these reports failed to provide scientifically relevant information. More precisely, they mostly did not include any information on dosage, on the time of the accident, on other cognition-impairing substances taken, or on actual zoldipem blood levels. That explains why it took the FDA this long to determine the likely causes of these sleeping pill side effects.

Do you run the same risks with other insomnia medications?

The jury is still out on that. The FDA is in the process of collecting data on other medicines. It would not be a surprise if side effects similar to the zoldipem-linked ones were found in other sleeping pills too.


Do not, under any circumstances, treat your sleeping pills lightly. Do not overdose on them, even if you feel the prescribed dose fails to address your insomnia. The active substance in these medicines is extremely potent and it can indeed produce life-threatening side effects.

If possible at all, try to have your insomnia treated through alternative methods.

Vaporizer Reviews (2019)

Often peddled as a way to cut back on/quit smoking, vaping is indeed a healthier alternative for smokers. Instead of combusting the herb, more or less intricate vaporizers heat it up, or pass hot air through it, to create a sort of vapor that the user then inhales.

It is important to know that while vaping is theoretically healthier than smoking, it is just as addictive, it can actually hook newcomers on nicotine just as well (if your vaping mixture contains tobacco), and at the end of the day: it is still unhealthy.

The quality of the vaping experience depends entirely on two factors: the quality of the herb/extract and the device used. There are scores of vaporizers out there, some of them simpler and portable, others intricate and desktop-based.

We have compiled a list of the best vaporizers of 2019, based on overall user feedback, vapor quality, portability, temperature selection, heating method and overall versatility.

Table of Contents

Best Portable Vaporizers of 2019

Best Desktop Vaporizers of 2019

Best Low-Cost Vaporizers of 2019

Buy a Vaporizer in 2019

Since highly portable pen-like vaporizers are the handiest, the easiest to use and the cheapest, it makes sense to start the list with them.

Best Portable Vaporizers of 2019

Dynavap M

In this category, Dynavap’s M rule the roost with an iron (or rather: stainless steel) grip. The popularity of these devices is quite self-explanatory once you actually get them in your hands. Their design is elegant, discrete and they are indeed second to none in regards to portability.

The Ms come with a small oven that’s great for herb quantities of 0.1 grams or even less. The actual operation of the device is simple as well, though it requires an outside heat source.

Simply take off the vap cap, load the oven with the desired quantity and replace the cap. Use a butane torch lighter to heat the cap as you are turning it. Move the flame up and down to make sure the heat distribution on the cap is even. Wait till the device clicks, and you are ready to take your first draw. Afterwards, wait till the device clicks again, before you heat up the cap for your second draw.

The quality of the vapor produced by the M is outstanding. Considering that the device only costs ~$60, it is clear why so many people see it as their top overall choice. The quality of the overall experience is only topped by the efficiency of the device. You will be stretching your herb incredibly far with this one.

Besides the standard stainless steel version, the M is available in a number of other designs/materials too.

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OmniVap Titanium

While the M has this niche of the vaporizer marker cornered, the OmniVap Ti represents an upgrade from it, design- as well as material-wise. The XL version is slightly larger than the M and it is made of Titanium. Its design is more eye-catching than that of the M, but it also costs about three times as much.

The actual vaping experience delivered by the OmniVap is quite similar however. One difference is that the OmniVap allows for the adjustment of the airflow.

The Dynavap range of vaporizers includes other attractive pieces such as the Omnivong Wood line. They can all be taken apart for cleaning. Some of them can be hooked up to glass rigs.

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Portside Mini

You won’t need to use a lighter to heat your Dynavap vaporizers, if you purchase a Portside Mini device, which uses an induction coil to heat your vap caps. All you really need to do is to plug your M or OmniVap into your Portside Mini and push down on it. When you hear the click, you’re ready for your draw.

Despite its name, the Portside Mini is in fact quite bulky. As such, it defeats much of the portability and subtlety of your Dynavap devices.

Moving one step further, we have a different category of portable vaporizers. The likes of Storz and Bickel’s Mighty and Crafty do indeed take the experience into an entirely new realm. Such devices offer fine temperature settings and eliminate the need for an external heat source. Their batteries mean that they won’t have the user tethered to the wall either.

Of course, these features are all reflected in the price of the device.

Mighty Vaporizer by Storz & Bickel (the Dream Merchant’s choice!)

The Mighty is beyond doubt the poster child of this vaporizer sub-category. It comes with a bunch of accessories and it is suitable for the vaping of dried leaves, solid extracts and liquid pads.

Mighty Vaporizer (storz-bickel.com)
Storz & Bickel Mighty Vaporizer

It features a bright LCD screen for temperature setting. Its oven is fairly large, and it comes with a handy loader magazine, which clicks right onto the oven, after the cooler is removed.

There is a start button on the side of the device, and two buttons for tinkering with the temperature. Users can switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius by holding down both temperature setting buttons. The device heats up quickly and once it reaches the desired temperature, it vibrates. The Mighty uses a combination of convection and conduction, meaning that the walls of the oven heat up, while at the same time, hot air passes through the herb.

It features two batteries and it holds a charge really well. The Mighty features a proprietary charging plug.

As far as accessories are concerned, there are scores of different goodies available for the Mighty. There is a handy dosing capsule magazine for instance, which holds 8 loaded capsules that the user can just toss into the oven as they are. The capsules are numbered and a single charge should just about cover all 8 of them.

The Mighty might struggle to produce proper vapor for the first draw, but as it gets going, the consistency of its vapor evens out nicely. Draw resistance is excellent.

One thing that you need to be aware of in regards to the Mighty is that it is a “session vaporizer”. What that means is that once it gets going, it does not stop between draws. You need to take draw after draw, for about 10-15 minutes, until you use up the herb in the oven and wrap up the session. The device does have an auto shut-off feature however.

The Mighty costs around $350.

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The smaller cousin of the Mighty, the Crafty delivers a rather similar vaping experience, for a more attractive price. The Crafty costs just ~$280.

The oven of the Crafty is exactly the same as that of the Mighty. It features just one battery instead of two though and it comes with a smaller cooling unit. It has a micro USB charging plug, which is a nice touch. It does not have an LCD screen like the Mighty, but it does come with an app, through which the exact temperature can be set.

On the portability front, the Crafty definitely earns some marks over the Mighty. It is much more “pocketable”. Its mouth piece works the same way the Mighty’s does, and it can vape everything the Mighty can.

Like the Mighty, the Crafty is a “session” vaporizer as well.

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If you consider the “session” vaporizer nature of the Mighty and the Crafty a shortcoming, you will probably like the “on-demand” nature of the Ghost MV1.

Ghost MV1

The MV1 features decent “pocketability” and it costs around $300. Unlike the Mighty and the Crafty above, it turns on, heats up, signals that it is ready to deliver your draw, it then vibrates again and turns off. The user needs to hold down a button to make it all happen. As soon as the button is released, the device cools down.

It looks and works completely differently from all the mentioned vaporizers. It uses crucibles, which hold around 0.1 gram of herb. To deliver a proper kick on such a small load, the MV1 needs to provide superb vapor quality and that is exactly what it does.

It does not feature a screen such as the Mighty. Its temperature setting is accomplished through a series of clicks through its starter button. There are 6 predefined temperature levels through which users can cycle. Holding down the same button provides a reading on battery life, and clicking it three times sends the device into standby/ready mode.

For dry leaves, the 4th and 5th temperature levels are ideal. The final temperature step is only suitable for concentrate vaping.

An actual draw is initiated through the pressing of the “fire” button. A single crucible-load of 0.1 grams of herb should last the user about 5 large draws. The MV1 comes with a handy crucible dispenser, which holds 5 preloaded crucibles that can be inserted into the device at a moment’s notice.

The device is available in a number of different versions/finishes. Due to the small crucible loads and the high quality of the resulting vapor, the efficiency of the MV1 is quite superb.

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PAX 3 beats out most of the vaporizers reviewed thus far in terms of portability and “pocketability”.

It is a truly handsome little device, barely larger than a hefty lighter. Its new version comes with a handy companion app, and its performance/efficiency can be tinkered with in a number of ways.

PAX 3 is a pure conduction vaporizer. What does that entail?

First of all, it means that the device heats up the herb in its oven by heating up the walls of the oven. There is no extra hot airflow involved in the vaporization process. Some say that the pure conduction setup is inferior to convection or even conduction+convection vaping and they may indeed be right.

In PAX 3’s case however, what it all means is that shorter draws will result in just as good an experience as longer ones do with a convection unit. Since not everyone is capable for drawing for 10-15 seconds, PAX 3 has indeed turned this liability into an asset.

The oven of the PAX 3 can hold some 0.35 grams of herb, though there are lid options (included in the actual package as well as aftermarket options), which can reduce this quantity to around 0.1 grams.

It is important to note that the PAX 3 likes finely ground herb, packed in as tightly as possible. It also works with oils and concentrates thanks to the concentrate insert that comes with the product.

In the PAX 3 package, the producer has also included 2 different types of mouth pieces. The charging of the unit is super-simple. Just place it on the concave charging rest and it is good to go.

The unit features a single button, which starts up the device. To check the heat level, just press and hold the button. You can also use it to cycle through the 4 temperature levels, which can be adjusted through the companion app.

The main difference between the PAX 2 and PAX 3 is that the latter heats up faster. It also features a somewhat slimmer and more stylish appearance.

The complete PAX 3 kit costs around $250. The device alone can be had for ~$200.

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Thanks to its superb design and perfect dimensions, the PAX 3 had this ultra-portable corner of the vaporizer market locked up for a while. These days however, it does have game competitors, such as the Firefly 2.

Firefly 2

Looking a bit like an oversized USB stick, with its mouthpiece sticking out, the Firefly 2 costs some $330.

Unlike the PAX 3, the Firefly 2 is a pure convection vaporizer. That does – at least in theory – justify its higher price.

The device comes with a magnetic lid and capacitive sensors instead of a control button.

It heats up in 5 seconds max and it uses advanced materials in its composition. The vapor path is borosilicate glass, the removable mouthpiece is BPA-free and the battery holds enough power to vaporize some 6-8 full ovens of herb. The Firefly 2 works well with concentrates too.

To charge the unit, simply place it on its charging dock. Charging progress can be monitored through the companion app of the device.

The bottom line on this one is that it is indeed a worthy – albeit more expensive – competitor to the PAX 3. The Firefly’s pure convection MO makes it stand out in this particular market niche.

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With Storz and Bickel’s Plenty, we’re wrapping up the ultra-portable segment and wading into the wacky world of desktop vaporizers.

Best Desktop Vaporizers of 2019


The Plenty – its name a telltale clue – takes vaping to an entirely different level. It features a massive body, with a wide herb chamber, through which it lets tons of hot air. To keep the vaper’s mouth away from all the heat, the mouthpiece is preceded by a massive cooling coil.

The device might look like something out of the laboratory of a vaping-obsessed mad scientist, but its design is fully functional and well justified.

The chamber holds more than 0.5 grams of material, but it works with as little as 0.2 grams. If you load that little, use a liquid pad as a screen for the chamber to keep your material fully exposed to the hot air generated by the device.

The Plenty comes with a massive body, handle and a sort of trigger mechanism reminiscent of the safety systems used on electric chainsaws. It plugs into a wall outlet, so it is by no means a subtle piece of equipment.

The heating element only comes on while the “trigger” is squeezed. As soon as it is released, the temperature drops. When it is squeezed again, heating begins and the temperature begins heading upward, towards the selected value.

Users can set the temperature by means of a small wheel.

The draw resistance of the Plenty is not particularly daunting. In fact, it is almost non-existent. The device does however require a couple of long draws to get the vape truly going.

The Plenty is most definitely a convection vaporizer, relying exclusively on this technique for its first few draws. As the screen and the side of the oven heats up though, conduction seeps into the equation as well.

One possible shortcoming of the Plenty is the fact that it can take up to 3 minutes to reach the desired temperature level.

Three additional screens, a grinder a liquid pad and a brush are also included in the Plenty package. The device is purely electromechanical and that lends it a certain kind of nostalgic appeal.

Costing around $280, the Plenty is not as expensive as one may expect it to be.

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Storz and Bickel’s Volcano is a one-of-a kind vaporizer, that has been out for ages, virtually unchanged. When there’s a vaporizer out there with this sort of longevity, you know that it must be doing something right.

What the Volcano does right is that it fills up a plastic bag with high quality and very consistent vapor. The user can then consume this vapor straight out of the bag, at his/her own pace.

The actual Volcano device looks like something out of a 70s movie. It comes in two versions: an analog and a digital one. Of these, the analog one looks positively more retro. The functionality provided by the two versions is essentially the same.

The device features two buttons and a temperature adjustment knob. The red button turns on the vaporizer and heats it up to the set temperature level. A yellow light comes on while the device is heating up. When it goes out, the Volcano is ready to fill its bag.

The bag attaches to the top of the volcano-like device through a handy valve, right above the herb chamber. The vaping method is convection. As the ensemble really heats up, some degree of conduction may come into play as well.

After the user clicks the bag onto the top of the herb oven, by pressing the green button, the fan can be activated. This pushes the hot air through the herb chamber and into the bag and with it, the resulting vapor. It takes the device around 30 seconds to fill up the bag.

The herb chamber is as large as that of the Plenty, though it does work fine with less material (about 0.15 grams even).

The Volcano is the definition of a desktop device. It is big, bulky, it plugs into a wall outlet, and you don’t actually ever have to lift it.

Because you are essentially vaping out of a plastic bag, draw resistance is not part of the equation in any shape or form.

The vapor quality and its consistency throughout the session is outstanding.

Please note however that you should ideally consume the contents of the bag within about 10 minutes. After that, the quality of the vapor degrades quickly.

The digital version of the device rocks a more modern look. It features a screen instead of the temperature knob. It is obviously aimed at users who do not find the retro look of the original appealing.

This is a Dream...

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The Volcano is obviously a “session” vaporizer. If you’re looking for an on-demand desktop solution, the wooden E-Nano looks like an ideal choice.

EpicVape E-Nano Vaporizer

The E-Nano is indeed a micro-dosing dream. Its herb chamber, which is in fact part of the glass stem/mouthpiece of the device, works with as little as 0.05-0.1 grams of material.

The vaporizer is remarkably small for a desktop solution. It does however plug into a wall outlet, and it can be left turned on for hours on end. Loading the herb chamber is as simple as loading up the opposite end of the glass mouthpiece. The user then sticks the glass pipe onto the heating element in the middle of the desktop device.

Temperature can be adjusted through a knob located right on the power chord.

The build quality of the E-Nano is excellent. Lots of natural materials are used in it. The power cord tends to be a little stiff however, and the unit itself is light, so the weight of the cord/temperature adjustment knob, can drag it off the table. The length of the cable is ~8 ft.

Some users have listed the fact that it is a wall-tethered vaporizer as a shortcoming as well. Since we are discussing desktop vaporizers here, that is not really the case however.

E-Nano comes with an impressive number of accessories.

VapeXhale Evo

Those looking for plentiful vapor and an all-glass vapor path will certainly like the VapeXhale Evo.

Vapor volume seems to be one of the strengths of this vaporizer, but the fact that it works well with dry leaves and concentrates is also a major plus.

The device itself looks rather basic. It consists of the heater unit and an oven (or rather a herb-basket) that goes on top. Mind you that you will need some sort of a rig/mouth piece to use this vaporizer. The manufacturer provides HydraTubes for this purpose, but if you happen to have your own glass rig, that will work fine with it. You just need to be able to hook it up to it.

You need the rig to cool and condition your vapor.

The heating unit tends to get hot, so the manufacturer has provided a sort of heat protection sleeve for it. The setup is very basic: it has an on/off button and a knob for temperature selection.

The hot air never comes into contact with anything else but glass (of course, with the exception of the herb basket). There is a metal coil around the glass tubing, and that heats up the air within.

The basket can be loaded with as little as 0.1 grams of material and as much as 0.5 grams. The more you put in there, the more draws you’ll be able to take. Make sure you do not pack your leaf too tight, as it might restrict the airflow that way. The vaping method used by VapeXhale Evo is obviously convection.

For this same reason, make sure to stir your material up every two draws or so. With concentrates, limit your draws to one. In this regard, the VapeXhale Evo setup is the equivalent of a torch-free dab.

The device is sturdy and durable.

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NewVape FlowerPot Vaporizer

Taking desktop vaping one step further still, is the NewVape FlowerPot. This one is nothing short of vaping workshop. It is a highly customizable rig, which covers every possible vaping need that might arise. You can do double-deckers (dabs and herb) with this one.

The quality of the vapor is outstanding, the volume is off the charts and the actual craftsmanship that went into the device is a pleasure to behold.

When purchasing one of these rigs, you can opt to leave out some of the non-essential components (such as the carb cap). For the full experience however, you are best off purchasing the whole shebang. It is well worth it.

The centerpiece of the FlowerPot is the e-nail controller, which allows you to set the precise temperature you need. If you like to keep your e-nail coil as cool as possible, you will have to purchase the carb cap. Only with it on can you lower the temperature to the 590F range without affecting the vaping experience. The carb cap is also a must if you are looking to vape concentrate.

Without the cap, you should raise the e-nail temperature to around 650 degrees.

Setting up the e-nail is as simple as plugging it into an outlet, plugging in the 5-pin e-nail chord, and turning it on with the On/Off button. You can then use the Up and Down keys to set your desired temperature.

The actual heating element is built onto the e-nail coil. There are two options in this regard: the VROD and the Showerhead. They both do the job they are supposed to just fine. The heater handle has a hemp string wrapped around it – a nice little touch.

The bowl piece is a three-part ensemble, simple to put together and take apart. It comes with stainless steel or titanium screens. The bowl piece goes onto the rig, the heater on top of it, and then the carb cap (if needed).

Getting the carb cap is a good idea on account of the stirring rod it features. You will need to stir your material every couple of draws, and with it, that is a very handy and snug operation. You will also find this tool useful when putting a dab on top of your dry leaf for a double-decker.

The NewVape FlowerPot kit also includes a SIC dish, which is meant to help you with concentrate.

These double-deckers are the “special skill” of this vaporizer.

The bottom line: the FlowerPot has to be the king of all desktop vaporizers. A pure convection device, it gives you access to double-deckers, and to an overall peerless vaping experience.

While the above are the best vaporizers money can buy regardless of price, there are a handful more which are worthy of mentioning within their own price-category.

Best Low-cost Vaporizers of 2019

X Max II Pro

The X Max II Pro is a superb little vaping device, capable of handling dry herb as well as wax. Its price clocks in at well under $100.

Honestly, its price is its main draw/selling point. The quality of the vapor produced by this device is nowhere near what any of the above listed vaporizers put out. Its portability is a major plus as well.

The device uses conduction vaporization. Its oven is located right under the removable mouth piece. Dry herb can be packed into the oven as it is. For wax, use the wax cup provided with your device.

The unit is powered by a removable battery. An extra one is included with the product at purchase.

A single button controls the vaporizer and its temperature settings. Pushing the said button three times turns on the device. Holding it down allows you to circle through the 5 available temperature settings which are: 365, 374, 392, 410 and 428.

Remember to sterilize the device before your first use, by running its temperature up to the highest level 3 times in a row.

While for its price ($59), the X Max II Pro is a superb little vaporizer, as mentioned, it leaves quite a bit of room for improvement, in several regards.

Its main shortcomings are:

  • The unit itself tends to heat up, thus becoming uncomfortable to handle.
  • Conduction heating sometimes overheats herb.
  • What results is wasted material and poor vape quality.
  • Harsh hits.

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Davinci IQ

The Davinci IQ is a very different vaporizer. It costs upwards of $270 and it is probably the best compact solution out there.

The size of the Davinci IQ is its main draw and most important asset, but it is far from being the only one. This compact vaporizer features quality execution and a zirconia ceramic oven. In fact, its vapor path and mouth piece are made of the same high quality material too.

The unit is powered by a replaceable 18650 battery, and at 145 grams, it is quite heavy. This extra weight lends it a sort of durable feeling in the hand, that is very satisfying. Davinci IQ can be easily pocketed, and what’s more, it can even be palmed. Discretion is therefore most definitely one of its strengths.

The flavor chamber is one of the popular features of the device. Draw resistance is great, but it tends to ramp up a bit the longer the herbs are left in.

Davinci IQ is a conduction vaporizer. That said, its vapor quality is superb, probably in part thanks to the presence of the flavor chamber, which helps cool down the vapor.

The unit heats up in about 45 seconds, and it does not have a tendency to overheat like many other conduction portable vaporizers.

Temperature adjustment-wise, the Davinci IQ offers two options: there is a “smart path” option, which offers 4 fully customizable choices. Then there’s exact temperature setting in the 250-430F range.

To customize the said smart paths, you can use the Davinci IQ companion app. The device maintains exact temperature settings for 10 minutes – which is how long a session should normally last.

Given that this is a conduction vaporizer, it works best with finely ground and tightly packed herb. For the best results, fill up the herb chamber all the way.

The only downside to the Davinci IQ is its lengthy charging time.

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Sticky Brick

Last but not least, we have to include the Sticky Brick, for the simple fact that it is hands-down the best butane torch vaporizer out there.

Above and beyond its stylish design, the Sticky Brick has scores of tricks up its sleeves. It is a butane torch-powered, convection heating device, which features no charging times, no heat-up times and is on-demand.

All of them hand-made, Sticky Bricks are crafted out of hardwood.

If you are looking for portability, the Sticky Brick Junior is your obvious choice. The OG works and looks the same way, but it is hardly portable due to its size.

Loading up the chamber of the Sticky Brick is a very simple exercise. You can do it instantly, without having to wait for it to cool down etc.

The vapor quality produced by the Sticky Bricks is great. The Junior seems to excel in this regard.

Sticky Brick’s only downside is that there is a little bit of a learning curve involved with its use. It will probably take you a couple of sessions to master this true work of art.

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Buy a Vaporizer in 2019

For one reason or another, all the above vaporizers stand out of the crowd. Let us know if you feel we should have included any others and don’t forget to tell us why.

Amazon does not sell vaporizers, unfortunately. I recommend buying vaporizers on:

Vaporizers (azarius.net)



I also sell all Storz & Bickel vaporizers locally. Find out where I am, as of now. (I do NOT ship/deliver abroad.) My favorite vaporizer is Storz & Bickel Mighty and I would recommend it to anyone as a first choice whether for vaping cannabis or for use with other plants, herbs, and spices, including oils and extracts.

You may also contact me with any questions regarding sleep, dreams, and other altered states of consciousness, or leave a public comment below.