MILD (Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams) is a technique used to induce lucid dreams.
Unlike WILD (Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming), the MILD technique is focused on eliciting lucidity in an actual dream, and not on inducing the entire dream experience.
As such, lucid dreams sparked by the MILD technique are said to be somewhat less clear and not quite as vivid as WILD-generated lucid dreams
What exactly is the MILD 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.
Everyone even a tiny bit interested by the possibilities that lucid dreaming may carry, has to give the MILD technique a go.
Unlike WILD-induced lucid dreams, MILD dreams cannot be triggered on demand. All the dreamer can do is set up the right conditions for the dreams to then naturally occur. As such, the MILD technique is often used when the dreamer wakes up from a dream during the night.
The technique is based on a set of very specific steps that the would-be dreamer needs to cover in order to successfully trigger a lucid dreaming episode.
The first step is about setting up the dream recall. Dream recalling is a sort of “science” of its own, and I’ve already drawn up a guide on it. Suffice to say in this instance that it is absolutely indispensable for MILD lucid dreaming.
Setting up the dream recall is essentially auto-suggestion. The dreamer makes a mental commitment to wake up after every dream period during the night, and to remember the dreams he/she had right before each awakening.
Actually recalling the dreams is the second step. 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, and this is where another round of auto-suggestion is in order.
To bring about a lucid dreaming episode, the dreamer needs to focus on remembering that he/she is dreaming in the next dream. This focus is accomplished by eliminating all other thoughts as he/she slowly drifts back to sleep.
This mental exercise can be expanded to the last dream one had (before awakening). Re-imagining the whole dream, while being aware that it is indeed a dream, is the way to go.
To this end, the dreamer should look for dream signs. When happening upon such a sign, one should call out “I’m dreaming.” This fantasy should include control over the dream too. Once this fantasy-lucidity is achieved, the dreamer should attempt to perform something in the dream voluntarily (like flying).
This last step should be repeated several times before the dreamer falls asleep again. The goal is obvious: to mentally condition oneself to achieve lucidity in the next dream, through the above described methods.
If the whole thing clicks, the dreamer will indeed drift back to sleep, happen upon another dream episode during the next REM stage, and this time around, he/she will actually realize that he/she is indeed dreaming.
In some cases, it might take longer than expected to go back to sleep. From what I have experienced though, this only means that the odds of achieving lucidity in the next dream, increase. Therefore, one shouldn’t stress about not being able to go back to sleep in what’s perceived as a timely manner.
Of course, the above described MILD procedure should be repeated all through the period spent awake.
The scientific reason why achieving lucidity becomes easier after a more prolonged state of consciousness is that it activates the brain, which thus becomes more capable of performing the required mental breakthrough.
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.
For someone skilled in the ways of MILD, lucid dreaming can be achieved at the beginning of sleep too, as early as the first REM stage encountered.
Waking up later though and applying MILD then, makes more sense, since as the night progresses, the REM periods get longer and the dreams themselves more vivid.
While I have indeed had lucid dreams off the first sleep-cycle of the night, these lucid dreams were short and much less vivid than they could have been.
I have to note here that there are indeed supplements out there (like melatonin) which can and will expand the REM stages, making the dreams more vivid too.
Are there ways to make lucidity more likely, to somehow increase MILD’s chances of success?
Lucid dreaming is generally more likely in the morning, when the REM stage is the longest and when the body teeters on the edge of consciousness in a natural way. More specifically: an hour of wakefulness before a morning nap is the actual recipe.
While I can certainly attest to this based on my own experience, you don’t even have to take my word for it: there’s actual science behind this one.
A whole series of experiments done on sleep continuity, napping biorhythms and length of sleep support the validity of the above statement.
Just how effective is this approach though?
Based on the above said studies, as well as on my personal experience, I would say: very.
Here’s how you too can give this theory a go: the first experimental variant calls for waking up two hours earlier than you normally would, staying awake for two hours and then taking a two-hour nap. The prolific lucid dreaming period should be this two-hour nap.
While I personally cannot state any statistically accurate numbers in this regard, according to research, you’re 10 times more likely to have a lucid dream during this two-hour period, than at any other time.
The second sleep-schedule scheme has you waking up two hours early too, staying awake for 4 hours and then going back to sleep for two hours. Comparing these two schedules, it seems that the first variant is more prolific in the way of lucid dreams than the second.
Statistically speaking, the first combination yields a lucid dream out of every two dreams on average, while the second method results in one lucid dream out of every 3-dream batch. This is a highly impressive frequency, no matter how we turn it around, even in the case of the second sleep-schedule variant.
Interestingly, other sleep schedules have been put to the test too.
Since a full sleep-cycle is about 90 minutes long, it makes perfect sense to tinker a bit with that time-period. You can also try to wake up 90 minutes early, stay up for 90 minutes, do a 10-minute long MILD exercise and then go back to sleep for another 90 minutes.
This procedure seems to yield excellent results as well, and to that I can personally attest – again.
There are other variations on this schedule too, but those are less effective when it comes to the triggering of lucid dreams, so they’re hardly worth your time.
A study involving these 90-minute sleep schedule variations has yielded some surprising results. While during the normal sleep-time of the above described schedule only around 8% of the study participants had lucid dreams, during the experimental 90-minute nap, some 67% percent reported lucid dreams.
This is quite astonishing indeed.
There is no question about it: this method is indeed one of the most efficient ways of triggering lucid dreams.
The other two schedules tested were about waking up 90 minutes early, doing a 10-minute MILD exercise and then going back to sleep, eventually waking up at the end of the night, and sleeping a full night’s sleep, waking up for a MILD exercise and the going back for a 90 minute nap.
As said above, these two tests fell well short of the mark set by the previously detailed method.
The conclusion in regards to delayed sleep is therefore that it has a massive impact on the triggering of lucid dreaming.
Afternoon naps are apparently capable of triggering lucid dreams as well.
While for a while during my lucid dreaming beginnings, I was dead set on forcing such afternoon naps for lucid dreams, it turned out to be a dead-end. Morning delayed sleep coupled with naps is much more effective in this regard, there is no comparison in fact. The only reason why I choose to push the afternoon naps is that I’ve always found disrupted sleep to be highly stressful and tiresome.
The bottom line here is that MILD works best in the mornings, when sleep is disrupted. The best conditions for lucid dreaming also call for a proper activation of the brain.
What this means is that staying awake for 10 minutes as part of the delayed sleep pattern is simply insufficient. Apparently, that much time is not enough to properly activate the brain.
The ideal wakefulness period seems to be just over the 60 minute mark. This gives the brain enough time to properly fire up its neurons.
To wrap it all up: the ideal recipe seems to be getting up an hour early, staying up for an hour and doing MILD for a few minutes, before going back to sleep and finishing up a normal sleep routine.
The bottom line
Lucid dream is indeed a learnable skill, and MILD provides a more than reasonable roadmap towards this skill. While there are other options, I have found that MILD is the best for truly genuine LDs.