Why is lucid dreaming so hard?

I had my first lucid dream this week in over a month.  After having it, I was once again inspired to recommit to the discipline of reality checks, visualizations before bed and most importantly, get enough sleep.  But it strikes me, why is something so profound and amazing hard to stay focused on for any long period of time?

I think this gets to the heart of why most people (including myself) can find lucid dreaming difficult.  If we better understand the problem, I trust we can come up with better solutions.  So here are my top 3 reasons why lucid dreaming is so elusive.

1.  There is no social reward of lucid dreaming.  As social creatures, I think a fair amount of our motivation comes from social praise / shame.  We do things that help us look good in the eyes of others.  We avoid things that make us look bad.  While lucid dreaming can provide for interesting discussions with people, it does not elicit the same social rewards as things like staying in shape, eating healthy, reading interesting books or other things of this nature.

2.  Lucid dreaming requires good quality sleep.  In today’s digital world we are always connected.  The  consensus on good sleep suggests the following:  a) no caffeine after 2 PM; b) no alcohol after 7:30 PM ; c) no digital screen time less than one hour before bed; d) consistent sleep times; e) between 7 – 9 hours of sleep.  Who follows these on any regular basis?  I am one of the most agro sleep nuts I know and I don’t follow these nearly as much as I should.  Life’s demands crowd out these sleep commandments from becoming habits.

3.  Lucid dreams fade from memory.  Just like regular dreams, without writing them down they quickly fade from our memory.  Unlike real experiences, we cannot recall them with the same vividness.  For example, when we do something unusual that we don’t normally do like going for a hike or watching a musical, we can look back on the experience and gain motivation because we remember how good a time we had.  When you have an amazing lucid dream it compels you to try again.  But in my experience this compulsion lasts about a day or two without special steps taken (more on that later).  When you look back, even at a dream journal, you remember the experience, but only vaguely.

In my next post, I will talk about some ways to overcome these obstacles. As always, this is journey for me as much as it is for you…dream on.