3.5 HOW WELL DO LUCID DREAM INDUCTION DEVICES WORK?
The Lucidity Institute's lucid dream induction devices are designed to help people achieve lucidity by giving them cues while they are dreaming and also by providing a reliable means of testing one's state of consciousness. They do not make people have lucid dreams any more than exercise machines make people develop strong muscles. In both cases the goal, strength or lucid dreams, results from practice. The machines accelerate the process. Several factors enter into success with one of these devices. One is how accurately the cues are coordinated with the user's REM sleep. The devices' REM detection systems are adjustable to individual variables. Another success factor is how well the cues enter into the dream without awakening the sleeper. A third factor is how prepared the user is for recognizing cues in dreams and becoming lucid. Finally, the user's commitment to performing a reality test on each awakening with the device influences success. All four of these factors are, to some extent, controllable by the device user: adjustment of eye movement sensitivity to catch REM sleep, selecting a cue that enters dreams without causing awakenings, mental preparation to recognize cues in dreams, and resolution to do reality tests. Therefore, it is difficult to obtain a truly accurate measurement of the effectiveness of the devices. Nonetheless, research with various versions of the DreamLight (previous lucid dream induction device that is no longer in production) have shown that it definitely helps people have more frequent lucid dreams.
Because expectation makes lucid dreaming more likely, one might wonder whether the DreamLight is any more effective than a placebo. A study recently published in Dreaming proved that it is. In brief, fourteen experienced DreamLight users were exposed to two conditions: light cues or no light cues. Subjects thought they were testing two different light cues and did not know their nightly condition (making motivation and expectations constant). Thus, the study examined how much the DreamLight's light cues specifically contributed to the achievement of lucid dreams. More people had lucid dreams on nights when they received light cues (73% versus 27%). Lucid dream frequency was three times greater on nights with cues (one lucid dream every three nights versus one in eleven nights without cues).
An earlier study with a different version of the DreamLight showed a five-fold increase in lucid dreaming frequency when people used the (MILD) mental technique in conjunction with the device, compared with using no device and no mental technique. Using the device without mental techniques worked about as well as just using the mental technique; both cases were an improvement over using nothing.
In summary, at this stage the lucid dream induction devices can definitely help people to have lucid dreams, or to have more of them. Important factors contributing to success are good dream recall (the DreamLight and NovaDreamer also can be used to boost dream recall with the "Dream Alarm feature"), diligent mental preparation, and careful adjustment of the device to meet individual needs for cueing and REM detection. No device yet exists that will make a person have a lucid dream.
What is Lucid Dreaming?
The basic definition of lucid dreaming requires nothing more than becoming aware that you are dreaming. However, the quality of lucidity can vary greatly. When lucidity is at a high level, you are aware that everything experienced in the dream is occurring in your mind, that there is no real danger, and that you are asleep in bed and will awaken shortly. With low-level lucidity, you may be aware to a certain extent that you are dreaming, perhaps enough to fly or alter what you are doing, but not enough to realize that the people are dream representations, or that you can suffer no physical damage, or that you are actually in bed.