P1. Lucid dreaming masks can help you have that elusive lucid dream by alerting you in your sleep to the fact that you are dreaming.
The first such mask was developed by a team led by Stephen LaBerge, of the Lucidity Institute in California. It was marketed as the NovaDreamer and, along with training materials, it claimed to
“prepare you to recognize the NovaDreamer cue in your dreams. The exercises and techniques introduced, are essential to learning how to consistently and effectively lucid dream.”
The NovaDreamer is no longer available, but the NovaDreamer2 is in the process of being developed and we have all been waiting for it for a number of years.
Other Alternatives to the NovaDreamer
There are, however, a number of copy-cat masks available for purchase online because LaBerge was apparently not able to patent his ideas. The idea, as with the NovaDreamer, is that you wear the mask rather like a sleep mask you might get on an airplane, but it is full of electronic components.
The basic idea is that there is a sensor in the mask that will detect your eye movements. When your eyes move in that way typical to Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, then the sensor waits a few minutes and then signals a message to your eyes in the form of flashing LED lights and possibly a sound as well. The purpose of these cues is to remind you to recognize that you are dreaming.
(Very early on in the development of LaBerge’s prototyping, he found that cues given to your eyes are more effective than audio cues, so the focus is mostly on visual cues.)
According to the NovaDreamer marketing material,
“Cues enter your dream, becoming incorporated just like an alarm or radio will sometimes work its way into a dream.”
My Experience of Using Lucid Dreaming Masks
My personal experience of using lucid dreaming induction devices such as a mask has been good for the most part. I won’t say it’s easy, but I can say it works sometimes.
Typically, when I am sleeping wearing a mask, it will send a cue of flashing lights to my eyes and I may or may not recognize that I am dreaming, and so possibly become lucid. Different people report different experiences of receiving these flashing light cues incorporated into their dreams. I might see a truck with flashing indicator lights, or maybe a pattern of flashing lights in a stained glass window, or maybe the paparazzi are using flash photography as I return home and getting off the plane.
Whatever the cue, the idea is that I see the lights, and recognize it could be a dream. Then I push a special button on the mask to do a special reality/dreaming test. If there is no flashing light when I push the button, then I think, “Fantastic, it’s a lucid dream”, and off I go on another dream adventure. Brilliant!
Do be careful if you purchase la mask. There are quite a few lucid dreaming masks out there on the market and they are not all the same.
- Copy-cat masks like, say, the REMDreamer are very similar to the original NovaDreamer.
- There are other masks that do NOT detect REM periods directly but use various calculations to predict when you will probably have a REM sleep period. I believe one of these is called the Remee mask.
- There are also newer technology masks coming on to the market. One of these is actually a headband rather than a mask and is called the Aurora from a company called iwinks. It is supposed to have enhanced REM sleep detection by monitoring brain waves among other things, and it is expected on the market late in 2015.
How Effective are Lucid Dreaming Masks?
This is not an easy one to answer. All I can say with certainty is that for me my REM detection masks works sometimes, and I have continued to use it for a few years and still do.
However, the effectiveness of the masks is dependent on you and upon your advanced preparation. You can’t expect miracles. The masks enhance your ability to have a lucid dream, they do not in any way guarantee it.
I guess I was fortunate in that when I got my first lucid dreaming mask I found I had a lucid dream in the first week of use. It took a while longer till I had my second lucid dream using the mask, but the positive experience at the start of the use process was very encouraging.
But the key to lucid dreaming is and will probably always be the mental preparation you do rather than hoping the mask will do all the work for you.
I don’t want to spend too much time going through the details of lucid dreaming masks, but here are a few more pointers.
- Mental preparation is always key
- The mask can help to train you to remember your dreams and this is essential
- The mask will help to show you when you are dreaming if you are mentally prepared
- Some people say they can’t sleep easily while wearing a mask (but for me it’s ok)
- You will learn over time to tune the settings on your mask to regulate the sensitivity of the sensor, the brightness of the lights, the frequency of the lights, the use of sounds, etc…
- You can search for “REM Dreamer Manual”, or similar, on Google to read the manuals of different lucid dreaming masks (in pdf format)