Lucid dreaming can actually be done any time you enter REM sleep.
REM sleep is the last stage of your sleep cycle, and it stands for ‘rapid eye movement’ sleep. This happens about 5-6 times during the night depending on how long you sleep for, and the LENGTH of the REM sleep gets longer and longer until you wake up.
There are of course lots of lucid dreaming techniques out there, and they’re all slightly different. It’s important to pick the right technique for the right time of night (or day!). If you don’t do this, you’re just holding yourself back and making it more difficult than it needs to be.
You’ve got to work with your body, and your natural sleeping patterns.
When’s the best time to lucid dream?
So, the best time to lucid dream depends on the technique you’re using. I’ll go through the most common techniques and explain the best time to lucid dream for each induction technique:
1: Best time to do the WBTB
The wake back to bed technique involves waking your body up and then going BACK to sleep with the intention of lucid dreaming.
This is almost always done during the early hours of the morning, because you’re targeting your REM sleep. The idea is to have about 5-6 hours of ‘normal’ sleep first, and then lucid dream in the early hours of the morning.
This is because you’re stacking the deck in your favor. By sleeping for 5 hours first, your body gets the sleep it needs first. Also, you’re more likely to forget dreams you have during the first half of the night because they’re almost ‘replaced’ by the most recent dreams.
So that’s why for the WBTB, you’re targeting your LONGEST and LAST section of REM sleep so you’re more likely to lucid dream, AND more likely to remember the dreams because you often wake up straight after, as it’s your last REM sleep stage.
2: Best time to do the WILD
The wake induced lucid dream is best done when you know you’re going to fall asleep FAST.
The technique involves keeping your MIND awake while your BODY falls asleep. This means you stay aware as your body goes through sleep paralysis, and this can take varying lengths of time for different people. It can actually be a bit uncomfortable if you’re not used to it too, so be warned about this one.
But because this technique involves directly inducing a lucid dream by keeping your mind awake, you can actually perform this lucid dream induction during the day, while having a day time nap!
3: Best time to do the DILD
The DILD is a beautiful technique because you can actually do it any time, and it’s a very natural and almost random induction.
For this reason, it really doesn’t matter when you do it because you have little control over it anyway. It’s just a way of making your normal or regular dreams more likely to randomly become lucid.
The only thing you’ll need to do for this technique is to make sure you’re getting a good chunk of sleep.
This isn’t great for people who regularly abuse their sleep or stay up super late playing video games. This is better for people with a regular sleep pattern or routine, who just want a ‘soft’ natural way of lucid dreaming.
4: Best time to do the MILD
The mnemonic induced lucid dreaming technique is best done when you know you’re going to fall asleep fast, AND sleep for a good length of time.
If it’s quite late and you’re going to be up in a few hours, don’t try this one. It’s a more subtle and gentle technique which works best when combined with a healthy and productive sleep routine.
That being said because this is one of the natural lucid dreaming techniques, you can actually find yourself having lucid dreams with this one randomly, sometimes without planning at all. You might find that if you’re practicing the MILD and repeating your mantras and affirmations during the day, you have random lucid dreams even just during the day in a short nap.
It’s all down to how fast you actually fall asleep and enter your REM sleep. This can also be affected by substances that inhibit REM sleep, and cause REM rebound effect later on.
5: Best time for other techniques
I’ve covered the best times to lucid dream with the main induction techniques, but for the others it really depends on how the technique is supposed to work.
For all the techniques where the idea is to keep your MIND awake while your BODY falls asleep (this includes FILD, SSILD and in some ways CANWILD) you need to be TIRED, and ready to have a long REM sleep period.
This means that across the board for those types of techniques, you should try them when you’ve already had some sleep (about 5-6 hours). You’ll find it useful to read my guides on falling asleep faster (to enter REM sleep sooner) and getting better quality sleep.
For the soft techniques which can include the DILD, MILD, and some other affirmation based methods, it doesn’t matter so much.
What matters is that you get a LONG chunk of about 8-9 hours of sleep and your dream recall is up to scratch. If it’s not, you might be having lucid dreams that you just forget as soon as you either wake up or enter your next sleep cycle.
6: Best time to listen to binaural beats
Binaural beats can really help you have more lucid dreams, provided you listen to them at the right time.
I wrote a big guide on how to actually use binaural beats to get the most benefits, but the summary I want to give you of that here is to use them to compliment the technique you’re trying to do.
- If you’re using a soft technique (referring to things like the DILD and MILD) then you should aim for the longer 8 hour sleep tracks that guide you into deep sleep (See the best binaural beats compared here)
- If you’re using a harder technique like WBTB or WILD, you don’t need to be guided into sleep as much, you need something to stimulate your prefrontal cortex and activate critical and logical thought while you’re asleep. This is because during the early hours of the morning, you won’t need any extra help to fall asleep, so just focus on awareness
7: Best time to lucid dream overall
Well, in general, 90% of the lucid dreams I’ve had have probably been in my last stage of REM sleep. I say probably because it’s hard to know for sure without tracking it.
But the vast majority of times I have a lucid dream and then wake up and write it down, and it’s the morning (The normal time I wake up). So this could mean either:
- We mainly lucid dream at that time, or..
- We only really remember the LAST lucid dream or normal dream because it’s the closest to when we naturally wake up in the morning
I think there’s a bit of truth to both of those. I’ve had times (when travelling, for example) where I’ve been woken up all throughout the night several times, almost every hour. And when that happened, I could remember vivid dreams (normal and lucid) throughout the whole night.
So I think we do dream in every sleep cycle but we just find it much easier to lucid dream and REMEMBER them during the final sleep cycle of the night.
A little hack: If you want to fill your dream journal, commit to one night of intense dreaming and just have an alarm wake you up every 90 minutes. This will ensure you wake up after each dreaming cycle before you can forget or replace the dream memories with a new dreaming cycle.
Lucid dreaming at 3AM
The reason so many people search for ‘lucid dreaming at 3AM’ because it’s well known that most people experience their final sleep stage during the hours of 3-4AM. This means most people are likely to have a lucid dream and remember it during that time.
There’s nothing special about the hour of 3AM, it just happens to be that most people who wake up at about 6AM or so, experience their last sleep cycle at this time. It could also be the time just before sunrise for most of us where your serotonin levels are starting to peak getting ready to wake you up.