I have a few updates on things I have been trying, or intend on trying soon to boost dream recall and become lucid, while on meds.
The first technique I would like to talk about is not really a technique per se, but more of a behavioural adjustment. Instead of taking my 5mg of Zyprexa while getting ready for bed, I’ve been taking it about 3-4 hours before bedtime. I’ve found that I can function well without any dips in attention/energy until bedtime, I can still get to sleep no problem, and I seem better able to recall dreams in the morning. It’s hard to say how much my expectation is affecting my recall. Often just genuinely wanting to remember your dreams is enough, and any behaviour preceding the consequence could be deemed superstitious (in psych jargon), or inconsequential. Maybe spinning in a circle three times while chanting to some random deity would work equally as well if you believed strongly enough it would help. Also, depending on what medication (if any) you are taking, this simply may be implausible and even dangerous. I know that the newer antipsychotic medication, Saphris, sedates quite rapidly with its chemistry and sublingual route of administration. Impairing yourself for a few hours before bed to potentially improve dream recall seems hardly worth it, but could be interesting experimenting with if you have a night/morning with no other commitments or planned use of vehicles/heavy machinery.
My views on external dream recall and lucidity enhancement tools have changed dramatically over the past several months. Prior to this time, I held the belief that it was better to be completely self sufficient with recalling dreams and inducing lucidity, using nothing but your own intelligence/memory/set of learned behaviours/and any other internal mechanisms. Recently however, I’ve reevaluated this position. What’s wrong with starting with a little extra help, while you gain more experience and confidence? What’s wrong with training wheels in the beginning? I think most opposed to supplementary methods would argue that there is a risk for developing dependence on external devices/supplements/mechanisms. How great is this risk? Through inductive reasoning, If the training wheel analogy is strong, you could question how many people would forbid their children from using training wheels for fear they would become dependent on them and get made fun of as teens and adults using them. This seems a bit extreme to me verging on ridiculous. More beginners would get turned off of biking/lucid dreaming if they were unsuccessful using no aides, such as if they crashed, or could not become lucidly aware while dreaming despite repeated efforts.
Along this same line of reasoning, being on medication presents a sort of handicap to dream recall and gaining lucidity. You wouldn’t deprive someone with a physical handicap the use of a wheelchair or crutches for fear they would become dependent on them. You would use the methods available to optimize quality of life and then strive toward more independence in time if possible.
Last night I downloaded the app, Dreamz by Adam Siton (from apple’s app store). It works similarly to the very popular, Sleep Cycles alarm clock, in that it uses the device’s accelerometer to roughly track the stages of sleep you are in during each sleep cycle. Instead of sounding when in the lightest sleep stage like the Sleep Cycles app (though this is an option as well), it sounds when you are in REM sleep, dreaming. This principle is very similar to that of many of the lucid dream masks (think Nova Dreamer, REM Dreamer, the upcoming Remee, though the Remee uses a timer rather than a sensor I believe). With this app, you can choose a sound (many of which you have to purchase) or you can record your own, which is what I opted for. The first few times the alarm sounded (“Evan, do a reality check man, you might be dreaming!”) I think I had either just awoke, or the alarm was too loud and woke me up. After two or three times of hearing it, I got frustrated and turned it off. Not long after, I had a super awesome lucid dream in which I ran through a mossy forest and climbed a large tree. I hadn’t had a lucid dream in at least a month. I don’t know if I can credit the app for this lucidity, because it was off at the time, but maybe it primed my mind for it or something. I will try again tonight! Another thing to note: This app cost me $2.99 . Is a mask that does pretty much the same thing (but uses visual stimuli) really that much more effective? So much more effective that it justifies dropping $90 – $350? Maybe. I don’t know. I really want to believe in the Nova Dreamer 2 and the Remee, but it’s all hype right now. So much hype! I’m look forward to some unbiased reviews from people who’ve purchased one.
Reading numerous testimonials on lucid dreaming forums, and on dream/consciousness researcher, Ryan Hurd’s website, dreamstudies.org (a source that I find informative and trustworthy), I became intrigued by a memory enhancement supplement, Galantamine. Contemporarily, it’s primary use is as a memory enhancer for those afflicted with Alzheimer’s. I’ve also read some studies about experiments involving its use as a cognitive enhancer in people with schizophrenia taking antipsychotic medications, which provided some evidence that it was beneficial for this indication (the studies I looked at were pretty small scale, but sparked my interest in the supplement nonetheless). It has also gained a strong following amongst some lucid dreamers looking for a boost in their dream recall and chances of getting lucid. I ordered some on ebay (the only source I could find that shipped to Canada) a couple weeks ago and just received my bottle of 4mg Galantamine (w/ choline – a crucial co-supplement, because this method is all about boosting acetylecholine levels at the synapse – acetylecholine is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in memory). I’ve read many positive comments and a fair number of neutral or negative ones. I’m going to stick with the app, intention, straight up dream journaling and consistent reality checks for now, because they are working, but I will experiment with the supplement when the time is right!