Updated: Apr 10, 2021
This is a minimalist, complete guide on Wake Initiated Lucid Dreaming (WILD) for new lucid dreamers. It will cover what WILD is, why you might want to learn WILD, when to try WILD, and the easiest way to WILD. The end of the guide will offer five additional tips for success.
What is WILD?
WILD is a lucid dreaming method formally described by LaBerge and Rheingold in their book, Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming. To WILD, all you need to do is fall asleep while holding some conscious awareness. Carrying that awareness into sleep results in a lucid dream.
Why try WILD?
As a rule of thumb, WILDs maximize time spent lucid when compared to dream induced lucid dreams. When done as detailed below, they take fewer than 20 minutes to perform. After enough practice, WILD is very reliable, easy, and efficient. All of this makes WILD a skill worth mastering.
When to WILD?
You can WILD any time you’re able to sleep. However, it’s easiest to WILD when you are close to a REM phase in a later sleep cycle. Attempting WILD at the beginning of the night is very difficult, even for those with experience. Simplified, it’s best to attempt WILD after around 6 hours of sleep. The ideal timing varies per person, but perfection isn’t required. Setting an alarm to wake up after 6 hours of sleep will suit most people just fine. If you must be precise, track your sleep cycles using an app. I personally use the app “Sleep as Android”. If you are on iOS, or simply prefer something simpler, the app “Sleep Cycle” comes recommended by Wirecutter.
How to WILD?
The easiest way to WILD is to first get good at falling asleep. The easier you can fall asleep, the better. Dreaming requires sleep. If you don’t fall asleep, you won’t lucid dream. So focus on sleeping and the rest will follow. If you have trouble falling asleep, try meditation or a relaxation technique before your WILD attempt. Focus on your breath, listen to calming music, or do whatever else you need to become sleepy and calm.
Once you are confident that you can fall asleep quickly and easily, it’s time to think about the other aspect of WILD: staying aware as you fall asleep.
Conventionally, people use something called an “anchor” to maintain awareness as they fall asleep. An anchor is anything you can focus on passively to stay conscious as your body falls asleep. The easiest anchors to use are things you can focus on in your environment. A great example of an environmental anchor is white noise, be it from speakers, a fan, or buzzing electronics. A more tactile person might try holding a small object or wearing a sleep mask.
Anchors should never keep you from falling asleep. If you find yourself having trouble sleeping during an attempt, choose a different anchor, step through your meditation and relaxation techniques, and try again.
No one can tell you which anchor will work best for you, but if you’re having trouble thinking of an anchor to use, I recommend you look at the following list and start with the anchor that most appeals to you. You can change this to something that suits you better after you’ve had practice using one of these.
Ceiling fan (sound, touch)
Music/White noise (sound)
Small object (touch)
To use an anchor, simply give the anchor some attention as you drift off to sleep. It’s okay to forget about your anchor while you are falling asleep. Good anchors, like the ones above, will gently remind you of their presence if you drift too far into unconsciousness.
From here, it’s a balancing act between staying aware of your anchor and allowing your body to sleep. Like any skill worth learning, it takes practice to get right, so don’t despair if you have trouble finding that balance at first. Keep practicing, stay persistent, and I’m sure you’ll find success!
Five Bonus Tips for WILD
You will likely experience strange sensations when WILDing. These are called hypnagogic hallucinations and include a wide variety of sensory experience. Don’t focus on these sensations if or when they happen to you. Instead, keep a meditative mind during your attempt. Passively allow these sensations to come and go without diverting attention from your anchor.
Never lose sight of the fact that your goal for WILD is a lucid dream, and anything that does not serve that goal isn’t worth worrying about. For instance, you can safely ignore the entire concept of hypnagogic hallucinations if you wanted. Likewise, you can completely ignore something called sleep paralysis, which is a separate phenomena from hypnagogic sensations. Sleep paralysis is a medical condition and--contrary to popular belief--most people will never experience it when attempting WILD, which means it’s not relevant to your goal.
Stay comfortable when falling asleep. If you need to move, move. If you’re itchy, scratch the itch. Lie on your side if you’re a side sleeper. You don’t have to torture yourself to WILD. Just be comfortable.
Practice WILD often. Success lies in practice. The more you practice WILD, the more opportunities you have to fine tune and adjust your approach. The more you fine tune and adjust, the closer you get to finding a method of WILD that gives you the best chance for success.
If you’re struggling to find balance between keeping conscious and falling asleep, remember that it’s always better to fall asleep rather than keep yourself awake. It’s fairly common to lose consciousness during a WILD attempt only to regain it right as the dream forms. At the end of the day, a lucid dream is a lucid dream. How you get there doesn’t matter.
I hope this guide helped you understand WILD and armed you with the tools and knowledge to get started on learning this incredible skill. While WILD might seem complex at first glance, I promise it’s easier than you think! So if you’re new, don’t hesitate to start practicing WILD tonight! It can be done alongside any other lucid dreaming method you’re already working on, or completely on its own. It’s totally up to you! Until next time, stay lucid.