Hi guys. Last night I experimented a bit with some of the suggestions and tools mentioned in the live streams lately and had some interesting results. I ran the sleep cycle tracker video, and it seems that my sleep cycles matched up pretty closely (though since it takes me a while to fall asleep, I had to restart the video from the beginning every so often until I was asleep). Nearly all of my natural awakenings were pretty close to either a “REM” or “awake” stage, with the possible exception of a slight bit of messiness toward the last few hours.
Also, at some point during the last cycles when I felt like I might be close to sleep and REM, I toyed around with the 20 Steps idea and got myself into a nice little “test” lucid dream. Actually, I tried it twice. The first time, I almost made it, as the mental imagery became lifelike for just an instant, but then I accidentally snapped back awake or into NREM sleep. A short while later, I tried again and very quickly hit the dream state. I don't think I had completed even one trip. At this point, I had no problem with my usual reality check (though technically I already knew I was dreaming, as this was essentially a very quick WILD), and I clearly remembered to do the things in the dream I had been planning and rehearsing during my waking-life reality checks. It was a short dream, and I didn't get to accomplish anything spectacular, but it wasn't a bad attempt after being out of regular practice for quite a while. Judging from the sleep tracker, it's likely I had just hit the end of REM there, and indeed I couldn't get back to sleep for another hour after that (a problem I have occasionally for whatever reason).