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Lucid Dreaming: Authentic Terminology vs. Misleading Slang

Updated: May 15, 2023

The study of lucid dreaming is rich with terminology, some of it useful, some of it psycho-babble. How do you tell the difference?

As a newcomer or even a seasoned dream explorer, it's absolutely crucial to distinguish between the genuine, scientifically-backed terminology and the homegrown slang that often sprouts in lucid dreaming communities.

lucid dreaming terms explained

Verified Lucid Dreaming Terminology

Scientifically recognized terms offer a solid, fact-based understanding for those venturing into the realm of lucid dreaming. These concepts have been refined through comprehensive research and clinical studies by pioneers such as Dr. Stephen LaBerge.

👍 MILD (Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams)

This technique employs prospective memory before and during sleep to promote lucid dreaming.

👍 DILD (Dream-Initiated Lucid Dream):

This term describes the moment a dreamer gains lucidity while the dream is already in progress. It's a common pathway to lucid dreaming identified by researchers.

👍 WILD (Wake-Initiated Lucid Dream)

This denotes a lucid dream that begins directly from an awake state, without any lapse in consciousness.

👍 Hypnagogic Hallucinations:

These are sensory experiences that take place as one transitions from wakefulness to sleep. They are commonly reported in scientific literature and are often associated with the onset of sleep.

👍 Hypnopompic Hallucinations:

These sensory experiences occur as one transitions from sleep to wakefulness. They're the counterpart to hypnagogic hallucinations and are often associated with sleep disorders.

👍 Sleep Paralysis:

This is a state where the body can't move as one is falling asleep or awakening. It's a well-documented phenomenon often accompanied by vivid hallucinations.

👍 Critical State Testing
(commonly known as Reality Testing):

This technique encourages dreamers to form habits of frequently checking if they're awake or dreaming.

👍 REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep:

This is the stage of sleep associated with intense dreaming and, by extension, lucid dreaming. It was first identified by researchers Aserinsky and Kleitman.

👍 NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep:

This phase of sleep comprises the stages of sleep that aren't characterized by rapid eye movements or vivid dreams.

👍 Dream Recall:

The capacity to remember dreams upon waking. This is a critical aspect of lucid dreaming as it enables you to recognize patterns and triggers within your dreams.

👍 Pre-lucid Dream:

A dream in which the dreamer senses something is 'off' but hasn't fully realized they're dreaming. It's a stage of lucidity identified in scientific studies.

👍 Sleep Latency:

This term refers to the length of time it takes to transition from full wakefulness to sleep. It's a critical aspect of sleep health and can influence the likelihood and quality of lucid dreams.

lucid dream slang

Potentially Misleading Lucid Dreaming Slang

In contrast, the world of lucid dreaming is also teeming with homemade slang that can mislead more than it guides. These terms lack the scientific grounding of their counterparts and frequently promote practices of questionable value or safety.

The list below is not extensive, as new slang is added almost daily:

☠️ DEILD (Dream-Exit Induced Lucid Dream):

This approach involves attempting to re-enter a dream lucidly upon waking. An unnecessary word-salad for what others would simply call "going back to sleep". It lacks scientific backing and is a needless acronym for what should simply be common sense.

☠️ FILD (Finger-Induced Lucid Dream):

This method suggests moving your fingers as though playing a piano while drifting into sleep. It's based on anecdotal evidence and lacks scientific support.

☠️ 90ILD (90-Minute Induced Lucid Dream):

This absurdly ill educated acronym, suggest a practice of waking up every 90 minutes to try lucid dreaming. It disrupts healthy sleep routines and is unsupported by empirical evidence. Possibly the worst example of mindless slang.

☠️ SSILD (Senses-Induced Lucid Dream):

This technique proposes focusing on different senses to induce lucid dreams. It lacks scientific support and may lead to sleep disturbances.

☠️ Omnilucid:

A term that describes an as yet unproven state where every dream is a lucid dream. It's a fanciful concept that is lacking scientific evidence. So far, only self-reported anecdotal claims exist.

☠️ VILD (Visual Induction of Lucid Dreams):

A community-derived term suggesting the use of vivid visualization before sleep to trigger lucidity.

☠️ WBTB (Wake Back To Bed):

This term is a convoluted way of saying 'getting up in the night.' It involves waking up for a short period during the night before returning to sleep with the hope of inducing a lucid dream. Not only does it lack scientific endorsement (although has been adopted by some researchers), but it can also harm healthy sleep routines.

☠️ RILD (Reading Induced Lucid Dream):

A term suggesting that reading about lucid dreaming before sleep can induce lucidity. While reading may influence dream content, there is no scientific evidence to support this technique as a reliable method for lucid dream induction.

☠️ CANWILD (Custom Alarm No-Wake Induced Lucid Dream):

This technique involves using custom alarms to induce lucidity without fully waking the dreamer. It's a method without scientific validation that could potentially disturb normal sleep patterns.

☠️ ADA (All Day Awareness):

This term suggests that maintaining high levels of awareness throughout the day will increase the chances of becoming lucid during dreams. While awareness is crucial in lucid dreaming, this technique lacks empirical validation and can lead to mental exhaustion.

An Easy Way to Spot Lucid Dream Slang A good way to spot unverified techniques is to be on the lookout for "techniques" ending in ILD, the only legitimate terms using ILD as a suffix are WILD, DILD, and MILD. All other acronyms ending in ILD are slang terms that are attempting to appear legitimate through the unauthorised use of terminology developed by Dr Stephen LaBerge.

Know the Difference

While these slang terms can reflect the creative spirit and enthusiasm of lucid dreaming communities, it's essential to keep in mind that they are not scientifically validated techniques and are almost always the entirely speculative assertions of members of the public.

Understanding lucid dreaming techniques

Those keen on lucid dreaming should lean on established research and approach community slang with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Understanding these terms as unproven public theories rather than established facts is the difference between being an educated lucid dreamer, and one that is unable to distinguish fact from fiction.

Misinformation can lead to ineffective practices and potentially harm sleep health. Always approach the world of lucid dreaming with a discerning mind and a commitment to scientific authenticity.


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