What is the longest time you can spend in a lucid dream?
Lucid dreams follow the same rules as normal dreams, and it is the final dream of the night that is is the longest, lasting roughly 30-45 minutes.
This means under normal circumstances, the best possible outcome a lucid dreamer can expect is a lucid dream lasting about 45 minutes.
That said, this is not a hard rule and exceptions can occur. Indeed, the longest recorded period of REM (dreaming sleep) is one of 3 hrs 8 mins by David Powell (USA) at the Puget Sound Sleep Disorder Centre, Seattle, Washington, USA on 29 April 1994.
Dreaming sleep is characterized by rapid eye movements known as REM. There is evidence of other dreamlike hallucinatory experiences occurring during different phases of the sleep cycle, but those experiences are not what most people would consider true dreams.
REM is where most dreams occur, and most people experience between 90 minutes to 2 hours of REM (dreaming) sleep each night, with a maximum of about 45 minutes in the longest phase of REM.
Therefore a lucid dreamer could consider themselves very lucky to experience a lucid dream lasting 45 minutes!
Understanding the Sleep Cycle
A complete night's sleep is made up of repeating cycles, these cycles consist of distinct phases.
Each cycle lasts roughly 90 minutes, but the length of the cycle can vary greatly between individuals.
The final phase of the sleep cycle is REM and it is during REM that dreaming occurs.
The Sleep Cycle Phases
Stage 1 - NREM N1
Typical length: 1-5 Minutes
"dozing off" - light sleep.
Still somewhat alert and can be easily awakened
Stage 2 - NREM N2
Typical length: 10-60 Minutes
Eye movement and brain waves slow down. Body temperature drops. Relaxed muscles.
Brief sudden increases in brain wave frequency known as sleep spindles occur.
About half of sleep is spent in N2.
Stage 3 - NREM N3 - Slow Wave Sleep
Typical length: 20-40 Minutes
Stage 3 is commonly called "deep sleep".
Experts believe this phase of sleep is restorative, and required for bodily recovery and growth.
Delta waves begin to appear.
Deep sleep, difficult to wake up.
We spend most time in deep sleep in the first half of the night. As the night continues these stages become shorter and more time is spent in REM.
Typical length: 5-45 Minutes
Brain activity reaches levels that are similar to wakefulness.
Bodily atonia occurs - with the exception of eyes and the muscles that control breathing.
Breathing becomes rapid and irregular. Rapid eye movements occur.
We spend most time in REM in the second half of the night. At the start of the night REM lasts only 5-10 minutes, but as the night continues REM becomes longer.
How Many Dreams in a Night's Sleep?
We experience four to five of these sleep cycles during a typical night's sleep, and with each new cycle the length of REM increases.
In the early cycles REM lasts 5-10 minutes, but by the final sleep cycle REM can be as long as 45 minutes (sometimes more).
Therefore we have roughly five periods of REM each night, that's five dreams each night, amounting to roughly 90-120 minutes of dreaming.
It's important to remember that a single period of REM can appear to be multiple dreams, as often dream themes and scenes can shift dramatically creating the illusion of more than five dreams in a night's sleep.
In other words, we have on average 5 dreams a night, but our recollection of these dreams may create the illusion of more.
Longest Lucid Dream?
A typical lucid dreamer can expect lucid dreams lasting anywhere between a few minutes to 45 minutes.
In reality, most lucid dreams will be somewhere between 5-15 minutes long.
As already noted, there can be exceptions.
In rare cases, a phenomenon known as REM Rebound may occur.
This is where the body attempts to "catch up" on lost dreaming from a previous night of insomnia or disturbed sleep.
When this happens, REM can be considerably longer.
However, it is not advised to try to artificially induce this state as healthy sleep is vital for physical and mental well-being.
I've personally experienced a handful of lucid dreams that appeared to last over an hour.
Age, health, and genetics can also play an important role in the frequency and length of REM.
How Long Do We Spend Sleeping in a Lifetime?
So, now you know how long you can lucid dream in a single night, have you ever wondered how much of your life is spent sleeping?
And for that matter, what's the maximum amount of time you could possibly spend lucid dreaming in a lifetime?
If so, you'll find the answer in the video below...