Lucid Dreams

Operating telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory means that I work a night shift. My working days typically start at 4pm and end in morning twilight, about a half hour before sunrise. Despite that, I often spend my off time on a day schedule. Originally this was a matter of necessity. Being on a day schedule allowed me to interact with my kids before they went to school and after they came home. I also find that I don’t do well staying on a night schedule all the time. I find I do need occasional time out in the sunshine. Also, the neighbors get a little cranky if I mow the yard at midnight!

One of the ways I’ve adapted to swapping schedules is that I drive to work the night before my shift begins. I stay up as late as I can and then sleep as long as I can during the next day. This works pretty well, though I do find the older I get the more my circadian rhythms resist the change back to nights. No matter how late I’ve stayed up, my eyes will tend to pop open for a while around 8am. If I’m tired enough, I will usually go right back to sleep. What I’ve also noticed is that especially on the first night getting ready for a shift, I’m prone to lucid dreams. In short, lucid dreams are ones where you’re consciously aware you’re dreaming. This has become common enough that I’ve discovered I can sometimes interact with my dreams. I can decide where to go or what to look at.

The experience of lucid dreaming feels at once profound and limited. It feels profound because it feels like I’ve gained control of a realm where we normally have no control. It feels limited because the control isn’t complete. The best way I can describe it is that it’s like playing a video game. I can move around, explore some things, but I don’t really control the “plot” or what other people in the dream do. Still, I can see why there’s a history of spiritual teachers, especially in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, ascribing special significance to lucid dreaming.

When I re-read Children of the Old Stars in preparation for starting a new edition, I noticed that I used dreams and dream imagery quite a bit. In my revisions for the forthcoming edition, I decided to enhance this and bring in some of my experience with lucid dreaming. I plan to expand these themes in the next book, Heirs of the New Earth. There, the protagonist’s experience with lucid dreams from Children of the Old Stars, prepares him for being able to move around a non-corporeal reality.

My Patreon supporters have been joining me as I rewrite Children of the Old Stars for a new edition. That journey will wrap up later this month. In fact, I’ve already started the process of giving the book a complete, comprehensive re-read for consistency and last-minute corrections. I’ve also gone ahead and set the ebook up for pre-order. It’s currently available for pre-order at the following stores:

6 comments on “Lucid Dreams

  1. Willow Croft says:

    I love lucid dreaming. Once, I made the acquaintance of someone from the club, and I didn’t know this person all that well, yet. Out of nowhere, I dreamed that person and I were in a certain setting and event, and then I woke up with a start because it felt so real, and I heard this person say my name, and, still sleepy from the dream, I responded with the person’s name, like a question. Then the phone rings (it’s like 3 or 4 in the morning) and it was that person. They said they heard me say their name in their room, and it woke them up, and even though we didn’t know each other that well to call, this person called anyway. Just a little real life support of that super real lucid dreaming occurrence!

    • Now that’s an intense lucid dream experience. As I say, I can understand how many teachers can look at lucid dreams and suggest they are glimpses at a different reality. It would be easy to be skeptical and simply say you and the other person clearly made an impression on each other, but the timing is really interesting. Your experience definitely makes me think more about the idea of lucid dreams being a glimpse into another layer of reality.

  2. I used to lave lucid dreams now and then, but I honestly don’t remember having one for quite a while.

    I remember a couple techniques I read that you could do if you wondered if you were dreaming or not. The author (sorry, don’t remember the name) said to count the fingers on a hand, and look at the time on a clock–then look at the clock again. They said that time in a dream tends to be inconsistent, so the time could change greatly between the first and second time you look at the clock. And the number of fingers on your hand isn’t always consistent.

    Every now and then when something very strange happens to me, I’ll look at my hand and check a clock twice. One time my hand had five fingers with a sixth growing out of my pinkie. I struggled to remember, “Is my hand usually that way?” After a bit, I thought, “No, it isn’t.”

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. I must have either read the book you did or discussed it with someone, because I remember the part about looking at your hand. Alas, I don’t remember the name of the book, either. I’d forgotten about looking at a clock. I have tried looking at my hand in a lucid dream, but I often find it hard to get a clear focus. I do find that I don’t always “see” a consistent number of fingers on my hand.

  3. Sheila Hartney says:

    For what my opinion is worth, when I did research on shift work several decades back, I learned that night shift workers are actually better off remaining on that shift on their days off. You, of course, on not working the standard five days on, two off that was actually being referenced. The other advice given, when I did that research, was that a person on night shift should make their time closer to a standard day shift by getting up, going to work an hour or so later, working, then coming home and staying up for several hours before going to sleep. I worked an afternoon shift most of my working life, which is much closer to “normal” than the overnights you are talking about.

    • Thanks for you thoughts, Sheila. One of the real-world challenges of living on a night shift all the time is that so little of the “real” world operates on a night shift. It makes going to the store for groceries a serious challenge, or taking the kids to school, or even making a doctor’s appointment. Even at Kitt Peak, administrators tend to schedule meetings during the day rather than at night. In the winter, it means never seeing sunlight — because even here in the southwest, we only have about eight hours of sunlight in the dead of winter. I suspect most people who work a night shift would benefit from staying closer to a night schedule on days off. At this point, I’ve been flipping my schedule for more than thirty years. The damage to my system has almost certainly been done!

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