Building A Mask To Induce Lucid Dreaming

While dreams are generally thought of as the unconscious wanderings of the mind, that’s not the full story. Lucid dreams are ones in which the individual is conscious or semi-conscious in the dream state, and may be able to control the dream environment. Over the years, various devices have been used to generate these dream states more reliably. [Ben] decided to have a go at building his own, inspired by designs from the 1990s.

To induce lucid dreaming, the aim is to first detect that the mask wearer is in REM sleep. This is commonly done with an infrared eye tracker, which detects the rapid twitching of the eye. [Ben] used the onboard IR proximity sensor on the Adafruit Circuit Playground Express to pull this off. The accelerometer hardware was then used to detect if the wearer was still, indicating they are indeed fully asleep. Once the user is in the correct state, the mask then flashes LEDs which are intended to be visible to the wearer while dreaming. This allows them to realise they are dreaming, and thus enter a conscious, lucid state.

[Ben] doesn’t report the success rate at using the mask, but we’d love to know more about how well the mask works. We’ve seen others do similar work before, and even a recent Hackaday Prize entry. Video after the break.

33 thoughts on “Building A Mask To Induce Lucid Dreaming

  1. I hate to be the person who does this… But there is no evidence to suggest that you are doing anything but dreaming that your are lucid dreaming, and you are only doing that because you are obsessed/interested in it occuring. I went after this hard as a yute and even wrote some software to provide bells and other 1980’s level lucid dreaming “tech”

    1. What if we’re hallucinating we have free will, then? Wouldn’t it be the same? How would you know? There’s no evidence to suggest that you are NOT actually lucid dreaming. Everything is in your mind.

    2. I, for one, already had several lucid dreams, it’s definitely not some kind of “dream dream”.

      It’s really hard to stay in this state, because you are on the brink of waking up, and as soon as your conciousness reconnects to the body and starts to send movement commands, your’re out.

      Somehow your counciousness switches on and you realise “Hey! This is a dream”. You can then start to slowly alter your environment. At first I only could imagine a new situation an had to go to a door to “make it happen”. Then I gradually managed to simply close/open my eyes to change over.

      If someone develops a totally surefire way to induce this, you basically have your personal holodeck…

    3. Actually, the evidence was published before many readers were born. See the books “Lucid Dreaming” and “Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming ” by Stephen LaBerge. The research, performed at Stanford University, in the 1970’s, was supervised by Dr. William Dement, discoverer of REM sleep. Know your facts. I worked with Dr. LaBerge in 1991-92 raising funds for the original lucid dream induction sleep mail. Unfortunately, we could not get insurance, so the company didn’t grow, but Dr. LaBerge still runs the Lucidity Institute and offers workshops in lucid dreaming.

  2. I hate to be that person, but there is really no evidence to support that you are actually lucid dreaming instead of dreaming that you are lucid dreaming. I was quite obsessed with this as a yute and wrote some software (bells at certain points) to induce lucid dreaming. I had what I thought were lucid dreams. Then I realized that it was the same kind of a dream I would have when I was obsessing over anything else.

    If you dream that you can suddenly speak spanish you are not actually speaking spanish in your dreams. See also flying, and marrying pop stars.

    1. Well, that goes to the core of whether there is free will or not. Do you ever have control your over your dreams or thoughts or do they playout like a series of dominos, setup by the universe to outline your existence? Whenever you dream that you do anything, you are not actually doing anything, so what’s the difference if you’re in control or not? If it feels like flying, Spanish, or Britney Spears, the “lucid” portion wouldn’t change that. If people feel like they are lucid dreaming, that’s real enough for me. The real question is if we are all lucid living or not.

      1. Define free will? Because even if you are going by a biblical sense, it says Angels had no free will yet they were able to rebel, the misconception is that free will defined in the Bible is actually just the choice to believe in god or not, which is why Angels had no choice since they knew he existed. Although this is just all theology which again is a choice lol. The other issue here is more just because you can realize you are in a dream doesn’t mean you can be anymore than a spectator as most people are unable to use the language center of their brain while asleep. Hence numbers letters and you talking general don’t take place, and because you realize you are dreaming won’t automatically wake the dormant part of the brain. That is my 2 cents. However don’t get me wrong I would still strive for that experience of lucid dreaming because why not.

    2. The point you keep missing and which leads you to be skeptical is that either way you want to look at it, you’re still dreaming. Lucid dreaming is dreaming. It’s dreaming of lucid dreaming. It’s lucid dreaming. Any time you feel like you’re directing the dream, you’re lucid dreaming. It sounds to me like you’re searching for evidence of god. You want someone to say, look! This is the proof you’ve been searching for. The only thing.. it will never be enough. Stop trying to find an answer to a question that ignores all the answers to the question.

      If you really can’t put it down, I suggest reading up on the deterministic universe. Every choice you think you’re making was put into motion long ago by the big bang and all the subsequent cosmic interactions in our neck of the universe. Even your desire to be free is the result of some atoms bumping into each other. My final advice. Keep investigating, but don’t let it get in the way of having a nice time. Remember to have fun while you’re alive, cause there’s no chance after.

  3. This project could really use a few flex cables so that there isn’t a single pcb straddling the bridge of your nose. I’d also be interested in the code to detect REM vs non REM eye movement. The PIR seems like it would be too crude to get the data you’d need to tell the difference.

    1. Hi – the PCB that stradles the nose is an older commercial product, the one I’ve made doesn’t do that as per the thumbnail image. The code is fully available on GitHub to test. PIR sensors have been detecting REM for decades – the CPX has a basic setup for this and does an adaquate job for eye movement if you just take standard deviations from samples, the REM Dreamer Pro that I showed earlier in the video detects even very minimal eye movement. There’s a number of breakout sensors that might work better so I’ll look at testing a bunch using Adafruit’s Gemma M0. Thanks

  4. I like to daydream and visualize things in my mind but I cannot remember a single dream when sleeping in my entire life.
    So how does his work, you are in REM sleep and a led flashes in your eye, I guess I will simply wake up.

  5. I used to lucid dream when I was younger, growing up and getting much less sleep each night quickly put an end to that though. I remember playing around with my dream state by manipulating lighting/weather and even what the other people in the dream would do or say like puppets (in retrospect that one was creepy). It was especially neat to concentrate on making it the opposite time of day or go from sunshine to thunderstorm and watching everything melt/merge into the new environment. It’s a weird feeling realizing you are in a dream and then making it your sandbox.

      1. What difference does it make? Can you prove that you are actually in control of your waking life and not just being fed an illusion that you are? If you give your kid brother the second controller and it’s not plugged in but he still thinks he’s controlling the second character, does he not think he has control? Our entire perception of the world is already presented through illusion, only your fovea has the resolution to read, yet you still see a page full of text, and the environment around it. This goes for all of our sensory perception, we don’t get it raw, but through perceptual filters. It feels like we have control in our waking lives, and lucid dreams feel like we have control there. The outcome doesn’t change of having had the experience.

        1. I’m not arguing to argue (no 555/arduino here) but how does that view coexist with things like the scientific method? If the argument is there is no way to discern between is illusion and not (when I believe there is in the waking world) then there is no way to measure anything.

          1. I used to “use” my lucid dreaming to solve (real life) problems in my sleep. Since I was able to continue thoughts in my sleep from my wake time the day before AND continue that thought after I woke up but with the (dreamt “experience” of experimenting without the burden of wake-state distractions) I was able to come up with creative solutions.
            To me, being able to carry out active, decision-based social experiments in lucid dreams is all proof I personally need to believe in lucid dreams being a thing.
            Unfortunately, life in the last few years of one’s personal existence pretty much kills lucid dreaming since there’s no time to properly prepare for “wake-time-connected” dreaming. And “wild lucid dreaming” is, as petscii points out, not different enough from “dreaming about lucid dreaming”.

      2. Like many things in life there are very few things that are certain. I suppose it is possible everything I imagined I was manipulating was something that would’ve happened on its own without my assumed intervention. I just get the feeling that having a good 10-20 coincidences back to back in the same dream is very unlikely. All I can say is what I perceived as lucid dreaming was entertaining, moreso than when I had dreams where I just went with the flow.

  6. I built one of these in college once, a real quick hack job one evening held together by tape and hotglue. I estimated my time to REM and put a delay timer and blink pattern into an atmega. There was a small cable going from the mask to a breadboard and benchtop PSU on my desk.
    It didn’t exactly work, over the couple of weeks I used it I had (and remembered) completely wild dreams but I didn’t achieve lucidity. Also I slept terribly. Eventually I rolled in my sleep and the cable pulled the breadboard off the desk and broke the point-to-point wiring in the mask and that was the end of that.

  7. When the topic is lucid dreaming, I am reminded of what Richard Feynman wrote in one of his life story books about his own personal experiments with it. He was able to direct his dreams, but in the end, he gave it up because it was not worth the effort.

  8. For lucid dreaming, lights are 100% worthless in my experience. There are 3 simple gateways: – 1:Take tryptophan tablets, but don’t ruin your health. 2: Pile on blankets, and get your core temperature up high (works best). 3: Sleep-in.

    1. #2 is interesting, I found that when I have trouble sleeping putting on extra helps me get to sleep and even think feel more rested. But I also all night sweating wasn’t exactly healthy. Never researched it though, might be worth it.

    2. #2 is interesting, I found that when I have trouble sleeping, putting on an extra blanket helps me get to sleep and I even think I feel more rested. But I also thought all that night sweating wasn’t exactly healthy. Never researched it though, might be worth it.

      ***edit button please***

  9. U all may not believe in lucid dreaming but u should probably be aware at the very least that your government/cia/defense dept. Believe enough in it to spend many years and many many or your tax dollars to research into it.

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