Lucid dreaming is about becoming aware that you are dreaming and be able to interact and control your dreams. Lucid dreaming can be used to problem solve and may generate unusual creative thinking. The idea is to support alpha wave activity during wake and sleep states and one way to do that is to enhance levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. When alpha waves occur during sleep states they are generally found during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. The greater the alpha wave activity, the more you can control your dreams and learn from them. This type of sleep is referred to as lucid dreaming. Alpha waves can exhibit during wake states as well and they bring about a sense of relaxation.
A little background may be useful here. There are 4 ranges of frequencies that are measured with external electrodes on the brain known as alpha, beta, gamma and delta. Delta frequencies range from 0.5 to 4 Hertz, gamma go from 5 to 7 Hertz, alpha waves go from 8 to 12 Hertz and beta go from 30 Hertz and beyond. Delta and gamma waves are found primarily during sleep states and alpha and beta occur during wake states. Actually, all these frequencies can be found in the brain at all times. It depends on what state of mind you’re in. For healthy sleep, you need the appropriate balance of these different frequencies.
What’s important here are the alpha waves which create a sense of calmness. In other words, when alpha waves are predominate, your brain is peaceful. Our stressful lives can make it difficult to achieve this state. Some individuals seek out mind training and/or do Yoga to get there. Essentially, you’re trying to keep beta waves at bay. Excessive amounts of beta waves can bring about anxiety. Interestingly, children tend to have more alpha waves but as they go through puberty, an increase in beta wave activity occurs. For the most part, adults tend to have more beta wave activity during wake states. It is better to keep lower frequencies overall in the brain to maintain a calm state. The higher your frequencies the more stressed the brain becomes.
With all the multitasking we have to do, stress runs high. Stress is the major complaint of patients in the U.S. All too often individuals run to their physicians seeking tranquilizers and if not, they turn to drugs and alcohol. GABA supplementation is one way to calm the brain without side effects as it is natural and promotes alpha wave activity. In fact, it inhibits neurotransmitters that promote beta activity. It is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain that keeps you from getting over excited. The brain must maintain a balance between excitatory and inhibitory transmitters to remain healthy. Our stressful lives often bring about an imbalance in these neurotransmitters. The addition of choline enhances short-term memory during wake states and promotes peaceful sleep at night. Melatonin is also useful to generate restful sleep as well. Below is a list of some ingredients to look for when interested in promoting lucid dreaming. A combination of these ingredients works well.
GABA is an amino acid and is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Low levels of GABA bring about anxiety. Raising levels of GABA bring about a calm state throughout the brain.
Galantamine is a molecule taken from the daffodil as well as some other plants and has been approved by the FDA to treat Alzheimer’s patients. It is a cholinesterase inhibitor which effectively increases levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine involved with short-term memory. Galantamine supports stronger REM (rapid eye movement) sleep with lucidity and is often taken as a single ingredient.
5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is the precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin the “feel good” neurotransmitter. It initially inhibits REM sleep and then allows for a rebound effect later. This generates more vivid dreaming. 5-HTP has a calming effect on the brain.
Melatonin is produced the pineal gland in the brain and is released when light levels go down. This helps to relax you and prepare you for sleep. It enhances lucid dreaming. It is also an antioxidant.
Choline is the precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and is involved with short-term memory and is associated with better dream recall and lucid dreaming.
Vitamin B5 is a coenzyme that increases production of acetylcholine. It is also involved in the production of ATP.
Valerian is commonly found in a number of sleep aid therapies. There is plenty of scientific evidence that supports that it improves sleep. It has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It is recommended that you take it for 4 to 6 weeks for full effectiveness. It will help you to fall asleep and help to keep you there. Prolonged use may have the opposite effect. Remember, always consult with your healthcare provider about taking any kind of supplement.
The leaves from lemon balm have medicinal benefits in that they are used for digestive problems, vomiting, pain and mental disorders such as anxiety and melancholia. Lemon balm has been used for sleep disorders and restlessness. It has also been used to treat ADHD (attention deficit with hyperactive disorders), autoimmunity, thyroid and memory loss. This has a calming effect to the nervous system as it has a sedative effect. It is often included in sleep aids.
Passion Flower is often used to treat sleep problems, stomach problems, anxiety (nervousness) and narcotic withdrawal. It is also know to help irregular heartbeat, hypertension (high blood pressure), fibromyalgia, inflammation and pain. It is often used with other herbals to promote its sedative ability for calmness. It is often used with Chamomile and Valerian.