Lucid dreaming is gaining increased attention, and ‘how to lucid dream’ is a topic of widespread interest. Most techniques for increasing the frequency of lucid dreaming are methodological i.e. they are different tactics to affect your dream state, however supplements are another tool you can use to increase how often and how effectively you lucid dream.
Like all such things however, the internet is replete with misinformation and dubious claims of effectiveness. We’ve tried to help by reviewing the evidence for different supplements, and the best sources for each.
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Lucid Dreaming Supplements
There are many different lucid dreaming supplements marketed to the public, with varying levels of scientific evidence to support them. Some supplements will bundle ingredients together, however we will step through the individual supplements one at a time, discussing their use, effectiveness, safety information, and evidence to support them.
DISCLAIMER: The following should be treated as general information only, and not medical advice. Before commencing new supplements, you should always consider consulting your personal doctor.
If you’re going to try supplements to assist your lucid dreaming journey, then Vitamin B6 is the place to start.
Research has shown that using vitamin B6 supplementation can increase the rate of dream recall by over 64% (Aspy et al., 2018), but anecdotal evidence also suggests it increase the vividness, emotional quality and colour of your dreams.
How To Take It
First, try your first dose early in the day, such as with your breakfast, so you have all day to notice any potential negative effects. Assuming you do not encounter any problems, the way to use vitamin B6 for lucid dreaming is to consume it just before going to bed. You can take it with water, but if you encounter any stomach sensitivity, you can also take it with a small snack such as fruit.
Dosing could start at 100mg, or if you are keen to really dive in, try 200mg. Before you do this however, review any other supplements and vitamins you are taking (e.g. a multivitamin) to make sure you are not double dosing. The upper limit for a daily dose of vitamin B6 is 240mg.
Don’t take vitamin B6 more than 4 nights per week.
Vitamin B6 is generally very well tolerated, but indicators that you should not take it include hypervitaminosis B6 (excessively high levels of vitamin B6) or previously demonstrated hypersensitivity to pyridoxine. As with all things, check with your personal doctor as generic information may not apply to your personal condition 🙂
Alternatives, if you don’t want to take vitamin B6, include mugwort (see below).
Another common lucid dreaming supplement to consider is Alpha GPC (alpha-glycerophosphocholine also known as choline alphoscerate). This works through providing the building blocks of neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is associated with rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep), which is when lucid dreaming occurs. If you are also using vitamin B6, you can generally also use alpha GPC at the same time without problem, but check with your personal doctor.
How To Take It
This is taken somewhat differently to Vitamin B6, in that it is optimally taken after 5 hours of sleep.
Take a test dose with breakfast, similar to the advice for vitamin B6, to ensure that you won’t encounter any negative effects. Assuming this doesn’t cause you any problems, you can progress to using it to assist with lucid dreaming, but waking 5 hours after going to sleep and taking it.
A safe place to start would be 300 to 600mg, however the effect does increase with the dose, and many people describe needing between 900 and 1200mg to achieve lucid dreaming.
The upper limit daily intake for alpha GPC is 3500mg, so the doses used for lucid dreaming are well below this threshold. Do not take alpha GPC more than four nights per week, and stop immediately if you experience any negative effects.
The only real contraindication is if you have previously had a reaction to alpha GPC. Described side effects include heartburn, headache, dizziness and skin rash. Pregnancy or breastfeeding are unknown as to whether its safe to use or not, so be sure to check with your personal doctor.
This is another supplement, with some similarities to galantamine (see below), derived from Chinese club moss Huperzia serrata. Huperzine-A works as a cholinesterase inhibitor, thereby boosting the levels of acetylcholine, similar to the function of alpha GPC but via another mechanism.
As a neurotransmitter, acetylcholine contributes to a feeling of alertness, and arousal, and therefore huperzine-A can sometimes be used to enhance cognitive performance.
How To Take It
This is now generic advice for all supplements you may notice, but take your first dose with breakfast. This allows all day for you to notice any adverse reactions; as unlikely as this is, it’s still important to be cautious.
After that, you take it similarly to alpha GPC and galantamine, which is to say, around 4-6 hours after falling asleep.
This can vary according to preparation, so be sure to check the dosage label on whatever supplement you try. As with the others, it is wise to start with a light dose and build up, rather than jumping in the deep end.
As below, make sure you do not take this with galantamine. Rather think of them as either/or options, but not both, as they have very similar mechanisms of action.
Of all lucid dreaming supplements, galantamine is probably the one with the most scientific evidence behind it. It works to effect levels of acetylcholine, just like alpha GPC. Whereas alpha GPC provides the building blocks of acetylcholine, galantamine works by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase, which is an enzyme that breaks acetylcholine down. This prolongs and intensifies the period of REM sleep, providing more support for lucid dreaming.
How To Take It
As with the above mentioned supplements, always try your first dose with breakfast as a check against any adverse reactions. Assuming this is fine, you should take galantamine in the same way you take alpha GPC, which is to say, between 4 and 6 hours after falling asleep. As with other supplements, if you find your stomach sensitive to them, try taking them with a small, light snack.
Initially, you should try a 4mg dose of galantamine. If this doesn’t cause you any problems, you can move to the more common dose of 8mg.
Generally speaking, you can take vitamin B6 at the start of the night and then alpha-GPC with galantamine (but be sure not to take galantamine with huperzine-A), but, as with alpha GPC, do not take galantamine more than 4 nights per week.
Mugort is a common weed found throughout Europe, as well as parts of Africa and Asia. The Latin name is Artemisia vulgaris, and various other common names for mugwort include common wormwood, wild wormwood, felon herb, as well as chrysanthemum weed, St. John’s plant, and ‘sailor’s tobacco’.
Unfortunately there is a paucity of empirical research on mugwort in humans, but it has occupied a number of roles in folk remedies in different cultures. A number of cultures have apparently used mugwort tea to induce lucid dreams, but this has not been studied to the extent that some of the other supplements described above have been.
One notable example has been the Chumash people of North America, who referred to mugwort as ‘dream sage’. Among the Chumash, mugwort found use not only for dream support, but also for treating dysmenorrhea, urinary tract infections, and in childbirth (Adams and Garcia, 2006).
Melatonin is produced by your pineal gland, and plays an essential role in initiating and maintaining sleep. It can often be used by those with sleep disorders such as insomnia or shift work related sleep disturbance.
Aside from supporting sleep, the role of melatonin in supporting lucid dreaming is less clear. Some users report increased vividness to dreams, but empirical research on dreaming in melatonin, and particularly lucid dreaming, is still emerging.
The guidelines of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2015) warn against using melatonin in people suffering with dementia.
Melatonin may stay active in older people longer than in younger people and cause daytime drowsiness (Gussone, 2021).
Mexican Dream Herb
Like some others aforementioned, ‘Mexican dream herb’ or Calea zacatechichi is a plant which has been used by some of the native peoples of Mexico to assist with dreaming. Reportedly, it increases dreaming and may have some hallucinogenic effects (Mayagoitia et al., 1986).
It can generally be purchased legally as a ‘supplement’, but research around safe use, dosage and side effects in humans is lacking.
Combing some of these supplements is possible, and useful, as with our favoured supplement, however there are a few scenarios you should be aware of.
- Do not combine galantamine and huperzine-A. Use one or the other, but not both.
- Be careful not to double dose e.g. if you take vitamin B6 and a B-complex vitamin, make sure you don’t exceed the maximum daily dose of vitamin B6
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Adams, J. D., Jr, & Garcia, C. (2006). Women’s health among the Chumash. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 3(1), 125–131. https://doi.org/10.1093/ecam/nek021
Aspy, D. J., Madden, N. A., & Delfabbro, P. (2018). Effects of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) and a B Complex Preparation on Dreaming and Sleep. Perceptual and motor skills, 125(3), 451–462. https://doi.org/10.1177/0031512518770326
Gussone, F. (2021). Melatonin: benefits, dosage, and side effects. Sleep.
Mayagoitia, L., Díaz, J. L., & Contreras, C. M. (1986). Psychopharmacologic analysis of an alleged oneirogenic plant: Calea zacatechichi. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 18(3), 229–243. https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-8741(86)90002-4