Lucid Dreaming Day

Friday, April 12, 2024

Primary Blog/Lucid Dreaming Day

Celebrating 49 Years of Lucid Dreaming Science!

By Robert Waggoner © 2024

On the morning of April 12, 1975, Alan Worsley slept in a laboratory in Hull University (UK), hoping to make scientific history.

Around 8 a.m., after 30 minutes of dreaming, it happened. Worsley realized within a dream that he was dreaming.

Remembering that he was in a sleep lab, he recalled how graduate student researcher, Keith Hearne, asked him to signal his awareness that he was dreaming by moving his eyes left to right seven or eight times. This left-right signal would be picked up by the rapid eye movement pads on his eyes and confirm that Worsley was consciously and lucidly aware within the dream.

​Incredibly, as researcher Keith Hearne watched, the electro-oculargram readout began to move from typical rapid-eye-movements (i.e., flittering all about) to a very measured and controlled, left-right signal. In that moment, Hearne reported:

“It was like getting SETI signals from another solar system. I was ecstatic, but
​had to keep quiet not to awaken the subject. It was an amazing, mind-boggling, situation. I was looking at a communication from a person in another room who was asleep, 'unconscious', dreaming, yet in his own vivid world in which he was perfectly conscious and interacting with others.”

In this moment, the first hard scientific evidence for lucid dreaming appeared. Lucid dreamer, Alan Worsley, had signaled his awareness from within a lucid dream and researcher Keith Hearne had the ‘proof’. The modern age of scientifically investigating lucid dreams had begun!

So how did Alan Worsley ‘learn’ how to lucid dream before the scientific evidence existed?!

According to Worsley, he taught himself as a child a method to become aware and end nightmares. Writing in the Lucidity Letter, (1991, Vol. 10, 1 & 2), Worsley recalls:

“As far as I remember, I achieved my first lucid dream by a deliberately
developed technique, at about age five. I had discovered I could wake myself from frightening dreams by shouting, "Mother!" Knowing I had this escape route I became more daring; I deliberately allowed a dream of falling to continue, and nothing bad happened. I became even more confident and, having a lucid dream every few months, I gradually learned to recognize that I was dreaming even when the dream was not frightening and I did not have to remember it was only a dream. I also learned that I could wake if I wanted to. I became fascinated by the idea of being free in my own world.”

After years of exploring in lucid dreams, Worsley realized that he could conduct his own personal experiments:

“As I grew older I began to call these dreams "conscious" dreams. At about age 12, I planned my first "conscious-dream" experiment. It was to investigate how much detail it is possible to see in a dream. In the first lucid dream I had after planning the experiment I remembered to do it. I was standing in a door-way, the frame of which was made of wood. I decided to look for the grain in the wood. I discovered I could see the fine details of the grain and concluded that visual acuity was good in dreams. I have since realized that detail in dreams is not so much perceived as created. My conclusion should have been that it is possible for fine detail to be created in dreams.”

With these lucid dream skills in place, Worsley accepted Keith Hearne’s invitation in 1975 and launched a new era of lucid dream exploration by science.

Today, April 12th, take a moment to remember the collaborative contributions of a talented lucid dreamer, Alan Worsley, and a young grad student researcher, Keith Hearne, forty-nine years ago.

Remember how they opened up the inner space of lucid dreaming and provided that first scientific evidence to a skeptical world. And then take a moment to imagine all of the future lucid dream explorers and what new discoveries they will make, as they consciously explore the depths of the unconscious.

​Happy Lucid Dreaming Day, April 12th!

Interview with Keith Hearne by Rebecca Casale:

And Lucidity Letter (1991), editor Jayne Gackenbach:

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