My lucidity efforts with a new dream mask

My interest in LD began with the movie Inception. Blah, so cliche, right? But, it is the truth. I began my research and dived right in. I started my dream journal and after a few entries I began MILD then eventually WILD techniques. I am a deep sleeper and didn’t notice results after the first month, which was frustrating. I decided to kick it up a notch.

The Novadreamer mask was something that I found early on in my research, but found it and its duplicates to be unfeasible, not only due to the prohibitive cost but limited availability and its limited effectiveness. The original was nothing more than a 2 microchip timer circuit that wouldn’t stop blinking once it had started until you either woke up in frustration or the battery ran out. Either way, it was no good. Competitor’s models were more advanced but still, the cost was prohibitive and their effectiveness seemed subjective.

I decided to build my own model. This one must be connected to the computer to work, a weakness mitigated by the fact that it is simply a prototype. It runs through a console program that allows you to set and change any of the settings before and while running, including alarm interval, alarm duration, the nature of the audio and visual cues, binatural rhythms, and iPod support (this was my wife’s request, it is optional and not conducive to REM sleep lucidity but I had to include it nonetheless). By default I include an initial alarm delay of 90 minutes, then every 30 minutes it runs the alarm in two minute intervals. They flash bright red LED lights at me several times a second. At the same time I’m given audio cues recorded in my own voice reminding me that I am dreaming and to do reality checks.

The box connects via USB to the computer, and supports two masks (which can be controlled independently, though my prototype console program can only control them simultaneously at the moment), each mask which is connected to the box with a phone cord and jack. Thus, the masks are interchangeable, most of the cost is in the box. The masks were made using Earth Therapeutics microfiber masks (with the rice inserts removed), they were $15 each, with electronics they come to about $20 each and the box’s components are around $30. The whole thing cost around $70, kind of pricey for a homemade kit but the masks are very comfortable, stay secured with a Velcro strap, and are designed to let you sleep face down should you desire. Plus, it includes two masks. The masks work as they should, are totally comfortable, and you don’t even notice the phone cord the connects it to the control box. They turned out exactly as I planned.

There is a problem though - it’s less effective than I imagined it would be. Sometimes I see the lights as manifestations of other things. A wall of reddish lights that turn on and off, for example. Sometimes it looks like a white flash of light, strangely. When I’m already lucid, either with MILD or WILD techniques, the lights are very pronounced and I can’t wait for them to go away, but on their own they don’t seem to ever induce lucidity. When I do become lucid it’s always due to reality checks that I conduct while dreaming that always seem to be completely independent of the lights.

After a month of no results I decided set the lights to flash at 40% brightness every minute (100% brightness is too bright to comfortably endure every minute). This has assisted me greatly with the WILD technique. I usually count backwards from 100 and do a reality check every time I see the lights (holding my nose). I would expect this behavior to carry over in my dreams when I see a strange light flash at me but like I said, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

I should add though, for my wife who is using the other mask at the same time as me, the system works great. She always notices the lights and messages and becomes lucid. She is a light sleeper. I, the deep sleeper, do not. Of course, since I built this thing, I want it to work for me.

Has anyone here ever used a lucid dreaming light mask? Any tips or advice about using a similar system would be greatly appreciated, maybe I’m missing something simple that would help me consistently achieve lucidity with this thing. I’ve been tweaking and experimenting for almost two months but simply haven’t achieved the results that I expected.