Rapid breathing during hypnagogia... Deep breaths wake me up?

Hello, I’m new here and very excited to get into lucid dreaming! Just have a very troublesome issue I keep running into and I hope I can get some help with it.

So I THINK I’ve gotten to the point of hypnagogia twice. I have a very difficult time falling asleep so I wake up and immediately try to get into a dream (I do not get out of bed or wait any amount of time because once my brain is awake, it’s AWAKE. I used to take sleep medication when I was younger and it takes me on average an hour to fall asleep most nights and that’s when I’m trying to let my brain drift off and fall asleep too - if I’m trying to stay conscious, it feels impossible). I should note however that my body likes to troll me and has woken me up at 3am for the past several days. I do not wake up in the middle of a dream, nor do I have any memories of my dreams when I wake up at 3am (in case it becomes confusing: yes, I have a dream journal. Yes, I recall lots of dreams but just not when I wake up at 3am). I set an alarm for 5:30am but I end up having to turn it off because I keep waking up at 3am and don’t fall back asleep until 5:00 or later anyway… sigh. But so both times I reached this point, it was after waking at 3am and not the recommended 5:30am.

But anyway, the first time I reached hypnagogia, I saw an explosion of colors rotating around and my body felt like it was very heavy and sinking. The second time I saw explosions of shapes quickly coming and going all around my field of vision. My body felt like waves of energy were pulsing over it and I almost felt like I was floating a bit. But both times, I noticed my breathing began to get very fast. I worried that this might wake me up so I tried my best to control it and to take deep breaths but this just did the opposite of what I had hoped for… It snapped me out of my drowsy state and then I found myself unable to fall asleep for hours (if at all).

It’s really discouraging and not to mention annoying. Luckily, I’m a house wife so it’s not the end of the world that my sleep is taking a big hit but it’s still very frustrating. I had read somewhere that you should take deep breaths to keep yourself calm so as not to wake yourself up. But when trying to find answers to this, I found someone talking about sleep paralysis and they were told to take deep breaths to wake themselves up.

A quote from someone who was trying to help them:

If you’re in SP and want to wake up, it should help to take deep breaths. As breathing is the one thing you actually can control while in SP, your body will pick this up as a sign that you’re conscius and wake you up. This works for me every time

Sooooo… did I just unintentionally sabotage myself? What am I doing wrong? What should I do once I reach this stage? For reference, I’m using SSILD if it matters.

Hello and welcome to ld4all, @PhoenixDown :welcome:

First of all I’d like to know about your issues with falling asleep. It sounds very similar to problems I started to get starting in my mid twenties I think. For me the reason for sleeping poorly was mostly that my head was just always too full of thoughts from what I could figure out. I think it’s not the only problem but a major factor. For a few months now I’ve been meditating before bed for the sake of conditioning my mind to lucid dreaming but it also had the side effect that I’m falling asleep much faster now. I’m basically meditating myself to sleep almost every night :lol:

Other things that can help is to write down what’s keeping your brain busy. Especially with to-do lists and open points you constantly keep reiterating because you must not forget them this is useful. Write it down before sleep and it allows your nerves to ease up a little.

And then there’s the important factor of what you just did before sleeping. Depending on which and how many areas of your brain you used intensively before sleep, your brain shut down sequence may take considerably longer. For most people TV and books (light stuff of course) seems a good habit for faster sleep.

Now I have no clue if your issues with falling asleep are related to the problems these methods are supposed to counter, but I guess sticking to these things in general leads to healthier sleep. And who doesn’t want that, especially people who traverse this forum :slight_smile:

Now about your topic title. What you describe sounds very much like hypnagogia to me and the sensations of your body are also very promising signs :clap: I’m not an expert at this stage of falling asleep and hopefully into the dream, but as for the breathing I think it should be quite close to your breathing while you are sleep. The main factor I think is slow breathing. Now your breath getting fast would also have me worried at this stage, but if you need to exert control over your breathing (I think best case scenario you don’t have to), then just try to make it slower, but not necessarily deeper. As for myself, I find my breathing to be sometimes very slow at this stage and I’d also say it’s actually shallower than my normal breathing when awake.

Now as I said, I think it’s best if you don’t need to actively control your breathing because every kind of control you are exerting over your body is one step back to becoming awake again. You graciously noted so yourself when summarizing your results :wink:
Another way to regulate your breathing is to try and calm your mind. Somebody else just recently posted something on the forum somewhere and concluded with “lucid dreaming prowess is all about being calm (inside your mind)“. I think this is more profound than it seems at first.
I often focus on my breathing when trying to fall asleep. I use it as my main anchor for attention. But I only observe it, I don’t try to influence it.

Hope it helps a little and I wish you lots of success with your future attempts :wave:

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Thank you for your warm welcome and very thorough reply!

I’ve always struggled, my whole life, with falling asleep. I think my brain just gets so busy, like you said. I find the easiest way for me to fall asleep is by picturing whatever dream I want to have (but I need to keep it calm and not too engaging; if there’s a lot of dialogue going on or something, it keeps me awake. (thinking back on the day and stuff keeps me awake).

I actually started meditating about a week ago. I don’t think it would put me to sleep but maybe that’s just because I’m still excited about all this new stuff I’m doing and hoping to lucid dream, etc. But, when I started meditating, that was when I started waking up randomly at 3am. Other people told me that this can happen, as meditating can make you more wakeful. So I was recommended to meditate in the morning instead and that’s what I started doing.

Usually I’m just watching youtube videos before bed. I used to read before bed but I haven’t done that in awhile since my husband’s been coming to bed so late (we would read together).

It’s nice to hear that I seem to be on the right track as far as hypnagogia goes. But the breathing is troublesome… To be entirely honest, I may have just perceived it as rapid and maybe it wasn’t. It happened so quick, I just noticed my breathing seemed off and tried to correct it with deep breaths. Perhaps it was just that I was excited to see the hypnagogia imagery, to feel I was on the brink. But I don’t really know how I can keep myself from being excited. I’ve only just gotten into lucid dreaming recently.

But thank you, I will try to make it slower without trying to make it deeper and I will definitely try to remain calm. That will be the harder part, I think. lol.

If you (or anyone else) have advice for staying calm and not getting overly excited during this point, then please do share it with me!

Thank you again for your reply. I appreciate it a lot. :relaxed:

I was quite superficial in my explanation, I guess. There are many different ways of mediation. The word really is just a term for “mental exercise” as opposed to physical exercise, if you ask me. And that is a very broad meaning. What I am specifically doing is actually a relaxation technique I was taught once. I focus on my breathing and count up whenever I breath out, up to 4. Once I am at 4, the next breath restarts at 1. It is really simple but actually very hard to keep up. Why? Well, because all those thoughts keep invading my head and take my off the trail :lol: That’s why it is an exercise and not an end all by itself. There is so much more way for improvement. The goal is to acknowledge all unrelated thoughts and let them drift off again without occupying too much of your attention (but not specifically blocking yourself from random thoughts!). This has helped me fall asleep very successfully many times. I also apply this technique when I wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling asleep although it is much less effective then. Sadly I don’t know why.

I learned of this one in a seminar about relaxation techniques. We also tried Qi Dong, Tai Chi, progressive muscle relaxation and many others, but this breath counting one turned out to be the most effective for me. But in the end almost every participant chose different techniques that worked best for them, so I suggest you also try to get your hands on many different ones and find one that suits you well. Since you describe your problem as being a mental one rather than a physical one (same for me), i suggest you try the mediation ones first over, say, techniques that involve physical exercise.

A note about meditation making your more wakeful: The same breathing technique that I use can indeed also be used to become more in tune with your surroundings in the waking world. Many years after I learned it as a relaxation technique, I also stumbled across it again in the context of Mindfulness. It depends on your inner focus while practicing the technique. I find this very fascinating, because it feels there is so much still to learn.

A classic! Don’t you worry. Most people encountered this problem at the start and some still do many years later :laughing: I found the most reliable way of staying calm is to condition your mind. Again, this takes time and practice. You can get the best results by working on your attitude constantly, a little bit every day will do wonders. What really should help is to focus on either your goal or your plan of action. There are different types of people. Maybe have a look at this thread to find out if direct (goal) or indirect (plan of action) would work better for you.

Here’s something I do every night. After I go to bed, I say aloud to myself what I will do once I become lucid. It has become like a mantra that I could evoke even asleep. And that’s kind of the point, you see :wink: So when I become lucid, I know exactly what to do. This greatly helps to reduce excitement and stay calm. But the same can also work with the techniques. Go through the tutorials step by step and make sure you absolutely understand what is supposed to happen to your body and mind and the preparedness will usher in more calmness while you are doing it. That’s the best advice I can think of.

Now you may wonder, “but will being completely calm make it less exciting of an experience in the end”? Well, to the ignorant outsider it would definitely seem that way, but I can tell you that even the most dull lucid dream is still an amazing otherworldly experience unobtainable by other means :tongue: There are many intriguing things you can learn here - and not just about your dreams.

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That could very well be the issue, as the meditation I am focusing on is for mindfulness. I try to focus on my breath, my body, what I feel, the sounds around me, the space around me, the temperature of the room, etc. I also do some meditating with lucid dream hypnosis (I’m not sure if most people would call this meditation but to me it feels quite similar but more enjoyable since I can use my imagination during those - and just so it won’t be confused, I do not use the hypnosis with the mindset that I will fall asleep and become lucid with the session; it’s only to implant suggestions to my subconscious and hopefully make me become aware during a dream at some point. I’m not sure how effective this is, but it’s enjoyable to do and I suppose it doesn’t hurt anything).

I will look into relaxation meditations and see if that fares me any better.

Hmm, I’m generally a more emotional person and it seems that ‘test’ would agree with me. I’ve been using direct goals though, since that’s what most guides suggest. I’ll give the indirect method a try and see if it helps any. :hushed:

Originally, I just said to myself that “I want to go to Eorzea” (a place in an MMO game) but I realized it was vague. So now I’ve been trying to visualize what exactly I would do. I’ve heard you want to keep it simple for your first experience, so I’ve decided that I’d just like to walk around Gridania (a city within Eorzea), and maybe get my Chocobo (mount) and ride around the areas outside the city. I visualize this every night but it doesn’t seem to be helping much! lol. Even my normal dreams have nothing to do with it.

As an aside, my normal dreams are so… normal. It’s frustrating because nothing really stands out in them as absurd so as to make me go “wait a minute…”, even when I think back on them after waking. Just the fact that I shouldn’t be in those places anymore (like school) or seeing those people anymore (old friends), but it never occurs to me in the dreams (even though I’ve noticed this trend and have told myself to consider them as dream signs). lol. Also, I remember usually at least 3 - 4 dreams each night. (last night I recalled 5 dreams). So I feel like I’m doing well but still not getting anywhere and it’s disheartening. :persevere: ALTHOUGH, one of my dreams last night was so out of the ordinary. I was an observer and I was observing characters from league of legends. I think I was actually semi-lucid, maybe. But had zero control and wasn’t fully aware. But one of the characters had my husband’s body (I recognized it by the clothes) and thought “That’s… not his body. That’s Yoshiki’s…” Very strange dream indeed. I ended up waking up to this dream, I think when I realized that he had the wrong body. I tried to do WILD at this point but I ended up just falling asleep without noticing the hypnagogia at all. :disappointed:

I guess I’ll just have to keep working on staying calm. It’ll be difficult but maybe after failing enough times, I’ll just expect it to be another failure and not be too excited and finally break through? Although, I wonder if expecting it to fail would be a horrible mindset that would ruin the process.

That’s a relief to hear. I hope that I can still FEEL like I am experiencing intense emotions, even if it’s not exactly how it would feel in waking life (if that makes sense). Kind of like how you sometimes don’t know who a person is in your dreams but you get a FEELING that it’s a specific person. Perhaps I wouldn’t feel strongly but I feel like I should feel strongly…if that makes sense, lmao. But I’m sure either way that I’ll still enjoy the experience. After all, like you said, it’s an otherworldly experience, unlike anything else. I look forward to it.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple at first :wink: I guess it all depends on how your mind behaves inside a lucid dream. Maybe you don’t even need much planning at all to achieve your goals. For many people (me included) however, having no specific plan laid out in advance can lead to LDs reverting back to NDs very quickly because you are wasting your awareness resource trying to come up with a plan and thinking what to do instead of actually observing in detail or manipulating the dream to your liking. But the planning part is something you can do while awake, you don’t have to do it inside the dream. So I suggest you give it some thought in advance. If you find your dream world provides you with much better things to do on the spot where you become lucid, nothing is forcing you to stick to the plan :tongue:

Another things I can relate to xD If you find a good solution, please let me know. But maybe changing your auto-suggestion technique to the indirect approach will do the trick for you.

This is also a pretty common phenomenon. It’s said that people who play video games tend to get more awesome dreams and reading the DJs of some people here on ld4all who I know are gamers makes this pretty believable. Now it seems like you also spend some time in the digital world and it does not work out for you, again something I can relate to (I used to play and still play quite a lot video games). The dream-sign approach can still work though even with normal dreams. School is a very common dream sign that gets many people lucid once they conditioned their mind to question such situations where they are back in the classroom or having a nightmare about having forgotten their homework again.

Allow me to suggest not falling into defeatism and expecting failure. What you can easily do instead is to simply allow yourself a break from lucid dreaming. The chance is still pretty big that you will get one if you take some time off. I had many more lucid dreams while not trying to have them and without techniques than I did with. Since it seems your dreaming psyche is very similar to mine, that may be the case as well for you. If nothing else, you can keep practicing some mental techniques like meditation and heightened awareness during the day and keep lucid dreaming around in your life every now and then but not grind too hard on the techniques. It will still improve your overall living quality. Especially if you keep up with your dream journal and the dream recall, you are almost guaranteed to have a lucid dream eventually.

Just to give my 2 cents: my breathing goes super rapid too during that stage, and I snap back to fully awake when I try to breath slower, so I’ve learned to accept it!