This brief article is a companion to a YouTube video, which you can find here.
AN EXQUISITE EXPERIENCE
Lucid dreaming refers to dreams people experience during REM sleep that are distinguished by the dreamers’ subjective feeling of awareness during the dream. Classically, the dreams are unusually vivid, often pleasurable, and the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming and consciously able to alter their behavior during the dream.
Note that lucid dreaming is not possible for those consuming hypnotic tranquilizers or other drugs that inhibit or reduce REM sleep (e.g. THC).
Though several behavioral teachings have been used to help induce lucid dreaming in people, only acetylcholinesterase inhibitors have shown any pharmacologic promise. Acetylcholinesterase is an enzyme that degrades the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brain. Acetylcholine’s signaling is crucial to learning and memory. It is so important to cognition that enhancement of its expression is the primary treatment for the symptoms of dementia that accompany Alzheimer’s disease. (To learn more about acetylcholine’s activity, read my detailed review here).
Both leading pharmaceutical acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, donepezil and galantamine, have been used to induce lucid dreaming in controlled studies. Interestingly, L-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine (α-GPC), failed to produce similar results. (For a discussion on α-GPC, read my discussion here). Taking inspiration from the studies on the pharmaceuticals donepezil and galantamine, I developed a supplement protocol that helped me to induce powerful, pleasurable lucid dreams.
Below, I have detailed the supplements and dosages that comprise my lucid dreaming protocol. Note that the links in the text take you to an Amazon affiliate link – meaning that if you purchase a supplement using that link, I get a small financial kickback from Amazon at no cost to you. If you would like to avoid that, simply search for the exact product on Amazon and purchase it that way.
Note that all nutritional supplements must be taken on an empty stomach before sleeping. This means that on nights that you plan to lucid dream, you should finish eating your last meal at least two hours before sleeping.
NICOTINIC CHOLINERGIC AGONIST
Acetylcholine acts on two groups of receptors in the brain, the nicotinic cholinergic receptors (read about them here) and the muscarinic cholinergic receptors (read about them here). The nicotinic cholinergic receptors are more involved in learning and memory than their sister receptors. Donepezil and galantamine enhance dreaming by making the neurotransmitter acetylcholine more available in the brain, and in turn, acetylcholine agonizes both groups of receptors.
I believe that agonizing the nicotinic cholinergic receptors directly produces a better result for lucid dreaming – though, admittedly, I learned this by accident. There are two products one can use to do this: Swedish snus and nicotine pouches.
Swedish snus is a tobacco product containing minimum nitrites and N-nitros compounds. It is produced under stringent standards in Sweden and has never been associated with the development of oral cancers. I purchase my snus here, although you can likely find the basic versions (like this one and this one) of the General brand’s flavors at a local store. Note that the slim versions will be more comfortable in the upper lip, while the white (i.e. dry) versions will produce an extended effect. Consequently, this is my favorite snus to use for lucid dreaming.
For those that are concerned about using a tobacco product, nicotine pouches contain nicotine with plant matter, minus the tobacco.
For a review of brands and flavors of both snus and nicotine pouches, watch my interview with Chad Jones of Snubie.com, here. My recommendation is to use one 8 mg nicotine product, either a slim, white snus, or a nicotine pouch, under the lip before bed.
In addition to the pharmaceutical compounds, several plant-derived supplements also inhibit the action of acetylcholinesterase. (For a review, read my article here). While Gingko Biloba and Berberine both inhibit the enzyme, I prefer to use them in the mornings to improve cognition while working. As Huperzine A and Bacopa Monnieri both produce tranquilizing effects (albeit through different mechanisms), I find them ideal for night-time use.
I use one tablet of Double Wood’s Huperzine A (200 mcg) before bed. You can find the product here.
I use two capsules of Double Wood’s Bacopa Monnieri extract (300 mg, concentrated) before bed. You can find the product here.
Because of their effects on brain function and sleep, I also supplement with magnesium and zinc.
I use Jarrow’s magnesium l-threonate supplement, which you can find here. It is a little overpriced. The cheapest option that I trust is NOW brand’s Magtein, which you can find here. In either case, I take the full 144 mg of elemental magnesium before bed.
I do not think there is reason to use forms of zinc that absorb better than gluconate (i.e. zinc picolinate or a phospholipid version, like that of Pure Encapsulations, which you can find here). Zinc is cheap; one can simply consume more of it. I use 50 mg of zinc gluconate from NOW, which you can find here. Note that zinc will be not be absorbed well if taken near a meal.
I believe that SSRI’s enhance dream quality with both acute and chronic use. If you do not have one prescribed, you can take the precursor to serotonin, 5-HTP. In either case, combine your SSRI or 5-HTP with saffron extract.
If price is not an option, use Pure Encapsulations 5-HTP, which you can find here. If it is, use NOW’s product, which you can find here. In either case, take 200 mg before bed. Be sure not to do this consistently, or you will affect your brain’s synthesis of serotonin and downregulate serotonin receptors. Use it only on nights you plan to lucid dream (i.e. 2-3 nights a week).
I use Double Wood’s affordable saffron extract, which you can find here. I take two capsules before bed.
If you try the protocol, be sure to leave a comment on the associated YouTube video telling me of your experience. Even if you are someone that does not pay much attention to dreams, like myself, I think you will find the experience rewarding.
Be sure not to use Huperzine A, Bacopa Monnieri, 5-HTP, or saffron daily, or you will adapt to them and experience less of a result. Nicotinic receptors upregulate, so nicotine can be used daily, and the body will not adjust poorly to daily use of zinc and magnesium l-threonate.
 Stumbrys, T., Erlacher, D., Schädlich, M., & Schredl, M. (2012). Induction of lucid dreams: A systematic review of evidence. Consciousness and Cognition, 21(3), 1456-1475.  LaBerge, S. (2001). The paradox and promise of lucid dreaming. Research Update: Cholinergic Stimulation of Lucid Dreaming.  Riemann, D., Gann, H., Dressing, H., Müller, W. E., & Aldenhoff, J. B. (1994). Influence of the cholinesterase inhibitor galanthamine hydrobromide on normal sleep. Psychiatry research, 51(3), 253-267.  LaBerge, S., LaMarca, K., & Baird, B. (2018). Pre-sleep treatment with galantamine stimulates lucid dreaming: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. PLoS One, 13(8), e0201246.  Sparrow, G., Hurd, R., Carlson, R., & Molina, A. (2018). Exploring the effects of galantamine paired with meditation and dream reliving on recalled dreams: Toward an integrated protocol for lucid dream induction and nightmare resolution. Consciousness and cognition, 63, 74-88.  Kern, S., Appel, K., Schredl, M., & Pipa, G. (2017). No effect of α‑GPC on lucid dream induction or dream content. Somnologie, 21(3), 180-186.