Stir it up! Lucid dreaming, Traveling and the Vigilance Effect

One of the most important elements of getting a restful night’s sleep is feeling relaxed and safe. Ordinarily we achieve this comfort zone by sleeping in our own homes. But if you want to have more lucid dreams, it’s time to stir it up a bit. 

Enter the vigilance effect.

When we fall asleep in unfamiliar settings, we are more likely to awaken at night and, consequently, remember more dreams.

We can see an artifact of this natural effect in the sleep lab, where scientists often throw out the initial night of data due to the “first night effect,” in which sleep patterns have increased arousal rates.

We can harness this effect, as many dreamers regularly have more incidents of lucid dreams and sleep paralysis when they are sleeping someplace new.

It sounds like a paradox that vigilance can increase dreaming, especially after all my talk about the importance of relaxing before bed. What you want to achieve is relaxed alertness, not red-alert paranoia.

Similarly, the best lucid intentions have a slight edge to them: you need to have a strong pull, but not a frantic air.

So don’t issue yourself ultimatums, and remember to pair vigilance practices with the calming sleep practices outlined earlier in this book, so the work can go underground.

Camping Out for Dreams

Camping near Mt Diablo, CA. Image (c) by Kevin Feinstein, 2008.

Personally, I often have lucid dreams when camping outdoors in a tent. The novelty of the sleeping environment and my increased sense of vigilance (is that a bear?) routinely spur on vivid and lucid dreams.

Camping is a fun way to take your lucid immersion to a new level due to this sleep disturbance effect, the immersion in nature, as well as the benefits of hiking and outdoor activities. My camping trips are always dreaming trips; I usually make the journey with a specific dream intention in mind. 

Business Class Lucid

Traveling, in general, can also spur on lucid dreaming for the same reason. 

Sleeping in a hotel room can increase awakenings and remembered dreams. One look at the pastel art on the wall and you know you’re definitely not in your own bedroom. Admit it, it’s kind of creepy, and so are the strange sounds you hear throughout the night. 

(Bed jumping can also stir it up..I seriously didn’t know this was a thing until tonight). 

Novelty, increased vigilance and disturbed sleeping styles (read: jetlag) are pretty common outcomes of traveling in a foreign country as well, especially when you have a lot of airport connections to make and don’t speak the language.

My intense dreaming style during my research project in Nicaragua in 2006 was no doubt related to heightened vigilance levels — in my case, it was the 4am screeching of howler monkeys that stirred me to wakefulness… each and every night.

In fact, my whole research design depended on the vigilance effect and it didn’t disappoint: I recorded over 110 dreams in three weeks, including a dozen lucid dreams. 

So if you are planning to travel this year, don’t forget your intention to have more lucid dreams. Vacationing may be the perfect opportunity for a powerful lucid immersion, and it can add a little excitement to mandatory family vacations over the holidays.

Be prepared and pack right:

Your lucid dreaming traveling check list should include, at the minimum:

 Dream journal


Flashlight or night pen


Favorite book about dreams or lucid dreams


Relaxing music to listen to as you fall asleep with your intention in mind



This is an excerpt from my digital kit the Lucid Immersion Blueprint.

To learn more about this comprehensive multi-media project that takes you deeper-safer-faster into advanced lucid dreaming, check out the video and description here. 

First image CC: Hotel bed jumping by Chrispitality


  1. Peter says

    All true and I find that long distance flights are great because of dissrutped routines and the fact that I am flying. I have had a lucid each time I take one of these flights

  2. Alex says

    I have had lucid dreams where I remember vividly the experience of having smelled flowers or perfume or tasted delicious food…Senses seem to be heightened to very real wakeful levels.
    At times, upon waking, I feel I have returned from a real life experience…only lived it in another sphere of consciousness.
    Is this common among dreamers?

    • Ryan Hurd says

      I have had a blessed few dreams that approximate what you’re talking about… some people have dazzling dreams like that often, others, not so much. there is a tremendous spectrum due to individual differences. so count yourself lucky!