Inception in Real Life: Make These Lucid Dreaming Glasses and Take Control of Your Dreams

Dreams are like an internal human holodeck. Inside your mind, anything is possible, from your grandest wishes to your worst nightmares. This is all well and good, but what if you could control your dreams and become the omniscient god of a handpicked reality whenever you go to sleep? Inception took this idea to the logical extreme by invading other people's dreams.

While we can't hack into the dreams of others, we can definitely play an action hero movie star in our own! By using certain lucid dreaming techniques, you can do just that. During lucid dreaming, the sleeping dreamer is conscious that they are in a dream, but remains in slumber. This allows you consciously manipulate and transform the dream world just like in Inception.

Today, we are going to make our own lucid dreaming goggles and hack our subconscious into submission.


  • Goggles or glasses
  • LEDs (2)
  • ATtiny85 microcontroller
  • 8-pin chip holder
  • AVR programmer or Arduino
  • 3 volt coin cell battery
  • Battery holder
  • perfboard
  • Switch

Step 1 Cut the Goggles

Mark where your eye level is on each lens of the goggles. Be sure to test that they are large enough to fit the LEDs you have.

Inception in Real Life: Make These Lucid Dreaming Glasses and Take Control of Your Dreams

Ideally, the hole should be just wide enough that the LEDs are held in place.

Step 2 Program the Chip

To program the ATtiny85, all we need is an Arduino and a breadboard. Follow the instructions here on how to use an Arduino as an ISP programmer. Once your programmer is set up, load this code onto the chip. The code performs the following tasks every time you turn on the goggles:

  1. Blink once to signal power on.
  2. Wait two hours for user to fall asleep.
  3. Blink light pattern once every ten minutes forever.

The pattern blinks every ten minutes in an attempt to catch you in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. REM is the stage of sleep most likely to result in dream activity, and your brain cycles through this stage of sleep several times throughout the night. To make sure we see the light pattern during REM sleep, we repeat it in ten minute intervals.

Step 3 Breadboard the Circuit

Breadboard the circuit according to the diagram below.

Inception in Real Life: Make These Lucid Dreaming Glasses and Take Control of Your Dreams

The great thing about using a 3 volt supply is that we don't even need to pair resistors with the LEDs, because there is no extra current to protect them from.

Inception in Real Life: Make These Lucid Dreaming Glasses and Take Control of Your Dreams

Step 4 Layout and Solder the Board

Now that we understand our circuit, we can move it to a permanent board. Move your components around on the perfboard to experiment with different layouts. Try to find the best compromise of utility and aesthetics.

Inception in Real Life: Make These Lucid Dreaming Glasses and Take Control of Your Dreams

You will go through several experimental layouts. I got lucky and my LEDs stretched from the board right to the holes in the goggles.

Inception in Real Life: Make These Lucid Dreaming Glasses and Take Control of Your Dreams

Remember to use a socket so you can remove the chip if you want to reprogram it later.

Inception in Real Life: Make These Lucid Dreaming Glasses and Take Control of Your Dreams

I prefer to solder wires on the back side so that the front of the board is nice and neat.

Step 5 Attach to Goggles

Place the board on the goggles so that the LEDs poke through the eye holes. Mine stays on just by force of the LEDs, but you can glue or screw the board into the goggles for a more secure connection.

Inception in Real Life: Make These Lucid Dreaming Glasses and Take Control of Your Dreams

Step 6 Test It Out!

To use your new lucid dreaming goggles, wear them for a few minutes each day and take note of the light pattern. Each time you notice the pattern, think about your surroundings and how you got there. If you are in real life, you will remember specifics, but in the dream world, most things are vague.

Turn on the goggles and put them on just before going to bed. If one of the flashes catches you in your REM stage of sleep and you are keen enough to notice it in your dream, you can be the god of your brain! All it takes is knowing you are dreaming without waking up!

Inception in Real Life: Make These Lucid Dreaming Glasses and Take Control of Your Dreams

I do not suggest opening your eyes while the LEDs blink. It can give you quite the headache.

What would you mount your lucid dream machine onto? A helmet, sunglasses, your pillow? Post up your ideas and projects on the community corkboard and share your experience with us! You can always get help in the forum or by messaging me directly.

Please let us know if you have a lucid dream! I want to hear awesome stories of dreamers suddenly acquiring superpowers!


Ok, this is going to get priority for me. I have had a lucid dream only once, but it feels like I have come close many more times. Ill get the idea I am dreaming, but I seem to wake upon that. I am going make this later tonight.

Hooray! Good luck. Let me know how it turns out!

Wait a minute....if I wanna do this, I have to wear those things to bed? ;)

Awesome! i skipped the glasses and just superglued the LEDs to my eyes...worked great (no problem with sleeping), but very painful to remove....

I officially advise against gluing anything to anyone's eyes ever.

i will give a try to

I made lucid dreaming glasses and when I used them, I had a lucid dream, so I made more lucid dreaming glasses in my dream, but they didn't work.

wait, so you can know you are in a dream and do what you want

I was just wondering if you could do this without the goggles, using an attiny driven ssr and a bedside lamp. I'm sure it'd be harder to catch yourself, but maybe worth a shot. Thoughts?

You might even be able to do it with a regular light bulb if it was facing you.

Surely one needs to regulate the frequency between 8 and 13 pulses per second to corresponds with alpha waves?

i think the concept is more "seeing" the lights in your dreams without waking up, similar to hearing sounds from the real world, in your dreams. Its like letting yourself know that you're dreaming, based on conditioning. when you see the lights, you habitually conduct the "reality check" that you practiced while you were awake, and thus realize you are dreaming.

Ok, I saw this thread lighting up and wanted to toss my 0.02.

I cheated and printed this out and took it to my local science supply store, who promptly helped me out with items. Took a bit to put together as much of this was a 1st time thing for me.

The first night I did not notice anything, not even dreaming.

The second night I remember seeing the green lights (mine is obv green) and remembered thinking about a police car, then this article, then I woke up.

Do other people get to the point, right where you seem to know you are dreaming and you wake back up? I plan on trying again later tonight.

In my experience, the best way is to go to sleep without the glasses, set your alarm for like 3am, then put on the glasses without opening your eyes, turn them on, and fall asleep. that way 1) the glasses are not impairing your sleep, 2) ideally your brain is already experiencing REM sleep and you're just falling back into it, with the glasses. this works 95% of the time for me, with proper conditioning!

rephrase that, wake up at 3am when your alarm goes off, THEN put on the glasses *

Ok, I must see pictures of your guys' goggles!

I designed a headband with a motion detector that is sensitive enough to pick up the heartbeat and can thus easily detect rapid eye movements. And I wrote a program that plays audio tracks when it detects that I am dreaming. I post the raw logs along with a printout of the most interesting minute to LSDBase every other day.

I am currently teaching myself to blink in Morse Code patterns in hope that I can one day transcribe directly from the dream world.

Any chance of a HowTo for your headband with the motion detector for REM please?

I would love to see your design! Can you post it on the corkboard?

Sure can do when I get closer to a production release! The software, Lucid Scribe, is already available as freeware and it is real easy to write plug-ins for other devices.

I have lucid dreams all the time without anything :)

is that mean that i can dream anything i want anytime ?????
if this is right i will make one immediately :)

You can dream anything you want provided you are already dreaming.

Could you edit the article and insert the explicit URL to the youtube page? I just get the broken Youtube logo. I tried using both an iPad and Google Chrome browser on my laptop (neither of these support Adobe Flash, but both can play Youtube native h.264 video).

FYI if you embed the videos using YouTube's newer "iframe embed" tags, it'll work on all platforms always (Flash if people have it, open source codecs if no flash, everyone wins).

Great writeup. This is an easy perfboard project. As it happens all the parts I need are right in my toolbox, which increases the probability I'll get it done. :-)

Couple of comments:
1) I strongly advise using "diffused" LEDs so it's less painful if you do open your eyes. If you only have water-clear LEDs, use coarse sandpaper on the LED hat. It might also work to coat the LED in a thin coat of hot glue or diffused caulking.
2) This is an ideal circuit to learn PCB layout on, for example Eagle.
3) Another learning opportunity is to design your PCB to fit inside 1 square inch and then use the awesome DorkBotPDX service to get 3 professional boards for just US $5. A lot of folks (myself included) want to make a PCB for a simple project, but need an idea. Here it is. :-)

Thanks Scott! I agree that diffused leds would be better. Wow I would love to get some professional boards made.
Please post up on the corkboard if you try this project.

I use my android phone to measure my sleep and make it wake me up, when I'm quite awake. (Also I get a nice graph to see how bad it is to sleep on the couch.) It does that by measuring my movements while lying on my mattress somewhere near me.

What the next version needs (except from being MUCH smaller and easier to where) is a motion sensor. Figure out the movements and the next version can:

- Blink much less bright for the "awake check" when you are awake (moving all the time)
- Maybe even time the awake check to a time you're not moving much and seem to have time for that. ;)
- Blink when you really are in REM (while the device is in "sleep mode")

I think we need a more precious senser,a Weak acceleration sensor,and a arduino nano

I like to buy one too if you have one to spare.

I will let you know about buying goggles as soon as I know!

You can buy a kit here:

well i dont really know how to solder because i am a can some one please give me a brief tutorial on it??

Hey dyland, I put this list of tutorials together on my personal site a while ago. check them out:

I could see myself making this and then getting attacked by my cat because she's after the blinking lights. That said, I might have to try this out.

Please share your photos on the corkboard if you make one!

Hi! great post. I have a question: what happens if you catch the flashing during non-REM sleeping?

Nothing much happens if you miss the rem sleep.

william hi im nick im a teen and idk jack sh*t on how to make something like this do i need tools to solder the board or something or is there someway i can buy this please help thankyou

You will need some solder and a soldering iron. You can buy these at radioshack or a home improvement store. Here are some soldering howtos to get you started! Good luck! Feel free to message me if you have any questions.

Contact Slothborg Technologies

Nice job! I think i will give it a try and build these glasses.

Greetings from Germany!

William... Do you know if by wearing these goggles I can control my dream within a dream. Like inception. I wake up 3 times in a dream before i wake up in reality. I really am looking for any advice on how to not have 3 dreams within a dream. totally exhausting. Thank you for any advice

Hmmm. I'm not sure if the goggles can help with that. Assuming your inner most core of dreams is influenced by the goings on in the outer dreams, the flashing lights could theoretically show up in any layer of your dream cocoon.

Hey, what if I use earphones, like in Inception? Playing some music like Lucid Dreams, by Franz Ferdinand or the Inception one? Would it work?

I suppose it would, but you would need to pick music that would not wake you up. You would also wonder if you were dreaming every time you heard the song in real life.

Great article! If you have an iPhone, there is also an app that does something very similar called DreamZ - lucid dreams simplified. Only you don't have to sleep with glasses on :)

would be awesome to buy one done, instead of making.. it's business man, you gotta work it out

You can get kits here:

This is awesome! I showed a friend this, and now we're going to make two pairs. But there may be time complications so we might have to buy them. Can't wait to use them! xD P.S. my name is William also!

Awesome! Have fun building your goggles and post some pics so we can see them when they are done!

can we add another switch for waiting only 15mins and do the 10 minute loop forever. if u can pls man post the code!!

Chang this line of code:
delay(7200000); // Wait 2 hours for sleep to start
to this:
delay(900000); // Wait 15 minutes for sleep to start

dont we need to add if condition in order to add another button??

pls help just to add another switch or the same switch do alternate between 15mins and 2 hrs !!!

Ya that is doable. Take a look at the arduino if statement info and see if you can get a switch to turn on two different lights. Have you ever used arduino before?

here is the link:

To get you started off on the right track, you will need to make an INPUT in the setup part to tell the arduino which pins to look for the switch on.
You will then be able to use an if statement to read if the switch pin is high or low.
The first if statement should be:

if (whatever pin you choose = HIGH){

turn on LED

for the second if statement, just replace "HIGH" with "LOW" and led on with led off.

ok man.. i'm gonna try it. i've never used arduino before but i can give it a try. send me the code for this if u have time thANX

Trying is the first step towards success!

can an attiny13 be used fo this??

Unfortunately, the attiny only has 1k memory while the code is 1.4k

man. my led after the code is loaded just stays on does not blink or anything??

I was on your website for ordering a pre-programmed chip and I do not have google wallet. It did say to email you and there was no Email listed. Please get back to me bro.

This is beyond amazing. I would love to know more about circuits to engineer such a device.

would this work with sound instead of light


LEDs don't have to have regulations on whether or not they damage your eyes. This is a brilliant idea, but know the risks because they can really mess your eyes up. Look online and you'll know EXACTLY what I'm talking about. Take a minute and save the health of your eyes.

Its possible to create with other microcontroller? For example a Attiny 12 1k Flash 8 Mhz Dip 8 ? Thanks

So, basically all this does is suspend you from all non-REM sleep, and instead put you into a subconscious state where you are constantly in REM sleep? It then uses a device similar to that of "totems" in Inception to transmit a familiar pattern of light that is not enough to consciously see, but subconsciously recognize.

So, it all seems as though it'd work... Which leads me to wonder if you could use a regular CFL or fluorescent bulb connected to a circuit that outputs a patterned series of electric pulses. The only problem would be that a normal fluorescent bulb might be too... dull? Not sure how I should phrase that, basically I'm saying it isn't focused like an LED would be, and is wider spread. It might simply simulate natural light.

Gotta say, it'd be kinda freaky to do this with a pattern of sounds you regularly hear in life, and then constantly wonder if your dreaming...

Can I just buy one of these already made

I've some questions. First of all eventough I'm notice when I'm dreamming, I can't control my dream. Why does it happen? secondly, I'm wondering if I catch light when I'm sleeping how can I continue my dream. Doesn't it makes me up?

I ran into trouble when I was trying to program my chip. When I tried to upload the .pde file you provided, I get an error that says "OUTPUT was not declared in this scope", so I can't upload it. Anyone have any idea what I'm doing wrong?

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