Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Wake Back To Bed (WBTB) Explained

Wake Back To Bed (WBTB) Explained

by Bob Peterson


I hate it when people say "just try this" OBE technique without any explanation. I'm an analyst. My analytic mind wants to know exactly what's going on so I can do it properly.

Many people talk about the Wake Back To Bed (WBTB) method of achieving out-of-body experience. Different people recommend different things, but few of them offer any kind of explanation of how and why it works.

After a good amount of research, I think I finally understand the procedure and how it works, so I thought I'd share.

Standard disclaimer:
Again, my understanding of all this is incomplete. This is just my interpretation at this time, and it's likely to change with time. I don't pretend to know everything. I'm not a sleep expert, but I've done a fair amount of research over the years.

The WBTB technique is something like this:
  1. Set an alarm clock to wake you up after 6 hours of normal sleep.
  2. After the alarm wakes you up, stay up for 3 to 50 minutes.
  3. Go back to bed with the intention of having an OBE. Sometimes that's all you need. But if you don't have an OBE:
  4. When you wake up again, perform some kind of exit technique (or cycle through many, as Michael Raduga suggests).
Right away I have a lot of questions:
  • Why six hours?
  • Should I stay up 3 minutes or 50 minutes?
  • Why does the length of time you stay up vary so much? 
  • Does it matter if I wake up naturally or with the alarm?
  • If I wake up naturally in the middle of the night can I do it?
  • What exit technique should I use?
  • Why do I have to set the alarm so far ahead? Can't I just interrupt my sleep at an earlier point?
I think I've found answers to these questions, and the key is understanding what's actually going on. Be forewarned: Sleep is a complex thing. The human brain is a complex thing. I don't pretend to be an expert on either, but I'm going to try to simplify this as much as possible.

Sleep Cycles 


First you need to know some basics about sleep cycles.


Every night, we go through several (often five) sleep cycles. Each sleep cycle lasts about 90 - 110 minutes (the first cycle is often longer). Each cycle contains these stages:
  1. Hypnagogic imagery (alpha through theta brainwaves).
  2. Non-REM (nREM) sleep ("wash cycle").
  3. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. (Dreaming)
  4. Hypnopompic imagery.
  5. Waking up, or "almost" waking up and the cycle repeats again.

Where do OBEs and Lucid Dreams occur?


Science has proven lucid dreams occur during step 3, REM sleep. My OBEs occur mostly in step 1 or 4, the hypnagogic and hypnopompic imagery stages.

Here's a good analogy: these sleep cycles are analogous to washing (laundering) dirty clothes: Your brain needs to be "washed" five times every night.
  1. Hypnagogic imagery is like when the tub fills with water.
  2. Non-REM sleep is like when soap is added and your brain is "agitated."
  3. REM sleep is like the "rinse" cycle.
  4. Hypnopompic imagery is like when the tub is drained.
  5. Then the washing machine resets itself and start over
We leave our body every sleep cycle. This is just like taking your clothes off before you launder them: you can't wash your clothes while you're wearing them, right? But that's another topic for another day.

Since the brain is "washed" in each cycle's nREM stage, it's a little "cleaner" each time, and therefore the nREM sleep gets shorter and shorter. But since the length of the cycle (90 - 110 minutes) doesn't change much, REM sleep gets longer and longer with each cycle. A typical night looks something like this:
It's interesting to note that brain waves during REM sleep are actually as "loud" or even "louder" than waking consciousness; a veritable storm of electrical activity.

Interrupting Sleep


Spending some time awake bypasses the hypnopompic imagery. Your brain chemicals are forced into a "waking" pattern.

When you interrupt sleep, it's like stopping the washing machine in the middle of a cycle. Your body has a tendency to restart the cycle where it left off. But since REM sleep (step 3) is chemically/electrically similar to waking consciousness, your brain can either just skip over that part (drain/wake up) or start the next cycle (step 1).

The Brain Chemical Dance


The next thing to understand is the rise and fall of various brain chemicals. I won't go into great detail here, but here are the basics:
  • After the sun sets, the pineal gland in your brain produces the hormone melatonin, which makes you sleepy. (This is largely controlled by the light that enters your eyes, but that's also another topic for another day).
  • With all that melatonin in your system, it's hard to retain consciousness.
  • Throughout the night, the melatonin is depleted.
  • By morning, you've used up most of the melatonin.
  • For the sake of my "laundry" analogy, let's say that melatonin is the laundry detergent. Your pineal gland produces a certain quantity at the beginning of the night, and a little is used up with each sleep cycle.
  • When light hits your eyes the next morning, it triggers the production of other brain chemicals that bring back consciousness.
Here's a diagram to show roughly how it's used, along with some other brain chemicals:
So if you combine these charts, you'll see where they overlap: About six hours into sleep, your level of metatonin is still relatively high (sleep/laundry is still needed) but your brain is relatively "clean" and ready for consciousness.

The Answers


So to answer my own questions:
  1. Why 6 hours?
    The 6 hour figure is optimal because it interrupts one of the later sleep cycles. That ensures your brain is as "clean" as possible and therefore nearly ready for full consciousness. If you interrupted an earlier cycle, you'd most likely drop into non-REM sleep and not be able to retain consciousness. Plus there's still too much melatonin in your blood, which means you'll be too drowsy.
  2. Should I stay up 3 minutes or 50 minutes?
    It varies depending on whether you're a light sleeper or heavy sleeper. If you're a light sleeper, it will probably take less effort to retain consciousness during your attempt. If you're a heavy sleeper, you need more time to ensure you won't just fall immediately back to sleep. You may need to experiment with this until you find a length of time that works for you.
  3. Why does the length of time you stay up vary so much?
    It has to do with brain chemicals. At night, melatonin builds up in the brain and makes you sleepy. Meanwhile, other brain chemicals associated with conscious awareness wear off. When you sleep, it's just the opposite: the melatonin is used up and the chemicals necessary for consciousness are built up. If you're a heavy sleeper, you need to give your body more time to balance your "consciousness" brain chemicals up to a point where full conscious awareness will stay with you for the duration.
  4. Does it matter if I wake up naturally or with the alarm?
    Yes, I think it does. You want to interrupt non-REM (nREM) sleep, not REM sleep. If you interrupt REM sleep, your brain will often just start a new sleep cycle from the beginning (and you fall asleep and lose your OBE). If you interrupt nREM sleep, your brain will tend to restart the "cleaning" cycle where it left off, but the interruption gives you time to build enough of those "consciousness" chemicals to retain conscious awareness, thus an OBE.
  5. If I wake up naturally in the middle of the night can I do it?
    While it's possible, it's not ideal. Your body is conditioned to automatically start new sleep cycles from start to finish. I think it's more OBE-productive to interrupt nREM in the middle.
  6. What exit technique should I use?
    Almost any exit technique will work, but everybody is different. What works for one person may not work for another. I prefer techniques that give me a sense of motion, such as pretending I'm swinging my astral arms back and forth. Some people prefer to imagine they're running as fast as they can. Still others like to pretend they're climbing a rope. You may need to experiment to see what works best for you. There are many to choose from.
  7. Why do I have to set the alarm so far ahead? Can't I just interrupt my sleep at an earlier point?
    While it's technically possible to interrupt an earlier cycle and get results, there's a good chance your brain won't be "clean" enough to give you full conscious awareness. Your body is more likely to drop you back into another sleep cycle.

Bob Peterson
15 August 2017

6 comments:

  1. This is brilliant. Thank you for the analogy...it helps me put so many pieces together.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I use to read all article in your blog.good work keep up the good

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great info Bob! Makes it so much easier to understand! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Bob, Found you today, and appreciate the sharing of your life experiences such as OBE and travel and the knowledge you have gained. You are an inspiration to us explorers in this vast arena of consciousness, please keep sharing your wisdom, and always know you are appreciated and loved.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Bob,

    This helpful to for the analytical types.

    I do not think it is helpful for a beginner to sift through their internet research they remember during prime exit time regardless of the technique. The mind should be quiet and sifting through their research will create rapid thought movement in a small window of time... that is info overload, not quiet mind.

    ReplyDelete
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