Lucid dreaming is a lot of fun. Being able to experience your fantasies as though they were real is a blast. But it isn’t all just fun and games. Lucid dreaming offers some real world advantages such as honing mental and physical skills and can even act as a great personal growth tool. But some people are fearful of learning to lucid dream as there are misconceptions about its dangers. For example, can lucid dreaming put you in a coma?
Lucid dreaming cannot put you in a coma. The mind/body state someone experiences in a lucid dream is completely different from that experienced by someone who’s in a coma. There are very specific physical causes for coma, such as head trauma and disease, that leave a coma patient unable to awake up. A lucid dreamer can awaken from sleep in the same way a normal dreamer can awaken.
Why lucid dreaming cannot put you in a coma
Understanding the key differences between the state of coma and the state experienced in a lucid dream is important. It will dispel any worries you may have about the potential for lucid dreaming to cause you to fall into a coma. It simply cannot happen. Let me explain why.
Before I go into the differences between coma and dream lucidity I should quickly mention the phenomenon known as coma dreaming.
As I covered in a previous article, can you lucid dream in a coma, it is possible for some coma patients to experience dream states that are very similar to lucid dreams. These dreams are just as vivid and life-like in experience as lucid dreams are. However, vivid dreams experienced in a comatose state are not the same type of dreams that are experienced in controlled lucid dreaming.
Vivid life-like dreams experienced in a comatose state are called coma dreams and they are very different from lucid dreams in some key areas – not least of which is the level of consciousness the dreamer is experiencing.
Why do I mention this and what bearing does it have on the question of going into a coma from lucid dreaming?
Well, it is because the two states of dreaming are completely differently and by understanding that coma dreaming is a different level of consciousness to lucid dreaming I will help you understand why lucid dreaming could never cause you to fall into a coma. The two brain states are completely different from one and other.
The state of consciousness experienced in coma is completely different from the state of conscious experienced in a lucid dream.
In fact, whereas a person in a coma is in an unconscious state, a person in a lucid dream is fully conscious and totally aware. Their brain function is different.
When a person falls into a coma there are very specific reactions going on in the body and brain of the patient.
Although the word coma comes from the Greek work koma, which means deep sleep, someone in a coma is not experiencing, nor are they exhibiting, the same brain functions as someone who is sleeping.
It is true that coma dreams are similar in construction and feel as lucid dreams, but a coma patient who is experiencing a vivid like-like coma dream will be exhibiting very different brain functions than someone who is lucid dreaming. Not only are the brain states different but they are completely different states of consciousness.
While a coma patient is having a coma dream they will remain unconscious and may only be subtlety aware that hey are are dreaming.
In most cases they will be completely unaware that they are in a dream. The person in the coma is only semi-conscious during a coma dream and is not aware that they could exert full control over it. The dream just feels like real life regardless of how bizarre it is. Their brain activity of a coma sufferer is very limited.
A lucid dreamer, on the other hand, is completely aware that they are in a dream. The dreamer is also fully conscious in the dream and can exert complete control over it.
The areas of the brain that are normally active during conscious wakefulness are active in a lucid dreamer thus leading them to become conscious in the dream. This is in no way abnormal, it is just uncommon. Neither is it a cause for concern, because these parts of the brain are used normally every day in the waking state any way.
Likewise, the body of a lucid dreamer and the body of someone in a coma are in completely different states.
For example, someone who is having a dream, including a lucid dream, will be very responsive to external stimuli designed to awaken them, while a coma patient will not be. In other words, you can wake a lucid dreamer from sleep at any time but you cannot wake up someone in a coma. In fact, a lucid dreamer can even waken themselves up during a lucid dream or stop having lucid dreams altogether.
Now that you know the difference between the state of lucid dreaming and the state of coma let’s look at why these differences mean a lucid dream cannot ever cause you to fall into a coma.
What is a coma?
First off let me say that I am not a doctor, nor am I an expert in the state of coma, but I do know enough about it to give you some background on what it is and what causes it. I do this to show you how different the state of coma is different from the state associated with lucid dreaming and how lucid dreaming cannot lead to that specific state.
I will also point you to some very capable experts in the field medicine so you can research the topic of comas yourself to see that it is very different from the state of conscious dreaming.
The word coma may have its origin in a word meaning deep sleep, as I pointed out above, but it is actually not a state of sleep at all.
Unlike someone who is sleeping, where they have a lot of brain activity during the REM dream state, someone who is in a coma is unconscious and has minimal brain activity. The person is alive but they cannot be woken and they also show no signs at all of being aware.
Someone in a coma is totally unresponsive to outside stimuli. They will not respond to sound, bodily shaking or even pain inflicted on them. They will remain unconscious regardless of what is done to their body. Even basic reflexive bodily functions will be reduced, such as coughing and swallowing.
Although many people in a comatose state will be able to breathe unaided there are some others who are in such a state of deep unconsciousness that they require special mechanical equipment to help them breathe.
Some people will recover from coma after several weeks, before they start to regain consciousness, while others will remain in a prolonged state of unconsciousness or have only minimal consciousness.
What causes a coma?
According to the Mayo Clinic a coma “is a state of prolonged unconsciousness that can be caused by a variety of problems — traumatic head injury, stroke, brain tumor, drug or alcohol intoxication, or even an underlying illness, such as diabetes or an infection”.
A coma is a brain/body response that shuts down the body and large parts of the brain. It is a very serious medical condition.
What are lucid dreams
Someone who is experiencing a lucid dream is in a completely different brain/body state than someone who is in a coma.
Lucid dreams are vivid life-like dreams and, in this way, they are very similar to coma dreams. A person who has a vivid like-like dream while in a coma may experience their dreamworld in exactly the same way you and I experience the real world. Everything in the dream looks, feels, tastes and smells just as real as real life.
This is also how a lucid dreamer experiences a lucid dream.
However, this is where the similarity ends.
Although the original meaning of the term lucid dreaming only meant vivid like-like dream experiences, it is now used to describe vivid like-like dream experiences that can be controlled and molded as the dreamer sees fit. A lucid dream is therefore a controlled dream.
During a lucid dream the dreamer will have different areas of the brain engaged compared to a normal dreamer. The dreamer is also fully conscious during the dream and is in a much more heightened brain state that someone in a coma even someone experiencing a vivid coma dream.
What causes lucid dreaming?
I have covered in a previous article what causes lucid dreams and I urge you to read that article if you have any remaining doubts, about possible coma ensuing from a lucid dream, after finishing this one.
Basically a lucid dream is the result of heightened brain activity during sleep. However, this is not abnormal nor is it anything to be concerned about.
When lucid dreaming the dreamer exhibits electrical activity in areas of the brain that are usually dormant during sleep. Areas of the brain that are engaged and active during waking consciousness are activated in a lucid dream. This leads to the dreamer becoming conscious during the dream state because areas of the brain are firing in the same way they would be if the person were awake.
There is nothing abnormal going on in the brain of a lucid dreamer. The dreamer is just accessing normal parts of the brain that they, and you and I, use every minute of the waking day. So, there is nothing dangerous going on that could cause the dreamer to fall into a coma – their brain and body is working perfectly normally.
As I covered before a lucid dreamer cannot get stuck in a lucid dream, (which would be the equivalent of falling into a coma), because they will wake up normally after their sleep cycle has completed and they can be woken up by someone else at any time.
Lucid dreaming cannot put you in a coma. Although lucid dreaming can affect reality in different ways it cannot negatively affect your physical body in any way whatsoever.
Just as you cannot die in a lucid dream, you cannot fall into a coma either. The mind/body state a lucid dreamer is in, is completely different to someone who is in a coma.
A coma is a medical condition that is caused by very specific damage done to the brain and body such as head trauma, substance abuse, stroke or disease, for example.
Lucid dreaming is the same as normal dreaming expect the dreamer has increased brain activity in areas of the brain that are usually only active during the waking state. Nothing abnormal is happening in the brain.
It is not bad to lucid dream. There are no negative physical effects that can come from experiencing the state of lucid dreaming. The state of coma and lucid dreaming are completely different and neither can cause the other to happen.