Xanax is a calming drug that is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It is also sometimes prescribed to help patients with insomnia get much needed sleep as it produces a calming effect on mind and body. Like all drugs though it has some side-effects one of which is vivid dreams. How vivid are those dreams, can xanax cause lucid dreams?
Xanax can cause lucid dreams though it should never be used as a deliberate lucid dreaming trigger. Xanax is an anti-anxiety prescription drug that produces a positive calming effect on the user but it can also have some negative side-effects, one of which can be disturbing vivid dreams. It is possible to stop these disturbing lucid dreams and/or wake yourself from them using specific techniques.
What is Xanax?
* Before I begin I would like to clearly state that I am not a medical doctor nor am I a health professional of any kind. However, I am an expert in lucid dreaming and I have thoroughly researched the topic of lucid dreams being caused by Xanax. Where appropriate I have linked to credible sources from health professionals and I encourage you to visit those sources for more information on specific aspects of Xanax and its side-effects.
Although Xanax is sometimes prescribed as an antidepressant, read this article from the National Library of Medicine, it is usually prescribed in the US to treat anxiety, panic attacks, seizures and insomnia.
Xanax belongs to a group of drugs called benzodiazepines. A medical professional, usually a doctor, will prescribe this type of drug to treat a range of different conditions that are mostly related to anxiety or epilepsy, due to the calming effect of the drug. Because the drug has such a calming effect on the user it is also sometimes prescribed for insomnia.
Xanax has a very calming effect on the user and starts to work within a hour if taking it. As an anti-anxiety drug it is very effective but it does have some powerful side-effects.
Because I am not a medically trained professional, but I am an expert in lucid dreaming, and for the purpose of this article I will only focus on one side-effect that is often caused by taking Xanax – the effect it has on dreams. If you want to know about other side-effects please visit www.webmd.com and for more information on what xanax is and what it is used for visit www.medicalnewstoday.com.
Can Xanax cause lucid dreams?
Alprazolam, the formal name for Xanax, is known to cause very vivid dreams that can be vibrant and very lifelike. This is due to the way in which the drug stimulates certain areas of the brain.
As I already mentioned Xanax (Alprazolam) is in the group of drugs known as benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines have a very deliberate and powerful effect on certain neurotransmitters in the brain, namely the gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA.
What are neurotransmitters and how do they affect our dreams?
Neurotransmitters are specific chemicals that are used by the brain to facilitate communication between brain cells. GABA, the neurotransmitter enhanced by Xanax, is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for sending relaxing and calming messages to the body thus helping to ease the symptoms of anxiety. You can read more about that from a trusted medical source here.
As I pointed out in the article on dream herbs, enhancing specific neurotransmitters in the brain can result in both very vivid dreams and/or it can also induce full-blown lucid dreams.
How does this work?
In the case of an anxiety disorder, when someone is feeling anxious there is usually some type of overstimulation occurring within the brain (see: The Neurobiology of Anxiety Disorders). By taking some form of benzodiazepines, in this case Xanax, specific neurotransmitters in the brain are stimulated to send calming messages to the body which counteract this overstimulation. This reduces the feelings of anxiety in the user but it can often have the side-effect of changing the nature of a person’s dreams making them much more lifelike, more vibrant and much more vivid.
The same neurotransmitters that Xanax enhances to create a calming effect on mind and body are the same neurotransmitters that can induce very vivid dreams and sometimes lucid dreams.
Although it is unlikely you will be taking Xanax as an aid to inducing lucid dreams, I should point out if you plan to do that it is not a good idea.
Xanax is a prescription drug used to treat some serious disorders and is not for recreational use.
Recreational use of Xanax is risky at best and downright dangerous at worst and can lead to addition (read this). What’s more if you plan to use it to induce lucid dreams just be aware that there is a high likelihood those dreams will be far from pleasant.
There are much safer and more natural ways to enhance neurotransmitters for lucid dreaming such as herbal pills which target different groups of neurotransmitters to ensure a pleasant lucid dream is experienced – all without the side-effects of prescription drugs.
Can Xanax cause night terrors?
Xanax is a powerful drug used for the successful treatment of anxiety disorders but it also can have some unwanted side-effects. One of these is vivid and disturbing dreams.
Alprazolam, Xanax, can cause night terrors. Xanax belongs to a group of drugs known as benzodiazepines which work by enhancing specific neurotransmitters in the brain. A side-effect of stimulating these neurotransmitters can be vivid and disturbing dreams. The only way to counteract this is through lucid dream techniques.
When neurotransmitters are enhanced in a way that makes your dreams more vivid there is always a risk of having very disturbing dreams. Night terrors, also called sleep terrors, are not the same as regular normal nightmares but they are very similar to lucid nightmares. Night terrors can be truly terrifying due to the the vivid nature of the dream and the high level of conscious awareness the dream has in them i.e. night terrors feel like they are really happening to you as though you were awake.
One way to combat night terrors is to learn how to lucid dream. Being able to lucid dream, and control your dreams, allows you to take charge of any dream situation and change a night terror ro lucid nightmare into something more pleasant. Usually I would suggest that you use a lucid nightmare, to learn what your subconscious mind is trying to show you or to understand what your mind is trying to process, but because these type of night terrors are caused by drugs I would just advise you to exit the dream scene and to change the dream to something more pleasant.
Why do antidepressants cause vivid dreams
As I have pointed out earlier with the case of benzodiazepines, certain drugs affect and enhance specific neurotransmitters in the brain. Although benzodiazepines are a group of drugs used to treat anxiety disorders and antidepressants are used to treat depression, both types of drug work by acting in the neurotransmitters in the brain.
Antidepressants enhance specific neurotransmitters in the brain. When certain neurotransmitters are stimulated this can increase REM sleep where most dreams occur. This can mean more dream cycles and longer dream periods. Additionally, specific neurotransmitters can also promote much more vivid dreams that are more colorful, vibrant and lifelike.
Not only are vivid dreams a byproduct of neurotransmitter stimulation, when some specific neurotransmitters are stimulated it can result in a lucid dream. In a lucid dream the sleeper becomes fully consciously awake within the dream although their body remains paralyzed and asleep.
Drug induced lucid dreams tend to be uncontrolled lucid dreams but they are extremely vivid and lifelike. They literally feel like you have been transported to a different environment and you are there in a very physical sense.
Although many of these lucid dreams will be neither pleasant nor unpleasant, it is possible to have very disturbing vivid and lucid dreams when taking strong prescription antidepressants. It is even possible to have violent and very upsetting dreams due to the effects that antidepressants have on brain neurotransmitters as outlined in this resource from James M. Parish, M.D.