When we watch certain TV shows and movies, like Inception or Nightmare on Elm Street, sometimes we see characters encounter the problem of being unable to wake from their dreams. The fear of getting stuck in a dream is a real concern for some people, especially those who wish to learn how to lucid dream.
Let’s see if there is any foundation for this concern.
Can you get stuck in a dream?
It is not possible to get permanently stuck in a dream. You will naturally wake up after your normal sleep cycle has completed.
However, some dreamers have reported feeling stuck in their dreams, especially when experiencing lucid dreams (more on this later).
Let’s look at this phenomenon more closely to see what is going on and to discover ways of preventing stuck dreams and getting out of them if they happen.
The strange phenomenon of getting stuck in a dream
Okay, I know I just said that you cannot get stuck in a lucid dream but there may be times when you feel like you are stuck. What exactly do I mean by this?
Well, some lucid dreamers have reported that there were times when they were stuck in a lucid dream and that they were totally unable to wake themselves up.
Although this is not a common phenomenon it does happen on occasions and it has even happened to people with several years lucid dreaming experience.
Fortunately, this state of being unable to wake up usually only occurs with standard dreams scenarios are very rarely happens in a lucid nightmare.
For some people this does not make it any less frightening though as they start to feel they will be unable to wake up and will be stuck in the dream permanently.
Let me state here that it is literally impossible to become stuck in a lucid dream, or any dream for that matter, permanently.
Your body will naturally wake up after it has completed its normal sleep cycle. You cannot go into a coma by getting stuck in a lucid dream!
Unfortunately though, feeling stuck in dream can freak some people out simply because they feel that they have no control over what is happening.
When freaked-out by the fact that they are unable to wake up, some lucid dreamers will take some bizarre courses of action to waken themselves.
Some even go to extremes such as hitting themselves or trying to kill themselves in the dream just so they wake up. Doing these things is completely unnecessary and not at all recommended.
As lucid dreaming feels like real life why on earth would you want to hurt yourself?
I show you proven easy-to-use techniques for getting unstuck from a lucid dream so you can wake up in less than a minute later in this article.
By the way, to put the record straight on another misconception – although you can die in a lucid dream you will never die in real life as a result of it.
That is why some lucid dreamers will kill themselves in a lucid dream to wake themselves up. Don’t do it.
There is no need to resort to taking potentially upsetting actions.
Below I give you advanced lucid dreaming techniques for waking up from a stuck dream state.
Why you feel stuck in a dream
There are no concrete answers to why lucid dreamers can feel stuck in a dream where they are unable to wake themselves up.
One school of thought contends that it is the subconscious mind’s way of communicating something important to you.
Let me explain how that might work.
Although no-one is completely sure why we dream it is believed by many dream researchers and physiologists that dreaming helps the brain and mind to process events that have occurred in our everyday life.
When we lucid dream this functionality is somewhat impaired because as lucid dreamers we take control over the dream and thus the subconscious mind has less opportunity to use those dreams as it normally would.
Instead of the dream unfolding as the subconscious mind would like it to, in order to process events for example, the dreamer consciously directs the dream in ways that are desirable to them.
If you find that you on the occasion when you felt stuck in a lucid dream, it was after a prolonged period of lucid dreaming (i.e. having been lucid dreaming frequently, or even every night), then this may be a sign to take a break from controlled dreaming for awhile.
If you are a spontaneous, natural, lucid dreamer then you may want to take steps, by following specific exercises, to reduce the number of lucid dreams you are having or even stop them completely for a period of time. I show you how to do that in this article.
If you are like me, and must use exercises to program yourself to lucid dream, then just stop using those exercises for a while.
Before you take any action to get unstuck with a lucid dream I suggest you also ask the dream itself what it is trying to tell you.
You may be pleasantly surprised by what you learn and the insights could have a profound effect on your waking life.
Can you get stuck in a lucid dream?
Anyone interested in lucid dreaming will already know the many exciting and fun things it offers. But some people have legitimate concerns about entering the state of lucidity during their dreams.
One big concern with many newbie, and would-be, lucid dreamers is getting trapped in the dream state.
Regardless of what you saw in the film Inception, it is not possible to get permanently stuck in a lucid dream.
Just as you would with a regular dream and sleep cycle. you will naturally wake up after your normal sleep cycle has completed.
However, some lucid dreamers have reported feeling stuck and being unable to wake themselves before the dream had finished.
This should not be a concern for you because, it is possible to wake yourself at any time from a stuck dream with easy-to-apply advanced lucid dreaming techniques.
How to get unstuck from a dream
Obviously the fastest way to get out of a lucid dream is to simply wake up. Obviously though, if you are reading this article the likelihood is that you have tried your normal methods for waking and they have not worked.
This is what leads to the feeling of being stuck in the dream in the first place … right?!
So, below I have given you a way of ensuring that you will wake up from a lucid dream any time you want to. It works every time and it will work every time for you as well.
The following is a two-stage process for waking up from a lucid dream that you are stuck in. It always works.
Two-stage process for getting unstuck from a lucid dream:
- First, change location in your dream.
- Then, follow up with the eye-wake-up exercise (described below).
So, what is this two-stage process and how does it help you get out of a lucid dream that you have found yourself to be stuck in?
Let me explain.
The first step in the process involves changing the entire dream location and the dream scenario you are in.
If you are in your room change the location to a beach.
If you are alone, fill the space with people. If you find it difficult to change the entire scene (which is unlikely to happen) just change a few items around you or create new ones.
You should basically just make changes to the dream in any way you see fit.
Why do this, what effect will it have on the dream and what are we aiming to achieve from doing it?
Well, by changing the dream or aspects of the dream you will start to shake off the feeling of being stuck because you will have consciously exercised some control over the situation.
Even if you still feel stuck after making these changes you will have sent a very clear signal to your subconscious mind about who is really in control.
By changing the dream you have reasserted your control over it and over the situation you find yourself in.
This is sometimes all that is needed to break you free from the dream so you wake up.
Many lucid dreamers report that when they change the dream scene, within a stuck dream, they automatically wake up within a few seconds after the scene changes. Though, for most of you, you will need to complete the second step in the process.
Even if you do not wake up automatically, by simply changing the dream sequence or parts of the dream you will have freed yourself from the stuck state you found yourself in at least subconsciously.
By consciously changing the dream you reassert your power and authority of your own consciousness and will have fostered a more desirable mental state to waken yourself into the real world.
If you were to try your normal wake-up routine or wake-up exercise at this time (whatever you usually do to deliberately wake up from a lucid dream) it will probably work, but I do not advise you do that.
Instead follow the second step in this process to ensure you absolutely wake up 100% of the time.
The second step in the process involves the eye-wake-up exercise that I give below.
Using your eyes to wake from a stuck dream – the eye-wake-up exercise
Your eyes are the not just the window to the soul, they are also the window to wakefulness.
As a person sleeps, unless they have a unique condition called somnambulism where they act out your dreams, their body will remain completely paralyzed.
This natural chemical reaction in the body is designed to stop you walking about during your dreams and getting yourself into dangerous situations as you act them out.
Although muscle spasms can commonly occur during REM sleep when we are dreaming all our muscles are basically locked in place. All our muscles, that is, except our eyes!
Our eyes move constantly during REM sleep as they are not affected by the paralyzing effect the rest of the body is subjected to during sleep.
The good news is that we can use this to our advantage when we want to awaken from a dream.
Because you are conscious in a lucid dream, even a stuck one, and because your eyes are not paralyzed, like the rest of your body, it is possible to consciously and deliberately move your physical eyes while in the lucid dream.
Why is this important and how can it help you to wake up?
It is this ability to consciously and deliberately move the physical eyes during a lucid dream that helped Stephen LaBerge, the Father of modern lucid dreaming, to prove to the scientific world that lucid dreaming really exists and is a real phenomenon – they were extremely skeptical prior to this.
By using his eyes to make deliberate movements LaBerge was able to signal people monitoring his EEG readings during REM sleep.
LaBerge was able to move his eyes in the pre-agreed upon eye movement patterns while he was dreaming thus demonstrating to scientists that he was conscious during his dreams.
You can use a similar approach, of deliberately moving your physical eyes, to force your body to wake up from a lucid dream no matter how stuck you feel while in it.
So how do you do it?
Once you have finished the first step of the process and changed the dream scene, or altered parts of the dream, simply close your eyes in the dream and start to rotate them.
While you rotate your eyes remain conscious of the fact that your real eyes, in your unconscious body sleeping in the bed, are also moving. You do not have to do anything to move your physical eyes, they will automatically and naturally move as you move your dream eyes.
Move your eyes in several different directions. Move them up and down, from side to side and rotationally.
There is no right or wrong way to do this. You just want to move your eyes while being consciously and constantly aware that your real physical eyes are moving in the same way as your body lies asleep.
Keep this up for about 20 – 30 seconds making sure you keep your dream eyes closed all the time.
Then, after about 30 seconds of doing this, simply open your dream eyes.
You will find that as you open your dream eyes your physical eyes will open as well. This may be slightly disorientating for a few seconds as your consciously adjust but you will be awake in the real world.
Do not be concerned if you experience a short period of sleep paralysis after opening your eyes. It may take the rest of your body a few seconds, to a few minutes (in rare cases), to catch up with you and shake off the paralysis.
As you practice this form of waking from a lucid dream, which you should do even in non-stuck dreams so you master the technique, you will find that is easier for you to do it and the time it takes to waken fully will lessen with each session.
Also consider trying some advanced lucid dreaming techniques so you can can much more control over the entire experience.