Lucid dreaming may sound cool and it might feel totally amazing to fly around the sky under your own power or hook up with Kylie Jenner or Harry Styles but when you listen to some of those lucid dreaming horror stories online it can make you think twice about learning to lucid dream. Will lucid dreams just give you good fun experiences with no negative side-effects or does lucid dreaming give you nightmares?
Lucid dreaming does not give you nightmares though it is possible to become lucid in the middle of a normal nightmare. Lucid nightmares are a very rare things and can be handled easily by a trained lucid dreamer. Lucid dreamers can easily remove the fear from a nightmare to learn from it, or they can change the dream to something more positive or simply wake themselves up from the dream.
Can lucid dreaming cause night terrors?
Night terrors usually occur in young children. They have usually grown out of them by the time they are 8. However, for a small percentage of the population night terrors literally terrorize them throughout their lives. Because night terrors are vivid some people are concerned about their similarity to lucid dreams, wondering if the two are connected. Can lucid dreams cause night terrors?
Lucid dreams cannot cause night terrors. They are completely different things. In a lucid dream you are consciously aware and mentally awake and therefore will remember the dream. Whereas you remain unconscious during a night terror dream and won’t remember it upon waking. Although it is possible to become lucid within a nightmare, a trained lucid dreamer can easily take control of the dream and change it to something more positive.
So to be clear, lucid dreams cannot cause night terrors because they are two completely opposed experiences. Let’s take a look at the difference between a normal regular nightmare, night terrors and lucid nightmares to illustrate this point.
I think everyone has had a regular nightmare at some stage. They require very little explanation, though for clarity I will cover them briefly.
A normal nightmare is any dream that is upsetting and shalkes us up a bit. Although most nightmares will leave us feeling bad for a few minutes after we wake, some can make us feel crappy all day long while the effects of others are non-existent and disappear upon waking.
In a nightmare the experience may feel hazy or it may feel vivid and real but you are never fully conscious as you would be in a lucid dream.
We usually remember most, if not all, of a regular nightmare.
Night terrors are completely different from regular nightmares.
Night terrors are usually experienced by young children between the ages of 3 – 8. As children grow older they tend to have less and less of them until they disappear completely. Unfortunately, sometimes night terrors do continue into adulthood in a very small percentage of sufferers but for most people simply grow out of them.
A key aspect of a night terror is the lack of conscious awareness in it. Like a normal nightmare a night terror may seem vivid and real but the dreamer has no real degree of conscious awareness in it.
It is unusual for the dreamer to remember experiencing night terrors after they have woken even though its effects are clear to everyone who witnesses a person experiencing one while they slept. So although a night terror is terrifying at the time, little memory of it remains after waking up.
Lucid dreams & lucid nightmares
A lucid dream is a dream in which the dreamer has full conscious awareness. They feel just as awake in the dream as they feel in real life. This can lead to some unsettling experiences when it comes to experiencing a nightmare while lucid.
A lucid nightmare is a normal nightmare, in structure at least, but you are fully conscious in the dream and fully aware of what is happening. Contrary to what some people say online, lucid nightmares are a real thing. They do exist, albeit they are very rare.
Lucid nightmares, like any lucid dream, can range in clarity and vividness from slightly hazy and dream-like to feeling so lifelike and clear that the whole thing feels as if it were really happening. Obviously in normal lucid dreams the greater the clarity and more lifelike the dream the better, but in lucid nightmares it is the exact opposite. Believe me I know! It’s no fun facing down a giant spider that wants to eat you in a world that feels just as real as your world feels to you right now … trust me!
Luckily though, as a trained lucid dreamer I am able to change any lucid nightmare instantly to remove the fear factor and change the narrative of the dream. Any experienced lucid dreamer can do the same. And once the lucid dreamer gains control over the dream they are free to either learn from it (i.e. seek out what the nightmare represents and what the subconscious mind is trying to communicate through it), or they can change the entire dream to something more enjoyable and pleasant, or they can simply choose to wake up.
In my spider nightmare that I mentioned above, I chose the second option and immediately changed from first person dream view to a more distanced third person view and then proceeded to shrink the spider to a much more manageable size. At this point the spider was no longer too keen on the fact that the odds were now stacked heavily in my favor and scuttled off back into the deep recesses of my mind – where it hasn’t been allowed out since!
Now there is a kind of lucid dream in which the dreamer has full conscious awareness and the ability to interact with the dreamworld but they have no control over anything else in the dream. These are known as uncontrolled lucid dreams. Lucid nightmares in which the dreamer has no control, i.e. a nightmare that occurs within an uncontrolled lucid dream, the experience is truly terrifying and can leave the sufferer shaken for hours or even days after it.
Thankfully, is very rare to have a lucid nightmare and it is even rarer to have a lucid nightmare within an uncontrolled lucid dream.
It is more common for prescription drugs like Xanax to cause night terrors, even lucid ones, than a it is for a normal lucid dream to become a nightmare or for you to become lucid within an nightmare without being able to control it. Xanax can cause lucid dreams, like other prescription drugs, but it can also cause very vivid and lifelike nightmares and night terrors so as a side point it is not a very good lucid dreaming trigger.
What is the most common nightmare for lucid dreamers?
Although nightmares are very uncommon for trained lucid dreamers, because they can control their dreams, they do happen occasionally. One strange phenomenon is that there is a common thread that runs through the most common types of lucid dreaming nightmares.
The most common nightmare that lucid dreamers experience is being chased by a demon or having to flee from some unseen evil power. There are some deep-seated and societal psychological reasons for this that go way beyond the purpose of this article.
However, it is worth mentioning that this common lucid dreaming nightmare theme (common among those we experience lucid nightmares not common in general) is an experience that is so terrifying that it leads some lucid dreamers to stop experiencing lucid dreams altogether. This is a shame because they are easy ways to deal with nightmares of this kind, which I will cover in the next section, and there is likely the potential for tremendous personal growth from analysing them and facing them.
It is really unfortunate that many lucid dreamers give up on their lucid dreams because they believe they have been attacked by some satanic force. This is simply not true. All lucid dreams happen inside your own brain and are so you cannot be affected by an outside source within a lucid dream.
I remember watching a YouTube video in which a guy talks about how he moved from New Age teachings to Christianity (which is a good thing in my opinion as it mirrors my own experience) due to a lucid nightmare he had. In the lucid nightmare he found that he was unable to wake up and was being pursued by a demon which kept on his trail until he eventually woke up. The experience freaked him out so much that he decided lucid dreaming was evil and he turned his back on it.
Unfortunately, I have looked hard for this video but can’t find it. If any of my readers see it please contact me and I will update this post with the video.
Now, as a Christian I am really glad that the guy in the YouTube video found Christ and renounced his former ways and I honestly believe that if giving up lucid dreaming helped him spiritually then it is a good thing but I can safely say, being a practising Christian myself, that he is definitely wrong about lucid dreaming being evil. I covered this very topic in this article and also demonstrated how lucid dreaming is not a sin and is in fact totally biblical.
But, if you want to understand how lucid dreaming relates to your spirituality be sure to read this article as well.
What happens if you have a nightmare while lucid dreaming?
Ok, so you’re enjoying a great lucid dream. Perhaps you are in the bahamas kicking back on a warm day with your feet buried in the sand and a cocktail in your hand. Or maybe you are on the Millenium Falcon with Charlize Theron (hey … no judgement please) racing through the Galaxy looking for lost Jedis and then … boom … you get a very bad feeling about this and everything changes for the worse. What happens if you have a nightmare while lucid dreaming?
It is extremely unlikely you will have a nightmare while lucid dreaming. Lucid dreams do not turn into nightmares. However, you can become lucid (wake within the dream) in the middle of a nightmare that is already happening. When this happens a trained lucid dreamer can instantly take control of the situation and change the dream in any way they want or they can simply wake themselves up.
Trained lucid dreamers do not have to experience nightmares because they can stop a lucid dream whenever they want to. The only time a trained lucid dreamer will experience a nightmare is if they become lucid while a nightmare is already happening and they then chose to let the nightmare run its course.
Why would they do that?
To learn from it or to find a way to eliminate the nightmare permanently if it is a recurring theme. I have highlighted many times on this website how nightmares can be used as beneficial personal-growth tools and you will find information on that in a few of the articles that I have already linked to above.
If you want to ensure you never have a nightmare again, or that you can use nightmares for your own self-improvement then check out this lucid dreaming course that teaches you how to induce lucid dreams and then how to control every aspect of them.