Lucid dreaming can be a really fun activity. It can also be a great night skill that helps us to develop days skills that we can use in everyday life. However, not everyone wants to lucid dream. So, how do you stop a lucid dream when it starts and how do you prevent lucid dreams from happening in the first place?
To stop a lucid dream while you are dreaming all you have to do is open your eyes. Your physical eyes are not paralyzed in REM sleep and you can open them at any time. If intending your eyes open doesn’t work, close your dreams eyes for a few seconds and tell yourselves when you open them you will be awake. To stop having lucid dreams altogether try sleeping in a different position. Lucid dreaming occurs due to heightened awareness so relaxing your awareness before sleep can also help.
How to stop lucid dreaming
Lucid dreaming is a skill, and also an art, that many people would love to be able have. Although everything in a lucid dream feels just as real and solid as things do in real life, the experiences that lucid dreaming offers are well beyond what is possible in the waking world. Although most lucid dreamers have to work hard, and must follow specific exercises to learn how to lucid dream, some people just lucid dream naturally and spontaneously.
Some people are natural, or spontaneous, lucid dreamers and these people rarely have any control over when they enter into a lucid dream – it just happens naturally. Not everyone wants this experience especially if they tend to lucid dream every night or more frequently than they would like. It is for those people that this short guide is written.
What do you do if you are a natural spontaneous lucid dreamer but you don’t want to have lucid dreams?
Below I will cover some techniques you can use to:
- Stop a lucid dream while it is happening.
- Reduce the amount of lucid dreams you are having.
- Stop having lucid dreams altogether.
Being able to leave a lucid dream is a good skill to have even if you enjoy lucid dreaming. You never know when you may want to be able to do this.
Likewise, having the ability to restrict the number of lucid dreams you have is also a good skill to develop especially if your lucid dreams are enjoyable but they tend to disrupt your sleep.
Being able to lucid dream only when you want to, means you can enjoy the state of lucidity on the days when you can remain in bed in the morning but stop lucid dreaming at times when you need a good night’s sleep.
For those of you who do not want to lucid dream at all, because you often enter into lucid nightmares for example, I have included ways to teach your brain to stop lucid dreams from happening altogether.
I would urge anyone considering this approach to think very carefully about it, however. Is this something you really want to do? Many people spent weeks, months and even years learning how to lucid dream and you can do it naturally!
If there is a reason or problem you have that makes you not want to lucid dream you may be better addressing that problem rather than trying to stop yourself lucid dreaming completely.
The main reason I find for spontaneous lucid dreamers wanting to stop lucid dreaming is because the majority of their lucid dreams are lucid nightmares. I know that lucid dreaming nightmares can be extremely scary and not something anyone would willing want to experience but rather than stopping the experience of lucid dreaming completely you could easily learn how to control your dreams to stop the nightmare before it even really gets started.
You can even use your state of lucidity to identify what the nightmare means and why you are having it. This usually helps to deal with some subconscious issue/block that is negatively affecting your life but that you are unaware of in the waking state.
As a lucid dreamer you have complete control over the direction your dream takes and, with just a little training, you easily change a lucid nightmare into a lucid fantasy while simultaneously learning from the experience or removing a subconscious block. Just consider that before halting your lucid dreams completely.
There is help for doing this. There are lucid dreaming guides, like the Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming that is a book designed for helping you achieve better control in the dream state and even advanced lucid dream training that can help you gain complete control over your dream experience.
But enough preaching. If you still want to stop lucid dreaming read on.
How to wake up from a lucid dream
Most lucid dreamers who wish to awaken from a lucid dream will try to force themselves awake. A common way to try to wake-up is to simply keep repeating the phrase “wake up” over and over again while willing yourself awake. Sometimes this works but more often than not it doesn’t.
The only way to guarantee awakening during a lucid dream is through the eyes.
While in a lucid dream you are in the REM state. You also experience something called REM sleep atonia, which means your body is paralyzed while you dream so you do not act out your dream. However, there is a part of your body that is not paralyzed during REM sleep atonia, simply because it plays a very important role in the dream state, and that is your eyes.
Your eyes are constantly moving from side to side in a lucid dream and are the only part of your body that is not deliberately paralyzed during sleep and is therefore technically still under your conscious control.
Herein lies the gateway to waking up from a lucid dream!
Rather than trying to force yourself out of the dream you can simply open your eyes.
I know this may sound counterintuitive, as you will feel that your eyes are already open in the lucid dream, but in the real world your eyes are of course closed. As your eyes are not affected by the state of REM sleep atonia, and are therefore not paralyzed, you can, in fact, open them whenever you want. Because you are actually conscious, even though you are dreaming, you can simply open your eyes through an act of intention.
When you “will” your eyes to open, (it’s actually more of an intention than concentrated will), you will find that your physical eyes open and .. boom … you will be awake.
Now, for a few seconds you may find yourself to be slightly disorientated when you do this. As your physical eyes open they will send the visual input from the real world to your brain and this input is obviously in conflict with the dream world scenes you are experiencing, and so you may find it disorientating for a second or 2.
Or, you may simply awaken immediately with no disorientation at all. Either way it takes no more than a few seconds to be fully awake.
For most people this technique works every time, however, if you are one of the rare people who find that this technique does not always work for you, (it will definitely work most of the time), then do not despair or panic while in the dream. Simply close your dream eyes for a few seconds and tell yourself that when you open them it will be your physical eyes that open and you will be awake.
There is no need to force this. Just allow it to happen. Your intention will be enough to wake you.
How to wake up from a lucid dream nightmare
The same technique for waking up from a normal lucid dream applies to waking up from a lucid nightmare.
To wake up from a lucid dream nightmare simply intend to open your physical eyes. Your eyes are the only part of your body not paralyzed in REM sleep. You can open them at any time. Just intend your eyes open. If that does not work immediately then close your dream eyes and tell yourself that when you open them it will be your physical eyes opening and you will waken.
How to stop having lucid dreams
There are two approaches to try to stop yourself from having lucid dreams. Both these approaches can be used to reduce the rate of lucid dreams you have, or to completely stop lucid dreams from happening altogether.
To stop lucid dreams completely use the techniques every day until they become a habit and you no longer become lucid in your dreams.
If you wish to only stop lucid dreaming on specific days then only use the techniques on those days. Be aware though, that regular use of these techniques could cause you to lose the ability to spontaneously lucid dream entirely, so use them sparingly if you want to retain this ability.
Before you read on I urge you to consider taking some advanced lucid dream training so you can better control when you lucid dream. This type of advanced training will also teach you how to gain complete control over the dream experience so you do not need to eliminate lucid dreaming from your life completely. Lucid dreaming offers many benefits beyond just living in a fantasy world.
Soften your awareness before sleep
As I covered in a previous article lucid dreaming occurs spontaneously in people who have heightened awareness in the waking state. The science shows us that natural spontaneous lucid dreamers process the world about them, and their own bodies, in a much more cognitive way than non-lucid dreamers do. Basically, natural lucid dreamers tend to be more “in-tune” with everything going on in their lives. They are naturally more insightful.
As the brain of a spontaneous lucid dreamer is in a heightened state of awareness during the wakefulness, this state of awareness tends to bleed into the sleep and the dream state. Basically, if you are more lucid and aware during the day you will be more lucid and aware when dreaming.
The heightened awareness of the dreamer allows them to become aware that they are dreaming and they, thus, spontaneously become lucid.
To help stop this lucidity from occurring in dreams you can try to train your brain to be “less aware” or less attentive to things about 30 minutes to 1 hour before you retire to bed.
By teaching yourself to have a softer focus on what is happening in the time approaching sleep, you can greatly increase your chances of being less aware, and less attentive, when you enter a dream. This will mean you will be less likely to realize that you are dreaming and hence you will be less likely to become lucid.
Change your sleeping position
One effective way of stopping lucid dreams is to disrupt your usual sleeping routine.
Obviously changing the amount of time you sleep, or when you sleep, is not very practical as you may have a job or school/college to attend. So the easiest way to disrupt your sleep is to change how you sleep rather than when you sleep.
This can be achieved by simply sleeping in a different position in bed than you would normally sleep. If you sleep on your back, for example, turn on your side instead and fall asleep in that position. If you sleep on your side, do the opposite and flip onto your back. The new sleeping position will often be enough to not only disrupt your regular sleeping pattern (which involves becoming lucid in your dreams), but will likely occupy your senses so much that your brain is too busy processing the changes to make you lucid in your dreams.
Try several different sleeping positions each night so that your brain and body do not become too accustomed to the new sleeping position and begin the lucid dreams again.