Lucid dreaming is an amazing skill to have. Being awake within a dream is exciting and energizing and having the ability to control the dream offers many real world benefits. With the ability to mold any dream environment into your very own world and being able to do anything in that world is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. But, are there dangers involved in lucid dreaming and is it bad to lucid dream?
It is not bad to lucid dream. Although there are no real dangers associated with lucid dreaming it can have some negative side-effects for a small percentage of lucid dreamers. Disrupted sleep, tiredness, false awakenings, false memories and sleep paralysis are some negative effects a lucid dreamer can experience, though all of them are fairly easy to avoid.
- Is lucid dreaming bad for you?
- Dangers of lucid dreaming and how to deal with them
- Myths about lucid dreaming and its dangers
Is lucid dreaming bad for you?
Lucid dreaming is not bad for you at all. In fact, lucid dreaming has been shown to have many benefits some of which you can even take with you into the waking world. Not only is it a lot of fun to engage in but lucid dreaming can positively affect your reality in the waking world when you know how to use it correctly.
However, there are a few drawbacks to lucid dreaming that some lucid dreamers may experience.
Although not often discussed, lucid dreaming can have some minor negative side-effects for a small minority of lucid dreamers.
The people who are most often negatively affected by lucid dreaming experiences are people who are called spontaneous, or natural, lucid dreamers. Spontaneous lucid dreamers will often lucid dream every night, or very frequently, without any conscious effort on their part to become lucid (most lucid dreamers needed to learn the skill of lucid dreaming). Of course, just because spontaneous lucid dreamers are more often negatively affected by lucid dreams than others this does not mean they have these negatively experiences often – they are just more at risk of having them.
Why are these spontaneous lucid dreamers more at risk of having minor negative side-effects?
It is simply because a spontaneous lucid dreamer cannot control the amount of lucid dreams they have nor can they stop them from happening without proper training.
Most lucid dreamers must perform specific exercises to ensure they enter a state of lucidity during sleep so all they need to do to avoid negative side-effects is to stop performing those exercises and thus stop lucid dreaming. A spontaneous lucid dreamer does not have that option.
If you are a spontaneous lucid dreamer and wish to restrict the number of lucid dreams you have, or you want to stop them completely, read our article how to stop lucid dreaming for some proven tactics on controlling the frequency of your lucid dreams and exercises you can do to stop lucid dreaming altogether.
Let’s take a look at the potential dangers of lucid dreaming and how you can avoid them.
Dangers of lucid dreaming and how to deal with them
Lucid dreaming holds no real dangers in the waking world, (or the dream world for that matter), though as I will point out later it can have some minor negative side-effects if you do not take proper precautions.
Although not truly dangerous there are some things that can happen in a lucid dream that have the potential to be very upsetting in the dream state. These upsets can even be carried into your day after you wake up and in some instances may have effects that last several days afterwards.
Although there are a few potential negative side-effects from lucid dreaming there are only two main types. They are:
- Negative side-effects that affect you within the lucid dream.
- Negative side-effects that affect you in the real world.
Negative side-effects within the lucid dream
Lucid dreaming may have no real world dangers associated with it but it can have an impact on you within the dream itself, when you experience negative events.
As lucid dreaming feels just as real as the waking world anything you do and experience in a lucid dream will feel real. So, if something negative happens in a lucid dream it will sometimes have the same psychological effect on you as it would if it happened for real.
Of course for most people this does not happen because they are aware that everything happening to them in the lucid dream is not real but for some people it is a concern.
Potential negative side-effects you could experience within a lucid dream include:
- False awakenings.
- Lucid nightmares.
- Experiencing upsetting feelings.
False awakenings is the most common phenomenon that upsets lucid dreamers. A false awakening is neither bad for you nor is it dangerous. However, it can be upsetting.
A false awakening is exactly what it sounds like it is – you think you have woken up from a lucid ream but you are actually still in the lucid dreaming state – waking-up is part of the dream.
Why are false awakenings often a negative side-effect of lucid dreaming?
Well, it can be upsetting to think you are awake only to find that you are not especially if something completely out of the ordinary happens. This has an even worse effect if it is a negative event that happens. I’m sure you have seen movies where the protagonist thinks they have woken up from a bad dream only to be attacked by someone before actually properly waking up – think American Werewolf in London when David Naughton thinks he has woken from a nightmare only to see Jenny Agutter get stabbed, before he eventually wakes up for real.
Dealing with negative scenarios like the one mentioned above is actually very easy to do within a lucid dream and even if you allow the events to play themselves out (to see what they are trying to teach you) it is much less frightening because you know that you are dreaming and can change everything in an instant if you so wish.
However, with a false awakening you think you are already awake and so are unaware that you have control over what is happening. This obviously makes scary events a lot more frightening.
Luckily most false awakenings do not include scary events. However, they do carry a certain amount of fright-worthiness in themselves. Something that can be scary is when you have multiple false awakenings within the same lucid dream. This will often lead to a feeling of being stuck in the dream, being totally unable to wake up in the real world.
Although it is impossible to stay stuck in a dream it can feel like you are stuck in it when you keep having false awakenings one after the other. So how do you deal with them?
Firstly if you are unsure whether or not you are dreaming or awake the chances are extremely high that you are still sleeping. So, do a reality check. Then close your eyes and tell yourself that when you open them you will wake up in the real world. As a lucid dreamer you already know the power that intention can have on your dream world. Well, it has just as much power to wake you up.
Remember that while you dream the only part of your body that is not paralyzed are your eyes. So, you have complete control over them in the real world and can force them open through pure intention.
Lucid nightmares can have a big impact on you for the rest of your waking day or even for many days after the experience. Because lucid dreams feel real, a lucid nightmare can be a truly terrifying experience if you do not know how to deal with it.
Experiencing a lucid nightmare can have the same psychological effect as it would if you were to experience the same events in the real world, simply because it feels just as real as the real world.
Luckily, lucid nightmares are a rare occurrence. Even if they do happen to you be secure in the thought that they are very easy to deal with.
Remember that in a lucid dream you may not be totally in control of the entire dream world, as the subconscious builds that, but you are in control of the dream. When you are experiencing a lucid nightmare you can stop it at any time through a simple act of “will”. Just tell the dream to stop and change into something else more positive. However, doing this would be a waste of a learning opportunity in my opinion.
Lucid nightmares are a way for the subconscious mind to communicate with you. It is trying to tell you something. So, instead of changing the dream to something else or changing the scary characters in the dream ask the dream itself what it means or what it is trying to tell you. If there are scary characters in the dream ask them what they represent. If need be, place those characters in a quarantine area while you interrogate them, if this makes you feel safer, or place yourself behind a thick impenetrable glass wall.
Asking the dream what the nightmare represents will help you to deal with the issue that is causing the nightmare. Not only will this stop the nightmare from ever happening again but it will very likely have a positive effect on your waking life as well.
Experiencing upsetting feelings
As lucid dreaming feels just as real as real life, experiencing feelings in a lucid dream feel the same as they do in the waking world.
If you find that you experience strong emotions while in a lucid dream these emotions can stay with you when you awaken. These feelings can then taint your thinking and your actions for the rest of the day. For this reason I always try to end a lucid dream on an emotional high by doing something that makes me feel good. This way I always wake up feeling good!
To deal with strong emotions within a lucid dream continually remind yourself that you are dreaming. I know that sometimes this can be difficult to do especially if you are using the lucid dream to work-out some old emotional hurts or past life experiences but try as best you can.
If you do become totally involved in the emotions the dream is evoking and you find that you wake up in that same emotional state, take a few minutes before getting out of bed to process the dream. Then, as best you can, let go of the dream and remind yourself that it wasn’t real. Try visualizing the opposite of what happened in the dream or mentally create a scene that evokes different emotions and dwell in that state for a few moments before getting out of bed.
Potential negative side-effects for real world living
Although lucid dreaming will have no dangerous effect on your reality in the waking world it can have some unwanted side-effects on your body and your mood.
Potential negative side-effects from lucid dreaming that affect your real world life include:
- Disrupted sleep.
- Waking with sleep paralysis.
- False memories.
- Upsets from lucid nightmare.
Disrupted sleep that is a direct result of having lucid dreams is a common cause of concern for many lucid dreamers.
Spontaneous, natural, lucid dreamers are most at risk from disrupted sleep because they have no control over when they lucid dream whereas those who use techniques and exercises to go lucid can simply stop doing them to stop the lucid dream and thus avoid the sleep disruption.
Everyone has several dreams throughout a 6 – 8 hour sleep cycle. And, everyone wakes up after each dream. Most people just don’t remember it happening. It is perfectly natural to wake up after a dream and then to gently drift back to sleep. Falling back to sleep usually happens within a matter of seconds.
However, if you stay awake for a prolonged period after waking from a dream this can disrupt the rest and rejuvenation that sleep offers mind and body. You will often awaken in the morning feeling tired and not properly rested. Many lucid dreamers are so enthralled and excited by what they just dreamt that they find it difficult to fall back to sleep.
If you find it difficult to fall back into sleep after a particularly enjoyable lucid dream. just lay still and try to think of falling asleep again as an opportunity to return to the dream. This subtle shift in awareness will often allow you to quickly fall asleep again and, more often than not, you will re-enter the same dream world.
I have covered how to deal with disruptive sleep by limiting the amount of lucid dreams you have to specific times, (or by stopping them from happening completely), in this article.
Tiredness during the day, due to lucid dreaming, is directly influenced by disruptive sleep as mentioned above. If you find that you are tired after having one or more lucid dreams the cause will be that you will have remained awake for a prolonged period after each dream, even if you don’t remember it.
To deal with this problem follow the advice in the article linked to above.
Waking with sleep paralysis
Sleep paralysis is a natural phenomenon that occurs during REM sleep. It is the body’s way of stopping you from acting out your dream.
As a lucid dreamer it is possible to force yourself awake from a dream. This may be something you want to do if you find yourself experiencing a lucid nightmare, for example. Forcing yourself awake from a lucid dream can lead to sleep paralysis.
When you consciously waken yourself from a lucid dream you do not go through the usual groggy state of consciousness that normal waking entails. You are fully conscious throughout the process because you were fully conscious while you were dreaming. However it is in the groggy state between sleep and wakefulness that sleep paralysis usually wears off and the the body becomes animated again. By bypassing that groggy state you are more prone to actually experience the sleep paralysis because it has’t had time to wear off.
So, as lucid dreamers have such control over the flow of the consciousness during a dream, it is possible to wake from a lucid dream and be totally conscious before your body has had time to “waken”.
This is no cause for concern.
Sleep paralysis usually only lasts a few seconds though it can last several minutes. If it happens to you, simply relax and allow your body to wake in its own time. You are not permanently paralyzed and you will be back to normal in due course. Just try to become aware of your body and take this time to investigate this unique state of consciousness in the same way you would investigate a new dream world.
If you experience sleep paralysis often, stop waking yourself from your lucid dreams.
False memories are the only real-world danger involved in lucid dreaming. Luckily, they are extremely rare and there are very easy-to-implement and effective strategies for avoiding them.
False memories are similar to false awakening in that you cannot tell the difference between the dream and the real world. A false memory is caused by a particularly vivid lucid dream that becomes indistinguishable from a real life event when you recall it.
There are two very effective ways for preventing the development of false memories from lucid dreaming. They involve:
- Using a dream diary.
- Performing reality checks.
Documenting your lucid dreams is a very easy way of avoiding developing false memories.
As you write down, in your dream diary, everything that happened to you in your lucid dream you solidify in your mind the fact that what just happened to you was a dream and not a real world event. Documenting the dream means you will also have written evidence of this fact if you ever need to check the validity of a memory – for this reason always use a descriptive title for your dream diary entry like, “the day I won the Superbowl with the Vegas Raiders” or, “the time I hooked up with Megan from work” etc.
Another easy-to-perform activity that can prevent false memories is performing reality checks within the dream. Even when you know that you are dreaming, performing reality checks becomes a fool-proof way of avoiding the development of false memories.
It is especially important to perform reality checks when you are doing something in a lucid dream that has the potential to be mixed-up with the real world – for example, like hooking up with Megan from work in a dream that you have deliberately made as realistic as possible so you could fully enjoy the experience. (Just for the record I have never worked with anyone called Megan and this is a completely made-up example ?).
Upsets from lucid nightmares
Having a lucid nightmare can not only be upsetting within the dream but it can also have a knock-on effect in the real world.
If you wake from a lucid nightmare at a stage of the dream that was particularly upsetting then you will likely continue to feel that same way throughout the rest of your day. It is not just the physical after-effects of a lucid nightmare, such as the emotions connected with it, that can cause waking-world problems though. The memory of the dream can also be upsetting.
As I covered above, in the false memories section, lucid dreaming feels so real that when you remember one it can feel the same as remembering a real world memory. If you remember a lucid nightmare, and it feels the same as a memory form the real world, then this memory can have the same type of psychological impact on you as if the event had occurred in real life.
If this happens more than once then you should learn how to deal with lucid nightmares so they no longer affect your waking life.
Learning how to dealing effectively with lucid nightmares also allows you to learn and grow from what they have to teach you. Advanced lucid dreaming training is the best way to learn how to use lucid nightmares as a positive personal growth tool. Such training will also show you how to completely eliminate lucid nightmares so you can get the most out of your lucid dreaming experiences. and will teach you advanced techniques for the getting the most from your lucid experiences.
Myths about lucid dreaming and its dangers
Below are some myths about lucid dreaming that may make you think lucid dreaming is bad. Remember, none of them are true.
Myth 1. You can get stuck in a lucid dream
I blame the film Inception on this one!
You cannot get stuck in a lucid dream. I cover this in-depth here.
Myth 2. Lucid dreaming can put you in a coma
This is more nonsense.
Read this article to discover why it is physically impossible for a lucid dream to put you into a coma.
Myth 3. You can get hurt in a lucid dream
Everything in a lucid dream is happening in your mind. No matter how real something feel sit has no effect on your sleeping body.
Yes, lucid dreaming can affect reality is some amazing easy but it can’t do it magically. If you get hurt in a lucid dream you will wake up the same way you fell asleep with no injuries from your dreams.
I cover this topic in the article can you get hurt in a lucid dream.
Myth 4. If you die in a lucid dream you die in real life
This is complete nonsense and I have an entire article article dedicated to showing you why this is not true.
Read can you die in a lucid dream for more information.