Lucid dreaming sounds like a fascinating concept! Have you ever had them? Teleporting yourself to the vacation spot you always dreamed of is such a cool experience, isn’t it? Lucid dreaming helps you achieve that.
Also, it is wonderful and almost magical how you can dig deeper into your subconscious mind. And train it to experience vivid dreams that you can easily recall, unlike regular dreams.
How awesome it is to witness dreams that feel as if they are absolutely real! And you possibly might even feel more ecstatic seeing your goals coming to life by shaping your dream scenarios. After all, it is always exciting to experience doing something positive in dreams that you have not been able to do in your waking life, no matter how hard you try.
Lucid dreams are a great way to induce positive emotions and become a more mindful individual in real life. It can also be a very effective technique to help you chase your hopes and aspirations. In Buddhism, lucid dreaming is actually called “dream yoga”!
You hardly remember your dreams, but lucid dreaming helps you stay wakeful and completely aware. But here is one truth about lucid dreaming! As captivating as it may sound, Lucid dreaming has its pros and cons too.
It needs to be done under supervision, direct or indirect, as there might be certain side effects. In addition, there are some dangers of lucid dreaming that you must be aware of. Before we dive into the dangers of lucid dreaming, let’s understand a few basics to get some background information.
Why And When do Lucid Dreams Take Place?
Lucid dreams commonly occur during REM sleep. It is a phase at the beginning marked by a less deep sleep that happens approximately ninety minutes after you fall asleep. A typical REM sleep phase duration is around ten minutes and can go up to an hour max.
Not everyone can effortlessly experience lucid dreams. But there is no solid scientific evidence to explain why lucid dreaming occurs. People who have a tendency to contemplate deeper and introspect are known to witness lucid dreams easily. Thanks to a bigger frontal part of their brain called the prefrontal cortex, they better understand decision-making and can recall things more effectively.
Is Lucid Dreaming Dangerous?
Now, lucid dreaming has been used to treat PTSD, stress, and psychological anxiety. But there is a negative side to it as well. Advocates of lucid dreaming have most often highlighted the fact that you can control and shape your dreams.
However, scientifically speaking, this is not entirely possible. But, as mentioned earlier, your prefrontal cortex in the brain responsible for your decision-making and control is active while you are lucid dreaming. So, it might partially help you to control your dreams or at least create that illusion.
The opinion remains divided on this. Some studies suggest that lucid dreaming is good for mental and emotional well-being. But there is a fair amount of research showing potential red flags too.
For example, there have been studies that have stated that lucid dreaming could cause depression or, in the worst-case scenario – bipolar disorder. Research also states that lucid dreaming can make things worse for you if you already suffer from depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder.
Sounds scary, right!! So, this definitely calls for more caution while practicing lucid dreaming.
Also, inducing lucid dreams is a tiring and extensive regime. It involves artificial processes and techniques that can affect your regular sleep patterns. While trying to experience lucid dreams, you are extensively trying to simulate and coach your brain to alter your sleep routine and dreams, which can be very unnatural.
It is like deliberately interrupting the natural flow of thoughts in your brain and killing the creativity of your subconscious mind in a way. However, the process of giving a certain direction.
to your dreams which is a part of lucid dreaming, can also boost your creativity. But there is not much evidence, and the success rate is not that great.
Also, it must be noted that the whole procedure of testing lucid dreamers and determining their success rate is dicey. Conducting lucid dreaming experiments on subjects in a lab can be very daunting as most of them cannot sleep peacefully or normally in an artificial environment.
Nothing beats the coziness and comfort of home. So, inducing lucid dreaming becomes even more challenging.
Lucid dreaming can definitely be good if done correctly. It can help you draw personal insights by effectively processing your emotions from the subconscious. This can even leverage psychological growth.
But without any intent to downplay the benefits of lucid dreaming, here are some of the potential dangers of lucid dreaming if not practiced properly. Of course, anything in excess is risky. So, some researchers have therefore recommended trying lucid dreaming with caution.
Dangers of Lucid Dreaming
Please note that the evidence of these risks of lucid dreaming is quite limited, and more research is the need of the hour. However, some studies have shown that lucid dreaming involves the below-mentioned risks.
1. Messed Up Sleep Patterns
Inducing lucid dreams is a forced process that involves major modifications to your daily sleep routine. Lucid dreams generally happen during the initial phase of REM sleep. However, this phase is also responsible for regulating other activities on a regular basis, such as processing emotions, strengthening memory, etc.
These activities considered normal for the brain to experience during the REM sleep are disturbed due to an artificial or forced induction of lucid dreams. Lucid dreaming is a state wherein your sleeping brain is still aware of what is happening in your dreams.
It is a complex state involving both sleep and wakefulness. Therefore it can make your sleep less peaceful. Researchers thus advise against breaking the natural sleep cycle to induce lucid dreaming.
Lack of good quality sleep also comes along with its own inherent risks. Lucid dreaming can be the number one cause of fragmented sleep and can give rise to several mental as well as physical health risks.
Researchers say that too much focus during lucid dreaming can indirectly contribute to insufficient sleep. When you deeply concentrate on your lucid dream experience, there is a higher chance that you will wake up due to the vivid dream.
Although you might discover that you were successful in lucid dreaming, it is hard to get back to sleep again in such cases.
2. Lucid Dreams Can Cause Extreme Tiredness
You can establish an indirect link between messed-up sleep and tiredness or exhaustion. Lucid dreaming is known to cause severe fatigue. This is because you may not be able to get a good night’s sleep during the REM phase.
Now there are studies indicating otherwise and claiming that lucid dreaming is effective when rejuvenating and waking up fresher or feeling more energetic. But the results can differ from person to person. If done incorrectly, you might end up feeling depleted too. In this case, you might need to re-evaluate your lucid dreaming techniques to understand what might be causing extreme exhaustion.
Some lucid dreaming methods involve inducing dreams just before you wake up when you are in your REM sleep. This can be counterproductive since it interferes with your sleep pattern. So, if you start experiencing weariness during the day to the point that you are unable to go about your day like you normally would.
It is advisable to rethink the methods of lucid dreaming you have been following and find better ways to dream lucidly. Remember, nothing is worth disrupting a restful sleep, even if you can successfully induce vivid and lucid dreams.
3. Lucid Dreams Can Make Nightmares Appear Realistic
This sounds and seems terrible! Living a dream is quite aspirational and positive because lucid dreams sound amazing. But nobody in this world would want to live a nightmare. Breathing life into your nightmares is only going to worsen things for you.
This may not be an exact reference, but if you have watched the new season of Stranger things, you will realize how horrendous waking nightmares can be. Living and experiencing a bad dream, being pursued by a killer. And on top of that, if such a dream feels and seems almost real, it is just going to make your waking life a nightmare.
The upside to experiencing lucid nightmares is that you are aware that you are dreaming and can control them to turn them into good dreams. But this needs a good amount of practice and great lucid dreaming skills.
Let’s talk about the downside too. Not every lucid dream can be skillfully controlled. So, if your lucid nightmare leaves you feeling sweating and panting due to extreme fear, it can even cause you to be afraid of sleeping at night. This condition is called Somniphobia.
The fear of having nightmares translates to the fear of sleeping, causing this condition. And so, it is probably one of the biggest side effects of lucid dreaming.
While there are risks associated with lucid dreaming, there are studies that say that these risks can be avoided if lucid dreaming is done the right way. Make sure you follow the instructions correctly and always take help from experts to avoid the above dangers.
Addiction to lucid dreaming is one of the side effects if you get carried away.
Another piece of advice is to constantly use the right reality checks while you are in your lucid dreams. This will prevent you from getting triggered due to false awakenings that can affect you mentally as well as physically. It is therefore important to maintain a balanced approach when you attempt to lucid dream.
Hope you found the article helpful. Do you think lucid dreaming is dangerous? Let us know what you think about it in the comments below.
An enthusiastic dream journaler who has connected sleep-time visions with real-life occurrences in the past and present, Karandeep believes in tapping into the subconscious and demystifying strengths, insecurities, and deep-rooted desires. Besides identifying the interconnectedness of dreams in his personalized dream journal, he continues to study the significance of celestial objects and their relation to mythological tales that keep modern society intrigued about past civilizations.