Is Lucid Dreaming Dangerous? Dream Experts Explain

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If there’s any facet of actual life that seems like taking part in a online game, it is lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming grants us artistic management over our desires, giving us VIP entry to the playground of our unconscious. (The apply can be linked to higher self-confidence and overall better mental health1.) Whereas attending to dictate what occurs subsequent in our desires is undeniably cool AF, questions on the way it can have an effect on us linger on: Are there any repercussions to controlling your desires? Is lucid dreaming protected, or is lucid dreaming harmful?

Contemplating the thriller that surrounds dreaming, it’s not a foolish query to ask. “Lucid dreaming is like having a foot in each worlds: the aware, waking world and the unconscious dream world,” says dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg, creator of Dream on It: Unlock Your Dreams, Change Your Life. The thought of towing the road between actuality and the dream world is somewhat scary, however the advantages of lucid dreaming are ample and value pushing previous any preliminary fears you may need, says Loewenberg. “When you’re in a position to lucid dream, it’s one hell of a superpower!”

Forward, dream specialists reply your most urgent questions in regards to the security of lucid dreaming and the potential risks of controlling your desires.

Is lucid dreaming harmful?

Probably, sure. However the dangers of lucid dreaming primarily revolve round our waking life, not the precise act of lucid dreaming itself.

Firstly, lucid dreaming can throw a severe wrench in your sleep habits, particularly while you repeatedly attempt to have them on objective. Sure lucid dream techniques, just like the Wake Again To Mattress methodology, require you to pressure your self to get up and fall again asleep in fast succession with a purpose to obtain REM rebound—the place your REM sleep cycle is prolonged, rising the chances that you’ll lucid dream. Doing this recurrently (and thus consistently being sleep disadvantaged for the sake of lucid desires) can open your self as much as a myriad of potential health consequences, starting from minor results (like a foul temper, or poor focus) to extra severe potential points (like an elevated danger of diabetes and dementia).

That’s why some specialists—together with dream decoder Theresa Cheung, best-selling creator of The Dream Dictionary From A to Z—warn towards utilizing lucid dream strategies that contain chopping into treasured snooze time. These strategies are form of like a shortcut for lucid dreaming, which makes all of them the extra tempting to strive (particularly for individuals who don’t have dreams in any respect). However “sleep may be very restorative and therapeutic in thoughts, physique, and soul,” says Cheung, “and something that interferes together with your sleep hygiene, to me, is not excellent news.”

Another excuse why lucid dreaming might be harmful is that it might blur the traces between actuality and desires, particularly when achieved repeatedly and in fast succession. When you might have constant management over your desires *and* your waking life, differentiating between the 2 can get difficult, which is one purpose why Loewenberg recommends towards making an attempt to lucid dream each single evening.

The potential psychological results of lucid dreaming turn into extra harmful for individuals who wrestle with some type of psychosis2—like bipolar dysfunction, schizophrenia, or manic episodes. This muddying of the waking world and the dream world can exacerbate present signs and will doubtlessly reinforce any flawed perceptions of actuality they’ve.

Retaining this in thoughts, lucid dreaming can really be useful when achieved responsibly. It has even been used as a therapeutic intervention for people who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)3. “A whole lot of therapists will use the consciousness throughout the dream to [help the client] overcome trauma,” explains Loewenberg. “You actively face no matter it’s that has traumatized you in a protected setting—you are very protected in your personal head.”

Are you able to get harm lucid dreaming?

Probably—however once more, not in the best way you assume. It is unlikely that you will bodily hurt your self whereas lucid dreaming (

Regardless of a rising quantity of analysis, the subject of whether or not or not we will expertise actual ache throughout our desires remains to be topic to debate. There have been plenty of studies4 performed on ache in desires, with new research5 suggesting that we do in reality expertise ache (or one thing just like it, at the least). One study5 discovered that the mind exercise related to real-life ache and the mind exercise related to imagined, in-dream ache are carefully correlated.

What we all know for positive is that any bodily hurt we expertise within the dream world exists solely within the dream world. In different phrases, you possibly can’t pull a Freddy Kreuger in A Nightmare on Elm Road.

Can lucid desires be scary?

Identical to regular desires, lucid desires can get intense (er, or downright terrifying). That preliminary second of realization that you simply’re dreaming might be particularly overwhelming if you happen to’ve by no means skilled it earlier than. However identical to any form of talent, the extra you do it, the higher you are gonna get at it, says Loewenberg. “Settle down while you turn into conscious that you simply’re dreaming,” provides Cheung, who recommends actively reminding your self that you simply’re the one in management.

Since our desires, lucid or not, aren’t sure by the bodily limitations of actuality, actually something can occur in them. Within the dream world, you run the danger of working into one thing completely nightmarish, like, say, a 30-foot-tall speaking tarantula. The advantage of working into stated spider when you’re lucid, although, is that you’ve the attention wanted with a purpose to determine what occurs subsequent.

“When lucid dreaming, it’s essential to attempt to floor your self and deal with an object within the dream which doesn’t set off concern,” says Cheung. Each time we acknowledge a personality in our desires, they have a tendency to stay round. If stated big spider appeared when you have been in the course of one thing else throughout your dream, strive diverting your consideration again to what you have been initially doing.

If that doesn’t work and the spider insists on sticking round, confront it outright. Fairly than flip away from the large spider, strive difficult it, suggests Cheung. “Summon your concern within the dream and ask it what it desires,” says Cheung. “Usually, the concern dissipates while you face it and present it compassion.”

If that doesn’t work, Cheung recommends reaffirming to your self that you simply’re the one calling the photographs in your dream. “Remind your self that you’re in management, and consider one thing you need in your dream which makes you’re feeling protected,” says Cheung. That’s the great thing about lucid dreaming, in spite of everything: You get to determine what occurs subsequent.

What must you not do in a lucid dream?

Simply as our waking life choices can affect our dreams, our in-dream actions can decide how a lucid dream will pan out.

Lucid dreaming is thrilling—so thrilling, in reality, that our pleasure can take us out of the lucid dream totally, says Loewenberg. Making an attempt to instantly do one thing tremendous cool in a lucid dream (for instance, flying an area shuttle) might even make you get up. While you first turn into conscious that you simply’re dreaming, settle down, says Loewenberg, and begin by making small modifications to your dream as a substitute.

As a result of lucid desires defy the legal guidelines of physics that we expertise in our waking life—just like the law of gravity, or the law of reflection—we will’t anticipate our desires to abide by these legal guidelines. Because of this many dream specialists counsel towards looking in a mirror when you’re lucid dreaming, because the reflection staring again at you could be distorted or unusual, since your mind is trying to re-create a picture of what it thinks you seem like.

As talked about earlier, lucid desires can get scary, identical to another dream. As a way to forestall your lucid dream from turning into a lucid nightmare, don’t actively strive to consider issues that scare you. “Preserve it optimistic,” says Loewenberg.

Greater than something, although, “do not overdo it,” says Loewenberg about trying to lucid dream evening after evening. “It’s essential permit the unconscious to do its factor,” she says, and if you happen to’re all the time making an attempt to take management of your desires, you would be lacking out on an essential message out of your unconscious.


Effectively+Good articles reference scientific, dependable, current, sturdy research to again up the data we share. You possibly can belief us alongside your wellness journey.

  1. Soffer-Dudek, Nirit. “Are Lucid Goals Good for Us? Are We Asking the Proper Query? A Name for Warning in Lucid Dream Analysis.” Frontiers in neuroscience vol. 13 1423. 24 Jan. 2020, doi:10.3389/fnins.2019.01423
  2. Calabrese J, Al Khalili Y. Psychosis. [Updated 2023 May 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Out there from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546579/
  3. Holzinger, Brigitte et al. “Cognitions in Sleep: Lucid Dreaming as an Intervention for Nightmares in Sufferers With Posttraumatic Stress Dysfunction.” Frontiers in psychology vol. 11 1826. 21 Aug. 2020, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01826
  4. Zadra, Antonio & Germain, Anne & Lavigne, Gilles & Donderi, Don. (1998). The Nature and Prevalence of Ache in Goals. Ache Analysis and Administration. 3. 155-161. 10.1155/1998/946171.
  5. Siclari, Francesca et al. “The neural correlates of dreaming.” Nature neuroscience vol. 20,6 (2017): 872-878. doi:10.1038/nn.4545


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