Having lucid dreams may seem all fun and games to begin with but are there any risks? A lucid dream at first glance may seem like any other dream, until you begin to realize that you are in fact dreaming. Once this realization has been made, you can manipulate the dream world as you see fit. In this article we are going to explore some of the potential “risks” and provide you with all the information you need to avoid encountering them. We’ll also consider questions such as: is lucid dreaming real and is lucid dreaming safe?
What Exactly IS Lucid dreaming?
Of course some of you may be completely new to the concept of lucid dreaming. So what exactly are lucid dreams? If you’ve ever seen the movie ‘Inception’ then you’ll already have some idea. Lucid dreaming is the term used to describe the state of awareness you can achieve within a dream. You will become aware of the fact that you’re dreaming and with practice, you’ll be able to bend the dream world to your will. You can construct buildings, mess with physics and fly around like superman.
Many people wonder how real lucid dreams are. The simple answer is that they are as real as any other dream. But as a famous man once said: just because something is happening inside your head, doesn’t mean that it isn’t real. You gain experience and can feel emotions but once you wake up; the world is still how you left it when you fell asleep.
There are a number of different methods and techniques to triggering lucid dreams. Some people use hypnosis while others use lucid dream affirmations. It’s also possible to use reality checks: the idea of checking that you’re not in a dream throughout the day by testing reality e.g. checking the time on two clocks or trying to poke your finger through a solid object. We’re not going to focus on the techniques for inducing lucid dreaming today, so let’s move on to look at the safety of the practice.
Is Lucid dreaming Safe?
The short answer: yes. Physically speaking, lucid dream poses no real threat to your health or life. However, that’s not to say that the experience doesn’t have the potential to be terrifying and emotionally or mentally scarring. Luckily, there are some very simple steps and precautions you can take to avoid experiencing the negative side of lucid dreams. Let’s take a look at some of the potential lucid dreaming side effects before going on to explore how to tackle them.
In the same way that normal dreams can turn into nightmares, so can lucid dreams. When we’re dealing with bizarre states of consciousness and unconsciousness, there is also space for our subconscious mind to interfere. Of course, having a nightmare is unlikely to pose any real threat to you. It can be scary, it can be intense, and it can linger in your mind long after you wake up, but ultimately it’s harmless. The problem with lucid nightmares is that they seem so much more real and vivid because you are consciously aware within the dream state.
The best way to avoid experiencing lucid nightmares is to simply acknowledge that they can happen but that they aren’t really any different to normal nightmares. There are of course other precautions you can take. For example, if you’re in an environment where you don’t feel safe or you even just feel a little on edge then don’t try to lucid dream. Obviously lucid dreams sometimes happen without us actively trying to induce them but saving them for a safe and comfortable environment is the best option.
Sleep paralysis sounds terrifying…and it can be. However, it’s also a natural part of falling asleep. When we enter REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, our bodies enter a state of paralysis. This stops us from acting out our dreams in real life. When someone talks or walks in their sleep, it’s usually a result of their body failing to produce the chemical responsible for inducing the paralysis. In this situation, your mind is asleep but your body is awake. Sleep paralysis is essentially the opposite: your body is asleep but your mind is awake or more accurately, it’s semi-awake.
Lying in bed with no ability to move and your mind drifting between consciousness and unconsciousness can result in hallucinations and feelings of unease or panic. Many people who describe sleep paralysis make it sound terrifying. It’s certainly true that it can be terrifying but it’s important to remember that most people never experience it. Educating yourself on the concept means that if it does happen to you, you’ll have that knowledge in the back of your mind and can simply ride out the paralysis until your body wakes up or your mind falls asleep.
Losing Track of Reality within Lucid Dreams
Many people fear that lucid dreams will cause them to lose their grip on reality. Similarly, some believe that they’ll become trapped with the dream itself. These ideas largely stem from the movie Inception whereby the entire premise is based around struggling to differentiate between the dream world and the real world, all while trying to avoid being trapped in “limbo”. There’s no denying that it’s a terrifying thought but is it one of the dangers of lucid dreaming?
No, not really. There’s no reason to believe that anybody has ever woken up from their lucid dreams and struggled to accept that they have indeed woken up. Lucid dreaming still feels like dreaming and if you’re ever in doubt you can always test reality by trying to watch a movie you’ve never seen or reading a book you’ve never read.
Similarly, it’s impossible to become trapped in a dream. Dream space is simply the collection of images, thoughts, feelings, etc, that your mind has while you sleep. Once your brain has finished recharging, you will wake up. Regardless of what is going on inside your dream space.
Is Lucid dreaming Bad?
Ultimately, lucid dreams are a great way to explore your own mind. Most of the “risks”, “dangers” and concerns that are voiced on the topic are based on misunderstandings or are incredibly easy to avoid. Simply educate yourself on sleep paralysis and lucid nightmares so that if you experience one, it won’t come as a complete surprise. Other than that you’re ready to go!