Lucid dreaming, is, for the most part, a relatively safe activity and something that is done, purposefully by millions of people every day. There are, however, some aspects of lucid dreaming which are considered to be dangerous. However, it is important to bear in mind that when we use the term ‘dangerous,’ we do so lightly.
Whilst in a lucid dream, there is no way that you can become hurt, injured or otherwise but there is the chance of facing some rather confronting images and experiences, making it a potentially dangerous activity in a psychological sense.
But don’t let this put you off, because lucid dreaming is a wonderful experience and since you can control the dream, any potentially scary or unpleasant aspects of it, can be easily removed. In this article, we are going to look at the dangers of lucid dreaming as well as exploring ways to manage these risks.
Is Lucid Dreaming Dangerous?
As we have already discovered, lucid dreaming is not dangerous in a physical sense but there are some other, mild risks associated with the practice. Let’s take a closer, more in-depth look at this.
Risks For Those With Certain Mental Health Conditions
According to WebMD, there is a potential risk to patients struggling with certain mental health conditions when lucid dreaming. This is not to say that anyone with a mental health condition should be exempt from being able to experience lucid dreams but it does mean that you should err on the side of caution.
For sufferers of mental health conditions which may cause hallucinations or delirium, these symptoms may be exacerbated and the person may find it more difficult to determine what is real and what is a dream.
Further studies have demonstrated that some participants experienced greater levels of stress after lucid dreaming.
With this in mind, for most people, lucid dreaming is a very enjoyable experience and few mental health issues arise as a result.
If you are concerned about your mental health and the effect of lucid dreaming on it, talking to a sleep specialist or your doctor may ease your concerns and allow to you experiment with the concept more freely.
Our bodies are programmed to enter sleep paralysis every night as a way of stopping us from literally acting our dreams out in reality. But for some people, the period between waking and dreaming is experienced when attempting to lucid dream.
During this phase, you will be conscious of what is happening but unable to move and this can be pretty scary.
You may have heard of demons holding people down and this idea comes from this paralysed state with some people experiencing hallucinations such as this. These images are actually coming from your dream and whilst they may feel terrifying, there are practises to wake yourself up fully and get out of this state.
Besides, these experiences are rare with many people lucid dreaming for years and never experiencing a sleep paralysis episode.
Many of the frequently used techniques that can induce a lucid dream such as the wake back to bed method, require you to interrupt your sleep in order to enter a lucid dream. Whilst this is perfectly healthy if done from time to time, using this method night after night can cause you to feel more fatigued.
Whilst the WBTB method is considered one of the most effective, it should be used as part of a larger repertoire of techniques. Lucid dreaming experts will tell you that, despite its effectiveness, the wake back to bed technique is not ideal as a regular way to experience a lucid dream.
Frequent reality checks throughout the day and methods such as the MILD (mnemonic induced lucid dream) technique can be just as effective.
This danger links in with the above in that, if you are experiencing a lack of quality sleep every night, this can lead to chronic fatigue and one of the by-products of this is depression. Lucid dreaming should be a positive experience so allowing it to lead to severe low mood is not the aim.
If you ever feel that sleep is becoming a problem, it is important to address this issue and if this means taking a few nights off from lucid dreaming, it is preferable to suffering the consequences of a lack of sleep.
Lucid dreaming allows us to experience many things that we cannot, or are afraid to, in our waking life. For example, flying, going into space, breathing underwater or running at the speed of light.
These things are all very exciting but since they are created by our brains and our brains have the potential to imagine endless things, there is always the chance that you will experience something confronting when in a lucid dream.
This might be a phobia, although some therapists are now recommending lucid dreaming to expose patients to their fears in a controlled way, it could be seeing something gruesome or being in a generally unpleasant situation.
However, the key is to remember that nothing in a lucid dream can harm you and because you are in control, you can simply wake up, change the scene or walk away.
You may find that things you have seen in a lucid dream stay with you when you wake up, especially if they have invoked an emotional reaction so do be aware of this and be sure to practice mindfulness techniques and regulate your emotional and mental wellbeing.
Every night, millions of people enter into a lucid dream and live out their wildest fantasies and for the most part, these people have pleasant, exciting and memorable experiences.
However, as with any activity, there are some dangers or risks associated with the concept and it is important to be aware of these.
Whilst nothing within a lucid dream can cause you physical harm, the mental effects may pose a risk and as such, people with mental health conditions may do well to practise with care. In addition, repeatedly using fatigue-inducing techniques can cause you to feel exhausted and even lower your mood.
For this reason, we would recommend lucid dreaming in a responsible way to maintain your wellbeing.