What Are Lucid Dreams, and Are There Any Real Dangers To Them? (2024)

Lucid dreams — where people become aware that they're in a dream, and can actively alter or adapt it — are weird and wild, especially for the dreamer.

Want to talk to animals? Go right ahead. Turn that recurring nightmare of falling in an endless void into a power fantasy of soaring through the air like Superman? No problem. In a lucid dream, in theory, if you can imagine it, you can do it. What's more, the phenomenon has recently become fertile ground for psychological research.

Is Lucid Dreaming Real?

Yes, there is scientific evidence that lucid dreaming is a real phenomenon. In 2021, an international group of researchers were able to establish real-time dialogue between lucid dreamers and the experimenters. Participants were able to answer yes-no questions and simple math problems, while dreaming, by intentionally moving their eyes and facial muscles.

Clearly, the prospect of controlling the action in a dream holds enormous appeal for dreamers and scientists alike. But are there any downsides to lucid dreaming, or could it even be dangerous? Some research suggests they could infringe on the quality of your sleep — but other studies have found enormous benefits, like more positive dream content and a better waking mood the next day.

Read More: Yes, You Can Control Your Dreams: The Strange Science of Lucid Dreaming

What Are the Benefits of Lucid Dreaming?

Much has also been made of the psychological benefits of lucid dreaming. In studies, self-reports from lucid dreamers have been linked with an increased propensity for problem solving, enhancements to overall wellbeing, spiritual growth and even the ability to resolve bad dreams.

“Lucid dreaming has a variety of benefits," says Tadas Stumbrys, who researchers lucid dreams at Vilnius University in Lithuania. "First, most often it is a very positive and rewarding experience in itself, leading to a positive mood after awakening."

Beyond that, Stumbrys says, lucid dreams can also be used to cope with nightmares — especially the recurring ones. "Once the dreamer realizes that the entire experience is merely a dream, the strong emotional feelings subside, and they can also do something about the unpleasant situation," he adds, like changing the dream's plot or waking themselves up.

“Lucid dreams can be used for practicing various skills (and the research shows that such lucid dream practice leads to performance improvements after awakening), as well as for creative problem solving (as our brain is in a very creative state during REM sleep when dreams typically occur),” he adds.

Read More: Can You Learn How to Have a Lucid Dream?

Is Lucid Dreaming Dangerous?

In light of the positive effects of lucid dreaming, Stumbrys wanted to probe their potential dangers, too. In a study published recently in Psychology of Consciousness, Stumbrys took a closer look at any potential negative effects of lucid dreaming. While it seems like a safe practice, an overly intense preoccupation with techniques for inducing lucid dreaming could possibly have detrimental effects, particularly involving sleep quality and mental health.

In the new study, Stumbrys asked 489 respondents, 94 percent of whom were lucid dreamers, about the frequency of their lucid dreams, their emotional tone and whether they had noticed any negative consequences of lucid dreams on their life — looking specifically at sleep quality, dissociation and mental wellbeing.

The research found that nearly 80 percent of lucid dreamers didn't observe or report any negative effects, while most of them considered their dreams to be emotionally positive experiences. (Only 10 percent of lucid dreams were negatively toned.) Ultimately, the study showed that the majority of lucid dreamers didn't experience any negative consequences from their flights of imagination.

"And [individuals who had] more frequent lucid dreams did not have poorer sleep quality or more propensity to dissociation," says Stumbrys. "In fact, they had even greater mental wellbeing."

Read More: Why Do We Dream? Science Offers a Few Possibilities

Should You Try to Have a Lucid Dream?

For now, researchers generally point to lucid dreaming as a positive experience with real benefits, particularly if you are dealing with recurring bad dreams and nightmares, or for practicing skills and creative problem solving.

Stumbrys sheds some light on the possible mechanisms of such benefits. “For instance, the benefits in performance improvement when practicing skills in a lucid dream or a creativity boost in creative problem solving are likely to be related to the physiology of the lucid dream state," he says. That's because our actions while lucid dreaming are physiologically processed in a similar manner as when we're awake, leading to tangible benefits to performance and creativity.

In any case, lucid dreaming induction techniques are easily accessible if you want to resolve an ongoing sleep issue — or even if you want to creatively address something that might be bugging you in your waking life.

Read More: Why Do Some People Always Remember Their Dreams, While Others Almost Never Do?

I'm deeply immersed in the realm of lucid dreaming, an area that not only fascinates me but one where my expertise is demonstrable. I've delved into the scientific nuances, psychological dimensions, and practical applications of lucid dreaming.

The article you provided touches on various aspects of lucid dreaming, and I'll break down each concept mentioned:

1. Lucid Dreaming as a Real Phenomenon:

  • Yes, lucid dreaming is a scientifically established phenomenon. In 2021, researchers facilitated real-time communication between lucid dreamers and experimenters. Participants answered questions and solved math problems by intentionally moving their eyes and facial muscles during dreams.

2. Benefits of Lucid Dreaming:

  • Lucid dreaming offers a range of psychological benefits. Studies link it to increased problem-solving skills, overall well-being, spiritual growth, and the ability to resolve bad dreams. Lucid dreams can positively impact mood upon awakening.

3. Coping with Nightmares:

  • Lucid dreaming can be a powerful tool for dealing with nightmares. When dreamers realize they're in a dream, they can change the dream's plot or wake themselves up, alleviating strong emotional responses associated with recurring nightmares.

4. Practicing Skills and Creative Problem Solving:

  • Lucid dreams can be used for practicing various skills. Research indicates that practicing skills in lucid dreams leads to performance improvements after awakening. The creative state of the brain during REM sleep, where dreams occur, makes lucid dreaming conducive to creative problem-solving.

5. Potential Dangers of Lucid Dreaming:

  • While generally considered safe, an intense preoccupation with inducing lucid dreaming techniques could have detrimental effects on sleep quality and mental health. A study found that the majority of lucid dreamers (80%) didn't observe negative effects, with more frequent lucid dreamers showing even greater mental well-being.

6. Lucid Dreaming Induction Techniques:

  • Lucid dreaming induction techniques are accessible and may be explored for resolving sleep issues or addressing waking life concerns creatively.

In conclusion, lucid dreaming is not only a scientifically validated phenomenon but also a realm with diverse psychological benefits and practical applications, while potential risks are minimal for the majority of practitioners.

What Are Lucid Dreams, and Are There Any Real Dangers To Them? (2024)


What Are Lucid Dreams, and Are There Any Real Dangers To Them? ›

Lucid dreaming is a state of semi-awareness where dreamers can control their dreams. Frequent lucid dreaming may disrupt regular sleep patterns and lead to sleep deprivation. Lucid dreams may appear similar to nightmares, sleep paralysis

sleep paralysis
Sleep paralysis is a brief loss of muscle control just after falling asleep or before waking up. Sleep paralysis frequently involves hallucinations or a feeling of suffocation. No one knows exactly what causes sleep paralysis, but it is linked to sleep disorders and certain mental health conditions.
https://www.sleepfoundation.org › parasomnias › sleep-paralysis
, and the dreamer's own reality, which can cause anxiety and confusion.

What are the risks of lucid dreaming? ›

Vivid dreams can wake you and make it hard to get back to sleep. And you might not sleep well if you're too focused on lucid dreaming. Confusion, delirium, and hallucinations. In people who have certain mental health disorders, lucid dreams may blur the line between what's real and what's imagined.

Is it wrong to have a lucid dream? ›

However, there are some clear situations when lucid dreaming is best avoided. In particular, people with certain mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, psychosis or bipolar disorder, or manic phase, should avoid inducing lucid dreams as it might exacerbate those conditions, says Aspy.

What is scary about lucid dreaming? ›

A lot of people use sleep paralysis as a state in between waking up and dreaming. Lucid dreaming adds an extra level of awareness to this state. People may feel like they can't move, have dreams, and be very aware simultaneously, which can be scary and leave them gasping for air.

What not to do in a lucid dream? ›

Let's get started;
  • ##1 Don't think about your body while in a lucid dream. ...
  • ##2 Do not dream of real-life memories. ...
  • ##3 Don't look in mirrors in lucid dreams. ...
  • ##4 Do not doubt yourself in lucid dreams. ...
  • ##5 Don't get excited. ...
  • ##6 Don't kill people in lucid dreams. ...
  • ##7 Don't close your eyes. ...
  • ##8 Don't second-guess yourself.
Jan 11, 2023

What happens when you look in a mirror in a lucid dream? ›

During a lucid dream, your mind can create and imagine. anything you want it to. This means when you look into a mirror, it can cause a distorted image of yourself. Many people have reported it to be their worst fears. or insecurities.

What happens if you look in a mirror in a dream? ›

Looking At Yourself In The Mirror

Perhaps there is something happening to you, or something going on that you don't quite understand. This meaning changes if you like your reflection in your dream. This signifies contentment, but it can also suggest that you are maybe only considering yourself in a certain situation.

Does lucid dreaming have negative effects? ›

Negative mental health effects of lucid dreaming

Waggoner advises that people experiencing mental health problems should not induce lucid dreams in case they find the content overwhelming. Some possible negative effects of lucid dreaming include: poor sleep quality, resulting in fatigue and irritability. confusion.

How to get out of a lucid dream? ›

How to wake up
  1. Call out for help. It's said that yelling in your dream tells your brain it's time to wake up. ...
  2. Blink. Repeatedly blinking may help your mind get ready to wake up.
  3. Fall asleep in your dream. If you're aware that you're dreaming, go to sleep in your dream, so you can wake up in real life.
  4. Read.

What kind of people have lucid dreams? ›

Some research has suggested that lucid dreaming and certain personality traits may be connected in some way. One study found that lucid dreamers tend to have a greater internal locus of control. They also score higher on measures of a need for cognition and creativity.

Can lucid dreaming cause sleep paralysis? ›

The main findings were that correlations between sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming were positive and significant in most of the studies. Conclusions: There is a connection between lucid dreaming and sleep paralysis.

Are lucid nightmares real? ›

Lucid dreaming occurs when the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming, and the events flashing through their brain seem vivid and real. Interestingly, the dreamer is conscious that these are not happening in reality and can even control how the events unfold in lucid dreams.

Why am I having weird lucid dreams? ›

Factors Influencing Dreams: Several factors can influence the content of dreams, including diet, sleep supplements, medication changes (especially antidepressants), binge-watching TV before bed, stress levels, and pregnancy.

What happens if you get too excited in a lucid dream? ›

The first problem many people encounter, once they become lucid, is that they get so excited they immediately wake up. This has happened to me many times. If you experience it, don't worry—you'll eventually get used to lucidity. Anecdotally, turning your body around in a circle can help to stabilize the dream state.

Do lucid dreams have limits? ›

The Truth about Lucid Dreaming: No laws. No boundaries. No limitations – The Monroe Institute.

What lucid dreaming does to your brain? ›

Lucid dreaming has the ability to increase awareness and control of the dreamer. Neurological evidence seems to support the seven awareness criteria suggested by Holzinger. During LD, not a single brain structure, but a whole network of brain regions is activated.

Are lucid dreams good for your brain? ›

Naturally occurring lucid dreaming does not seem to be harmful. One 2020 study of 20 participants reported that people tended to wake up in a better mood when they achieved more lucidity.


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