Lucid dreaming is a skill that has limitless potential when it comes to exploring one's psyche and understanding of the world. To be able to control one's dreams has a lot of benefits, but as with all things not so easily understood, many people are fearful of what could happen when lucid dreaming. But is lucid dreaming really dangerous?
The quick answer
Lucid dreaming is NOT dangerous. There have been no cases of lucid dreaming having fatal or critical side-effects. On the contrary, many scientific experts have proven that lucid dreaming is a very good way to help people deal with many things, from insecurities and fears to building skills and exploring their own personalities, and is a good treatment for regular nightmares. Controlling dreams gives people the ability to have strength and courage in facing fears and troubles, because despite experiencing it, the idea that “this is just a dream, nothing will hurt me” empowers the dreamer, and allows them to face situations safely, and conditioning their mind and having that carry over in real life.
But despite that, there are still some concerns that people often ask about, and these need to be answered to dispel lucid dreaming fears.
Lucid dreaming concerns
1.) Dream addiction – One concern is that people may end up wanting to just sleep their lives away and spend most of their time in lucid dreams. This is because of the amazing and fantastic possibilities of lucid dreaming, one that may be used as an “escape” from reality similar to how drugs are used by addicts.
There is a problem with this, because the body cannot always physically continuously sleep that long and that frequently. The body can only have a limited time of REM sleep (roughly around 100 minutes), which is something that most people do not exceed. Remember, dream sleep is different from regular sleep, and just because you will sleep for 8 hours a day, doesn’t mean you’ll dream for the same amount. And once the dreamer's body has gotten its required sleep, it will be very hard to go back to sleep again, let alone go and get REM sleep again.
2.) Dying in a dream – Perhaps the most terrifying and controversial concern is about what happens when the dreamer dies in their lucid dream. Opposition against lucid dreaming claim that dying in a lucid dream causes the dreamer to die for real, or stay in a “lucid dream purgatory” where they can be asleep for days, weeks, or even months, and if they eventually wake up, a long time would have passed and you wouldn’t even know it. This is often due to movies like Inception.
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This claim is false. Dying can happen in dreams; have you not died in a non-lucid dream before, only to wake up in yet another dream, or wake up entirely? That’s precisely what will happen. Dying in a lucid dream may truly be a terrifying experience of course, with everything being very vivid, but the dream itself will not physically kill you. In reality, claims that people who have died in their sleep was due to dying in their dreams have turned out to be false as autopsies would often reveal other causes of death.
This is when the dreamer’s physical factors come into play. People with a pre-existing condition, especially heart problems, may suffer from side-effects, the same side-effects one may feel with actual traumatic fear when they are awake, like tightening of the chest or shortness of breath. It is these conditions that may cause physical effects, not the dream itself.
The issue arises when people who have had no ability to remember their dreams before are all of a sudden thrust into remembering dreams due to lucid dreaming, and now have memories that they previously never had upon waking up.
One way to keep the distinction between dreams and reality is keeping a dream journal, which we discussed in a previous blog post. When a dreamer is unsure about what is real and what is not, consulting the dream journal can help. And in time, and with regulated exposure to lucid dreaming, distinguishing dreams from reality will be easier and easier.
But for the most part, people with an average, healthy mental constitution will almost always be able to distinguish memories from dreams and those from reality very easily.
Knowledge is power
As with everything, the best way to deal with concerns about lucid dreaming is through proper information and proper training. Don’t plunge head on into lucid dreaming without studying it properly, and preparing yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. Our blog is full of information about lucid dreaming, which can help you understand this skill further.
One way to ensure having proper lucid dreaming experiences is to listen to binaural beats tracks for lucid dreaming, like this lucid dream playlist found in our YouTube channel.
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