The Downsides of Lucid Dreaming

Take it from someone who regularly has lucid dreams: they aren’t as glamorous as people make them out to be. Lucid dreaming happens when you are aware that you are dreaming and, often, that can result in you being able to manipulate your dream. 

I’ve heard many mention that they’ve tried to purposely make themselves lucid dream in hopes of controlling their actions in dreams like a character in a mental movie. But for me, lucid dreams are typically triggered by stress or a sense of overwhelming change in my life. In fact, not one of my lucid dreams have ever been positive. They are always surrounded by something dark or are an exaggerated series of symbolic actions linked to stressors in my real life. 

Personally, my lucid dreams usually consist of me falsely “waking up” from a previous nightmare. I will “wake up” in my lucid dream and think I’m fully awake, but after something metaphysical happens I realize that I’m dreaming, and I can feel myself trying to move my body and wake myself up in the real world. This panic of not being able to wake up feels like something, or as some cultural legends have it, someone, is sitting on my chest and preventing me “getting up.” Sometimes, it feels like I’m dying or having an asthma attack. Once I actually wake up from a lucid dream I usually have to talk to someone instantly to verify that the state of reality I am currently in is one where I am actually awake. 

As for being able to manipulate my dreams, I think it’s more of my subconscious being suggestive. I can’t decide where my dream starts. And, it’s not as easy as thinking or saying, “I want my housemate here right now.” It’s not an instantaneous appearance. Instead, what typically happens in my lucid dreams is that I will go “search” for them. In a lucid dream I had recently, I woke up from a nightmare and went to “search” for my housemate by exiting my bedroom door and entering the kitchen. Only there was I able to find her, four feet from my bedroom. I also find that in my conversations with people in my dreams, I recognize that they are speaking, but it feels like they are speaking at me, and often times, I can only mentally process and recall short phrases or words, not entire sentences. 

The durations of my lucid dreams usually last less than thirty minutes, but as I’m living them in my sleep it feels like it could be multiple hours to an entire day. I’ve lucid dreamt while napping during the day and while sleeping at night, so the type of sleep doesn’t affect my ability to lucid dream. However, I do notice that when I lucid dream, I won’t move a muscle and when I wake up I am in exactly the same position I was when I fell asleep. Often times my body feels ultra-tense or I am scared to fall back asleep again.  

I’m not a huge fan of my ability to lucid dream, and to be honest I think that I’d be a mentally better and healthier person without it. Any time I lucid dream, I wake up feeling ten times more exhausted and usually a little under the weather. However, if you ever wanted to try lucid dreaming to confront your boss, go sky diving, or confess to your crush, by all means do so. The world of lucid dreaming is your oyster.