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What is a lucid nightmare, and how to get rid of them?
The truth is that for most people, lucid dreaming seems like an exciting and attractive skill.
Who wouldn’t want the fantastic ability to conjure almost anything you can imagine?
Unfortunately, not all lucid dreams are full of sunshine and rainbows.
It’s possible to experience a dark and disturbing kind of lucid dream known as a lucid nightmare.
So, what does a lucid nightmare mean, and why does it happen? Let’s find out! We will go through:
- What is a lucid nightmare?
- What causes scary lucid dreams?
- How do I get rid of lucid nightmares?
– How common are lucid nightmares?
– Why do we have lucid nightmares?
– Are lucid nightmares dangerous?
– Can you get stuck in a lucid nightmare?
– Can you get lucid in a nightmare?
- Final thoughts
What is a lucid nightmare?
At its core, a lucid nightmare is a bad dream where you have full conscious awareness.
The possibilities are two; if you had dream control before the nightmare, it is possible to lose it or still hold some dream control.
There are several common characteristics of lucid nightmares:
- a confrontation of powerful forces
- violent self-ruling dream characters
- lack of dream control
- physical pain
- strong negative emotions
- awakening from the dream
Sometimes, you may feel trapped in the nightmare, unable to wake up or experience a false awakening (to wake up in another dream, without knowing that it is a dream).
Lucid nightmares are quite tricky, but luckily they aren’t too common (more about that below).
Keep in mind that there is a crucial difference between a lucid nightmare and nightmare, in which you become lucid afterword.
For instance, you may experience a nightmare, where you became lucid, or have a lucid dream, where you lost awareness as it turned into a nightmare. These two are different, and the first one isn’t a lucid nightmare.
What causes scary lucid dreams?
All dreams are reflections of the unconscious and subconscious mind.
Scary lucid dreams are your brain’s way of processing some of the less pleasant information.
Furthermore, scary lucid dreams, or lucid nightmares, can happen due to a few common reasons.
First off, it REALLY depends on the state of mind you currently are. If your head is filled with negative emotions and sad feelings, you may experience a lucid nightmare.
Other reasons include –
1) Expectations: As I mentioned, dreams are all about expectations. If you expect something to happen, the dream will likely make it come true.
2) Suppressed feelings: You may also have suppressed traumas, or fears, that act out in your dreams.
3) Gaming, or movies: Lastly, if you watch too many scary or violent movies, or you play a lot of scary games, the emotions may carry over your dreams.
How do I get rid of lucid nightmares?
When thinking of lucid nightmares, it’s important to remember that they reflect your inner demons or unsettling unconscious thoughts.
One way to banish lucid nightmares is by merely trying to understand them.
What can you learn from your mind if you confront your nighttime inner demons?
If you would instead get rid of your lucid nightmares than attempt to interpret them, there are a few useful solutions:
Improve your sleep routine:
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Having a regular sleeping cycle will result in better sleep, and you can even include a nighttime routine, which will help you have less scary dreams.
Become good at lucid dreaming:
If you are new to lucid dreaming, you may have a hard time to stay lucid or to control the dreams.
You can try to become better at it, because that will give you a considerable advantage, and you will be able to avoid and overcome nightmares. Find more about how to become better at lucid dreaming here:
Avoid scary or stressful things:
Now is not the time to dig into the horror movies in your Netflix queue!
Scary movies can be the perfect stimulant for lucid nightmares. If you want to avoid scary dreams, just avoid scary movies and video games.
Try to take back control:
The more control you have, the easier it will be to overcome nightmares.
By working on your lucid dreaming practice, you will be more in control, and you will be able to change the dream with a better one or to wake on demand.
Even if you lose most of the control, try to stay as calm as possible. Try to focus on some of the following thoughts – “This is a dream”, “I am safe”, and “I am in control”. Keep repeating the chosen mantra to yourself.
In case you still have control over the dream, start spinning around. This will almost instantly change the dreamscape, and you can build a new one.
Don’t worry or think about it:
Remember – dreams are based on your expectation. The best thing you can do is not worry about it. Try to think about having a good and positive dream, and you will most likely get it.
For more tips on how to overcome lucid nightmares, read my full guide here.
How common are lucid nightmares?
We’ve all experienced a regular nightmare from time to time. It may be running away from a scary monster or situation, being late for an important event, or even more serious ones, in which we are hurt.
Lucid nightmares aren’t rare, but they don’t impact a majority of lucid dreamers.
According to this research, less than half of 574 participants (who previously had lucid dreams), experienced a lucid nightmare.
Only 1% of them were considered as suffering from lucid nightmares — experiencing them once a week or more frequently.
Additionally, dreams are based on expectations. If you expect to have a nightmare, you most likely will. Luckily, the same goes the other way. If you plan to have a good dream, you probably will.
Why do we have lucid nightmares?
Even when you’re experiencing a lucid dream, your unconscious mind has a lot of control.
Just because you are aware of your surroundings does not mean you can control or predict every event or occurrence in a dream.
When you lucid dream, your unconscious mind can decide to focus on something scary or stressful.
This will end up having a lucid nightmare. Instead of waiting to get worse, and feeling helpless, try to get rid of the lucid nightmare, by following the tips below.
Are lucid nightmares dangerous?
Lucid nightmares aren’t dangerous. They are no different than the ordinary nightmares, with the difference that you are aware that you are dreaming.
By simply knowing that it is a dream, lucid nightmares can be way better than non-lucid nightmares. When you have a nightmare, you perceive it as a real experience, and it can be horrifying.
Knowing that you are in a dream, the experience is not going to get that scary.
Can you get stuck in a lucid nightmare?
No, you cannot.
It can be frightening, and you may feel stuck, in case you can experience a lucid nightmare, combined with a false awakening.
False awakenings occur when you believe that you have woken up and realize that you are still in a dream.
It is a common experience, that can happen a few times in a roll. It is not the best occurrence, but you can benefit from it by turning it to a lucid dream (and gaining back dream control, if you’ve lost it from before).
Can you get lucid in a nightmare?
First, having a nightmare, and then gaining lucidity is possible, but it is different. Many people are learning how to lucid dream, because they want to fight back, and overcome their nightmares.
Scary dreams can be an excellent lucid trigger if you learn specific techniques. By realizing that you are dreaming, you can then gain control over the dream, change it, or wake up.
I have an article with 7 strategies that will teach you how to stop & overcome nightmares, with lucid dreaming:
It can be unpleasant to wake up in the middle of the night from a bad dream.
However, lucid nightmares present a unique opportunity to learn more about yourself, by finding out our fears.
Lucid nightmares are an successful way to deal with bad dreams, too.
That’s why you shouldn’t be afraid from lucid nightmares. Don’t be scared to learn how to lucid dreams, just because there is a (SMALL!) possibility to experience a lucid nightmare.