Is Lucid Dreaming Dangerous?

Lucid dreaming is a fascinating concept that has existed for centuries or millennia across different cultures. To this day, it continues to spark curiosity. The ability to control your dreams is nothing short of intriguing. Besides, studies show that lucid dreaming has compelling benefits.  

As amazing as it all sounds, it’s only natural to question the safety of this practice. Is lucid dreaming dangerous or just another harmless experience that anyone can try? Are there things you should be cautious about or safety practices to follow?

Lucid dreaming is generally safe but there are potential risks. Here, we take a closer look at the possible dangers of lucid dreams and what you can do to have a safe experience. 

Why Is Lucid Dreaming Dangerous?

Inducing lucid dreams and blurring the line between reality and imagination can open your mind to limitless possibilities. But it can also expose you to some risks. 

Further research on this practice and its effects is still necessary. But based on what’s already out there, here are some dangers of lucid dreaming. 

Lucid Dreams Can Make Mental Health Issues Worse

Frequent lucid dreaming can affect your perception of reality and fantasy. Constantly toeing the line between dreams and the real world can make it difficult to distinguish between the two. 

This is especially true for people who already suffer from issues like psychosis and schizophrenia. Some experts discourage lucid dreaming “in a psychotic population”. They believe that it could lead to further hallucinations and increased confusion between what’s real and what’s not. 

For someone already questioning reality, inducing lucid dreams may end up causing more harm than good. 

It is worth noting here that some studies show that lucid dreaming therapy (LDT) can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in PTSD patients. It’s also possible that LTD can help people who experience nightmares. When in a lucid state, the person is aware they are dreaming. They, therefore, know that the threat is not real.

Lucid Dreaming Can Disrupt Your Sleep Cycle

The average adult needs about seven hours of quality sleep every night as it’s good for your well-being. That’s already hard enough to achieve with the busyness of day-to-day life. If you add lucid dreaming to the equation, it can mess up your sleep schedule. This is less about lucid dreaming itself, and more about the technique you use to induce lucid dreams. 

Some common techniques like Wake-Back-to-Bed involve waking up between your sleep cycles and then going back to sleep with the intention of lucid dreaming. Done frequently, practices like these can disrupt your normal sleep routine which can, in turn, affect your brain performance and general health during the day. 

Lucid Dreaming Can Lead to Sleep Paralysis and Lucid Nightmares

Another potential risk of lucid dreaming is lucid nightmares and sleep paralysis. 

One online survey showed that a significant number of lucid dreamers experienced lucid nightmares. Accompanied by a lack of dream control, these lucid nightmares seem to be just as terrifying as regular nightmares. 

According to this survey, frequent lucid dreamers are more likely to experience lucid nightmares, especially those whose lucid dreams are spontaneous and not deliberately induced. 

Other studies have shown that there’s a connection between sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming. However, the research is limited and it’s still unclear how the two affect each other, or where the line between causation and correlation can be drawn. 

How to Lucid Dream Safely

Here are a few tips to help you reap the benefits of lucid dreaming without causing yourself harm. 

Always Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep

If you’re waking up between sleep cycles to induce lucid dreaming, you need to make up for the lost sleep time. Try to get the recommended seven hours of sleep every day, maybe even more if you’re feeling tired during the day. Getting extra sleep will have the added benefit of increasing your time in REM sleep, expanding your opportunities to have a lucid dream.

You might also want to avoid inducing lucid dreams too frequently, especially if you’re using techniques that require you to wake up between sleep cycles. 

Consult a Mental Health Professional If You Have Underlying Mental Issues

Lucid dream therapy can help people suffering from mental health issues. But with conditions like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and psychosis there may be some serious risks.  

People who suffer from these mental conditions should approach lucid dreaming with caution. Even better, consider speaking with a mental health professional before you start inducing lucid dreams. 

Try Techniques That Don’t Involve Interrupting Your Sleep

While techniques like Wake-Back-to-Bed are extremely reliable for inducing lucid dreams, they can disrupt your sleep cycle. Doing this every day is not good for you in the long run, especially if you don’t make up for lost sleep time. 

You can start by keeping a dream journal like we did when we first started lucid dreaming.

Develop a Meditation Practice

Lucid dreaming and meditation are mutually supportive practices. We recommend that all of our students meditate. This helps modulate the fear response, which can alleviate nightmares and sleep paralysis. With meditation, lucid dreaming becomes a net-benefit for many aspects of life.

What Not to Do in Lucid Dreams

There are a lot of opinions on what you shouldn’t do in your lucid dreams, but not everything applies to everyone. As a general guide, especially for beginners, there are some things you should not try while in a lucid dream. 

You should also not kill or harm people in lucid dreams. It can seem quite real and even come with real-life consequences. You might want to avoid negative and scary thoughts as well as they can lead to lucid nightmares. 

Keep in mind that, like waking life, everything you do in your dreams has a real effect on your psyche. If there is a deep personal reason that you would not do something in waking life, you should be very cautious about doing it while dreaming. As the Tibetan yogis acknowledge, a deed willingly conducted in the dreamworld is about 100 times as impactful on your mind as the same deed while awake.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Dangers of Lucid Dreaming

What Happens If You Look in a Mirror While Lucid Dreaming?

Some experienced lucid dreamers advise against looking in mirrors in your lucid dreams. You might see a distorted and upsetting image of yourself that can scare you and cause you to wake up.

(Realistically, if you’re even moderately accomplished in your lucid dreaming practice this kind of imagery will be experienced with equanimity and fearless. We think it is overblown.)

Can You Get Hurt Lucid Dreaming?

It is still unclear whether the pain you feel in your dream is real. It’s unlikely that you can get physically hurt while lucid dreaming, as the body is paralyzed to prevent acting out dream actions.


The research on the effects of lucid dreaming has a long way to go and studies are still being done. However, at this point, it’s safe to say that the practice has its pros and cons. 

It comes with potential risks for people with underlying mental issues. Some techniques for inducing lucid dreams also involve interrupting your sleep, which can be particularly unhealthy if done frequently. 

Lucid dreaming has been shown to have many benefits, such as reducing anxiety and depression in PTSD patients. It can also help you satisfy your curiosity, learn more about your mind, and approach your waking life with a quality of openness and enthusiasm. 

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