Lucid dreaming may sound like a cool experience to have. It can help you explore your innermost thoughts and fears while you sleep. It can allow you to explore different dimensions and alternative realities from the comfort of your own bed. But there is a potential downside. Lucid dreaming has a connection to sleep paralysis, which can be terrifying!
Lucid dreaming is a dream state in which a part of your mind is conscious and aware that you are dreaming. If you are a lucid dreamer, you can literally control certain elements of the dream. Instead of the dream being a totally passive experience, you might decide to visit a far-off land. Or you might choose how you will respond to what someone says to you in the dream. For example, you may choose between two paths in a lucid dream and see where the chosen path takes you.
Cool, right? But sleep paralysis is a common side effect of lucid dreaming. If you’ve ever experienced sleep paralysis, chances are you won’t forget it. I remember a recent experience with sleep paralysis. I was having a nightmare and someone was chasing me. I knew they were out to do me harm. I was trying to run and suddenly in the dream I realized that I was dreaming! At that moment all I wanted to do was escape. I knew that I could escape if I woke up, so naturally, I wanted to wake up. After yelling at myself to wake up, I did sort of wake up, or at least I felt conscious of what was going on. But I could not move. My body was paralyzed.
Sleep paralysis is that feeling you get when you’re consciously awake but you can’t move your body. You literally feel paralyzed and though you try to move you simply can’t. it’s one of the scariest feelings in the world, but it has a purpose, and that purpose is connected to lucid dreaming.
What causes sleep paralysis?
So what causes you to experience sleep paralysis? Actually, sleep paralysis is designed to help you. When we dream, we often see ourselves taking action. We may be walking, running or even flying. Sometimes dreams can be very emotional. What would happen if we started moving around in our dreams and we got so into it that we started moving around while we were sleeping?
We might sleep-walk or sleep-run or thrash around in the bed and hurt ourselves (let alone any significant others who might be in the bed with us). Sleep paralysis keeps our bodies still while our minds go wild in our dream state.
In other words, sleep paralysis keeps us safe. So what does that have to do with lucid dreaming?
How lucid dreaming is connected to sleep paralysis
Lucid dreaming is the act of consciously taking part in our dreams. It’s a way to be in control of our dreams and explore the dream state not from our subconscious mind, as we usually do when we dream, but from our conscious mind. Through lucid dreaming, we might visit friends and loved ones. Maybe we explore a different dimension. Maybe we can literally fly or float or perform some other bodily function that we can’t possibly perform in our regular day-to-day life. Lucid dreaming provides us with a way to become more aware of our innermost thoughts and feelings.
Since we’re more alert than normal when we are having a lucid dream, we are likely to notice everything about our physical bodies. Remember, our bodies are often in a paralyzed state when we are dreaming. If we are lucid, we may notice that our bodies are in a paralyzed state, and that can be a signal to us that we are taking part in a lucid dream.
You’re experiencing sleep paralysis. Don’t panic!
Once you realize that you are experiencing a lucid dream, the key is not to panic. Yes, it can seem terrifying to feel like you have no control over your body. But try to breathe through it and remember that sleep paralysis occurs to protect you, not to hurt you.
Then, remind yourself that this is all a part of the lucid dreaming experience. Instead of focusing on the sleep paralysis and the fact that you cannot move your body, focus instead on what is going on in your dream. Is the you in your dream moving around? Are you traveling? Are you communicating with someone else telepathically? Are you visiting someone else in their dream?
Once you start to focus on what’s going on in the dream, you may even forget about the sleep paralysis, and you can begin to take part in the lucid dream more wholeheartedly.
How to exit a lucid dream through sleep paralysis
Sleep paralysis can also help you to make your way out of a lucid dream. If you find that you’re ready to wake up, simply place your focus on your body and allow yourself to feel that sleep paralysis. Then, will yourself to wake up and move. It might take a few seconds and you might have to try more than once, but eventually you’ll be able to move your body again.
It may be easier to start by wiggling your fingers or toes or simply moving part of your body. Then continue to move that part until you can move more of your body and eventually you wake up.
There are also other skills that you can learn to become a better lucid dreamer. For example, there are skills you can master that can help you to wake up quickly if you have to. (Those skills would also be helpful if you’re in the midst of a nightmare that you want to wake up from!) Just learning those techniques can make you more comfortable with the lucid dreaming process so you can reap all of the benefits.
Lucid dreaming can be one of the more exciting dreaming experiences we can have. Let sleep paralysis help you to enter the worlds of your lucid dreams.