For most people, lucid dreaming is something we aspire to. But sometimes we might want to stop lucid dreaming and don’t know how.
So how do you stop lucid dreaming? If we find ourselves lucid dreaming and want to get out of it, there are two processes that we can follow. We can deliberately mess up our reality checks so that we don’t wake up in our dreams. And we can learn to fall asleep on demand so that if we find ourselves lucid dreaming, we can stop by falling asleep inside our dreams. In this article, we’ll cover how to do both.
Why might you want to stop lucid dreaming?
Most of the time when I have lucid dreams, I have amazing experiences. And I wake up feeling fully rested the next day. And from talking to other lucid dreamers, it’s clear that a lot of people have similar experiences.
That is, for most people, lucid dreams are only positive.
So why might anyone want to stop lucid dreaming?
As it turns out, there are a number of reasons. We’ll quickly go over each.
Every time we dream, our brain paralyzes our body to prevent us from coming to harm from acting out our dreams. This is a completely natural and useful process.
The issue arises when we wake up while our sleep paralysis is still in effect. For most people, this is easily handled by simply waiting a few minutes for it to clear.
However, as you might expect, sleep paralysis does not manifest in the same way in everyone. Some people almost never experience sleep paralysis, while others can experience it almost every time they sleep.
And for most people, sleep paralysis clears within a few minutes after waking. The longest I’ve ever experienced is around 15 minutes. But for some people, it can take a long time to clear. There are ways to minimize the risk of this, such as thinking of anything but the fact that we’re temporarily paralyzed.
As you can imagine, if someone is experiencing sleep paralysis frequently, and it is taking a long time to clear, they might decide that they want to stop lucid dreaming.
Low quality sleep or not enough sleep
A popular method of waking up inside your dreams is known as Wake Back to Bed. In this method, people set an alarm to wake them up right before the last sleep cycle of the night.
Naturally, being woken up in the middle of the night is not the best way to ensure a good night’s sleep. In order for us to feel rested after sleeping, we need to wake up at the right point in a sleep cycle. And alarms disrupt this.
Here’s the thing though.
If we wake ourselves up in the middle of the night like that enough, it’s possible for us to become habituated to waking up at the wrong point of our sleep cycle, even without the alarm.
And when that happens, we can end up with low quality sleep, not enough sleep, or both.
Basically, we don’t feel properly rested the next day.
If we’re not feeling rested, and we’re blaming our lucid dreams for that, it can make sense to want to stop lucid dreaming.
Of course, it would make more sense to simply stop disrupting our sleep in the first place.
It’s possible to move directly from being awake into a lucid dream, and I give a method to do this in my book The Self-Hypnosis Formula.
Losing the ability to distinguish between dreams and reality
When we lucid dream, part of what we’re doing is building a bridge between our waking reality and our dream reality. In a very real sense, dreams are the same process as vivid hallucinations.
So once that bridge is built, it can become possible to start to lose the ability to tell reality and our dreams apart.
As you might guess, it can be bad if we start to see things that aren’t there while we’re awake.
Since our memories are quite malleable, it’s possible to restore that balance with a little effort.
And part of that effort involves not lucid dreaming for a time.
Mental health issues including depression
This one is a little bizarre. The reason I say that is that numerous people have reported their mental health improving as a result of lucid dreaming. There are even standard processes you can follow to achieve it.
So why do I raise mental health issues here?
Well the simple fact is that if being lucid in our dreams is causing our mental health to deteriorate, we probably should stop doing it for a while.
There have been reported instances of people experiencing mental health issues and attributing them to lucid dreaming.
Even if the lucid dreams weren’t the cause, it makes sense to eliminate them as a possibility.
And as always, if you’re experiencing any kind of mental health issue, it’s important to check with an appropriate professional rather than believing something you’re reading on the web.
I’m quite sure there are other reasons people have for wanting to no longer wake up inside their dreams. These include things like demons and persistent nightmares.
Read More: Dangers of Lucid Dreaming
And the truth is that it doesn’t matter what the reason is that you want to stop.
It’s your mind and your sleep.
Which means that you get to choose whether you lucid dream or not.
So how exactly do we prevent ourselves from lucid dreaming?
As I mentioned at the start of this article, there are essentially two ways of achieving this.
First, we can mess up our reality checks in an effort to make it much less likely that we’ll wake up inside our dreams.
And second, we can learn to go to sleep on demand. Quite naturally, if we know how to do this while we’re awake, we can also do it inside a lucid dream.
How to mess up your reality checks
A reality check is a simple test we perform to determine whether we’re dreaming. It can be anything at all, so long as it is impossible in the waking world. The easiest examples are things like attempting to push hands or fingers through physical objects. There are plenty of other things that people use for reality checks as well. The important point is that whatever it is, it does something different in your dreams than in reality.
So how do you mess up your reality checks?
It’s actually quite simple.
You see, reality checks are a form of hypnotic anchor. The way they work is that we habituate the check to the extent that we perform it automatically as we go about our lives. Then, when we’re inside our dream, it becomes likely that we’ll automatically perform our reality check while dreaming.
Now, an important part of a reality check is that we intend for the impossible thing to happen.
Suppose that one of your reality checks is attempting to push the palm of your hand through your desk while you type. The way to mess that one up is to notice the solidity of the desk and be pleased with it. When you do this, it reprograms the habit.
Essentially, you pay attention to the waking world outcome rather than the dream world outcome. Which in turn attaches the waking world outcome to the reality check.
It’s the same with other ways that people notice they’re dreaming: Simply imagine the thing while you’re awake, and allow it to shift. For example, if you have a dreamsign, close your eyes, imagine it vividly and know that you’re not dreaming and that it’s no longer effective.
How to go to sleep inside your dreams
So we’ve covered how to mess up the things we do when we’re awake to minimize the risk of waking up inside our dreams.
What do we do if we find ourselves aware that we’re dreaming despite our efforts?
It turns out that it’s remarkably easy to fix.
All we have to do is learn to fall asleep on demand.
When falling asleep is a skill that we possess, rather than something that happens to us, we can easily do it inside our dreams.
Now you might be wondering how do we fall asleep on demand.
The truth is that there are a lot of ways this can be achieved. The simplest and most effective way that I know is to place your attention somewhere else.
Usually good options for this are parts of your body, such as fingers, toes, legs and arms. Pay attention to all the sensations you can notice inside them. Temperatures, pressures, that sort of thing.
If you feel so inclined, try moving them by the smallest possible amount.
Whenever I do this, I fall asleep within 2 to 3 minutes.
Practice this at night when you fall asleep, and before long you’ll be able to do it any time you’re awake and don’t want to be.
How to Stop Lucid Dreaming
In this article we’ve covered the two things you can do if you feel like you’d like to stop lucid dreaming. You can learn to mess up your reality checks so you don’t wake up inside your dreams, and you can learn to fall asleep on demand and do that within your dreams to get out of them.
Naturally, the only person who can choose to do that is you.
If it’s okay with you, I’d like to suggest something first though.
People spend time, effort and resources learning how to lucid dream.
And when you start to lucid dream properly, almost all of the issues that cause people to want to stop can be circumvented. For example, people sometimes think that sleep paralysis is some kind of attack by demons. It isn’t. It’s just a natural process that happens every time we dream.
Sleep paralysis happens regardless of whether your dreams are lucid.
The only thing that’s different is it can be scary if you wake up while sleep paralysis is still in effect and don’t know what’s going on.
Do you really want to stop lucid dreaming?
Unless we have some kind of mental health issue, or we’re starting to lose the ability to tell whether we’re dreaming or hallucinating, most of us are better served when we simply learn how to control our dreams properly.
Lucid dreaming has been around for all of human history and has been studied in depth by countless people over the ages. It’s generally considered safe. So if you’re having thoughts that you might want to stop, first ask yourself why.
And be totally honest with yourself about that.
You get to choose.
They’re your dreams after all.
Lucid dreaming is a skill, and like any other skill, it takes persistence and effort to become good at. It could be that the best thing is to stop. But it’s more likely that all that’s needed is learning a little more about what’s going on.
If you’d like some help with that, my book Lucid goes into lucid dreaming in detail.