Are lucid dreams tiring? The short answer is yes and no. As with most things in life, there are no easy, black and white distinctions and we cannot emphatically claim that lucid dreams are tiring for everyone who experiences them.
There are certain cases where lucid dreams can leave the dreamer feeling tired and anxious rather than revitalized and refreshed. This can happen when you overuse the wake back to bed technique (to be discussed shortly) and for people who are perma-lucid dreamers.
Wake Back to Bed Lucid Dreaming Technique
Many sleep experts agree that it is not ideal to have lucid dreams every night, however this is only because many people have to use external stimuli such as alarm clocks to help them achieve lucidity in dreams thereby disrupting their natural sleep cycles.
Doing this for extended periods of time can make us tired, especially if we have demanding jobs that require a lot of mental energy and focus.
For example, many lucid dreamers swear by the wake back to bed technique. This means that they set their alarms a few hours before they naturally wake up and then go back to sleep so that they can achieve lucidity in their dreams. This is a classic lucid dreaming technique that capitalizes on our natural sleep cycles, however, it is generally not advisable to do this every day as it can make you tired over time.
Lucid dreamers who are able to achieve lucidity in dreams without using external stimuli to wake themselves up are better off because they don’t disturb their natural sleep cycle.
Perma Lucid Dreamers
While it’s hard to imagine how the words “dream” and “tiring” could possibly exist together in the same sentence, for a small number who claim to be perma-lucid dreamers, lucid dreams can be just that.
What is a Perma-Lucid Dreamer?
A perma-lucid dreamer is someone who has lucid dreams every night whether they want to or not.
When we learn how to achieve full lucidity in our dreams, we are able to control the content at will and ultimately become the producer, actor and director of our dream world. However, while making it a point to have a few lucid dreams a week or a month is fine, there are actually some people out there who have lucid dreams every night.
While this may seem like an enviable “problem” to have for people who find lucid dreaming difficult or elusive, perma-lucid dreamers often complain about not feeling rested when they wake up in the mornings.
In fact, many perma-lucid dreamers complain that they feel downright frazzled when they wake up. So it’s not only a case of not feeling fully rested, there also seem to be accompanying feelings of stress and anxiety reported by many perma-lucid dreamers.
There have not been enough studies conducted on perma-lucid dreaming to come to any definitive conclusions as to why this condition affects some people and not others.
Some scientists posit that it could point to another undiscovered sleep disorder altogether and until we have more clinical studies on perma-lucid dreaming it is hard to come to any suppositions.
One thing that is important to mention as far as perma-lucid dreaming is concerned is that no one dreams for 8 hours a night. Period. This is because we only dream when we are in a REM sleep cycle (although there are cases of people who dream during the NREM cycle but this is extremely rare).
Since we only have five complete sleep cycles a night, only a small portion of our nights are actually spent dreaming. So while many perma-lucid dreamers may feel like they have been having intense lucid dreams all night long, this simply isn’t the case.
A Psycho-Spiritual Explanation of Perma-Lucid Dreaming
From a psycho-spiritual perspective, the reason that perma-lucid dreamers report feeling frazzled and unrested in the mornings is because they are thought to be tackling unresolved traumas, emotional blocks and anxiety/fear when they are in the dream state.
When people start having lucid dreams, they often have a lot of “inner housekeeping” to do in order to reach a fully lucid state where they can control every aspect of their dreams. Partial lucidity often points to unresolved fears and anxieties that prevent the dreamer from achieving full lucidity.
Because lucid dreaming brings us face to face with our subconscious and unconscious tendencies, any unresolved emotions and fears will set the emotional tone for our dreams until they have been worked through and overcome.
It is therefore the emotional content of the lucid dream that is tiring rather than lucid dreaming in general.
Lucid Dreaming and the Four Different Brainwave Patterns
- In Beta, aka Stage 0, our brainwave frequency measures a rapid 14 cycles per second on up. We are now wide-awake, our attention is focused on the “real” world. Information is processed in a linear, logical, organised fashion by our 5 senses. Beta is the only frequency some people use with any awareness and it is the only frequency totally focused on the objective world.
- Alpha (stages one and two) can be experienced while you are awake but in a dreamy frame of mind. 7 to 14 cycles per second of brainwave frequency register here.
- Below 14 cycles we begin to focus our attention inward where we are psychic, intuitive and creative. Daydreaming, lucid dreaming, ESP, meditation and hypnosis fall into the Alpha category.
- Theta – At the Theta level, the brain frequencies slow to between 4 and 7 cycles per second. (Theta brainwaves are PERFECT for lucid dreaming) Theta is a slow frequency and normally adults are asleep when emitting these waves. However, babies and children up to about age 6 or 7 often use Theta. Theta is also the level for natural anesthesia and deep sleep.
- Delta is the deepest sleep, measures 0-4 cycles per second of brainwave frequency. Newborn babies who sleep up to 16 hours a day spend most of their time in Delta. Our physiological systems slow down a lot at this level. As observed in sleep laboratories, the body is almost motionless.
Lucid Dreaming and the Alpha Brainwave Pattern
When we are having a lucid dream we are in the Alpha brainwave frequency. The realm of experience governed by Alpha is deep relaxation, visionary states, conscious dreaming and archetypal imagery. Alpha frequencies are said to activate the superconscious mind, which functions at a hypnagogic borderline, that is, somewhere between sleep and awake.
The dreams we remember most easily and vividly are alpha or REM dreams, which means that the alpha brainwave state can be tapped to provide us with an enormous reservoir of free advice on how to solve our fears, anxieties and emotional blockages.
Research shows that the brain is just as active, and we learn more rapidly and retain information longer, in Alpha than in Beta.
We can learn to use the Alpha dimension with awareness and control through biofeedback, meditation and certain other techniques like lucid dreaming.
The Alpha frequency is used for creative visualisation, as well as for lowering anxieties and blood pressure, which means that being in a fully lucid state while asleep is actually beneficial to our overall health and wellbeing and should be far from tiring and anxiety-provoking.
Lucid dreaming is not inherently tiring. Rather, it is the stage of spiritual development of the dreamer that determines the overall quality of lucid dreams.
If you can get your lucid dreaming practice to a point where you don’t have to use the wake back to bed method and if you can learn to achieve full rather than partial lucidity in dreams, having lucid dreams should actually refresh, heal and revitalise you.