Are lucid dreams MORE tiring than just sleeping? The short answer is they can be. 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.
There are also what’s called ‘perma-lucid dreamers’ which we’ll also explain.
Let’s explore this.
Lucid dreaming can make you tired when you overuse the wake back to bed technique (to be discussed shortly) and for people who are ‘perma-lucid’ dreamers.
In this article, we’ll learn:
- DOES lucid dreaming make you more tired?
- The problems with the WBTB technique
- How to use lucid dreaming to actually feel more energised
- What are perma-lucid dreamers?
Does lucid dreaming make you more tired?
Lucid dreaming does not make you more tired, if you practice it in the right way. It’s the interruption of sleep that makes you more tired, whether you try and lucid dream after the interruption or not. Common lucid dreaming techniques like the WBTB involve cutting your sleep in half, and do make you feel tired the next day.
But the thing is?
You would have felt tired ANYWAY if you interrupted your sleep.
It’s not the lucid dreaming that makes you tired. It’s the actual act of cutting your sleep in half, waking up at 4AM and then going back to sleep to try and lucid dream. The lucid dream itself actually doesn’t make you more tired than normal sleeping or dreaming.
So why the confusion?
Because in order to target the last ‘chunk’ of REM sleep in the early hours of the morning, you have yo actually wake yourself up just before. That gives you the best chance of lucid dreaming, in the short term.
Meaning: For beginners who want a quick lucid dream.
Without putting in the hard work, and building the habits.
But that doesn’t mean it’s NOT a good technique. The techniques that involve waking yourself up early, DO work. That’s why they’re so common and people talk about them. Here are some of the techniques that require interrupting your sleep:
- Wake back to bed (WBTB)
- Wake induced lucid dream (WILD)
- SSILD (Sense induced lucid dream)
- Finger induced lucid dream (FILD)
But they’ll make you feel rubbish the next day. And they should NOT be used regularly, because they’ll just ruin your sleep quality. You’ll rack up a ‘sleep debt’ and not be able to perform very well.
Use them at the start of your journey, if you just want to have your first lucid dream as quickly as possible. In fact, use the technique I created which is a combination of ALL of those techniques; The 90ILD technique. See the video below:
So what should you do instead?
Instead of using those ‘short term’ techniques and feeling rubbish, instead use things like the MILD. This forces you to not rely on interruption and instead just REMEMBER to do reality checks during the dream.
It’s a technique which uses your ‘prospective memory’, meaning your ability to remember something in the future;
- Either after a certain amount of time
- Or when you see or experience a certain trigger (dream signs for example)
The problem with the WBTB 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.
SOME people who are able to lucid dream randomly, claim that it makes them more tired.
The truth is a little different, and it’s really a side effect of another problem.
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.
How does that work?
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. But this isn’t ALWAYS the case. Sometimes you can be energised by a positive emotional lucid dream.
Let’s just briefly explain the main brainwave states, and how they relate to sleep and lucid dreaming:
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 usually 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.
Does dreaming mean good sleep?
Having dreams and dreaming does not always mean you’re having a good nights sleep. Sleep quality is a complex thing, and dreaming is just a part of the process. Dreaming means you’re entering REM sleep (Rapid eye movement) which is healthy, but you also need to be getting the right amount of deep sleep too.
Getting high quality sleep is a complex subject.
It’s just not as simple as we WISH it was. But that being said, usually dreaming is a good sign. If you’re dreaming it means that you’re actually completing sleep cycles, (entering REM sleep). And that’s usually good.
Are vivid dreams a sign of good sleep?
Having vivid dreams does not always mean you’re having good quality sleep. Vivid dreams happen during REM sleep, which means you’re completing an entire sleep cycle, which is healthy. However, the actual quality of the deep sleep in that cycle is not related to whether or not you’re having vivid dreams.
That being said:
People TEND to experience more vivid dreams as a SIDE EFFECT of bad sleep. Meaning, they’re interrupting their sleep, and that’s why they’re getting vivid dreams.
And that sucks. I mean, there are other ways of having vivid dreams, but interrupting your sleep tends to work faster.
In fact, I wrote an article about how to have vivid dreams. And you know the main trick for having more vivid dreams? Interrupt your sleep (reduce your sleep quality). That’s a common way, because it works.
It’s mainly because we’re more likely to remember the dreams we were ALREADY having, when we interrupt the sleep. Otherwise, we would have just forgotten those vivid dreams. So it’s not like we’re not having vivid dreams.
We have dreams every night.
Vivid ones too, but most of the time we sleep solidly until we’re woken up in the morning. So we never write them down and remember them. Learning how to remember dreams is a very powerful skill by the way!
What are the negative effects of lucid dreaming?
There are some negative effects of lucid dreaming such as false memories, scary experiences, nightmares, and trouble focusing during the day. These ‘side effects’ can be avoided if you learn how to focus through meditation, and avoid negative or scary situations in the dream itself (set positive goals).
There are other negative effects of lucid dreaming too.
- You might be too scared to try and control the dream
- You’ll experience or see negative things
- You might not be able to focus on normal life
- You’ll end up becoming obsessed (rare) and want to sleep all the time
- You might experience a lucid nightmare (scary)
But the truth is?
It’s not that bad. Honestly.
But see for yourself.
Why do I feel tired after every dream?
If you feel tired after every single dream you’re having, there might be something wrong with your sleep cycle or sleep routine. Dreams shouldn’t make you feel tired just like having lucid dreams shouldn’t make you feel drained the next day. If they do, there’s a problem with your sleep schedule and you should track it to see where you’re going wrong.
It’s not the end of the world.
To be honest, many people aren’t tracking their sleep and have NO idea what’s influencing how they feel.
Ask anyone you know what their deep sleep percentage is, and they’ll look at you like you’re crazy. But that’s one of the most important metrics to know about your sleep.
LOTS of people are sleeping for enough hours (7-9) but they’re not getting anywhere NEAR enough deep sleep. And that’s a big problem! That explains why you might feel tired, even though you’re sleeping for a long time.
It’s actually easy to track as well. When you’re tracking it, you can do some pretty important things:
- You’ll KNOW when you sleep well or badly
- You’ll see what things influence your deep sleep (drinking, films, music, food, stimulants etc)
- You can make a plan to test out your ideas and guesses as to what’s influencing your sleep quality
- You can notice trends, patterns and your habits
And this is powerful.
This lets you understand your sleep, see WHY you’re sleeping badly, and understand WHAT to do about it. That alone is more than enough reasons to buy a sleep tracker.
I was AMAZED when I first started tracking my sleep. I thought like most people that I was sleeping well or average. Turns out I was not.
I was getting enough hours in, but the quality wasn’t there. I was suffering from a lack of deep sleep, and I was restless throughout the night. My heart rate was sky high some nights, and I could not work out why for a while.
Then it dawned on me the reasons, and I was able to CHANGE the habits and what I was doing.
Here’s the most powerful tip for improving your sleep quality:
Get a sleep tracker, make notes after each nights sleep and then look back after a month. Notice what days you slept badly, and what days you slept well, then read the notes. You’ll have your eyes opened (Pun intended).
Is lucid dreaming emotionally draining?
I have found that for SOME lucid dreams, I wake up feeling emotionally tired or drained. This is only the case for SOME lucid dreams, and it’s certainly not very common. For some lucid dreams that are really intense, you might feel drained the next morning.
For example, lucid dreams where you:
- Experience the death or suffering of a loved one
- Get broken up with
- See something scary or emotionally charged
- Try and do something but can’t do it
These types of lucid dreams MIGHT make you feel tired or emotionally drained the next morning. And that’s normal, I think. At least, I was pretty drained after my lucid transcendence dream (see video below):
But they’re not super common. In fact, MOST lucid dreams just feel awesome during and after.
I’m not sure about the exact science behind this, or how/why it works, but for some types of experience int he lucid dream, you’ll feel drained. I THINK it’s to do with your mirror neurons, in your brain.
When we dream about something, the SAME nuerons fire in our brain as if we ACTUALLY did the thing. It’s one of the reasons we’re able to practice real like skills in lucid dreams, and ACTUALLY improve.
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.
All of that being said:
You DO need to pay attention to your sleep quality in general.
If you’re not careful, you can end up ruining your sleep quality and feeling TIRED because of lucid dreaming. If you become too obsessed, or don’t pay attention to your sleep quality, you’ll just feel terrible the next day.
- Always remember to get enough high quality sleep
- Track your sleep using something accurate
- Keep a journal, and write down what worked and what didn’t
- Interrupting your sleep is not a long term technique
- There are much better techniques like DILD and MILD which will not interrupt your sleep
- Long term techniques are better than short term ones, for your overall health
- Perma-lucid dreamers might have a bit more of a challenge to get good sleep
Get started by going through the bootcamp, or learning the basic techniques like the MILD method. The MILD method is perfect for lucid dreaming, because it doesn’t involve waking up early, or interrupting your sleep. This means? It doesn’t make you more tired.