How To Have Nightmares: 7 Steps To Induce Scary Dreams Easily


🌙 Written by Kai Riverstone, international lucid dreaming expert and teacher. Learn how to lucid dream in 7 days or less.

There aren’t many people who would WANT to have a nightmare, but you guys are out there. Here’s how you can induce a scary dream whenever you want. 



  • Nightmares CAN be exciting and interesting, like playing a horror game or living a horror film
  • The occasional nightmare can be a useful experience
  • Nightmares are easy to induce, much like lucid dreams or more vivid dreams
  • There are simple steps you can take to have more scary dreams and nightmares
  • In this article we’ll go through simple steps to induce nightmares and have exciting ‘dangerous’ dreams

Now firstly, let’s answer the question that’s certainly been on my mind as I write this, WHY would you want to have nightmares?

Why would you want to have nightmares?

Well, there are actually a few reasons you’d want to have scary dreams.

Being chased in a nightmare

The main one is just that it’s interesting, exciting and when you wake up you get a feeling of relief and satisfaction that you’ve just survived something scary and intense.

That feeling can be addicting, hence why there are so many horror fans and adrenaline junkies out there. In fact I’d go so far as to say that the type of people reading this article are people who are likely horror fans, or like scary rides.

And that’s really all a nightmare is, a scary ride in your mind.

It’s an opportunity to experience something scary, thrilling, horrific and dangerous without any real danger. And that is very appealing for lots of people. In fact people spend huge amounts of money especially in the USA for ‘realistic horror experiences’.

These can be things like haunted houses, all the way up to being chased around a horror maze by real actors. People like experiencing exciting and novel things, and nightmares are a great way of doing that.

By having a nightmare, you’re able to not only get a glimpse of your subconscious mind and what you’re truly afraid of, but you’re also able to experience that danger without the real risk that you’d have in real life. This is one of the main benefits of lucid dreams.

What would you do if you were god?

Another argument or reason you might want to have a scary dream is this idea taken from the following Alan Watts video about reality:

If you were god, meaning you could experience and do ANYTHING you wanted to, you’d start off by fulfilling all your wishes, experiencing dances, food, pleasurable things etc. But after 80 years of that soldily, you’d get the taste for something else. 

The taste for danger, conflict, battles and fights…

is lucid dreaming scary,nightmare

You’d want to rescue princesses from dragons and go on dangerous journeys. Eventually you’d want to even FORGET about your divinity and power, and push the boat out further and further until you FORGET that you’re dreaming and you’re god.

This sort of applies to the nightmare thing, and some people just want to feel that danger to feel alive! 

Simulating real life dangers

Another reason you might want to have a scary dream is to simulate or practice a real life situation. This could be if you’re thinking of joining the army, you might want to simulate a battlefield to see if you REALLY want to experience that.

How to have nightmares

Here are the main steps to having nightmares. You could also just try one or two of these things. The chances are if you try ALL of these, you’ll have very intense and scary dreams, and that might be too much for some people so take it slow and see how you feel.

1: Immerse yourself in scary things

By watching and consuming scary content before bed, you increase the chances of having nightmares massively. 

The best things to watch are films that play on your mind and make you think there’s things behind you, or hiding in the dark. The films that play on the unknown have the potential to seep into your thoughts and freak you out at night.

There are actually lots of scary films about sleep paralysis you could try as well! These will set the scene for a scary dream in no time.

Also make the house dark, and leave a window open at night so you can hear all the weird sounds from outside. If you have a loft hatch like I do, open it so you can just see the scary black open hole leading into the void. These things will likely freak you out and play tricks on your mind.

2: Interrupt your sleep regularly

The more often you interrupt your sleep, the more chance you’ll have a nightmare. You’ll know this if you have annoying pets, children or loud neighbours. 

Set an alarm on your phone to go off every 90 minutes or so. This is not to be confuse with the 90ILD technique which aims to give you lucid dreams.

In fact, you could modify the 90ILD to give you nightmares, by just instead of doing lucid affirmations when you wake up, just watch a scary video on YouTube and THEN go back to sleep with the intention of having a nightmare. 

3: Freak yourself out before bed

If you can freak yourself out before bed, you’ll be likely to have a nightmare. This can be done by going for a walk in the dark in a forest, or just watching some scary movies.

Good scary movies to watch include (links open in new tabs and show you the cheapest place to buy them films. You can also view trailers there): 

There are loads of horror movies but they’re probably some of the scariest. I warn you now they’re scary and will give you nightmares. Don’t watch unless you’re at least 18 years old. 

4: Sleep on your left side

A study [1] has shown that sleeping on your left side increases the chances of having nightmares by over 50%! This was conducted to test the effect of sleeping position on the dreams and nightmares you have.

It was also found that if you sleep face down as some people do (crazy I know) you’re more likely to dream about being choked, smothered or drowning. 

5: Take vitamin B6

Well, Vitamin B6 has been shown to give you more vivid dreams, but not specifically nightmares. That being said it’s probably going to help with the scary experience if you remember things more vividly. There’s a reason this is on our list of top lucid dreaming supplements!

You might also want to read our guide on dream recall and remembering more dreams, because dream recall is the ONE thing that most of us struggle the most with.

You can get vitamin B6 here (this is my preferred company that makes it!) fairly cheaply (Amazon)

6: Eat something spicy or cheesy before bed

Studies have shown that eating something spicy or cheesy before bed can increase your metabolism a little bit, giving you more vivid and intense dreams.

These usually appear as nightmares, hence the old wives tale that eating cheese before bed gives you nightmares.

food in a lucid dream,dream food,pizza,

Another study [2] has shown that eating spicy things before bed can disturb your sleep and as we’ve said previously, disturbing your sleep leads to more nightmares generally. So go ahead and have a cheesy spicy taco before hitting the sheets.

7: Sleep deprivation

This one isn’t something I’d like to encourage you to try, but the more you deprive yourself of deep sleep, the more likely you’ll have terrifying nightmares. 

With this and in fact with this whole article, just do it VERY rarely. Not all the time, as regular nightmares are not good for your body or mind at all. Just like how stress isn’t good to experience for your body or mind, nightmares aren’t good for you.

But if you really want to do it, sleep deprivation is an easy way of doing it! Maybe try a little challenge or experiment of staying up for an entire day and night, and THEN going to sleep with the intention of having a nightmare. 

Some warnings

Although this article aims to show you HOW to have nightmares there are some warnings about this. 

Firstly, a nightmare isn’t a good thing. It’s stressful and can have a bad effect on your body.

If you have nightmares all the time, it increases blood pressure, increases stress and makes you feel worse. Also because you’re interrupting your sleep and not getting enough deep sleep, you’ll never recover properly and always be fatigued.

So I can’t stress this enough, DON’T do this all the time!

If you want to have a nightmare (and there are some good reasons to try it now and then) just do it once a month at MOST. 

Also if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, DON’T TRY AND HAVE NIGHTMARES! I mean, you’ll likely have them anyway if you’re pregnant but don’t TRY and induce them. It’s bad for the baby and you.

How to STOP having nightmares

If you’re started this adventure, but now you’re too scared and wan to STOP having nightmares, it’s actually pretty simple.

Just reverse or avoid doing all the things this article says to do! 

Beyond that, you could try doing reality checks before and after sleeping, so you’re more likely to lucid dream. By lucid dreaming, you’ll avoid nightmares because you’ll be fully in control of what happens in the dream, so you have nothing to worry about!

Also to avoid nightmares, focus on getting enough sleep and high quality as well. A sleep tracker like this one (The one I use) is useful and not expensive, and it shows you when you had deep sleep and how much! 

You can also try listening to positive and uplifting messages and music before bed. 

References used

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