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On Nightmares and Lucid Dreams


Dreams are one of the best vehicles for leaping into the subterranean universe of consciousness and accessing our most in-depth, raw emotional world. But beyond their mysterious, half-peeked, and often indecipherable connotation, dreams can also help us hone our understanding of our lives.

When we dream, we are being inspired, moved, unsettled, and touched in a way that our experience of it transpires right at the heart of the action, which makes it feel quite genuine and vivid. In addition, this highly sensorial process prompts real emotions, bodily sensations, and an overall feeling of touchableness.

Moreover, when it comes to deliberately using dreams as a path to heightened self-awareness, nightmares and lucid dreams are vital to our individual sense-producing process. From meaningful insights into our everyday lives to more profound subconscious voyages, these dreams are usually accompanied by a powerful sense of self-awareness and the capacity to engage with, absorb, or modify the experience. In doing so, we are not only fostering our psychological development and general well-being but also our ability to flow into the mystical, discerning part of ourselves. 

Read on to learn a little more about the fascinating, ever-evolving realm of lucid dreams and nightmares from the perspective of emotional intensity, self-awareness, and thus, the capacity to make effective, favorable choices in our waking lives.


One of the most distinctive features between dreams and nightmares is their emotional charge and intensity. Nightmares are “built” on the same phenomena as dreams, but their dynamic content differs in that these can be frightening, perilous, disturbing, or unsettling, to say the least. 

Another pivotal factor is that we can gain awareness of the experience itself during nightmares and aim to wake ourselves up from it. Further, upon awakening from a nightmare (and because it is typical to be aware of what happened in the dream), our minds and bodies may feel troubled, anxious, or nervous. Besides, other manifestations like heart rate and breathing shifts or sweating can also be detected after rising up.

According to the Sleep Foundation, “nightmares are vivid dreams that may be threatening, upsetting, bizarre, or bothersome.” And although there is no unanimous explanation within the fields of sleep medicine and research as to why we dream, there is an agreed stance that nightmares allow us to process emotion and perhaps dive deeper into the trauma-based content of these kinds of dreams.

Lastly, while we are all vastly different beings affected by both internal and external forces, some common triggers can keep us alert at night and facilitate a nightmare:

  • Depression
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Food choices and lifestyle
  • Drug abuse
  • Alcohol
  • Sleep apnea
  • Medications and over-the-counter sleep aids

Though nightmares are not necessarily pleasant, heart-warming experiences we look forward to, they can be a doorway to our innermost, intimate emotional ecosystem. However, it is essential to consider talking with a doctor if having nightmares interferes with life’s daily rhythm.  

Sleeping But Aware

In lucid dreaming, we are actively aware that we are dreaming and, therefore, we can modify the dream’s plot by guiding and leading the course of the dream. Namely, because there is an acknowledgment that the dream is not real, we can wield some control over what we are experiencing, which is arguably a learnable skill by several within the sleep research community.

Lucid dreams are frequently associated with metacognition because it touches on self-awareness and an understanding of thought processes alike. Below are some potential benefits related to lucid dreaming:

  • Enhanced creativity, ideas, and insight
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Less anxiety
  • Fewer nightmares

While further research is needed to examine the phenomenon of lucid dreams, it is undoubtedly a captivating domain to explore for personal, health, and educative purposes.

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