Can You Feel Pain in Lucid Dreams?

People say lucid dreaming is super vivid, but does that mean you can replicate any sensation realistically? If so, getting hurt in the dream could lead to agony.

So, can you feel pain in lucid dreams?

It turns out that it largely depends on the person. Some people never experience any pain, while others do.

In this post, we’ll explore the possible reasons and how the lucid pain dreaming sensation differs from regular pain. We’ll also check out some techniques that can minimize distress and boost sleep quality.

Why Not Everyone Feels Pain in Lucid Dreams

Let’s start by looking at both sides objectively.

Why Some People Don’t Experience Pain While Dreaming

Lucid dreams are often pleasant experiences—so much so that people go to great lengths to induce them.

There are plenty of induction techniques that can help people walk willingly into a state of dream lucidity. Reality testing and mnemonic induction or MILD techniques are common options.

However, regardless of how the person ends up in a vivid dream, they’re likely aware they’re lucid dreaming and have some control over the situation. As a result, they might choose not to feel pain and cause suffering to themselves.

Why Some People Experience Pain While Dreaming

Can You Feel Pain in Lucid Dreams?

After scrolling through online forums dedicated to lucid dreaming, I found some interesting insights. A lot of people reported that they experienced pain, among other vivid sensations.

But it’s not just talk on forums, either. There’s a bit of scientific evidence to back this notion of dreaming up pain.

One study showed that lucid dreamers can intentionally create pain sensations and actually maintain the feeling after waking up.

To be exact, 74% of the participants managed to create that sensation in their sleep. Then, 28% of them maintained it beyond the lucid dreaming state. Interesting stuff!

How does this happen?

Well, we don’t know much about pain during dreams. But I’d like to remind you that the brain activity during the rapid eye movement or REM sleep phases closely resembles wakefulness.

With that in mind, it’s not unreasonable to assume that if you genuinely expect to feel pain in a vivid dream, you likely will. The brain knows what that specific sensation might feel like and can simulate it as you sleep.

Lucid Dreaming Pain Isn’t Your Average Pain Sensation

The next question that I had to explore was: How does pain in dreams feel like?

A few people report that their lucid dream pain is identical to what they would experience while awake. However, the majority say that the sensation is different and less intense than real-life pain.

Think about it. Your brain might play along with the expectation of physical pain, but the resulting sensation often ends up being closer to discomfort or tingling rather than true agony.

Some people describe it as a mere initial shock since they’re bracing for severe pain. But when they calm down, they realize there is nothing wrong.

After all, with no cells firing signals to the spinal cord, the pain generally won’t reach excruciating levels.

Can You Feel Pain in Lucid Dreams?

How Experiencing Pain While Lucid Dreaming Affects You

I know the idea of feeling pain in your sleep (yes, even if it’s dull) sounds scary, but here’s some good news: the pain isn’t likely to stick around or hurt you physically.

As the study showed, only 28% of the lucid dreamers could still feel pain after waking up. For most folks, the painful sensation goes away once they open their eyes.

That makes sense, right? Since it’s all just happening in your mind, there’s no damage being done to your body. It might take a minute to shake off those pain sensations from the dream, but reminding yourself it wasn’t real can help you relax.

Compare that to something like sleepwalking, a form of parasomnia, where you could actually get up and hurt yourself. Now, lucid dreaming pain doesn’t sound as bad, right?

Seeking a More Peaceful Sleep: Preventing Pain While Lucid Dreaming

I get that the sensation might not be severe, but it can’t be good for your sleep quality. So, I would try dream control tactics to reduce the stress if I were you.

If the dream narrative starts going in an unpleasant direction, redirect it to something more pleasant. This could work when you’re dreaming of a painful physical stimulus or a sad emotional experience, like a funeral.

It can also help to contemplate where the distress is stemming from. Are you processing something traumatic? Keeping a journal to understand these patterns may help avoid creating stressful scenarios if you plan to try lucid dream induction techniques in the future.

Keep in mind that some individuals use lucid dreaming techniques to help them with chronic nightmares. The idea here is that the dream can be a chance to confront the painful stimulus and overcome it.

So, the confrontation or the narrative control tactics might work well for your bad dream.

Common Painful Scenarios in Lucid Dreams

Can You Feel Pain in Lucid Dreams?

Lucid dreaming can subjectively replicate many familiar (and unfamiliar) types of discomfort. It all depends on what your mind conjures up in your sleep.

While the exact scenarios differ between individuals, the common ones include:

  • Falling into brambles
  • Touching something extremely hot
  • Getting scratched or cut by sharp objects
  • Experiencing intense emotional grief
  • Hitting a wall

Final Thoughts

It’s possible to experience all sorts of vivid sensations during a lucid dream, including pain.

However, the whole point of lucidity is that you’re aware that you’re, in fact, sleeping. So, you can always try to shift the narrative to something less distressing.

If that doesn’t work, snap yourself awake by blinking repeatedly or trying to focus on reading something in the dream to force yourself out of REM sleep.

Odds are, the uncomfortable sensation won’t linger once you’re awake from the painful dream.

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