The following is a visitor-submitted question or story. For more, you can submit your own sleep story here, or browse the collection of experiences and questions other visitors have shared here.

Taking Control Of My Nightmares

by Patrick
(Hephzibah, Ga., United States)

I am 34 years old, and I have experienced several different problems with sleep for the majority of my life. One of the worst problems is with extremely violent and terrifying nightmares. These are often accompanied by episodes of sleep paralysis or night terrors.


Recently I became aware of the possibility of lucid dreaming, and thought "this might be the answer that I am looking for." If I could learn to master lucid dreaming I would be able to effectively take control of my dreams and even defeat the "demons" (for lack of a better word) that torment me in my sleep. I am a man who is afraid of nothing in the real world. If I could take control of my dreams and face the fears in them it would make an unmeasurable difference in my life.

Is this feasible? Can I actually combat and even defeat my over active imagination in this manner? Can I confront the repressed memories that cause these horrible nocturnal images and feelings?

Kevin: Patrick, you are so right on the money with this it's incredible. You absolutely can use lucid dreams to not only curb your nightmares, but take control of them and use them to help you grow or delve deeper into what is behind them.

It's pretty awesomely easy to see how this can be achieved when we understand how lucid dreams operate. When you become lucid, or gain consciousness, in a dream, you are able to control what happens in that dream--everything from what you do, your surroundings, what laws (i.e. gravity) apply to you or not, you can alter. (Have you seen Inception yet, does this sound strikingly familiar or what?) It takes practice, definitely, and skills must be honed, but it is perfectly possible.

Dr. Stephen LaBerge, the world's foremost expert on lucid dreaming, comes to our Sleep and Dreams class each year to give a couple lectures on lucid dreaming, and he always reserves a large chunk of time for talking about them in relation to nightmares. Dr. LaBerge loves to emphasize the point that nightmares are almost always passive experiences. In the ordinary frame of things, we just try to get through them and we don't typically consider there is anything to be done. We just suffer through it. But how else can you see it? How else can you frame the situation? The nightmare is something you are constructing for yourself, so why can't you take hold of that construction process? Lucid dreaming can provide you that other frame, a new way of perceiving and responding to nightmares.

Imagine, for instance, that you're in the middle of experiencing a very real nightmare involving a giant, terrifying nightmare. You're a trained lucid dreamer and your skills induce lucidity during the course of the dream. What's stopping you from turning that big scary monster into a cute, cuddly bunny or somethin'? Better yet, why not confront it and ask it some questions. Realize that it can't hurt you and turn the tables on it. It's your dream, you're in control.

Lucid dreaming is such an empowering, awesome phenomenon, and nightmares are definitely one of the biggest things you can use your lucidity to affect. If you're aiming to teach yourself how to do it (or already know how), keep me posted on how it goes. I would love to hear about it.

You should also check out Rebecca Turner's article on escaping from nightmares on her World Of Lucid Dreaming site. Rebecca's an experienced lucid dreamer and I really admire the work and writing she does for this site. It's definitely worth reading.

Good luck! And feel free to let me know how it goes!

Warmly,
Kevin

Comments for Taking Control Of My Nightmares

Click here to add your own comments

Jan 02, 2017
nightmare control NEW
by: roberto villarreal

Hi my name is roberto i am from saltillo mexico and i was looking to see articles about nighmare control. Actually i can tell you that i can control some of my nighmares. that took me a long time to do so , and lots of fear scenes that took some of my night sleep away. i have control falls and instead i can fly , one good way to fly in dreams is to start running and make longer steps and then fly away , i stop befere hitting the ground and land softly , in the case of falling i used to wake up after hitting the ground all wet and shaky , after a while of having the same nighmare over and over bi could tell i was dreaming now is fun . i used to get burned in a house and tunnel afetr a while i ended up knowing that i could just get some water on the ground and swim , airplane crash i managed to control the plane out, fire arm shot it feels hot and horrible now i just dont die the key is to be aware that you are dreaming because you have to remember your nighmare in the morning .
pleasant dreams can be control too you can continue with them if you recognise them. is like if you were awake but you have power to do things.
Right now i am in the process of figuring out of how to control some shadow monster or ghost that i havent seen in a while , its always different but i can see him like if i was there i make him go away waking up and turning on the lhe lights because in the dakness you cannot tell if he is real or not or if you are awake or you are dreaming . lights on are the key, some water in your face so fully wake up and i do change beds when that happens becasue in my experience the same bed form the same bed temperature and pillow will take you back to the same place or same nightmare specially if you are dealling with the shadow man or evil entity , i have seen two types one with no face is just the shape of something evil and other that it was just like souls moving around in his face that one talked to me and said that i wasnt alive i was with my eyes opened he was flying in front of my bed and i made him dissapear with the lights my lamp next to me i it was really real i saw him 30 years ago and did get rid of it or him with the lights on darkness is their strenght . the other with no face first came and i was lucid dreaming and he was just taking my breath away i could tell that he was taking my soul i could feel and see him sucking some white dust coming out of my inside i jelled at him and push him away and i woke up , water again and i changed beds the other is cooler . when i shower i cabn get connected with my dreams warm water on my head take me back so i can study a little bit of how to destroy that monster but i tell you i can see the whole picture when i am showering i just need to have a weapon and get fully aware so i can kill it or just ignorge him . the second vivid dream because is a vivid dream you are there if you ever have one of this you should know what i am talking abot came back with another one was holding me so i could push him back and the other was just digging in my stomack with some metal thing and getting my guts out and they said that they were going to take my soul and make me suffer it did hurt but i did recognice the guy and that helped me wake up or at least be aware that i was now awake becasue is so real that even when i woke up i could still see them again and my eyes were so heavy that i was about to fall to sleep again in my same spot and that wasnt a good idea because i knew that i was going back with them, and you havce to have time to figure out and think on just how to confront them, lots of water and i made sure i was awake then i was all wet when i woke up just like if i had taken a shower with my clothes on. i changed clothes and waited enough for my mind to go still then i went back and they didnt show up yet...i know that they will come back i hope i can get them into my controll i am thinking n fire maybe lights on my dream but i got to be stronger because they are not real i will wait i could master this one i know that they will kill me couple times before i do get rid of them because at the end thats what takes to master a nighmare got to have it a lot of times and sure be aware that you are dreaming.

Jan 02, 2017
my way to have nightmare control..fly in your dream NEW
by: roberto villarreal

Hi my name is roberto i am from saltillo mexico and i was looking to see articles about nighmare control. Actually i can tell you that i can control some of my nighmares. that took me a long time to do so , and lots of fear scenes that took some of my night sleep away. i have control falls and instead i can fly , one good way to fly in dreams is to start running and make longer steps and then fly away , i stop befere hitting the ground and land softly , in the case of falling i used to wake up after hitting the ground all wet and shaky , after a while of having the same nighmare over and over bi could tell i was dreaming now is fun . i used to get burned in a house and tunnel afetr a while i ended up knowing that i could just get some water on the ground and swim , airplane crash i managed to control the plane out, fire arm shot it feels hot and horrible now i just dont die the key is to be aware that you are dreaming because you have to remember your nighmare in the morning .
pleasant dreams can be control too you can continue with them if you recognise them. is like if you were awake but you have power to do things.
Right now i am in the process of figuring out of how to control some shadow monster or ghost that i havent seen in a while , its always different but i can see him like if i was there i make him go away waking up and turning on the lhe lights because in the dakness you cannot tell if he is real or not or if you are awake or you are dreaming . lights on are the key, some water in your face so fully wake up and i do change beds when that happens becasue in my experience the same bed form the same bed temperature and pillow will take you back to the same place or same nightmare specially if you are dealling with the shadow man or evil entity , i have seen two types one with no face is just the shape of something evil and other that it was just like souls moving around in his face that one talked to me and said that i wasnt alive i was with my eyes opened he was flying in front of my bed and i made him dissapear with the lights my lamp next to me i it was really real i saw him 30 years ago and did get rid of it or him with the lights on darkness is their strenght . the other with no face first came and i was lucid dreaming and he was just taking my breath away i could tell that he was taking my soul i could feel and see him sucking some white dust coming out of my inside i jelled at him and push him away and i woke up , water again and i changed beds the other is cooler . when i shower i cabn get connected with my dreams warm water on my head take me back so i can study a little bit of how to destroy that monster but i tell you i can see the whole picture when i am showering i just need to have a weapon and get fully aware so i can kill it or just ignorge him . the second vivid dream because is a vivid dream you are there if you ever have one of this you should know what i am talking abot came back with another one was holding me so i could push him back and the other was just digging in my stomack with some metal thing and getting my guts out and they said that they were going to take my soul and make me suffer it did hurt but i did recognice the guy and that helped me wake up or at least be aware that i was now awake becasue is so real that even when i woke up i could still see them again and my eyes were so heavy that i was about to fall to sleep again in my same spot and that wasnt a good idea because i knew that i was going back with them, and you havce to have time to figure out and think on just how to confront them, lots of water and i made sure i was awake then i was all wet when i woke up just like if i had taken a shower with my clothes on. i changed clothes and waited enough for my mind to go still then i went back and they didnt show up yet...i know that they will come back i hope i can get them into my controll i am thinking n fire maybe lights on my dream but i got to be stronger because they are not real i will wait i could master this one i know that they will kill me couple times before i do get rid of them because at the end thats what takes to master a nighmare got to have it a lot of times and sure be aware that you are dreaming.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Lucid Dreaming Stories.




Enjoy this page? Please help us pay it forward to others who would find it valuable by Liking, Sharing, Tweeting, Stumbling, and/or Voting below.

About This Site

Welcome! This site is continuously being created by students of Dr. William C. Dement's Sleep And Dreams course at Stanford University.

We made this site as a call to action for people all over the world to live healthier, happier, safer, and more productive lives by learning about their own sleep. We have faith that reading the information provided on this site will motivate you to be smart about your sleep deprivation and strategic about your alertness in order to live life to your fullest, most energetic potential.

In fact, we challenge you to do so! What do you say, are you up for the challenge?


A Note On Visitor-Submitted Questions:

Publishing sleep stories and questions from our visitors is meant to create a forum for open and proactive dialogue about an extremely important portion of our lives (one that occupies 1/3 of it and affects the other 2/3) that isn't talked about enough. It is not meant to substitute a trip to the doctor or the advice of a specialist. It's good to talk; it is not good to avoid consulting someone who's profession it is to help you with this kind of stuff.

If you are in any way concerned about your sleep health, don't wait for an answer on here, and don't necessarily rely on them. See a sleep specialist in your area as soon as possible.

More Questions:

Ask | Answer

The Stanford Sleep Book

Stanford Sleep Book Picture

Dr. Dement's pioneering textbook has been the core text for Sleep and Dreams since 1980, but it has just recently been made available to the wider public for the first time.

In it you'll find a more detailed account of the most important things you need to know about sleep, alertness, dreams, and sleep disorders. Studies, statistics, plus plenty of Dr. Dement's classic anecdotes painting the history of sleep medicine.

Preface | Intro | Contents | Get A Copy

More Sleep Resources

The Zeo

A revolution in personal sleep tracking, the Zeo is a wireless headband that transmits your brainwaves in realtime to a dock (pictured here) or your smartphone. The result? You can wake up and see exactly what stages of sleep you were in during the night! Unprecedented personalized sleep knowledge.

Sleep Paralysis: A Dreamer's Guide

Sleep Paralysis Treatment Book

Ever woken up paralyzed? A surprising number of us have, believe it or not. But few know the actual causes of this phenomenon, and fewer still how to exert control over it. Dream researcher and sleep paralysis expert Ryan Hurd shares breakthrough insights into how to do just that.

Important Disclaimer

Please Note:

The information found on this page and throughout this site is intended for general information purposes only. While it may prove useful and empowering, it is NOT intended as a substitute for the expertise and judgments of healthcare practitioners.

For more info, see our
Terms of Use.