💥Atomic Essays

Short-form lightly edited, lightly structured essays, written in 30 minutes.
Published on:
February 11, 2024

😴 Have I Been Self-Treating Nightmares with Lucid Dreaming My Entire Life?

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Earlier this year, someone without a medical, clinical or research background in Sleep, ADHD, or Autism strongly questioned my sleep patterns. As I already had some solid knowledge, I decided to engage in a conversation about trauma, sleep apnea, and their connections with ADHD, autism, and various sleep cycles or patterns, such as biphasic, mono-phasic, and polyphasic.

Thankfully, I have many friends in academia and medicine, and tapped the shoulder of my friend who is a somnologist 😎. As we delved into the discussion of trauma, interrupted sleep patterns, and polyphasic sleeping, I casually shared how, after experiencing trauma or a triggering social interaction, I would often find myself having nightmares. That's when I let her know I've developed a coping mechanism to keep these nightmares at bay since childhood. When faced with a particularly distressing dream, I'd either make a conscious effort to alter the dream as it unfolded or, if that didn't work, I'd rouse myself from sleep. A quick trip to the bathroom, a sip of water, maybe a short stroll, and then back to bed—it was a routine that usually dispelled my nightmares. What followed was either a new dream with a completely different storyline or simply no dream at all.

As I explained this to my friend, her response was, "Wait, are you talking about lucid dreaming?" Confused, I replied, "What?" That's when she enlightened me about lucid dreaming—being aware of and having control over your dreams. She then shared with me that this is a specific type of lucid dreaming called, wake back to bed.

It turns out that some research suggests that lucid dreaming can help with nightmares, and others say it can be a great therapy for people with PTSD, as recommended, lucid dreaming as a method to keep nightmares at bay.

So, as it happens, when I was a kid, I unknowingly taught myself to lucid dream. And it's been remarkably successful throughout my life in reducing trauma-induced nightmares.

However, the journey into lucid dreaming raises important questions. Is lucid dreaming entirely safe? What are the positives, and what are the negatives? Are there any health concerns associated with long-term practice?

In a future atomic essay, I'll delve into these questions, providing detailed insights into how I started lucid dreaming, the frequency with which I've employed this technique in my life, and my overall personal experiences with it. Stay tuned for a closer look at the nuances of this intriguing practice!

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