A lucid dream occurs when a person is asleep but aware that they are dreaming. In this state, a person can take control of their dream’s narrative to some degree, essentially guiding and directing the course of their dream.
Because this type of sleep is associated with awareness and the reflection of this awareness, it is often associated with what is known as metacognition. Metacognition involves the awareness and understanding of your thought processes.
Research suggests that lucid dreaming and metacognitive functions share similar neural systems. This means that people with heightened abilities to monitor their thoughts may be more likely to experience lucid dreams.
Just like regular dreams, lucid dreaming occurs most frequently during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
REM sleep is a phase of sleep that is characterized by rapid movements of the eyes, a lack of muscle tone throughout the body, and a tendency to dream.
How to Know If Your Dream Is Lucid?
During most non-lucid dreams, people are not aware of the fact that they are dreaming. A common characteristic of these dreams is that even when truly strange things happen within the dream, it seems real. It is only after people wake that they realize that it was only a dream.
When having a lucid dream, however, there is a recognition that what is happening is not real and that it is taking place within a dream. This often allows the dreamer to exert some degree of control over what is happening.
How do you know if you have had a lucid dream? Some signs that you might have had this experience in the past:
- You were aware that you were asleep and dreaming.
- Your dream was very vivid.
- You were able to exert some degree of control over the events or scenery in your dream.
- Your emotions were very intense.
The benefits of lucid dreaming
Lucid dreaming has several potential benefits:
While occasional nightmares are normal, recurring nightmares can be taxing. They can interfere with consistent quality sleep.
Frequent nightmares usually affect people with:
- sleep deprivation
- sleep disorders, like narcolepsy
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- substance abuse
Lucid dreaming could provide relief by reducing recurring nightmares.
During a lucid dream, you’re able to realize that the nightmare isn’t real. It also lets you control the dream, which allows you to turn a nightmare into a more neutral or pleasant scenario.
By decreasing nightmares, lucid dreaming may ease nightmare-related anxiety. It’s also used to relieve anxiety due to PTSD.
There’s also anecdotal evidence of lucid dreaming helping general anxiety, but more scientific research is needed.
Some people say it allows them to overcome the source of their anxiety.
Increase motor skills
Visualizing physical movements can increase the actual ability to do them. This may be done during a lucid dream, where the dreamer can mentally practice motor skills.
When you perform motor skills while dreaming, your brain’s sensorimotor cortex activates. This is the part of the brain that controls movement.
In this regard, lucid dreaming could help physical rehabilitation for people with physical disabilities.
It may also benefit people without physical disabilities by improving sports performance and other motor skills.
Lucid dreaming could potentially boost your creativity.
Typically, more creative people are more likely to lucid dream. This might be due to their heightened ability to recall dreams and visualize events.
But according to anecdotal reports, it also works the other way around. People claim lucid dreaming increases their creativity and imagination.
While this hasn’t been proven by science, many individuals use lucid dreaming to sharpen their creativity.
Interpreting lucid dreams
It’s possible to interpret a lucid dream, just like you would with a normal dream. Dream interpretation can help you understand the relevance of your dreams.
People say dream interpretation is easier during a lucid dream. Your awareness increases your ability to observe the dream as it happens.
Lucid dreams are also more vivid, which helps you remember the events and details.
To interpret your lucid dreams, keep a dream journal. Writing down your dreams will help you discover significant themes.
It’s also recommended to keep a regular journal. By recording your dreams and daily life, you’ll be more likely to find connections.
The risks of lucid dreaming
Lucid dreaming is generally considered safe, but there are some risks for people with mental health disorders.
- Sleep problems. Since lucid dreaming techniques purposely interrupt sleep, getting enough sleep can be difficult. The risk is higher if you have a sleep disorder.
- Depression and anxiety. Sleep issues can intensify depressive symptoms and anxiety.
- Derealisation. Lucid dreaming induction meshes reality and dreaming, making it difficult to determine what’s real.
- Dissociation. The overlap of reality and dreaming can also cause disconnection from your surroundings or self.
During lucid dreaming, you’re aware of your dream as it happens. In some cases, you might be able to control the dream’s storyline.
If you’d like to explore lucid dreaming, try the tips in this article. Lucid dreams may potentially reduce nightmares, relieve anxiety, and improve motor skills and creativity.
Use caution if you have a sleep or mental disorder. Attempting to lucid dream poses several risks, including sleep interruptions and derealisation. Talk to a therapist or sleep specialist before trying to lucid dream.