You’ve probably heard of the term “lucid dreaming” before, but what does it mean? Dreams are called lucid when you are aware you are dreaming while you’re asleep. Despite the real, vivid feeling, you know that the events occurring in your dream aren’t real. Therefore, to a degree, people are typically able to control the way their dream plays out. Lucid dreams aren’t too common, considering studies suggest that only 50% of the population has had at least one before. (Khatri)
Scientists aren’t exactly sure why lucid dreams occur, but they have some ideas. As for physical differences, the very front part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex is typically bigger in those that have lucid dreams. The prefrontal cortex is the site of high-level skills and tasks such as decision making and recalling memories. This suggests that more thoughtful, self-reflective types of people are the ones who are most likely to lucid dream. Scientists also believe that lucid dreaming is an “in- between” state of waking and sleeping.
There are several benefits to lucid dreaming, including heightened creativity and the formation of better problem-solving skills. When you have control over your dreams, you may leave them with a sense of empowerment because you are able to shape the ending. This feeling may help soothe the anxiety of some, especially those with nightmares. While there are benefits, problems can also arise from lucid dreams, the biggest one being lower sleep quality. This is because vivid dreams can wake you up easily, and sometimes it is difficult to get back to sleep. Another negative aspect of lucid dreaming is confusion, for the line of what’s real and what’s not may get blurred for some with certain mental health conditions.