Have you ever had a dream that was both intense and realistic? Some dreams feel like you’re reliving your day. I’ve had dreams that had me asking: Did I really have that conversation with my boss, friend, or family member?
Dreams Linked to Mental Health
Should we be monitoring our dreams? Sigmund Freud studied the dream sequence for years but there is still much to be discovered.
Lucid dreams are those in which you are aware that you are dreaming. Not only that, but you exert control over the dream. In other words, you are like a movie director shaping the dialogue and action. About 20 percent of us have lucid dreams. High-intensity lucid dreamers have confidence and control of their dreams. But low-intensity lucid dreamers do not control dream events and are uncertain of their dream state.
Mark Travers, Ph.D., recently wrote about dreams for Psychology Today. Travers reported that psychologists from Ben-Gurion University in Isreal, recruited 187 undergraduate students to participate in a sleep study. Researchers measured students on a variety of psychological indicators, including sleep quality, sleep experiences, lucid dreaming, anxiety, stress, depressive symptoms, schizotypy, and dissociation. Next, researchers pulled a small group of students from the study to complete a dream diary for two-weeks.
The studies showed a connection with high-intensity lucid dreamers and low levels of psychological distress. High-intensity lucid dreamers have less depression, anxiety, and stress than low-intensity lucid dreamers.
Less distress is related to the positive effect of dreams accompanied by a sense of control and confidence. There was no evidence found that one’s contentment, satisfaction with all areas of life, and self-actualization (i.e. psychological well-being) were less than a non-lucid dreamer. Results only varied between high and low-intensity lucid dreamers.
Lucid Dreams Connected to Less Distress
In conclusion, having an awareness that you are dreaming does not guarantee enhanced well-being or indicate fewer psychopathological tendencies. But lucid dreaming is connected to less distress. However, if someone is aware of their dream, the characteristics of this awareness can carry significance to a person’s psychopathological symptoms.