I’ve always struggled to narrow down the benefits of lucid dreaming because honestly, there are too many. It’s such a profound experience and enriching practice, compressing the benefits down into a list or an article feels almost like a disservice to the true value of lucid dreaming. Nevertheless, I’ll try to map it out for you and clarify why I think lucid dreaming is so important and why it’s worth learning.
Throughout the article, I’ll delve into my top 5 benefits of lucid dreaming, but first, I’ll get you started with some basics.
Lucid dreaming enables you to:
- Observe the inner workings of your mind
- Lucid Dreaming is a means for self-exploration and self-discovery
- This leads to more self-awareness, familiarity, understanding, and acceptance with who you are, why you do what you do, what you care about most
- This leads to more openness, self-growth, and ultimately self-integration
- Engage with and run your world rather than letting your world run you
- Get a deeper sense of connection with your self AND your waking life by interacting with the dream state
- Have profound, transcendent, and meaningful experiences of the highest quality – on par with psychedelic experiences
- Engage with your dreams without hurting your sleep quality
To really understand the benefits listed above, you should know a bit about the Self. Essentially, the self is more like a process than one, solid, static thing.
Consider you own self — there’s you now, but there’s also all those past versions of you from earlier in your life. And also there’s you when you’re in various moods; happy you, angry you, frustrated you, hungry you, etc. You are more like a set of personalities all living under one roof together. The more they all get along with each other, the more integrated you are.
But think about how familiar you really are with your mind. A great way to question and test this is by looking closer at your dreaming (subconscious) mind. After all, you’re still you when you’re dreaming; it’s your mind producing all that dream content. But unless you remember your dreams or attain lucidity during dreams, you most likely remain disconnected or dis-integrated from that part of yourself.
What better opportunity to familiarize with the unfamiliar and befriend your subconscious self than during your dreams? Dreams are high resolution, information-rich, super creative experiences your mind produces for you every single night. And they’re anything but random… as we’ll see later in this article.
Once you start having lucid dreams, you’ll notice positive side effects emerging day by day. You’ll see incremental self-growth in the form of increased curiosity, openness, courage… and at the same time have less fear, closed-mindedness, and worry. Conscious observation and deliberate participation leads to familiarity, understanding, and connection. It’s about connecting with yourself – deeper parts of you or your mind that you knew existed, but just didn’t pay attention to or interact with.
I’ve been practicing lucid dreaming for years, and honestly, every time I put the work in and engage with my dreams, I feel an authentic, deeper connection with my life. Life feels more meaningful, purposeful, and valuable when I practice lucid dreaming.
The feeling is very similar to getting in good physical shape and just “feeling better” in general throughout the day. It’s also similar to getting into a new relationship and having that increased sense of vigor and energy.
Though I have many stories and inspiring lucid dream experiences, my personal benefits may not resonate with all of you. But there are thousands of lucid dreamers out there and growing interest in how to lucid dream… so there are many accounts of benefits people get from lucid dreaming and lots of research to back them up and encourage the practice.
Top 5 Benefits of lucid dreaming:
Lucid dreaming can be used to improve mental health and well-being. Many lucid dreamers report experiencing the above benefits and I am happy to share my top five reasons lucid dreaming is so worth practicing.
1. Overcome Nightmares
Of all the reasons to learn lucid dreaming, I believe the most impactful is that you can overcome nightmares during the dream, while you sleep. As much as 50-85% of adults suffer from occasional nightmares and it’s even higher than that for younger people.
What are nightmares?
Nightmares are disturbing dreams that represent real-life problems or concerns from waking life. A nightmare or ‘bad dream’ is the subconscious of crying out and making sure you know; something really serious is on your mind and it needs a solution ASAP – it could be something you’re afraid of or worried about, but haven’t quite figured out how to deal with in waking life.
Sometimes the subconscious can figure out these problems on its own but sometimes nightmares can be really persistent and recurring – causing a lot of disturbance and suffering.
So, if you’re able to become lucid during a nightmare, it might still be frightening at first, but now something’s different. Now you know it’s not really happening, you know it’s a dream…. and it’s not just a dream… it’s your dream. All of a sudden you recognize that you can choose how you want the rest of the dream to play out. This element of choice takes the fear and intensity down a few pegs if not removing it entirely.
Interacting with nightmare figures
When it comes to nightmare figures – scary people, demons, monsters, or you name it… These characters are symbolic of an issue going on in your life – they represent something real from waking life. Remember, it’s a simulation.
Nightmare characters are projections that your mind is creating, which means they are a part of you, it’s your mind – so by taking a more compassionate approach, you’re being more compassionate to a part of yourself that’s suffering and needs help.
So if you can get lucid, a good response to these nightmare figures is to stop running, turn around and face them… and extend love, kindness, and acceptance towards them. Ask what they represent and what you can do to help them.
So this is re-framing the context from some horrifying situation to something more like a friendly and productive conversation. And the true value here is that you’re not just reframing the situation… you’re reframing yourself. You change your role in the dream from a fearful victim, to a courageous problem solver. And this is all safe and possible because it’s all in the simulation of the dream.
Also, this ability to reframe the dream is not just limited to disturbing vivid dreams … and it’s not even limited to dreams; learning this skill set enables you to reframe, rethink, reconsider other unpleasant experiences in the waking state too. That can include sleep paralysis, That’s where mindfulness comes in – and we get into those exercises much more in the guided course.
2. Practice and strategize in your sleep
When we sleep, and particularly in Rapid Eye Movement sleep (REM sleep), the mind is hard at work. Think of it from an evolutionary perspective. Why would nature select for us to create mental simulated realities while we sleep? Is that really necessary for the entire species?? Well, I think so, and here’s why…
What’s the mind doing in dreams?
I’ve done a ton of research on this and I think the best way to frame ‘what dreams are’ is through Antii Revonsuo’s Threat Simulation Theory of Dreams (read more about it here and here). Dreams are purely mental experiences or mental models of a version of reality.
Though dream experiences seem random and abstract at first, upon further inspection, people find their dreams to have remarkable and insightful relevance to their waking life. When people direct attention toward their dream content, they often find genuine meaning, purpose, and value within.
Dreams (and REM Sleep) are found to be the mind’s way of not only consolidating memories but doing so selectively– rank ordering and prioritizing memories by the level of importance. Dreaming is an adaptive and strategic cognitive process.
How does lucid dreaming help me strategize?
Well, your mind is already strategizing and organizing during your dreams, but it might not be as efficient and effective as it could be. By realizing you’re dreaming (attaining lucidity), you can awaken your conscious mind within the dream-simulation. You can get involved and deliberately strategize whatever you think is most important!
Think of the lucid state as a video game. Not only are you the main character in the game, but you’re also the environment within each level, the obstacles, the challenges, and the bosses. When you have a lucid dreaming experience, you can start actually playing the game, rather than feeling like someone else is playing and you just wake up from the dreaming state with a faint memory of it.
So what do you want to get better at? A sport? Want to improve a relationship? Or maybe your role in the relationship? Want to enhance your creative abilities? You can bet that you already dream about these things. So by getting lucid, you can call it forward, into the dream (literally call out and request something to dream about in your dream), and practice, rehearse and improve.
3. Boost creativity
Another great reason to learn lucid dreaming is it’s a goldmine for creativity. You might not realize it, but you are incredibly creative. And don’t take my word for it, your own dreams will reveal this to you.
Think about it, during dreams, your eyes are closed but your mind produces high-resolution imagery, new creative ideas, and it does this every single night for a total of 2 hours.
And in the lucid state, you have unlimited creative freedom – you can push your imagination as far as you like… And you’ll surprise yourself, you’ll go further than you thought you could and see the truly awesome power of your imaginative abilities.
You can work with creative ideas without the constraints or boundaries or rules of waking life. You make the rules because it’s yours; your simulation, constructed entirely by your mind. You are literally the god of this world and you can create new music, architecture, artistic masterpieces, anything you can imagine manifests in real-time and in vivid detail.
This is one of my favorite benefits of lucid dreaming because it’s basically pure creativity. Think about it, you’re asleep in bed and you are not perceiving anything from the outside world. Your mind is generating every single detail you experience in the dream. That level of creative power is almost unimaginable… yet at the same time, it is exactly what imagination is in the first place.
See, lucid dreaming goes far beyond the usual methods of strategizing, practicing, rehearsing, and boosting creativity, but hey we have to frame the benefits of lucid dreaming somehow, don’t we?
What if I forget my most creative dreams?
People usually recall lucid dreams much more clearly than non-lucid dreams when they wake up. So if you are interested at all in enhancing your creativity, exploring the lucid state is a must. And if you’re concerned about remembering dreams in general, check out this article.
Lucid dreaming is a healthy, accessible, and scientifically validated state of consciousness. And again, of all the many reasons to learn lucid dreaming, I think the most important is that it’s a means for practicing self-improvement, self-integration, and living a more enriched, and satisfying life… But it can also be really fun and entertaining, which leads us to our next benefit on the list.
4. Lucid Dream Sex
Ah, my favorite benefit… just kidding, but this one is really interesting.
Humans are hardwired to have strong sexual urges. Just as we don’t consciously choose to crave food, sleep, or social interaction, we don’t choose our sexual orientation, preferences, urges, or desires. Our sexual impulses are biological, genetic, natural parts of who we are. And luckily for lucid dreamers, sexuality shows up in dreams all the time.
Salt N Pepa said it best —
“It keeps coming up anyhow
Don’t be coy, avoid, or make void the topic
Cause that ain’t gonna stop it”
So let’s talk about it.
What if there was a way to choose whoever you want (only one?), any place, no strings, no consequences… and really make it happen… however you want it to? Well, there is! If you can influence what happens in your dreams by learning lucid dreaming, you can fulfill your fantasies in real-time, in vivid detail, in the full-sensory simulation of your mind.
At the level of the brain, dream experiences are REAL. Far more “real” than most people give it credit for — the phenomenon of wet dreams should make that undeniable.
Now, I mentioned using time in the lucid state wisely, and who’s to say having sensational lucid dream sex in the privacy of your subconscious isn’t wise? After all, In the spirit of self-integration, it’s wise to integrate without sexuality, no? So it is a legitimate one of the benefits of lucid dreaming.
Why ignore or suppress our urges, pretend they don’t exist or make excuses for them? We have sexual fantasies anyway; it’s natural, we might as well fully enjoy them. Also, by practicing lucid dream sex, we can mindfully manage urges and impulses which can serve as a means of self-regulation.
And without this kind of mindful self-awareness and self-regulation, well we’re in danger of letting our impulses get the better of us and drive us to do things we might regret. Much better to familiarize ourselves with them in a safe way, integrate with them, and feel truly comfortable with our sexuality.
What if you’re in a relationship?
Without purporting myself to be some kind of relationship advisor, let me just off this point to consider… Think about what makes an intimate relationship great (not just sex now people) and reflect on numbers 2 and 3 above.
What should you rehearse and practice and improve upon in your sleep? What do you want to get better at, to better serve someone you care about? Practice creative ways of doing so… Ok, getting the picture? Enough said?
Risks of lucid dream sex
The fact that lucid dreaming offers the ability to have sex with whoever you want is quite often the #1 motivating factor for learning the practice. However, there are risks involved; addiction, escapism, excessive rehearsal of immoral, unethical sexual activity, preferring the dream world to the waking world… just to name a few.
This topic warrants long discussion, and plenty more research. But if you’re planning on learning lucid dreaming, be mindful and stay aware of whether you’re having a little TOO much fun.
Everything in moderation! Stay balanced — try to use your time wisely in the lucid state.
5. Self Integration
Speaking of spending time wisely, let’s circle back to self-integration. This is ultimately why lucid dreaming is such a valuable, meaningful practice. As an experienced lucid dreamer, I can tell you honestly – I’ve learned an invaluable amount about myself from my dreams.
Nearly every time I write them down in my dream journal, whether I see the immediate relevance or utility or I have no clue what I’m writing about, at some point, I make some kind of connection. Occasionally the connection is almost absurdly clear; spelled out in the dream or verbalized by somebody or myself in the dream… while other dreams seem out of place, cryptic, nonsensical, and utterly abstract.
But no matter how obvious the relevance, a connection is made because at minimum, I’m conscious of the experience. Though lucid dreaming is making its way into clinical therapies, I’m not referring to self-integration in this clinical sense here. I’m simply referring to fostering a better relationship between the conscious and subconscious minds and bridging that gap. This is explained in a more objective sense here.
Generally, my dreams seem to be more wise versions of me; they’re very witty, they show me what I truly care about, even if I don’t think about it during waking life (especially so). And when I connect with my dreams I feel genuinely more connected as a person — more whole, more integrated.
And when I get lucid, that feeling is even stronger. It’s like breaking through a ceiling, into a special secret place just for me, and yet somehow there’s a whole entire universe in there.
When I wake up from lucid dreams, the sense of connection to that inner universe remains. It’s like being reinvigorated or re-enchanted with life. In that sense, among other reasons, it makes life even more worth living.
As I mentioned earlier, the experiences are truly profound. It’s difficult to narrow it down into the ‘benefits of lucid dreaming’ because engaging with your dreams is more like a birthright or a spiritual quest that we can all embark upon every single night. The