The relationship between lucid dream frequency and sleep quality: Two cross-sectional studies

Celina Schadow, Michael Schredl, Janina Rieger, Anja S. Göritz


Lucid dreams are dreams that involve awareness of dreaming while dreaming. As lucid dreaming is accompanied by heightened cortical activation, e.g., in the prefrontal cortex, it was speculated whether lucid dreaming interferes with the restorative function of sleep. Two cross-sectional studies have found inhomogeneous results regarding the relationship between lucid dream frequency and subjective sleep quality. The present studies included a student sample (N = 444) and a population-based sample (N =1380). Regression analyses revealed a significant relationship between lucid dream frequency and poor sleep quality (this relationship was weaker in the student sample) which disappeared when nightmare frequency was statistically controlled. One possible interpretation of the findings is that lucid dreamers seem to have more nightmares and, therefore, poorer sleep quality, i.e., sleep quality is not directly impaired by having a lucid dream. However, alternative causal explanations are equally plausible, e.g., trait variables like the openness to experience might relate to all these variables. Future research should examine this relationship by comparing within-subject differences in sleep quality between nights with and without the occurrence of a lucid dream using a diary paradigm. Whether intensive practice of lucid dream induction techniques, e.g., the wake-up-back-to-bed technique, might have negative effects on sleep quality cannot yet be answered.


Lucid dreaming; sleep quality; nightmares

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