Do Lucid Dreams Affect Sleep Quality?


This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

Good sleep quality is critical when it comes to health and wellness. But lucid dreams—extremely vivid reveries where the dreamer is aware that he or she is dreaming—can be stimulating, so it’s natural to wonder whether sleep quality is affected. Although most people don’t have them every night, lucid dreams are fairly common: About 55 percent of people say they’ve had at least one. Learn more about this unusual nighttime phenomenon and how it may impact your sleep quality.

What’s Behind Lucid Dreams 

Although the exact cause of this type of dream is still to be determined, certain factors make them more likely. For instance, if you have narcolepsy—a condition that causes people to suddenly and quickly fall into a deep sleep—you might be more likely to experience lucid dreaming. This is because narcoleptics tend to drop into REM sleep right away, and it’s during this sleep stage that lucid dreams occur.

How Sleep Quality Is Affected

An all-too-real dream can also wake you up and make it hard to get back to sleep, which is less than ideal for your sleep quality. Another potential sleep challenge: Because people who have lucid dreams are aware that they are dreaming, many have some degree of control over what occurs in their dream thoughts. This can lead to a conscious attempt to try and shape one’s dreams, but heading to bed with the intention of controlling what happens during sleep may be disruptive.

While lucid dreams can be exciting, they may also prevent you from achieving restful sleep, especially if you focus too much on trying to dictate their outcome. This can become a difficult feedback loop: Poor sleep quality can lead to more nightmarish dreams, and in turn, the prospect of scarier dreams may keep you from falling asleep at night.

Improving Your Sleep Experience

While you can’t control the type of dreams you experience, you can strive to get the best sleep possible. Go to bed and wake up at consistent times, nix caffeine and alcohol at night, and follow a regular exercise routine. Walking, biking, or a yoga class can improve your odds of relaxing at night.  And rather than trying and dictate your lucid dreams, it may be more restful to simply let them run their course. Of course, if those dreams are creating a stressful sleep experience, talk with your doctor about other possible solutions.