Lucid dreaming can be fun, enlightening and a great way to help you develop real-world skills. With a little training it can even be used to delve deep into our own issues and to resolve emotional hurts. But, while most people do not lucid dream, why do some people lucid dream every night?
People who lucid dream every night display more cognitive activity in specific areas of the brain during the day. The area in the brain responsible for processing language, words and sentences interacts with the area of the brain responsible for processing external and internal input from the environment and body. This heightened processing continues in sleep and leads the sleeper to become aware that they are dreaming which leads to lucidity.
Why do I lucid dream so much?
To understand why you are lucid dreaming so much, perhaps every night, we need to look at what causes a lucid dream to occur to see which type of lucid dreamer you are.
Lucid dreams are not as rare as many people may think. Although most lucid dreamers have engaged in specific activities designed to train their brains to allow for lucid dreaming, and the full conscious control during dreams that goes with it, some people have lucid dreams naturally and spontaneously.
It is almost certain you fall into this category of natural lucid dreamer if you are having spontaneous lucid dreams every night or just very frequently.
It is the natural lucid dreamers who tend to have lucid dreams every night. People who have trained their brains to lucid dream will rarely enter into lucidity every night. It seems that having lucid dreams 3 – 5 times per week is the norm for trained lucid dreamers as, more often than not, they must take deliberate steps to enter the state of lucidity.
Natural lucid dreamers, however, can have lucid dreams every night. They can also have different lucid dreams several times in the same night. They are rarely in control of when and how often these type of conscious dreams take place though.
If you have lucid dreams every night then it is most likely you are a natural lucid dreamer who has never had to use techniques or engage in special training exercises to learn this skill. But why do you naturally lucid dream and why do you do it every night?
Well, the answer lies in how your brain is working during the day.
Lucidity in the day means lucidity at night
A scientific study, reported in NCBI, details the science behind what is happening in the brain of a lucid dreamer but not at night in sleep – during the day.
The study states that, “frequent lucid dreaming [is] associated with increased functional connectivity between frontopolar cortex and temporoparietal association areas“. (Published at Nature.com 2018). The study concluded that, “current results suggest that increased functional integrity during wakefulness between aPFC and temporoparietal association areas—all regions that show suppressed activity in REM sleep and increased activity during lucid REM sleep—is associated with the tendency to have frequent lucid dreams“.
What does this mean?
Well it means that something different is happening in a lucid dreamer’s brain when compared with non-lucid dreamers. So, let’s delved into what is actually happening.
People who lucid dreams every night, or every other night, without enlisting the help of techniques to become lucid, i.e. natural lucid dreamer who spontaneously become lucid while dreaming, have increased resting-state functional connectivity between the left anterior prefrontal cortex and the bilateral angular gyrus, bilateral middle temporal gyrus and right inferior frontal gyrus.
Oh no …. more science speak! Bear with me. I will explain everything.
The science explained
Before I go on to explain the meaning of the above sentences, given to us in the scientific study, I should point out that the same study did not detect any difference between non-lucid dreamers and natural spontaneous lucid dreamers in key life areas. In terms of waking-life behaviors, memory recall, mindfulness and prospective memory (remembering to perform a deliberate action) there was no difference found between frequent lucid dreamers and non-lucid dreamers.
In layman terms this means that the non-lucid dreamers, that were part of the scientific study, were no different than the spontaneous frequent lucid dreamers in all metal aspects that are not connected to dreaming.
The cited scientific study shows that natural, spontaneous, lucid dreamers are normal people with no brain abnormalities and they exhibit the same behavior and everyday cognitive functionality as non-lucid dreamers.
This is great news as it means being a frequent lucid dreamer is not a result of brain abnormality or some sort of negative behavioral programming. Frequent lucid dreamers are normal people with an exceptional skill!
So let’s go back to the assertion made by the scientific study cited above and dissect its exact meaning.
To recap the study stated that, “current results suggest that increased functional integrity during wakefulness between aPFC and temporoparietal association areas … is associated with the tendency to have frequent lucid dreams”.
This simply means that the left anterior prefrontal cortex of the brain has a strong working connection to the area of the brain where the temporal and parietal lobes meet. To understand why this leads to frequent lucid dreaming lets quickly look at what these areas of the brain are responsible for.
Cognitive neuroscience has shown that the left anterior prefrontal cortex is responsible for language and is vital in the processing of words and sentences. It deals with this area of communication.
The temporoparietal junction of the brain integrates information from both the external environment as well as from within the body.
So, the fact that there is a lot of activity going on between these two areas of the brain during wakefulness means the brain is functioning at a higher capacity than normal in regards to awareness. The spontaneous lucid dreamer’s brain is processing information in a more connected whole brain fashion and is thus doing it better than normal. They are more aware of things around them and processes within them.
In short you could say that a natural lucid dreamer is more insightful or more “tuned-in” than most people.
Although the science does not tell us why this increased informational exchange between these two areas of the brain leads to lucid dreaming we can make an educated guess as to why lucidity is a byproduct of it.
Why this brain functioning causes lucid dreams
I should add that the following theory is merely my personal opinion as I am in no way trained in the processes of the brain. However, being familiar and experienced with this topic I can make some assumptions based on solid evidence.
We now know that the brain of a natural lucid dreamer is much more harmonized when processing both the environment and internal processes and is thus in a heightened state of awareness during the waking state.
When the sleeper enters the REM state, the brain, which has been processing internal and external stimuli in a more connected cohesive way during the waking state, continues to process information in this more “aware” state as the dream begins. Awareness during a dream is almost always the cause for entering lucidity.
Most dreams reflect aspects of the real-world but in a way that is actually out-of-step with the real-world. Dreams almost always show some major and minor discrepancies i.e. your bedside lamp may be the wrong color or uncle Sam is with you but he doesn’t look anything like uncle Sam and then he suddenly changes into Aunt May. In a heightened state of awareness, as is the case with the brain connectivity in natural lucid dreamers described above, these discrepancies are picked-up by the highly alert brain which realizes things are not as they should be. This realization then causes the conscious mind of the sleeper to become aware that they are in a dream which results in the dreamer becoming lucid.
This theory may not be correct but all lucid dreamers know that by far the biggest cause of lucidity during a dream is recognizing that you are in a dream. So, it is my assertion that this theory is the best way of describing why a heighten connectivity between the areas of the brain that are responsible for language communication and the processing of external and internal information would cause a dreamer to lead to lucid dreaming.
Is it bad to lucid dream too much?
Frequent lucid dreaming has no negative side-effects on the mind or body unless the lucid dreams are disrupting your sleep.
How might a lucid dream disrupt your sleep?
Well, it is possible that you may waken from a lucid dream by waking in the real world in an alert state.
Waking from a lucid dream is perfectly fine as most people awaken from a normal dream several times during an 8 hour sleep cycle. They just don’t remember waking up as they fall asleep again relatively quickly.
However, problems can occur if you stay awake after waking from a lucid dream and it then takes you several minutes or more to fall back asleep. If this happens several times in the same sleep cycle, or becomes a recurring problem happening every night, this can greatly disrupt your sleep and you will not feel like you have had a restful restorative sleep, in either mind or body.
Disrupted sleep can lead to a myriad of problems with the most common being mental grogginess and physical tiredness during the day.
As long as you do not experience disruptive sleep due to lucid dreaming then having a lucid dream every night is not a problem. Just enjoy them! Lucid dreaming has many benefits that go way past just living out your fantasies (though that is pretty cool too).