Anyone who has heard of the phenomenon known as lucid dreaming already knows of the many exciting experiences it offers the dreamer. But, with scientific research showing a strong correlation between problem solving skills and lucid dreaming many active, and would-be, lucid dreamers want to know if lucid dreaming can make you smarter.
According to the University of Lincoln, in the UK, lucid dreaming can improve your problem solving skills and make you smarter at dealing with life’s challenges. Additional research has shown that lucid dreaming can help improve memory, boost creativity and strengthen life-planning skills.
- Is lucid dreaming a sign of intelligence?
- How lucid dreaming can improve intelligence
- So, can lucid dreaming make you smarter?
Is lucid dreaming a sign of intelligence?
Many people wonder if having the ability to lucid dream naturally is a sign of inherent intelligence. It appears that being able to lucid dream every night, or most nights, seems to be a mark of high intelligence. But is it really?
Let’s take a quick look at what happens in the brain of a lucid dreamer to see if they are indeed endowed with superior intelligence.
As we pointed out in the article What Causes Lucid Dreams, a lucid dreamer displays much higher cognitive brain functions during REM sleep than normal non-lucid-dreaming sleepers. It has been clearly shown in multiple studies that very specific areas of the brain are active in lucid dreamers that are not active in non-lucid dreamers.
This means the brain is working much harder in a lucid dream than it does in an ordinary dream.
Does this mean a lucid dreamer is displaying higher intelligence than a normal lucid dreamer though?
Well, the answer is both “yes” and “no”. Let me explain.
According to a scientific article published in nature.com, lucid dreaming occurs due to increased connectivity between the frontopolar cortex and temporoparietal association areas of the brain.
These areas are usually only active during the waking state when we are fully aware and actively thinking consciously, such as when we are problem-solving or being intently focused on a task. However, it should be noted that these areas of the brain are not always fully engaged when we are awake. Even in the waking state we are not always fully conscious and “in the moment” during activities. Most times we work on autopilot.
How many times have you driven home from work and totally missed the entire journey as you were focused on your own internal thought processes instead of the drive? How many times have you completed a work activity and been “miles away” in your head, so much so that you didn’t even remember completing the task? When we operate in these states (we all do even the most intelligent people on the planet) we are not fully consciously engaged in our actions and are not fully focused on what we are doing?
Why is this of any interest to us and how does it relate to intelligence and lucid dreaming?
As we can see from the research outlined in this business insider report being focused and fully conscious during a task are traits of high intelligence. Lucid dreamers display these traits during a lucid dream and are thus displaying signs of high intelligence. In fact, it is these very traits that are actually what cause lucid dreams to occur.
The higher functioning brain activities going on in the frontopolar cortex and temporoparietal association areas of the brain mean that lucid dreamers display better focus and more conscious awareness during the dream state. But why do lucid dreamers display these higher intelligence traits?
Lucid dreamers displays these intelligence traits during a lucid dream simply because they display these traits during the waking the state. They “carry-over” their higher brain functions from the waking state to the dream state. This means lucid dreamers, both in the dream state and while awake, are showing at least two signs of high intelligence: focus and conscious awareness.
So it can be argued that lucid dreamers have higher intelligence than the average person.
Although there is no hard scientific evidence to support this hypothesis there is a lot of circumstantial evidence and scientific studies that indirectly point in that direction, as I will cover below.
How lucid dreaming can improve intelligence
Most people interested in the topic of lucid dreaming are aware of the standard benefits that this night skill provides. But, there is growing evidence to suggest that learning to lucid dream and practicing the skill regularly can actually help to make you smarter as well.
Let’s take a look at some of the intelligence-building skills lucid dreaming can help you acquire.
Lucid dreaming can improve problem-solving skills
According to a research conducted at the University of Lincoln, UK, researchers discovered that there is a very significant correlation between regular lucid dreaming and higher-than-average problem-solving abilities during waking life.
Now, I believe that we can all agree that having the ability to successful solve problems is a sign of intelligence. So, it seems that lucid dreamers naturally have better problem solving skills during the waking state than the average non-lucid-dreamer. But this is not the only good news.
There appears to be no difference between the level of problem-solving ability of a natural lucid dreamer (who never needed to learn the skill) and a lucid dreamer who had to learn how to lucid dream.
Hopefully future studies into the correlation between lucid dreaming and superior problem-solving abilities will show us that these problem-solving skills have actually been developed in non-natural-lucid-dreamers as a direct result of them learning to lucid dream. Until that time we can assume that this is case as there is a lot of circumstantial evidence to support that view.
Lucid dreaming can help you deal with life’s challenges
Just as problem-solving is a sign of intelligence so is dealing with life challenges. In fact, one might argue that dealing with life challenges is a form of problem solving in itself.
Lucid dreamers tend to display an above-average ability to deal effectively with life challenges and overcome everyday problems they encounter in the real world. This is largely due to their ability to remain more focused and be fully conscious during a crisis.
The study conducted at the University of Lincoln, cited above, demonstrated that a lucid dreamer is also much more insightful than a non-lucid-dreamer. This superior insightfulness means a lucid dreamer will thus be in a better position to make accurate decisions so as to direct their actions in more successful ways in the wakeful state.
Lucid dreaming can boost creativity
Psychology Today cited a scientific study conducted with people who have sleep disorders that results in them having higher-than-normal lucid dreams. Researchers in the study saw a correlation between increased creativity and lucid dreaming.
This should come as no surprise given that lucid dreams are the fantasy factory of the mind. When you can do anything in a lucid dream and you are able to experience absolutely anything want, being limited only by your own imagination, it doesn’t take too long before you exhaust all your basic fantasy goals and have to start getting more creative.
Exercising your “creative muscle” in the dreamworld makes being creative in the waking world much, much easier. Your creativity stays with you when you wake from your dream world and you tend to become more creative in many different areas of your everyday life. Being creative in a lucid dream, by creating new scenarios and experiences, basically teaches your brain to think more creatively during wakefulness.
Lucid dreaming can help develop life-planning skills
I think we can all agree that many people wander aimlessly through life. No matter how many times we are told to set goals and work towards set objectives it is difficult for some people to truly know what they want.
Even for people who do have goals and do set objectives it can be difficult to determine which course of action is the most appropriate to take at certain stages of life.
As a society we tend to view individuals who take decisive actions, especially when they were confronted with multiple choices many of which could end in disaster, and who then encounter success as being very intelligent; it was there higher intellect that allowed them to make the correct choice and take the correct action. Of course the truth often falls more into the grey area between high intelligence and luck.
However, it is true that being able to have enough foresight to make correct choices and take appropriate actions is definitely a sign of intelligence.
So, how does this relate to lucid dreaming?
Well, as we have already seen in this article lucid dreamers tend to be more insightful than the average person. This superior insightfulness into situations, people and events can greatly help them take actions that result in more success and less failure. Obviously insightfulness relies to a large degree on intuition and is often an automatic response. But. lucid dreaming can actually also be used to deliberately help with decision making in a very unique way.
Imagine being able to experience the possible effects of multiple different actions in order to see which one has the best possibility of creating a successful outcome! You can do this in lucid dreams.
Although playing with possible outcomes in your lucid dreams so you can decide on the best course of action will not guarantee how a particular situation will unfold, it can be very beneficial. Experiencing potential outcomes, based on the actions you can take in the real world, can help you determine if a course of action feels right to you and/or elicits the type of emotional satisfaction you think it will in the real world.
You can basically experience different outcomes to see which one feels like the best one to aim for.
Lucid dreaming can be used to improve real world skills
Lucid dreams can have very measurable real world effects.
This is such an expansive topic that we have an entire article on the subject which you can read here. But, I can sum up the subject matter simply by saying – lucid dreams can affect reality! And, they can do it in some truly fantastic and life-changing ways.
At the most basic level, you can use your lucid dreams to practice real world skills, from shooting hoops to perfecting your work skills.
Being skilled at anything shows a degree of intelligence because it takes intelligence to learn something new. So in this respect lucid dreaming can also make you smarter.
Lucid dreaming can rewire the brain
The evidence that neuroplasticity occurs in lucid dreamers is probably the strongest argument in support of the belief that lucid dreaming can make you smarter.
Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change its own neural networks and reorganization its own structure. The brain literally changes itself for the better.
Sciencedirect cites a scientific study, measuring pain resolution due to lucid dreaming, found evidence for neuroplasticity occurring due to lucid dreaming.
Being able to restructure neural networks in the brain so it works more efficiently is certainly one way to help you become smarter and it seems lucid dreaming can help you do just that.
So, can lucid dreaming make you smarter?
It would seem that lucid dreaming can indeed help to make you smarter, and it can do it in multiple ways.
From developing the ability to be more insightful and a better problem solver, to boosting your creativity and giving you the ability to make successful life choices, it would appear that lucid dreaming can make you smarter.
But, because you can also perfect real world skills, and even rewire your own brain through lucid dreams, it seems obvious that this night skill is well worth the effort of learning not just for the higher intelligence it can help you develop but also because it can help you improve many different areas of your life.