People who have lucid dreams have superior problem-solving skills, scientists claim.
Researchers say that people who can recognise that they are dreaming while being sound asleep, can solve problems in the waking world better than those who remain unaware of the dream until they wake up.
This is because they have an extra level of insight, according to a new study.
The concept of lucid dreaming was thrust into the spotlight in the 2010 film Inception, where dreamers were able to spot incongruities within their dream.
Experts believe that some people have lucid dreams because they have an extra level of insight. This means that their brains detect they are in a dream because events would not make sense otherwise.
This cognitive ability translates to the waking world when it comes to finding the solution to a problem, by spotting hidden connections or inconsistencies, according to scientists at the University of Lincoln.
The study, published in the American Psychological Association’s journal, Dreaming, is the first empirical study to demonstrate the relationship between lucid dreaming and insight.
‘It is believed that for dreamers to become lucid while asleep, they must see past the overwhelming reality of their dream state, and recognise that they are dreaming,’ said Dr Patrick Bourke, senior lecturer at the Lincoln School of Psychology.
‘The same cognitive ability was found to be demonstrated while awake by a person’s ability to think in a different way when it comes to solving problems.’
The study examined 68 participants aged between 18 and 25 who had experienced different levels of lucid dreaming – from never to several times a month.
They were asked to solve 30 problems designed to test insight. Each problem consisted of three words and a solution word.
Each of the three words could be combined with the solution word to create a new compound word.
For example with the words ‘sand’, ‘mile’ and ‘age’, the linking word would be ‘stone’.
Results showed that frequent lucid dreamers solved 25 per cent more of the insight problems than non-lucid dreamers.