Dreaming may provide more insight into how the sleeper functions throughout the day. UK psychologists from the University of Lincoln have found that those who experience lucid dreams, are more likely to be better at problem solving skills while they’re awake. They published their study in Dreaming, a journal by the American Psychological Association.

"It is believed that for dreamers to become lucid while asleep, they must see past the overwhelming reality of their dream state, and recognize that they are dreaming," said the study’s lead author Dr. Patrick Bourke, senior lecturer at the School of Psychology at Lincoln, in a press release. Lucid dreams give the sleeper an edge and ability to discern truth from falsehoods, which helps them in their waking hours.

Researchers analyzed the dream types of 68 participants between 18 to 25 years old who were then presented with 30 problems, each of them with three words. The participants had to identify a keyword relating to all words. For example, with the words “sand,” “mile,” and “age,” the keyword would be “stone.” Those who experienced lucid dreams were able to solve 24 percent more of the problems than those who had never experienced a lucid dream.

Lucid dreaming is an experience where people are able to see beyond the illusions during their dream state, and make sense of it. They recognize that they’re dreaming while they’re in the dream, and use those skills to increase the quality of their cognitive intelligence and problem-solving skills. When a person dissassociates themselves from their dream by pointing out inconsistencies to denote a non-reality, they are able to exercise their brain as they sleep and spot inconsistencies in their day-to-day while they’re awake. Although most people report having experienced a lucid dream at one point in their life, only 20 percent have lucid dreams once a month or more.

The study also labeled those who remember their dreams almost every day as “high dream recallers,” and noted that they have better development in the temporo-parietal junction and prefrontal cortex of the brain in both sleep and wake states. Both of these sections of the brain are responsible for impulse, anxiety, and decision-making.

"Results show that frequent lucid dreamers solve significantly more insight problems overall than non-lucid dreamers,” Bourke said. “This suggests that the insight experienced during the dream state may relate to the same underlying cognition needed for insight in the waking state."  

Source: Bourke P. Spontaneous Lucid Dreaming and Waking Insight. Dreaming. 2014.