Long-term meditators experience lucid dreams more frequently, study finds

New research published in Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice has found that advanced meditators tend to have more lucid dreams, in which the dreamer is aware they’re dreaming and can control the experience.

“Many authors have pointed to strong conceptual and theoretical connections between meditation practice and lucid dreaming, but little empirical work has addressed this idea,” Benjamin Baird of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the corresponding author of the study.

In the study, the researchers surveyed 38 long-term meditators and 140 non-meditators. The long-term meditators had been practicing meditation for at least 5 years and meditated at least 200 minutes per week on average.

Baird and his colleagues found that long-term meditators reported more frequent lucid dreams compared to the individuals without meditation experience.

Those who scored higher on a specific measure of trait mindfulness — called Decentering — also tended to report more frequent lucid dreams. In particular, participants with greater “awareness of one’s experience with some distance and dis-identification rather than being carried away by one’s thoughts and feelings” had more lucid dreams on average.

“People who regularly practice meditation report more frequent lucid dreams. This may be connected to differences in trait mindfulness that we observed, though further research is needed to test this idea,” Baird told PsyPost.

The participants also underwent an 8-week introductory meditation training course. However, this intervention did not lead to any significant increases in lucid dream frequency.

“We did not observe any pre-post changes in lucid dream frequency following participation in a mindfulness meditation course. Therefore, we did not observe a causal connection between meditation and lucid dream frequency,” Baird explained.

More experience with meditation may be required for changes in lucid dreaming, the researchers said, or a third factor may explain the relationship.

“It thus remains an open question whether meditation practice directly influences the frequency of lucid dreams. For example, it remains possible that long-term meditators have more frequent lucid dreams for some other reason (e.g., personality differences). More research is needed to determine the causal relationship between meditation practice and lucid dreaming,” Baird said.

The study, “Increased Lucid Dream Frequency in Long-Term Meditators but not Following Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Training“, was authored by Benjamin Baird, Brady A. Riedner, Melanie Boly, Richard J. Davidson, and Giulio Tononi.