Do you often find yourself daydreaming and exploring your inner world? Most people do. While it can be frustrating to feel your focus drift away, daydreaming has a wealth of benefits.
In this article, I’ll outline the benefits of daydreaming so you can feel good about indulging yourself from time to time.
Do You Have to Be Asleep to Daydream?
Nope! We daydream while we’re awake, which is part of what distinguishes daydreaming from normal dreaming.
When you daydream, your brain produces alpha waves; these brain waves are associated with relaxation and reduced stress. During normal dreaming, however, most brain waves are delta and theta; these brain waves indicate sleep.
Does Everyone Daydream?
Yes, it’s believed that everyone daydreams.
When you daydream, you’re imagining a scenario that’s detached from your current situation. We also call this “having one’s head in the clouds” or “fantasizing.” Daydreams can involve memories, future hopes, or seemingly random scenarios.
Research suggests that daydreaming is the human brain’s natural resting state (or “default mode”). This means that whenever your mind is not preoccupied with a task, it’s prone to daydreaming.
Experts believe that the average person spends between 30% and 50% of their waking time immersed in daydreams. And most of the time, daydreaming is a beneficial pastime.
While daydreaming is almost always a positive thing, there are exceptions. The most notable exception is maladaptive daydreaming.
In the case of maladaptive daydreaming, a person will daydream very frequently and vividly. These daydreams cause serious problems in their personal and professional lives, as they cannot help but engage in their daydreams. In fact, they may spend several hours daydreaming.
Experts have not figured out what causes maladaptive daydreaming, but research suggests anxiety disorders and previous trauma play a role.
If you suspect you’re a maladaptive daydreamer, you may want to consider talking with your doctor or a therapist. They can help uncover a root cause, if one exists, and get you started on an appropriate treatment plan.
Benefits of Daydreaming
Healthy daydreaming is associated with a range of benefits for the mind and body, from stress relief to improved memory. Wondering how daydreaming can improve your life? Keep reading!
1. Daydreaming Helps Manage Anxiety and Stress
Studies have shown that, while daydreaming, the human brain is in an alpha wave state. This means that the brain produces alpha waves, which indicate relaxation and idleness. Alpha waves are also present during meditation and mindfulness activities.
The presence of alpha waves during daydreaming suggests that this activity can promote relaxation and decrease anxiety. Daydreams featuring positive imagery or emotions are especially beneficial in this regard.
Since prolonged stress and anxiety can take a toll on the body, daydreaming may foster better overall physical health.
2. Daydreaming Can Make You More Creative
It may sound like a no-brainer, but daydreaming can help you be more creative. Since daydreaming occurs while your brain is in default mode, it’s characterized by connections taking place across different regions. These regions are the creativity and problem-solving networks.
This can form new connections, those that the brain couldn’t have made while focused on something. In addition, it can help you come back to a task with a fresh perspective and new ideas.
3. Daydreams are a Great Problem-Solving Tool
At the same time, daydreaming activates the part of your brain involved in problem-solving. This alternation between the creative network and problem-solving network is called “attentional cycling.”
With the two networks functioning in tandem, your brain can invent ideas that are both creative and useful. People who daydream often tend to be more productive and patient than those who do not.
4. Daydreams Can Help Keep Your Relationships Strong
Have you ever daydreamed about being with a family member or other loved one? Experts believe that daydreams like this can be beneficial for close relationships.
Because they allow you to experience the same positive feelings you would if a loved one were near. Daydreams involving other people are also thought to promote greater empathy and open-mindedness.
5. Daydreams Help You Reach Goals
Another benefit of daydreaming may surprise you: It can help you more effectively achieve goals. This is especially true of “structured daydreaming,” which entails daydreaming of your goal and the necessary steps for getting there.
This method is often used in the sports world. Athletes daydream about their victory, which ultimately helps them make that victory a reality through planning.
Additionally, the “fantasy” element can make your goal seem even more enticing. This, in turn, can give you more drive and motivation to make it happen.
6. Daydreaming May Improve Your Working Memory
Research from 2012 suggests a correlation between daydreaming and working memory. In particular, people who daydream more often tend to have stronger working memories than those who daydream less often.
“Working memory” refers to one’s ability to remember something when distractions are present. Daydreaming may help with this because it encourages interaction between the creative and decision-making brain regions. As such, daydreamers may have more fluid thought processes.
In the End
You now know more about what daydreaming is and how it benefits you. Daydreaming works to support a healthy lifestyle, from helping you manage anxiety to improving your memory and creativity.
How often do you daydream? And which of the benefits listed above resonate most with you? We’ve got even more helpful info on sleep health like fever dreams!
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