Eli5: What is the difference between sleeping/lucid dreaming and just laying still and letting your thoughts wander


I know that it’s got something to do with your subconscious, but why does sleeping and dreaming, even lucid dreaming where one is absolutely aware and “conscious” provide me with rest and happy feelings and just laying awake but with closed eyes and just letting your thoughts wander for several hours always leaves me tired and sad? Even if I reach a sort of state where my wandering thought get weird and random and are clearly influenced by my subconscious.
Where is the difference?
Is it really just the deep sleep phases that give me rest? Are REM phases even necessary then?

(Yes I have trouble sleeping sometimes. Yes I know the reason. Yes my doctor knows. Please do not comment on that or give advice with that. I really just want an answer to my question.)

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There are no conclusive results to most of the questions you asked. As studying human brain is both incredibly complicated and hard to do research on.

What we do know Is baisically humans have two main sleep modes REM and Deep sleep.

Deep sleep is mostly there for bodily healing and stuff.

REM sleep is hypothesized as a function that lets your brain rearrange itself to function better.

Leaning of skills both physical and mental benifit greatly from REM sleep. As well as alertness and quick thinking ability recovers after REM sleep.

There are popular sleep schedules that maximizes for REM sleep where people sleep multiple times a day but for a total of less sleep time. Thoes often are used by cultures in eastern cultures and farmers / monks.

Extreme dream like drifting thought is actually what meditation is. Atleast in the eastern buddist, taoost, and modern stuft. This kind of meditation is in common touted as healing for the spirit and mind, mood and heals some ailments. So this lines up almost perfectly with what REM sleep is.

So REM is rest and healing for your brain.
Deep sleep is rest and healing for your body.