Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dreaming Versus Sleeping

When I tell people about my dreams, they always respond that I'm extremely lucky and they envy me. Because my dreams are vivid, colorful, complex, and very real. There are, for example, "adventure dreams" with very convoluted plots and stunning special effects. If you have seen the movie Inception, you have an idea what my adventure dreams look like.

There are also "experience dreams" where I experience things I never do in real life. Do you know what it feels to have an airplane fall on your head? I kind of do because this is one of my most frequent dreams. I also have been struck by a lightning (it really hurts, too), shot, and thrown out of a window. I have traveled in outer space and climbed a volcano.

Then there are "artistic dreams." I would hear a symphony orchestra music or an opera in the dream. And I'd really hear them. The sound quality is always great.

I also have "colorful dreams." Sometimes in such dreams, I would see amazing, complex fireworks that would cover the night sky. Or I'd see everything around me appear in a breathtakingly beautiful, sparkly color that doesn't exist in nature.

There are food dreams, as well. Tonight, for example, I stuffed myself with crab soufflés while I slept. The funny thing is that I always really feel the taste of what I'm eating. I don't like desserts but in my dreams I end up in pastry shops or chocolate factories more often than not. Maybe the reason why I'm indifferent to desserts in real life is that I eat too many of them while I sleep.

Having such an active dream life is quite a burden. Sometimes, you just want to rest instead of participating in car chases, bank robberies and chocolate tastings. I'd like to have at least a couple of nights a week when I have no dreams at all. I don't remember a single dream-free night, though. 

Does anybody have any idea why this happens to me at all? 


Rimi said...

If somebody did I'd like to know too. I have an almost identical dreamscape to Clarissa's, plus the dreams which are an extension of my real world. Last night I dreamt of a perfectly normal afternoon at work, nothing odd happened but I remember the witticisms exchanges, projects discussed, names of books taken out of the library to reference analysis, and what everyone said to me and to each other. And I have been having these 'reality' dreams for a week now.

But I've never had an aeroplane fall on my head. I have pushed an unconscious child in a wheelbarrow as we ran away from a dinosaur, though. I stumbled over a root, fell, ad woke up in a cold sweat.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else read in their dreams?

I read books in my dreams. In one dream, I was reading a book but in the dream I recalled that I'd read that it was impossible to read in dreams, so the letters started crawling around the page like ants.

That was only one time, though. I still read fairly frequently in my dreams, usually books that don't actually exist.


Clarissa said...

I try to read in my sleep but the books are usually completely jumbled and make no sense.

I haven't seen any dinosaurs either. Yet.

IS said...

My idea of why this happens to you is, you have so many things you want to do, experience, be it spills over into your dream life.
Are you aware you are dreaming in your dreams? If so, you could change the dream scenario to your idea of what is the best or most restful or most decadent night's sleep for you. At least a few nights a week. Or a few hours a night.
Or you could suggest to yourself you have less burdensome and more fun dreams. Endless scenarios.
They are your constructions.
I am partial to the fun and sex dreams myself. I am going to try for an aurora borealis dream tonight.
Thanks for the flash of inspiration.

Erika said...

Huh... I wish I could have such vivid dreams. At least, more often. I hardly ever remember mine, however, I do remember having one where the earth started to implode and I was abducted by aliens, then executed by being electrocuted. This dream was my most vivid to date.

Pagan Topologist said...

My impression is that everyone has such dreams, but most of us usually do not remember them. Having recall of dreams has alwys struck me as wonderful. I only rarely recall mine, but when I do, they fit your description quite well.

Rimi said...

Mike and Clarissa: I read quite frequently in my dream, and have written in my dream as well. A few (about three) of my older posts on my now-dead blog first came to me in a dream. I also once dreamt I was reading a Hercule Poirot-meets-Miss Marple novel.

It was brilliant, and parts of the action took place in North-West Africa and parts in France, and the two detectives took the opportunity to go sun themselves in south of France at other people's expense, while the police sent hapless souls to Africa. They sat in sundecks and ate excellent meals (I read details of some meals as well) and solved the problem while the police were still scrambling about in Africa. Most delicious dream.

Marcia said...

Dreams can be ways of acting out activities that you are curious about but wouldn't want to perform in waking life. Freud said that this was an example of wish fulfillment.

Mark Solms, a modern neuroscientist, expanded on this by saying that when we dream, we release dopamine, and dopamine is what makes us want to do things/reach our goals. At the same time, the part of your brain that turns our thoughts into actions is turned off when you sleep. This prevents you from harming yourself.

There is more information about this at

Another theory is that we dream about scary, dangerous things so we can be prepared for dangerous situations in waking life.


Clarissa said...

I guess I should be fully prepared for an airplane falling on my head. :-)

Pagan Topologist said...

A 747 or something smaller like a Cessna 152?

Clarissa said...

I've had all kinds over the years. :-)

Pagan Topologist said...

OK, then I extend my good wishes in the form of saying this: I hope these dreams about airplanes are not the prophetic kind which come true.

Shedding Khawatir said...

I too have always thought that everyone dreamed like this if they just remembered their dreams. My most recent dream involved solving a murder mystery in a South Pacific Island where the crucial clue was tracing a few words of local dialect back to Persian (which I don't speak, nor do I know any South Pacific dialects), and the one before that involved giant killer stinkbugs that eventually turned on each other and made a terrible crunching sound when they ate each other's insides out. Then again, I have been known to assume that many things related to the imagination were universal when they are not, so I guess I'm wrong about the dreamscapes too!