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To Sleep Perchance To Dream


I’ve been sleeping a lot lately. Well, actually I haven’t. It just seems that way. If I count the number of hours sleep I get a day it would total about 7, give or take. I don’t sleep all at once – waking up every few hours for a drink. In fact the last time I slept for a solid 8 hours without waking up would be around 10 years ago (remember the band ‘Right Said Fred’, whatever happened to them?). People who complain about getting broken sleep should live with my sleep patterns and see how they get on! Anyway, that’s not my point.

I go to bed around 12.30am (and read National Geographic magazine for a while if you must know) and get up in the morning about 7am – I didn’t say wake up because it takes my eyes a while before I can actually see out of them. But since I’ve started upping my exercise regime (I’ll be damned if I’m going to become a flabby late-20-something) I’ve been falling asleep on my sofa for a nap in the early evening. This was something I thought I’d left behind when I was at school (when you’re growing you really do need loads of sleep – teenagers aren’t just lazy, their bodies do need more rest). I’ve always found it a disorienting experience. One minute it’s daylight outside and the next I wake up and it’s pitch black. For a few moments I have no idea where I am, what I’m doing there and what the hell is going on. Then it comes back to me and I feel even more tired than I was before I laid down.

But with all this perceived sleeping I’ve been doing quite a lot of dreaming. I’ve mentioned how bizarre my dreams are before (the first paragraph) and sometimes they can confuse the hell out of me. I don’t know about you but my dreams can be so realistic that at a later point I can get confused as to whether a situation I’m remembering has actually happened or I just dreamed it. My memory is hazy enough (misspent youth and mobile phones) about real events without clouding it with realistic dreams.

Another strange thing that happens in my dreams is to do with emotions. I’ve had a few dreams where I’ve cheated on my girlfriend and, in the dream, I feel sooooo guilty and terrible that I can hardly take it. I wake up and the feelings are gone (obviously because it never happened), but the memory of them is very real. Maybe my subconscious is punishing me for looking at other women or something (just joking kid!). I’ve even had a dream where I was crying like a bridesmaid at a wedding and when I woke up my eyes were wet as I really had been crying. But the weird thing was that the emotion I had felt in the dream had gone, so there I was with tears running down my cheeks felling great and looking forward to a sunny day. I almost laughed. I guess you’d have to have been there…

Another curious thing is recurring dreams. I do genuinely get the one where I turn up to an exam without having attended any classes during the year (and thus feel the panic of not being prepared) from time to time – and I will note that I have at least remembered to change out of my pyjamas. In fact, that one came true at University (the exam one, not the pyjama one). I attended one lecture in Operations Management all year and, when it came time for the final exam, I just didn’t answer the management question. Problem solved.

But for years I’ve had not a recurring dream but a recurring person in my dreams. It’s a girl and she pops up now and then in different circumstances with no general pattern. I’ve had a good look at her in a couple of dreams and I definitely don’t recognise her from the real world. Who is she? Why does she appear in some of my dreams? No idea. I actually asked her who she was in a dream once (did I mention that I sometimes have lucid dreams? You know, where you are actually awake inside a dream) and she just smiled and walked away. It kinda freaks me out when I wake up and realise it was her again. Like when you wander around and keep seeing the same person in the corner of your eye following you around… Maybe she’s a subconscious stalker. You think there are laws against that? Unlikely.

I suppose the strangest thing about dreams (for me) is that they are perceptually no different from reality. When you see somebody you know and have a conversation with them, that’s not what’s really happening. Your brain is actually taking the outside world and rendering it for you to interact with. If you’re standing in a noisy crowd you can’t really hone in on any voice or conversation in particular, it just sounds like a rabble. But if someone says your name you hear it instantly. The thing is, your brain is listening to all the chatter around you but until it hears your name it doesn’t bother to relay the conversations to you. It filters out everything without you ever realising it. Your brain chooses what it wants you to be aware of. Scary.

So reality is a bit like virtual reality in a way. And when you’re having a vivid dream, your brain is just sending you the same signals it would in the normal world, so to you it’s real even though it’s not. So my question is this. When I’m not sure if I’ve dreamed something or actually experienced it, how can I really know for sure which is which? And if you tell me which is which, how do I know that you’re not just a part of the dream?

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Creator of John's Background Switcher. Scotsman, footballer, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

11 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Quite reassuring to find I’m not the only one to get vivid and real dreams. Mine have varied from the romantic rambles to being taken to hell and wading through molten rock, and they all seem to be real, I can usually interact with whoever’s in the the dream and I usually forget the dream within 10 minutes of waking. More recent dreams have been warnings – the ones about exams are common for everyone (no monopoly on that john I’m afraid) and usually tell you to buck your ideas up on something before it’s too late. Another one I’ve had is to do with teeth crumbling to nothing…. that was strange as they just turned to black mush whilst eating. Maybe my subconscious is telling me, a confirmed dentaphobic since the age of 4 when I was butchered in Pinder’s dentists in Clitheroe, to go get my pegs seen to? The most disturbing one was where I was followed home by a long haired guy on a Harley…. that ended up being like a Clive Barker movie. I remember being in a queue on a cave, and being taken to what seemed to be hell, seeing all manner of cruel and unusual torture and unspeakable pain. The details are hazy now, but hell is a hot place and my body responded in kind – as you can guess, when I woke (abruptly) I was sweating more than a lardy American running a marathon in a sauna – luckily it’s a double bed (and I’d only been in 1 half) so there was somewhere dry to go. Don’t think I slept after that though and the light stayed on…. Strange things dreams I agree. I think it’s our way of running through scenarios and coming up with plans in our subconscious mind. How many times have you been really stuck on something at work – nothing you do works no matter how hard you try. Then the next day and idea comes from nowhere…. What’s changed??? You suddenly get brighter? NO – you’ve slept and solved it in your dreams.


  2. I’ve had the teeth-crumbling dream, too, only they didn’t turn to black mush, they just started crumbling like chalk and falling out of my mouth. I’d totally forgotten about that. The most frequent recurring theme in my dream is about riding an elevator that travels in all directions, always leading me to some insanely deep indoor pool. I don’t have lucid dreams, exactly, but in every dream about the elevators I think, “Oh great, I’m back here” and realize it’s a dream. In one dream I began to list all of the places that I’ve entered the elevator in other dreams. I’ve been dreaming about this elevator/water combo since I was very young and it always freaks me out when it comes back, though there’s nothing frightening about it in the slightest. It’s just too familiar for a dream, I guess…maybe my mind is telling me I have no imagination and I have to recycle ideas, even for my dreams? Dunno.


  3. I dont have any problems at all. I just dream about being a Winner and when I wake up, I find it’s all true!!


  4. What the pork one meant to say was….. He dreams about being a winner, and wakes up to find his life is a nightmare


  5. I generally don’t dream (that I remember anyway) but the other night I did dream that I was being stalked by Madonna. Interpret that one!


  6. “For example, if the dreamer is doing something hurtful to himself or has a bad habit or addiction, the stalker in the dream may represent that negative part of the dreamer’s personality or life.” This worries me, as the only thing I can think of that Madonna might represent is too much sex with strange men. 🙂 Last night Andy woke up saying, “I need to check my email, I have some important data coming…documentation…” Easy enough to interpret, eh?


  7. My dreams are completely mad at the moment,maybe I should script them and hawk them around hollywood, now there’s an idea…lol I used to b able to control lucid dreams as in decide whilst I was awake what I wished to dream about, I spent most of my sleeping time flying without wings, (doh) super cool and you wake up feeling on top of the world, my medication seems to kill that ability. Nice site…never heard of citydesk though, any good?, I’m migrating to my own domain sometime this week and am undecided which blog tool to use.


  8. I’m sure your dreams make more sense than a lot of Hollywood blockbusters I could mention… CityDesk is pretty good at what it does. It’s not specifically designed for blogging and you have to write all the templates yourself. It’s also not free. I like it and I enjoyed rolling my sleeves up to create the site but it might not be to everyone’s tastes (there is a free version you can try to see what you think). Having said that, if I hadn’t bought it I’d probably have used something like Movable Type.


  9. Thank’s, I have been looking at movable type and may use it but I shall give greymatter a go first as it has similiar features but is supposedly slighty easier to tailor to one’s needs.


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