Saturday, March 15, 2008

Nested Dreams

I have always found dreaming a fascinating subject. I think dream research is key to unlocking data about consciousness. However, it is one of those areas of research where there is a very low signal to noise ratio.

In the past year I have had a very vivid class of dream that I don't recall ever experiencing earlier in my life. I don't know if there is a technical term for it but I call it a "nested dream". This is a dream that I apparently wake up from, retrospect about the dream but am, in fact, waking up into another dream. I am not talking about simply transitioning from one dream to another but actual dreaming, dreaming about waking up from that dream, things occurring in the new "dream stack frame", and then ultimately really waking up and remembering details from both frames.

I use the notion of a stack loosely since there is no remembrance of pushing down from dream 1 to dream 2 but rather there is the remembrance of popping out of 2 and into 1.

Has anyone experienced a similar kind of dream?

11 comments:

Doug said...

Not sure if this answers The Nested Dream.

It is yet another great TED talk.

http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/229

Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened -- as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding -- she studied and remembered every moment. This is a powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another.

Sal Mangano said...

That was interesting. Thanks for sharing. Perhaps each of my hemispheres was having its own dream and the left woke up first to comment about what the right hemisphere was dreaming!

Greta said...

Thank you for posting this. I have been trying to explain to those around me the experience I have recently been having while sleeping and most thought I was just crazy or making it up.

I too have been experiencing "nested dreaming" and will often move back and forth between the two parts - I.E. in my dream I am laying on a couch drifting in and out of sleep where I am drifting in and out of a second dream only I am completely unaware that sleeping on the couch isn't my actual reality... I will wake several hours later and realize that at some point in the night I moved from the couch to my bed.

The part that has been the hardest for me about these "nested dreams" is that there seems to be some message that is trying to be communicated to me - usually the dream inside of a dream evokes EXTREMELY high emotion - but the things waking me up (figuratively) are keeping me from hearing the full message...

RetailMalee said...

You seem 2 b talking about Linked list of dreams rather than Stack. If you are a techie, you will know wat I mean. BTW its 2 years since yer post. Howz ur dream worx?

rkjha said...

Yeah!! I also feel this type of nested dreams some times a week(Specially when I sleep much)..and in general the depth is 2 but some times I experienced nested dreams of order 3...
Thanks...

Anonymous said...

i have horrible "nested" (if thats the term) dreams. i actually just woke up from one and got so sick of these that i decided i would try to research them. they usually happen when i'm not even having a nightmare. I was having a weird dream might i say, i dreamnt that i was controlling my life throught the computer (like the game the sims) and i was driving home from work and kept getting into car accidents and then my house caught on fire. and then suddenly the house was back and some old lady was walking around speaking a language i couldnt understand and i kept thinking "I thought everything burned down." this was about the time that i believe my dog started howling bc i heard it outside of the dream. i mean i dont know maybe i did dream the howl, but it heard it outside the dream. and i very slowly started to wake up. and when i couldnt wake up instantly panic and fear struck me so bad. i couldnt get my light to turn on and thats when i knew i was still dreaming. I tried to scream, try to move my head back and forth rapidly and kept trying to turn the light on to wake up fully. i felt paralyzed. when i finally fully woke up from this dream within a dream i felt extremley paniced and terrified. and now i realize how long this post is. sorry about that. haha. i just thought i would share my experiences bc most people don't really understand what it's like when that happens. and writing it out made me not as scared anymore. like i said i just woke up from this!

starstruck09 said...

It was just last night that I experienced nested dreaming, and I immediately started searching stuff on net and came across this blog. You have mentioned that you don't remember the inner dream, but interestingly, I do remember the inner dream happenings.
In that dream, I knew I was dreaming, and as I had been doing from my childhood, I used a simple technique that has always helped me from getting out of a lucid dream, that is, closing my eyes in the dream, and when I open them,, I am out of the dream.. Sometimes I have to try closing and opening my eyes 3- 4 times until I finally come out.
In this case, I came out of the dream, but I thought I came out in the reality, until I woke up from this 1st level dream in the true reality!

Anonymous said...

Nested dreams have happened for over 10 years to me from four times per week to once a month. It's almost always the same scenario.
I'm sleeping, dreaming. I hear noises outside my door and slowly realize somebody broke in the apartment. I reach for the nightstand light, but the bulb has burned out. I get out of bed, reach for the bedroom light switch, but the light bulb's also burned out. The intruders are getting closer and closer. They're very noisy. Suddenly, I tell myself "no way this is real. It's a dream. Wake up". And I do wake up. Everything is fine. Then I hear my dogs run to the front door. It seems they spotted an intruder. Somehow, it's much scarier than in the dream, because more insidious. I get out of bed, turn on the lights. I walk to the front door, and on the way, things begin to look uncanny (furniture out of place, doors missing, I'm actually in an old house or apartment I lived in years ago, etc...). A horrifying feeling takes over me: the house is under siege and the culprit has shot my dogs. Things go on getting weirder and weirder for a few seconds. Until I again tell myself "no way this is real. it's a dream. wake up". And then begins the long and difficult process of waking myself up (for real this time). I usually will reach for my leg and pinch it (but it's incredibly difficult to make simple motion when you're asleep), or I breathe very heavily until it wakes me up. Then I truly wake up to reality. If I go right back to sleep within the following 5 minutes, it starts all over again, except if I leave the lights on.
It begs the question: what is reality?

yourname here said...

Yes my whole life just woke up from one on here trying to figure out how to wake up from them they suck. They're not interesting or anything like that. They're unsettling and disturbing. You don't get rest when you sleep and you become an insomniac because you start to fear sleeping. It's 3 a.m and instead of trying to figure out how to get to sleep I'm trying to figure out how to maintain composure when I am and how to wake up once it becomes unbearable.

Snehal said...

I see nested dreams once in 2-3 months regularly. Today itself this happened to me.And in the last dream I knew that I was dreaming and tried to modify it to enjoy! (I usually do that!) Unfortunately I woke up in reality soon.

Snehal said...

Today I saw a nested dreams again. This happens to me regularly. In the last dream I realized that I am still dreaming. And then for enjoyment I started modifying it. But unfortunately I woke up in reality because my mom was coughing in reality.