Sunday, December 8, 2013

On Dreaming: Micro-Dreams

Crim replied to my earlier text that she wasn't doing much during the week with her family for thanksgiving, except on the day of. I read it, promising myself to reply in the morning; I was just too tired now.
 - Dream, night of November 24 to morning of November 25

Dreams don't have to be long, drawn out adventures. Sure, that's what most people seem to write about, but that's because it's easier to write about those. What I like to consider micro-dreams are sometimes mistaken for hallucinations.

There's no actual length limit in either direction for a dream. Because they exist entirely in the space between our ears, they can run at an accelerated pace, where weeks or more can seem pass inside the duration of the dream, or it can go the other way. You can have a short dream, one that felt only a few minutes have passed, and yet several hours or your entire sleep period have dissipated.

For me, micro-dreams tend to occur most often when I'm very tired but having trouble getting comfortable in bed. My eyes will be very heavy, and I'll be snatching short bursts of sleep in between tossing and turning: a few minutes to an hour here or there.

My micro-dreams are usually about someone sending me a text, or an email, or me interacting with my cell phone in some way. I sleep with it literally underneath my pillow at night and often pull it out if I'm having difficulty sleeping, so it is very easy to mistake these short fictions for truths, and they usually do feel considerably more realistic than my more drawn out dreams.

Recall is usually very near perfect, but I attribute this to the fact that there aren't many details to remember, no excessive storyline. Mico-dreams are usually very simple and to the point, like the one above.

Since vividity is so incredibly high, it's very difficult to discover that I am indeed dreaming while the dream is still going on. It is only when I wake that I start to notice small details that would have given it away if the dream had been longer. For example, for Crim's text messages, even though she's in my address book, it still shows her phone number (which is unusual for many smartphones); during the dream, where her number should have been, was "@@". The unlikelihood of that symbol appearing in that setting, especially doubled up, is significant, but because the dream only lasted a few minutes at best, I didn't have the opportunity to remark on it.

As a child, and into my early teens, I often had somewhat longer "mini"-dreams that were comprised of me turning off my alarm clock in the morning, getting up, and starting my morning routine. I'd usually make it to the stairs before I found myself jolted awake by none other than the sound of my alarm clock going off. These dreams were particularly and disturbingly precise such that the clothing options in my drawers were identical, and my choices were identical. It wasn't until I started studying dreaming in high school that these started to become less frequent and eventually go away altogether.

Note that while micro-dreams can be confusing, disturbing, and disorienting, they are very different from hallucinations, which occur exclusively while awake. I recognize that it can be very difficult to confuse the two, especially if you haven't experienced both, independently and firsthand.