What Type of Dreams are These?

by Kevin via Email

I'm looking to define the specific types of dreams I'm having. I call them "beyond a lucid dream" or "a second reality" or "the Matrix". In my dreams, I possess all 5 of my senses, and there's a very small chance that what happens in the dream will physically affect me. Yet I have no ability to control the dream outside of normal interactions as if it were the real world. I'm sure it isn't sleepwalking. Is there a specific name for these kinds of dreams, or do I possess some kind of unusual power?

Rebecca Casale

Rebecca says: Great question. This is one of those weird things that happen on the sleep-wake border (and when you're lucid dreaming, you're much closer to that border than usual, because you are highly conscious).

These are lucid dreams, I believe, because you possess all five senses and have heightened self-awareness. You don't have to be in full control of a dream to call it a lucid dream. In fact, the word "lucid" just means clarity - ie of the senses. It doesn't imply dream control, that's just the most appealing nature of lucid dreaming for beginners; the novelty of being able to do anything. (It IS a novelty, and there is much more to explore beyond this, when you starting going deeper, and letting the dream show you things you could never create consciously.)

Sometimes when I do something in a lucid dream, my physical body does it too. Like you say, it's not sleepwalking (the movements are too small, and anyway, most sleepwalking occurs in the non-dreaming or non-REM stages of sleep).

For instance, if I close and then re-open my eyes in a lucid dream, I do the same in real life. Sometimes this causes me to wake up altogether, or sometimes I can see into my bedroom for a few seconds then close my eyes again and be back in the lucid dream. I am vaguely aware that my body is paralyzed at this point - if the sleep paralysis wears off, I usually wake up.

I've also had larger non-lucid dream movements affecting my physical body. When I was a teenager I worked on a supermarket checkout. Whenever I was stressed, I had these endless semi-conscious nightmares where I did the repetitive movement of scanning endless items of food on the checkout. Eventually I woke up to see I had been doing the same movements in my bed.

It also works the other way around too - where you incorporate external sensory information into your dream. For instance, if I wear a lucid dream mask to sleep, I end up dreaming that I'm wearing it. My first cue to become lucid is "Hang on, why can I see through this mask? I must be dreaming!" (For the record, I'm not really an advocate of lucid dream masks as there are cheaper and easier ways to have lucid dreams. But I did experiment with a lot of different tools and techniques to make this website, including lucid dream trigger masks.)

Anyway I hope that answers your question. There is a complex relationship between the brain and body during sleep; each speaking their own language and working off cues from the other. Sometimes things get mixed up, and the brain processes signals as if we're awake. This is most common when lucid dreaming, but nothing to be afraid of or worry about.

About The Author

About The Author

Rebecca Casale is a lucid dreamer and a science writer with a special interest in biology and the brain. She is the founder of World of Lucid Dreaming and Science Me.