Have you ever wondered if you read in your dreams? Do you think about the words on a page or hear them when nothing else can? Reading dream is an interesting phenomenon but it is hardly addressed.
There are many reasons we might read in our dreams, but it’s not just about why we do it — there’s also the question of how (and if) we remember what we read at night.
Some scientists say it’s impossible to read in dreams. Some scientists are also not devoted, book nerds. Let’s get to dream reading!
Reading in a Dream
When we dream, the part of the brain responsible for logic and intellect shuts down, allowing us to accept bizarre dream content as reality while impairing our ability to interpret letters and numbers.
Indeed, trying to read something and failing to do so is considered one of the sure signs that you’re dreaming (a few others are not being able to read clocks, one of the reasons why there are so many clocks in surrealist paintings, distortion in everyday patterns like brickwork or wallpaper, and not being able to see yourself in a mirror, you either won’t look like yourself or your face will be blurry).
However, there may be ways to get around and read in your dreams! The key is lucid dreaming, which is when you are aware that you are dreaming. Lucid dreams are extremely vivid and allow you to control objects in the dream or use them to solve real-world problems.
While the logic part of the brain isn’t as active as it is when we’re awake, it is activated, so letters and numbers can be understood.
Elliot mentioned a friend who would induce lucid dreaming so he could study while sleeping in a recent episode of Mr. Robot. Elliot induced his own lucid dream by chanting, “Body asleep, mind awake,” but it’s not that simple in reality.
You can buy fancy gadgets like the iBand, a headband that detects REM sleep by reading your eye movements and then flashes lights and plays music. In theory, the lights and music should enter your dreams and help you realize you’re dreaming. The much easier way is to simply practice.
How to Prepare for Lucid Dreaming
According to some scientists, the best way to prepare for lucid dreaming is to start testing yourself for signs of dreaming while you’re awake. Are you having a dream right now? No, you can’t be because you’re reading this (though you should look away from the screen and back to make sure the words haven’t shifted).
Create a series of habitual tests, such as reading, looking at your palms (if they’re lined, you’re awake; if they’re smooth or disfigured, you’re dreaming), and observing who’s around you. You might be dreaming if you’re with strangers; if you’re with people you know are dead, you’re DEFINITELY dreaming.
Once you realize you’re dreaming, you can bend “reality” to your will, and you should be able to dream-read if you want to (though there’s no guarantee what you’re reading will make sense it probably won’t).
Reading a real-life book would still be impossible unless it was memorized or an audiobook was playing in the background (that iBand gadget suddenly got a lot more useful). Even so, the text may not “behave” like a real book. Confusing?
Not at all. Simply put, because your eyes are closed, you cannot read real-life books in your dreams. The text you are reading in your dream is a projection of your subconscious. It may make sense in the dream, but it is not true in reality.
Because you can’t learn new information while sleeping, Elliot’s friend’s theory of using lucid dreaming to study wouldn’t work if he hadn’t started studying yet.
However, if he had already studied, he COULD use lucid dreaming to reinforce his waking memories and better recall the information upon waking (just FYI, absorbing new information from unread books while sleeping is called osmosis and is more of a psychic skill than a neurological one-though both are very useful!).
So, how about you? Have you ever read in your dreams or studied using lucid dreaming? Is this a nightmare? I think I should go check my reflection.