How can you dream before you even fall asleep properly?

(74 Posts)

Having loads and loads of memorable dreams at the moment, many of them frankly bonkers. I thought dreams occurred during REM and that REM was during deep sleep. So how come my dreams are starting before I think I'm even asleep?

LynetteScavo Sat 07-Sep-13 16:40:50

I have no idea, but it happens to me too. How can I be dreaming, and still conscious? confused

I once started hysterically laughing at a dream, I'd been lain down for no more than a minute confused DH was rolling round the bed laughing

kissmyshineymetalass Sat 07-Sep-13 16:58:56

It's called lucid dreaming I think

Cakebitch Sat 07-Sep-13 17:14:56

I get it. my thoughts slow down, and then go a bit bendy.. kind of like when you are looking at one of those fairground mirrors. i know im still awake, but all these strange random snippets of pictures and scenarios are going through my brain. odd.

bittenipples Sat 07-Sep-13 17:19:17

I thought REM was during the light sleep phase? It's when your eyes move around, during deep sleep, you don't dream or move your eyes? Could be wrong though. smile

Just done a quick bit of reading at it seems that REM is the 5th stage. Which is extra odd!

alcibiades Sat 07-Sep-13 17:47:15
Hereshecomesnowsayingyoniyoni Sat 07-Sep-13 17:48:29

That's happened to me too

It's so weird confused

Hereshecomesnowsayingyoniyoni Sat 07-Sep-13 17:58:44

One night my dh told me that I'd shouted out 'raspberry milk shakes all round' I'd only just closed my eyes and I don't even like milkshakes

alcibiades Sat 07-Sep-13 19:08:11

Just to add, after posting that link above:

I used to get something similar many years ago. And they would happen as I was falling asleep. Mostly they were auditory - like snippets of conversations that had nothing to do with me. It was as though someone was turning the tuning dial on a radio that had only English-language stations; or as though I was walking down a long corridor in an office building and hearing bits of conversations from each office as I passed by. Occasionally, there would be a visual element - usually a face of someone I definitely knew I had never seen before.

It all got a bit scary, hence I did some research on the internet and discovered hypnogogic hallucinations - which occur on transitioning from awake to asleep, rather than in REM sleep.

I don't get them these days, but that maybe because I always fall asleep listening to audiobooks on my iPod - which I started using when I was having problems with insomnia.

PrincessRomy Sat 07-Sep-13 19:10:10

I get it and sometimes will dream eg that I've bumped into someone when walking past them and I get a big physical 'jolty' feeling, like I've fallen into the bed from a height if that makes sense. Does anybody else get this?

FinallySaidMama Sat 07-Sep-13 19:26:39

Princess Yes, every night! I think it's called a myoconic jerk.

livinginwonderland Sat 07-Sep-13 19:29:07

I get them pretty much every night. This morning DP got up, I checked the time, had a "dream" and checked the time again and four minutes had passed. It was so weird. I was "dreaming" but I could hear DP moving around and doing stuff, but I couldn't snap out of it. It was so odd.

FinallySaidMama Sat 07-Sep-13 19:30:10

Ahh, a type of myocLonic jerk called a Hypnic jerk I'm sure an ex colleague (doctor) told me it was caused by ectopic (extra) heartbeat. Anyway, it's blummin' freaky grin

HappyGoLuckyGirl Sat 07-Sep-13 19:37:23

Isn't there a theory that jerk thing is an evolutionary trait we haven't grown out of yet? As monkeys we user to sleep in trees at height and the jerk thing was to stop us falling out and dying.

Something like that.

MakeHayIsAWhaleNow Sat 07-Sep-13 19:40:15

I used to hallucinate quite regularly just before falling asleep - I'd see a child crouched by my bed, who'd be there even if I sat up and looked right at them. I haven't had it since having my own....

MakeHayIsAWhaleNow Sat 07-Sep-13 19:41:26

I always thought that jerk was actually your heart stopping because you relaxed a little too much, and the jerk was your brain restarting it..... The human body is an amazing thing!

Kelziz Sat 07-Sep-13 19:41:37

It's hypnagogia when you're falling asleep, and hypnopompia when your waking up. It can dark and unsettling on some occasions and just odd on others, but it's harmless and quite common. Happens to me when I'm tired or stressed but can happen anytime.

The only dreams I have any recollection of are the ones that happen just as I'm falling asleep or waking up.
I have been known to have falling asleep dreams when "resting my eyes" for a moment or two during the day - which can be peculiar when I can't quite remember what is real and what is dream (I do specialise in dreams which are remarkably mundane most of the time).

Not sure alci, that seems to be more sensations based.

Tweenangst Sat 07-Sep-13 19:52:52

Dreams are freaky. I have horrible ones when I have a fan on at night.

furfoxsake Sat 07-Sep-13 19:54:04

I have that too and wondered the exact same thing.
I'm VERY sleep deprived at the mo so I don't know if its linked. If I'm struggling to get back to sleep at say 4am I will lay there for 2 hours feeling awake but dreaming at the same time til 6am. I'm constantly knackered!

Should have refreshed the page! I get the jerk thing sometimes.
Also used to get a 'demon' sitting on my bed. I'd be able to see the room but feel the weight and sensation and have complete sleep paralysis. Ugh, terrifying.

Did a bit of sleep walking last week and asked dh some very odd questions until I woke up very confused standing by the bed.

thenightsky Sat 07-Sep-13 19:56:18

I find if i get sleep deprived I dream before my body is as asleep as my mind if that makes sense.

I do sleep walk though at times like this and have woken up in hotel corridors and inside hotel wardrobes.

It's very complicated this sleep lark isn't it.

I guess perhaps its a sign that we need more sleep!

YoniBottsBumgina Sat 07-Sep-13 20:00:13

It's definitely not your heart stopping but could be something like a palpitation.

My mum is quite "woo" and reckons the jerk is when you come back into your body too fast because when we dream we "leave the physical body"

I stop dreaming entirely when I am very tired (which is quite often as I've been living on about 4 hours sleep most nights for the last 5 years).
Recently I've been working hard to improve my sleep hygiene and I'm finally getting blocks of several nights reasonable sleep at a time - the first thing that happens is my dreams return and I have an enormous sense of relief and contentment when I wake. I'm hoping it's enough incentive to break the insomnia cycle.

DollySisterDoesntLikeHerDiet Sat 07-Sep-13 20:02:33

When I get those awake dreams I see pictures, but they're very small and surrounded by black, like I'm in a very dark cinema and the screen is far away. There's sound too. Usually I think 'That's odd, I'm not asleep yet' but then I'm fully awake again and the dream goes away.

YoniBottsBumgina Sat 07-Sep-13 20:03:33

Why does memorable mean you are conscious though? I almost always remember my dreams. They fade quickly though.

Sometimes have lucid dreams but usually when I'm in it I have absolutely no idea I am dreaming and even sometimes think "Oh crap, I've dreamed about this situation before and now it's come true!"

furfoxsake Sat 07-Sep-13 20:05:35

I find that I'm so shocked to be dreaming whilst still awake that it actually reverses the falling-asleep process and I have to start again. Goddamn you, sleep, you are my Everest!

VaultFullOfTwizzlers Sat 07-Sep-13 20:11:24

I get it too. Like the radio analogy. Mine are more visual so I am aware of being about to fall asleep, could open my eyes at any second but enjoying the utterly bonkers television programme my mind is creating.

DoItTooJulia Sat 07-Sep-13 20:11:32

OYBK do you have any other sleep issues?

Or cataplexy? My DB has narcolepsy and you have described a couple of his symptoms perfectly.

Also, re the Jerk thing apparently we jerk first and in a split second the brain invents a reason, like a trip or fall. So it actually happens the opposite way to the way it feels.....

I do have insomnia at times. At the moment I'm just dreadfully sleepy and yawny all the time. It's been a stressful and tiring time over the past few months and I think my body and brain are catching up with it all.

I don't get anything like suddenly falling asleep apart from when a passenger in the car, but I'be always been lulled to sleep in a car in an instant. I need a bed that rumbles!

Lazysuzanne Sat 07-Sep-13 20:38:32

I frequently have vivid hypnogogia, it can be a way to deliberately transition into lucid drreaming.
We all have dreams, not all of us remember them

DoItTooJulia Sat 07-Sep-13 20:39:21

Hmmm. DB also falls asleep in a car at the drop of hat.

If I was you I would see my GP and ask for a referral to a sleep clinic. Excessive daytime sleepiness is only part of the picture with narcolepsy.

I don't mean to scare you, but I think it's worth investigating if you continue to have sleep issues.

Hope you are ok

It's not normally this extreme, but if it continues I will do so. Thank you for the heads up smile

lottiegarbanzo Sat 07-Sep-13 20:57:14

I consider what you described in yout OP as entirely normal. I often dream during so-light-it's-hardly-sleep sleep if I nap in the day. Similarly when I'm waking up in the morning.

I know I'm going in and out of dreams and, if I've been really sleep-deprived and close my eyes in the day, I can feel the 'hallucinations' starting almost immediately. While I'm dreaming I don't know I am but I move in and out of dream-state so much, I'm very conscious it's happening, from the waking part.

I often incorporate things I'm hearing, so will embellish speech from the radio with fantasical back-story of characters and my involvement. Afterwards I know what the interview / disucssion was about and think 'oh, that was just another dull politician, not the embellished scenario I built around it', which I can remember, for a while.

lottiegarbanzo Sat 07-Sep-13 21:00:55

I suppose my dreams are never superimposed on reality so that I feel I'm hallucinating but awake, which is more what you're talking about isn't it. I never see anything 'woo', just have a very mixed experience of the same radio programme.

It is. I'm in the same room but with bizarre things happening. I'm sure it's just an overtired sign.

YoniBottsBumgina Sat 07-Sep-13 21:10:28

Oh yeah, I get that all the time, except my dreams are normally mundane with some things just slightly out of place so I will dream that I have had a conversation with DP and then he will come in and wake me up in RL and I will be confused because I can't remember if I've talked to him about that thing or not.

It is definitely an overtired thing though. They're called waking dreams.

oinktopus Sat 07-Sep-13 21:20:53

There are parts of the brain that are activated/deactivated upon moving between sleep and consciousness. For instance, the part which stops your muscles reacting to impulses in dreams. If it doesn't activate properly, you sleepwalk. Or you may feel like you're walking through custard in a dream because your legs are moving under the blankets. If it doesn't deactivate when you wake up, you have temporary sleep paralysis (which I've had - thought I'd had a stroke in the night. Terrifying).

Similarly, the part of the brain which allows you to dream needs activating and it can happen before unconsciousness. For me, with severe sleep problems, at least one day a month I'll have a full night of waking sleep, where my eyes are open, I'm conscious of the normal world, but the dream segment of my brain is also active. It's like having two conflicting voices in your head and they really do fight all night. It takes me a long time to come out of it in the morning (up to three hours) and I'm utterly drained, panic-stricken and very low.

LittleMissGerardButlerfan Sat 07-Sep-13 21:28:22

I have something where I am falling asleep but am still slightly awake, and will say something random thinking I'm having a conversation, but then I wake up again and my OH if he is still awake just looks at me! I can remember what I said but wasn't fully conscious when I said it if you know what I mean.

It's all fascinating!

YoniBottsBumgina Sat 07-Sep-13 22:10:22

Or you may feel like you're walking through custard in a dream because your legs are moving under the blankets.

Oh my god!! Is this really what is happening?! I get this ALL THE TIME and it's so frustrating, I'm like, FFS, WHY CAN'T I RUN?? Usually when I'm trying to run away from something terrifying as well and I just can't go anywhere. Usually I end up running backwards in the hope that somehow I can propel myself further with my knees that way or something.

thenightsky Sat 07-Sep-13 22:54:22

My DH snores like a bastard and if he has been bad for couple of nights, resulting in me getting 3 hours or less for 2 nights+, I have woken with my hands round his throat and sobbing 'no, no, no, just no, stop'.

It scares us both.

Empross76 Sun 08-Sep-13 12:38:17

I've found this thread really interesting!
I have what seems like loads of dreams every night, and I wake up exhausted. It feels like my brain hasn't rested properly, even though I've had a good amount of sleep.
And it takes me ages to come round and realise where I am and what day it is and that what has just been going through my head was just dreams.
Does anybody else get this?!

MakeHayIsAWhaleNow Sun 08-Sep-13 19:46:57

Empross yes! One very memorable time (slightly not really what the thread's about but similar) when I managed to fall asleep with my legs crossed - both legs also went to sleep and when I awoke with no feeling in my legs, in that in-between state, I was convinced I was paralysed! I even got out of bed and collapsed on the floor, hysterical! It was only when pins and needles kicked in that I realised....

I hate the not being able to run in dreams thing, so frustrating. Ds giggles in his sleep, which is unbelievably cute!

Blimey nightsky!!!!!

thenightsky Sun 08-Sep-13 21:21:46

MakeHay I've had the paralysis thing too... woke up with a cold hand pressed against my face and screamed the place down, only to find I'd fallen asleep with my own arm over the top of my head and my fingers against the opposite cheek grin

furfoxsake Mon 09-Sep-13 08:34:19

This might fall into the tmi category but does anyone else have an orgasm when they're in that semi-awake but dreaming state? I get it about once a fortnight and it happened this morning after the 3am feed hence why I'm posting it now.

It's so strange - I'm never sure if I had the orgasm, or if I just dreamt I had one, but I'm pretty sure it's real at the time!

oinktopus Mon 09-Sep-13 15:24:57

Yoni Pretty much. Because I've always had sleep problems, I took to filming myself while asleep to see if I could pick up on anything that would help. I'd had the running through custard dreams and noticed they didn't happen when my legs were clear of the blankets. I did, however, injure my feet by banging them into each other.

Also scary is how often I'd sit bolt upright and look straight at the camera despite thinking I'd had unbroken sleep.

I am a rubbish sleeper.

YoniBottsBumgina Mon 09-Sep-13 19:42:49

YY I get sleep orgasms. Usually when I'm just waking up. Or they wake me up. Either way.

I never actually get sex in my dreams though sad They just happen randomly - I remember once I was dreaming about buying pick n mix and it happened! If ever I dream about sex it's either remembering some sex that happened beforehand or it's a situation which I can tell is about to turn into sex but never gets to that stage.

Like last night I dreamt that I was pregnant but I had to tell my DP that it might be another man's child. He was devastated and broke up with me and then I realised that I couldn't actually remember whether the whole having sex with another man thing had actually happened or not and by the time I realised it hadn't it was too late and he thought I was making it up! sad

alcibiades Mon 09-Sep-13 20:37:25

I occasionally get sleep orgasms, too. And I also don't know whether they happen as I'm waking or whether they wake me up. But, I never recall any dreams associated with them.

I do occasionally have another dream phenomenon. Sometimes I wake up from a dream where I somehow know that the dream has become ridiculous. It's as though there's a logical bit of my brain that's monitoring my dreams, and steps in. It's a bit like the Colonel in Monty Python who used to walk into sketches and stop them because they were getting too silly. grin

I've mentioned elsewhere that I buy lecture-courses-on-DVD from a US company. They've got one on sleep, so I might get that next time I'm buying.

Edendance Mon 09-Sep-13 20:38:44

According to my sister (who's in the know of such things) it's self hypnotherapy- just a very very relaxed state of being which can being on dream- like feelings!

YoniBottsBumgina Mon 09-Sep-13 23:28:24

Alcibiades, I get that too! We must be dream twins grin usually when I'm asleep I don't realise I'm dreaming but then sometimes I will just suddenly think "Wait a minute, I should have just got shot but instead I was able to dodge right out of the way. Hey, I can control stuff! Ohhhhh, this is a dream, oh that's good, that means it doesn't matter if I..." and then as soon as I realise I'm dreaming I'm awake.

Apparently a good way to "teach yourself" to lucid dream (where you're aware you are dreaming and can control the dream) is to get into the habit of constantly checking you're awake, either by checking there is only one sun/moon in the sky, or looking at something like a clock face/digital display, looking away, then looking back to see if it changes illogically. If you are dreaming then you will see multiple moons/suns (if you're looking for them) and displays, clocks etc will wildly change from one viewing of them to the next even if it's a split second apart. Basically, get into the habit of checking something impossible isn't happening, and when you're dreaming you will repeat your usual habit but the impossible thing will happen because you are dreaming. Hence you are immediately alerted to the fact you are dreaming and then you can control the environment around you. The first few times you do it it usually wakes you up, though. I've always woken up a few minutes after seeing the impossibly changing clock or whatever though.

greenbananas Tue 10-Sep-13 00:19:07

Yes, ALWAYS look at the clock twice when you are awake, to check it says the same thing. This becomes a habit when you are asleep too - a useful trick that has saved me from many horrible nightmares!

I have very vivid and sometimes frightening dreams. Last night, I had a vile and confusing dream that went on for ages, and I went back to the same nasty dream even after I had rolled over to feed the baby - but eventually I realised I was dreaming and was able to control it - such a relief!!

Why do some of us get such weird dreams? Is it something to do with the way or brains are hardwired?

Thistledew Tue 10-Sep-13 07:27:36

I get all this too!

Dreams starting before I am properly asleep, especially if I am falling asleep on the train or similar.

Dreaming about the content of a tv or radio show if I fall asleep listening to it.

Lucid dreams. Dreams that I go straight back to even if I wake.

I would be interested to have my brain activity monitored whilst I am sleeping as I am never aware of not having been dreaming when I wake, even if I am woken suddenly from a deep sleep. I usually remember my dreams very clearly when I wake- probably not a whole 7 hrs worth but certainly enough for a couple of hours. I remember them for ages as well- some I remember clearly years later.

I also get this weird déjà vu type thing where a sight or sound I hear whilst awake triggers a flashback to a memory of a dream I have had.

I also have dreamscapes that I return to time and time again. It's not the same dream as different things always happen, but it is the same landscape. I once was berated by a shopkeeper who apparently owns a shop in my dreamscape, for not having visited more frequently! It was nothing to do with the scenario of the dream.

DH never ever remembers his dreams, although he says he is conscious of having dreamt. He listens to my explanations of my dreams with bemusement.

YoniBottsBumgina Tue 10-Sep-13 09:00:05

My dreams quite often reference each other although I never dream about the same place twice. But I might remember something that had happened in another dream but just think it had happened in real life.

Lazysuzanne Tue 10-Sep-13 10:40:35

I've had dreams about dreams, and dreams where I wake up into another dream.

Dreams can get very entertaining if you play close attention,but they are slippery and hard to control

I reckon we need a dreams topic in mn - there's enough in here to fuel one!

Lazysuzanne Tue 10-Sep-13 18:12:15

hmm, I dunno, it's an interesting subject in many ways, I spend quite alot of time recording my own dreams and thinking about what they refer to but I'd not want to subject anyone else to what'd seem like a boring load of nonsense!

alcibiades Tue 10-Sep-13 18:36:44

Kitten - maybe this thread could be moved over to the Science & Nature Club, or perhaps start a new thread there? Dreams are fascinating.

I'm not really sure why we have them - I know there's the hypothesis that they're a kind of filing system, and another hypothesis that it's the subconscious getting a word in because our conscious brain during the day is focussed on things like 'where the heck did I put my keys'. But there are also the dreams that don't seem to have any point to them at all.

Lazysuzanne Tue 10-Sep-13 19:03:25

there is no consensus on why we dream, whether they are useful in any way or to use Dan Dennetts phrase 'evolutionary spandrels'

I favour a mystical interpretation

Will ask mn if it can be moved alci smile

JulieMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 12-Sep-13 13:56:13


We've been asked to find a new home for this so that it doesn't vanish.


Thank you Julie smile

alcibiades Fri 13-Sep-13 20:26:18

Lazysuzanne: I'd be interested in reading more about your ideas about dreams being mystical. Although I tend towards scientific explanations for almost everything, I do find it difficult to move from the biological/chemical makeup of the human brain to thinking about what is going on when I have weird dreams.

I had to look up "spandrels": I knew the term was slightly familiar to me, but it was in terms of the original meaning. It's a rather neat co-opting of the original, I think.

I'm now wondering about the energy required for dreams. Apparently, the brain uses around 20% of the daily intake of fuel, and one hypothesis is that sleep is a means of conserving energy. I guess there's no point being awake and using energy during the hours of darkness (for diurnal creatures), so shutting down non-essential systems is a good idea. But there are times when I wake up from weird or convoluted dreams, feeling as though I'd just done a full shift of more than just filing the day's inputs.

Kitten: I hope you're getting some help with your sleep. Whatever the reason for sleep, it is well known that stress can cause disrupted sleep, and in turn that disrupted sleep can cause stress. Could your strange dreams be a side-effect of medications that you're on, or were on recently?

Lazysuzanne Fri 13-Sep-13 21:51:46

Alcibiades, I think dreaming is what your mind does when uncoupled from external input, but within that there is room for all sort of stuff, from problem solving to lucid dreaming and out of body experiences.

It seems to me that elements from the future as well as from the past get randomly woven into dreams.

Of course I cant prove anything, I wouldnt even see any point in arguing for what I believe but I have had experiences where dreams pointed strongly towards future events.
I strongly suspect there is something 'mystical' (for want of a better word) going on grin

ModeratelyObvious Mon 16-Sep-13 23:51:06

Isn't that your mind making odd connections when the future event happens though?

Lazysuzanne Mon 16-Sep-13 23:59:31

Who knows...

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