Dream vibrations

I had an interesting experience in regards to dreaming this weekend. I was lying asleep, and having a dream which involved operating a computer. At one point, a confirmation window popped up on the screen, and I had to click yes or no. I can’t remember what I clicked, but once I did, I could feel the mouse vibrating in my hand, and heard a buzzing sound. Then I woke up and realized that the buzzing sound was actually my phone vibrating. It does this whenever I get a phone call, text message, or reminder alert. In this case, it was this weird reminder alert that is set to go off at five in the morning on Saturday; a reminder I have never taken the time to delete.

But let’s think about this for a second. My subconscious mind is creating a dream and somehow it is able to integrate the real event of my phone vibrating. That’s pretty amazing. And, I think we’ve all had dreams like this. You start hearing some sound in your dream, and then wake up to realize it’s actually a sound you’re hearing in reality. Or you have a dream where you’re choking someone to death, and you wake up to discover that you have actually choked to death the floozy you met at a bar that evening. So you toss her body into a bathtub filled with acid and go to sleep.

How could the subconscious integrate my vibrating phone into my dream? I’ve got two theories.

One. I recall from my reading of the book “The User Illusion” that the human brain is taking in billions of bits of information per second, but we’re only conscious of a small portion of this information — about 40 bits. It’s possible that at some point my subconscious noticed that this alarm goes off at 5 AM on Saturdays. So, while it was “constructing” this dream, it anticipated the event and actually designed the narrative around it.

Two. Another point made in “The User Illusion”: there’s evidence that our conscious experience of the physical world is about a half second behind reality. So when you see your cat walking on the couch, you’re actually seeing him where he was a half second ago. This is because it takes your conscious brain a while to tie its awareness of it’s environment into a cohesive representation of reality. Your subconscious brain, however, is working in “real time.” So consider this scenario: my unconscious brain observes the phone vibrating. It then restructures the narrative of the dream it is creating to account for this vibrating sound.

There’s one obvious flaw here. The unconscious brain only has half a second to create a dream story that will involve buzzing and vibrating. However, that may not be such a difficult hurdle for the unconscious brain to overcome. I don’t think any of us have a really good sense of the speed at which dreams operate. I think we’ve all had that experience of having a dream that seems like it lasted for hours, but you wake up and realize you’ve only been asleep for 10 minutes. Maybe the unconscious mind, which is where dreams operate, simply moves at a much faster rate than the conscious mind. And dig this: right now, you’re sitting here, reading this blog, but you have a general sense of all the things you did today. Even though you are living in this moment, you carry a piece of your recent past with you. Maybe my “self” in that dream had fake memories, which implied I had experienced a series of events, but I had not actually “walked through” them in the dream. Maybe the dream itself only took 2 seconds, but seemed longer because I had a sense of these fake memories.

That’s heavy shit, dawg.

3 Responses to “Dream vibrations”


  1. John Saleeby

    Your Scientific Dream Stuff is very good and reminds me of a retarded idea for a TV Show I had in High School called “The Dream Police”. The Dream Police were Cheap Trick and when you listened to their Hard Rocking Music they entered your consciousness to run around inside your head until they found something you felt JUST AWFUL about. Then they sang the Big Climactic Song of the Episode while you tossed and turned and turned and then woke up feeling all Spiritually Calm and Balanced. It was like “The Monkees” only it was the Late Seventees and you knew there was just no fucking way it was ever going to be on TV. Ever. Then “Nightmare On Elm Street” happened and I felt kinda ripped off. Then we had a cartoon idea for a character named Sleepy Time Charlie who was kind of like The Sandman.

  2. Wil

    I could definitely use the dream police to clear out my psyche.

  3. Larwence

    CRazy!