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Dreamception – Dreams within Dreams

Have you ever been aware of your dream state throughout a dream, only to discover upon waking that this was also a part of the dream? Now that you’re thinking of “Inception,” you’re probably thinking, “Yeah, kind of,” but we’re not going to plant a dream here. On a serious note, this spectacle is so much real.

This phenomenon of dreaming that you are dreaming is called dreamception and can be pretty trippy and confusing.

You are effectively living in a dream inside a dream when this happens. When you sleep, your brain is awake and playing some made-up situations in your dreams. But these are not all made up; sometimes, they are signs. So, to make everything clear, we will dive into this intriguing question: “What Does It Mean If You Dream That You’re Dreaming?”

A Possible Explanation from Science

According to neuroscientists, dreams happen when the brain processes memories and feelings from the previous day during sleep’s REM (rapid eye movement) stage. Experts in sleep medicine speculate that dream perception events could occur when the brain starts to switch between different sleep stages.

Your brain could get mixed signals as you transition between REM and lighter sleep periods. This may trigger the dream scenario to incorporate the concept of dreaming itself. Your brain is still caught between wakefulness and deep sleep, so it may depict dreaming as part of the dream narrative.

Possible Meanings and Interpretations

While scientists don’t have concrete proof, many dream analysts think experiencing dreams within dreams could have symbolic meaning. Here are some potential interpretations:

Confusion or lack of clarity in waking life

Just as dreamception blurs the lines between dreaming and reality, you may feel unclear about real-world issues.

Being creative or imaginative

Your mind is unleashing its full dreaming potential through vivid scenarios within scenarios. This could reflect a creative or imaginative personality.

Anxiety or fear of loss of control 

Realizing you’re dreaming but still not awake points to a lack of control. Recurring episodes may suggest underlying anxiety.

Processing multiple levels of thoughts and emotions 

Dreaming while dreaming allows a more profound exploration of feelings and memories through layered dream narratives.

Wanting to prolong the dream

By continuing the dream as a dream, your sleeping mind extends the imaginative experience rather than waking up abruptly.

Of course, dream symbolism is highly subjective. The exact meaning depends on the full context of the dream and one’s own life experiences and associations. Discussing dreams with others or seeing a therapist can help uncover more profound interpretations.

Other Types of Dream Reruns

If you dream that you’re dreaming, there are different types. Some other recurring dream phenomena may occur:

  • Lucid dreaming – Being aware that you’re dreaming while the dream is happening. It allows some control over the dream scenario.
  • Recurring dreams – Dreaming the same or similar scenarios multiple times over weeks, months, or years. It may signify unresolved unconscious issues.
  • Recurring dream themes – While the details change, common symbolic elements like places, people, or scenarios continue showing up in dreams.
  • Déjà vu dreams – Feeling like you’ve dreamt a situation before now happening in real life. This could hint at precognition ability or needing closure on a theme.
  • False awakening dreams – Dreaming that you wake up, only to realize after waking that you were still asleep. Highlights the difficulty separating dreams from reality.

So, in summary, the dream that you’re dreaming is a vivid type of dream phenomenon with possible meanings tied to creativity, lack of control, and delving deeper into thoughts and emotions through layered narratives. Like all dreams, interpretations depend highly on context.

Experiencing Dreamception – Examples to Consider

To help understand dreamception better, let’s look at some specific dream examples people have reported:

A woman dreamed she was at home painting a room. Then, in her dream, she realized she was asleep in bed dreaming. She woke up startled, only to discover it was still part of the dream.

A teenager often has dreams where he realizes mid-dream that nothing is real. This triggers another dream scene from that perspective of knowing he’s asleep.

During stressful times at work, a man dreams about dreaming that something went wrong, like missing an important meeting. Each sub-dream adds more bizarre details and scenarios.

While traveling abroad, a woman dreamed of being in her home country. Then, in the dream, she thought, “I can’t be here; I must be asleep dreaming.” Her dream self-proceeded with this newfound awareness.

Shortly after ending a relationship, a man had a dream where he dreamed of running into his ex at a party. In the dream-within-a-dream, he questioned whether it was real, feeling confused about realities.

Importance of Analyzing Dreams

Whether you have episodes of dreamception specifically or just vivid, strange, or recurring dreams, analyzing and interpreting them can provide meaningful insights. Here are a few tips for decoding your dreams:

  • Keep a dream journal – Write down dreams in detail upon waking to remember symbolic elements better over time.
  • Look for themes and recurring symbols – Analyze what people, places, situations, or emotions repeatedly show up that may have personal significance.
  • Connect to real life – Think about how dream elements relate to your daily worries, relationships, goals, etc. Dreams often represent unresolved issues in coded form.
  • Consult dream dictionaries – They offer common interpretations of symbols, but yours may have a more private meaning based on context.
  • Discuss with others – Friends, family, or therapists can offer outside perspectives and help uncover unconscious trends and associations.
  • Accept uncertainty – Dreams don’t always have clear-cut explanations. Interpretations evolve as you and your life circumstances change over time.

With reflection, dreamception may unveil meaningful messages from your deeper mind.


What does it mean if you dream that you’re dreaming?

A: Dreams concerning dreams may indicate a need for introspection or a keen understanding of your psyche.

How can I interpret my dreams effectively?

A: Effective dream interpretation involves keeping a dream journal, analyzing symbols and emotions, and considering personal experiences and contexts.

Is lucid dreaming safe?

A: Lucid dreaming is generally safe for most people and can offer unique insights and experiences within dreams.

Can dreams predict the future?

A: While some believe dreams can be prophetic, no scientific evidence supports the idea that dreams can predict specific events.

How can I improve my dream recall?

A: Improving dream recall involves setting intentions before sleep, keeping a dream journal, and practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques.

dr vander heide

Psychoanalytic Perspective:

This is a very interesting and valuable commentary on a curious and somewhat rare event in dream life. I think a great number of possibilities under which this phenomenon has been observed are nicely summarized. There are one or two situations that I, as a psychoanalyst, to which I would pay special attention. 1. People often become aware that they are dreaming because it is easier to attend to the content of a dream if it is framed by the knowledge that the dreamer is in fact, dreaming.

Essentially the material that disturbs the dreamer is safely contained within a “frame” that is specifically appreciated as unreal. I remember my first exposure to the movie Frankenstein which was so terrifying, I had to leave the movie theater until I could convince myself that “it’s only a film”. In cases of suspected child abuse often these kinds of dreams both convey the distressing material and, like using a yellow marker, by repeating the experience and making being in a dreaming state available to the dreamer, may be a way of representing a repetitive, disassociated experience.

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