Dream Latency

Here's something weird and trippy and weird I've been experiencing lately:
I'm in a dream.  The dream suddenly starts to get scary and then something abrupt and shocking happens in the dream, an explosion or a monster or something. A split second later I jolt awake to something abrupt and shocking happening in real life. My phone rings, someone knocks on my door, the camera tripod by my bed falls over and crashes against my bed. (Don't ask why the tripod is there, it's not what you think!)

But I'm not waking up AS the shocking event is happening. I'm waking up slightly BEFORE.

Now I'm not going to propose that I'm dreaming a couple seconds into the future. But is there some kind of "latency" going on here? Some time lag between my conscious and subconscious? Is my real-world sensory input actually "buffering" in my brain so that when I wake up, the playback doesn't happen till slightly later? Hence, my dream reality reacting to external events BEFORE I actually perceieve those events happening?

This is still pretty fascinating to think about, but in my semi-conscious stupor this morning it was truly mind-blowing. Suggestion: Go to sleep, then wake up and read this again. Also maybe smoke some marijuana. 



  1. Wow, that's pretty strange. I figure maybe real-time happens and you only realize it after you're completely out of the dreamscape. Which would imply some kind of second-long dream-zombie-ism.

    That, or you're just a character in someone's novel. Like in "Stranger than Fiction". Either way, sounds fun. It'll be really fun when you wake up seconds before that giant bookcase comes crashing down seconds before it hits your head, narrowly avoiding your temple. We all need a near-death encounter in bed sometime.

  2. Oh lordie. Dream-zombie-ism? I sense a sequel to "Warm Bodies" coming on.... Slash marriage of Warm Bodies and The Inside....

    Better get on that, Isaac.

  3. Yes to all of those. I'm pretty sure that experiments have shown that our "conscious" experience is a cobbling together of perceptions and does lag behind the raw perceptions themselves. Normally we don't notice and when we do it's spooky.

    PsyBlog has run a series on attention that you might find interesting.

  4. I read a book concerning this a while back. Turns out the brain actually does perform a sort of "time travel" in that it acquires data, buffers it and plays it back to you to make a sort of seamless event.

    I know it's a different thing entirely but the same can be experienced when you're in a large, loud hall with many people talking. Your sub-conscious blocks out the noise until you hear a trigger of sorts, say, your name. Then it goes back to what was said (picked up by your subconscious) before your name was mentioned, plays that back to you and does so in a way that it seems you were paying attention to that sentence the whole time before your name was mentioned.

    The brain is a spooky thing.

  5. Reminded me of that Fringe episode. I think its this weeks episode.

  6. Holy crap, I think you are right as I smoke copious amounts of marijuana and have experienced the same events.

    In my dream I will come to the point before sexual climax or otherwise when suddenly I awake and somebody walks into the room or before my alarm goes off.

    I've seen other people do it too.

  7. I reminds me of the "new age" spiritual notion that, the universe is a creation of the subconscious mind. Maybe your dreams and thought are the actual cause of these real life events.