Mornings are weird for me. I’ve always had a tenuous relationship with sleep, in general, but recently, mornings have evolved into by far the weirdest aspect of it.
About 2 years ago I started having waking morning dreams where, on occasion, usually when I slept alone, and usually after a tough night of sleep, I would get up and start my day while still sleeping. Physically I was still planked on a firm mattress, but my mind would create a world wherein I got up and did my normal morning stuff entirely in the dream world.
It’s quite different to go about your routine while sleeping. Everything is more surreal (as one might expect) but this reality presents a lot of challenges to the determined individual such as I find myself most mornings.
For instance, walking, or any movement, becomes a slow-motion ballet. Walking is difficult because for some reason, in my mind’s version of physics, the floor is somewhat trampoline-like. Every step I take causes recoil throughout my body and seems to send me shooting upward in space. My adaptation is to take very light steps, on my tip-toes, and for some reason bow-legged. This is how every step must be taken and it takes quite some time to get anywhere.
Another example is interacting with physical objects. Light switches are nearly impossible to operate. Every light switch seems to be both on, and off, at the same time, and refuses to be manipulated. Lights don’t turn on in these dreams. I just have to wait for the sun or do things in the dark. Sometimes when I wait for the sun to come up I dream that I’m dreaming.
I’ve never seem to eat or use the bathroom in these dreams, fortunately. It’s very difficult to walk all the way to the kitchen, manipulate drawers or clothing. I’m also nearly never dressed in these dreams because my default sleeping outfit is a birthday suit, and assembling an outfit would be nearly impossible and excruciatingly painful (as I’ll describe below).
My day job is that of a “knowledge-worker” (fancy way of saying I sit on my ass in front of a computer all day). In my small house, the office where my computer lives is only a few yards from my bed. The desk at which I work almost always has everything I need for a full day, including water and snacks, so I find that I don’t need much in the mornings, even when dreaming.
Every morning whether I’m dreaming or not, the first thing I usually do is turn on my computer, and check email and chat for urgent items in need of my attention. This routine presents the most challenge in how the dream relates to my actual day. After the dream ends I can always distinguish between “that was a dream” and continue with my real-life day, however, on these days I am constantly confronted with déjà vu. As if I’ve already had these thoughts, or already finished a task. Some decision making is a slowed either because my brain is being lazy (thinking I’ve already done this) or because of doubt (thinking I already had these thoughts, and must have abandoned them for better thoughts). Usually it works itself out.
Here’s where things get a little weirder. Everything I’ve described sounds almost fun, if a little off, like being on some weird drug a few times a month. The problem, and reason why I don’t like these dreams, is waking up typically occurs when I begin to realize that I’m dreaming and the reality starts to fall apart. The waking event seems to always happen when I realize I can’t manipulate some object, and my ego begins to clash with the dream, forcing ever harder to do what I want. My dream world slowly merges into the real world as I wake up, and the feeling is that of underwater suffocation bombarded by unbearably loud 50–70hz electrical buzzing that seems to shake the Earth. I never can finish my task, but I keep pushing until the feeling of asphyxiation and pummeling noises overwhelms, and I wake up. It’s a frighting and terrible event that I haven’t yet gotten used to, in the 30–40 times I’ve woken up like this.
Needless to say the half-day-long feeling of exhaustion and déjà vu make this a less-than-desirable event. Not quite sure what to do about it though, other than eat healthier, drink less, and exercise more. Pretty much what 99% of people on this continent need to do anyway. My side effects of living like a North American, I suppose, manifest themselves just a bit differently than for most.