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    Thread: Question about timing in dreams

    1. #1
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      Question about timing in dreams

      I'm not really sure I'm posting this on the right place. I'm quite new here and there's a question I've had for some time because I haven't found a solid answer. How does timing work in dreams compared to waking life? I mean, is an hour in the dream world equivalent to an hour in the waking world, for instance? Is there any equivalence or is it random? Is it even possible to know?

      Maybe I'm making a stupid question, but I thought some people here would be able to tell me.

      Thank you!

    2. #2
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      Its hard to determine. For some. such as me, its a 1:1 ratio. Some find that they have experienced less time in a dream than what they're sleep time would suggest. Others may experience years (or at least what feels like years) in a few hours. And then we have dream control mucking things about should the dreamer choose. I have found that in occasions of 1:1 ratios, dream timepieces are surprisingly accurate. It depends really.
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      I have no idea. I've had dreams that seemed to last for hours during ten-minute naps... and I've also had dreams that were silly, like me trying to find my car and it felt like it was only five minutes, but I'm pretty sure I was asleep for a lot longer than that. I think it's a mystery.
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    4. #4
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      It's no mystery; such a phenomenon has been scientifically investigated. Studies by Dement and Wolpert (1958) established that the course of time in dreams is very similar to that in waking life. Further confirmation was found in lucidity studies, reported by LaBerge and Rheingold (1990), where dreamers who became lucid would give an eye movement signal, count ten seconds and then give another eye signal to show the observing experimenters they were lucid. Again, time in the dream world was near identical to real world time.
      I myself have had such experiences too. Several times I have gone to sleep listening to music on headphones in the hope to achieve lucidity. One time I heard the music in the dream and ascertained that I was indeed dreaming. What was most interesting was that I was able to recognise the exact song I was listening to, and could recognise certain features of it so I knew roughly how far through the song I was. Perhaps using such a method, we could gauge our lucidity dream periods and find out how long they'v lasted.
      Hope that sheds some light on this issue for you.
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      Ah, except that those people who report having dreams that appear to last a very different amount of time have pointed out the flaw with the research results to date:

      The research proves that time in dreams can last about the same amount of actual time as observed, however the research does not prove that it is impossible to have a dream that distorts time in some way. Given how little scientists actually know for sure about how dreams work, and how much anecdotal evidence there is for people spending more time in dreams than the waking clock equivalent, more research into time in dreams may be advisable.
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      You may say I'm a dreamer.
      But I'm not the only one
      - John Lennon

    6. #6
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      Good point. We must not forget that our perception of time essentially governs the structure of our lives. Take away time, and nobody knows what is going on. And, as we all know, you get time jumps in dreams quite frequently; rapidly switching from one location to another, landing in a completely different place at a totally different time. It may be that this happens and then we try to rationalise the experience upon awakening in our dream reports; if we dream about being in two vastly distant locations in a short period of time, we may confabulate and assume that we must have taken the time to travel there as well. It could be as simple as when we think of a location in a dream or experience something that is associated to it in some way, we suddenly end up there.
      I'll have another look around the archives and see if I can find any more research on time perceptions in dreams.

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