Reading in Dreams – a creative’s super power

According to sleep scientists, humans are not supposed to be able to comprehend meaningful text while dreaming. We might see letters or numbers, but they will not make sense even if you feel you understand. The parts of our brain responsible for that kind of activity, such as Broca’s area, are typically less active while sleeping. This means written words will be as jumble of meaningless rubbish. See links at the end of the blog.

I mention this because over the last few weeks, I’ve had several dreams where I have read comprehensible printed text and prior to this experience I was certain this was not possible.

The first time it happened, it woke me up because the sensation was so strange. I hurried to write the words in my bedside notebook while I still had a vivid image in my mind. I had received a letter. I opened it, noted the address at the top was Industry Road, I scanned down and read:

We represent the group of people assigned to care for your cat, Churchill. Unfortunately, Churchill has crashed. His body is now at 2000, and he is going for drinks more frequently.

Fair enough, I don’t have a cat called Churchill, and the 2000 thing seems odd, but the text was as clear as if I held the letter in my real hands. I even remember the font. It was Courier.

The next night, I dreamt I was helping someone with an assignment. I was a tutor. The person passed me their assignment worksheet and I read:

In what way did life for the inhabitants of Renaissance Alsace differ from how it was perceived by them?

Again, slightly odd, but perfectly comprehensible…give evidence for how the population of Alsace during the 15th to 17th centuries viewed their circumstances and how is that different from what history records?

The letters were not muddled, there were no strange characters. The font was Times New Roman.

I’ve had other dreams with house numbers on doors and a battleship cruising the seas, its name emblazoned on its side – USS HALBERD.

There is an exception to the no reading rule – poets, or creative writers.

Some of us have apparently trained bits of our brains to work while sleeping because of the amount of time we spend using written language to communicate the stuff we make up.

I think that’s awesome. I have a super power.

Have you been able to read clearly in your dreams? Share with us in the comments.


Can You Read in Your Dreams? [accessed 16.8.19]

Why Can’t I Read in My Dreams? [accessed 16.8.19]

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