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Can You Read In Dreams? Here’s What Science Has To Say About It

What Happens In Our Brains When We Dream

Can you read in dreams? It’s these questions that make you pause to consider if you can recall – at any point in time – if you remember reading in a dream.

Do you remember ever reading in a dream?

When you consider what happens in our brains when we dream, it makes sense also that it’s hard to recall what happens in dreams. This, of course, makes it hard to answer whether or not we can read in dreams; even if we could, would we remember?

When we dream, our brains create occasionally beautiful and very often strange concepts that make us wake up confused, inspired, or scared for our lives. Our subconscious is always picking up on random facts and observations, which are pulled into your awareness and constructed into some weird kind of storyline in a dream.

The whole brain is active while we dream… from the brain stem all the way to the cortex. Most dreams occur during the deep phase of REM sleep, which is another reason dreams can seem so random: When you’re deep enough in sleep to dream, let’s just say your mind is far, far away from reality.

So, can you read in a dream? Let’s find out.

Can You Read In Dreams?

can you read in dreams
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Simply put, the part of your brain that reads can’t usually be accessed while you’re dreaming. With some exception, reading is essentially a function of the right side of the brain, while dreams originate in the left side. Because of this, not only can we not read in our dreams, but language pretty much eludes us in general while we’re dreaming.

Why can’t you read in dreams? The many parts of the brain that are responsible for interpreting language are towards the back and middle of your brain, away from the dreaming centre. In general, this is why they play a much less active role in your dream state.

Reading Requires Actually “Seeing” The Words

can you read in dreams
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Because of the abstract nature of dreams, most people can’t access or use language in any meaningful way while sleeping. And in the same way that we can’t see our reflection in mirrors, it’s hard to make out words in real time.

The clear connection between ‘making out words’ and ‘reading’ make it pretty hard to discern any meaning from the words you may see in a dream, aside from knowing that words are there in front of you.

The “Text” Your Subconscious Creates In A Dream Is Probably Just Garbled Random Nonsense Anyways

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The words that you’ll actually see in a dream will likely be some kind of a weird combination of writing you’ve come into contact with during waking hours.

As we discussed, our subconscious minds are constantly picking up on random facts and observations. Because of this, our brain pulls obscure things from these observations, and turns it into the stuff of your dreams.

So, even if you could actually read the text you see in your dreams, chances are that it would just be strung-together words that wouldn’t make any sense.

4 Other Common Tasks We Can’t Perform In Dreams

#1) Seeing Smartphones (apparently)

can you read in dreams
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Because smartphones are relatively new to our brains, only around 2.7% of men and 3.5% of women see smartphones while dreaming. Modern devices haven’t really had a chance to ‘get into’ our nervous systems in a way that allows them to surface in most of our dreams.

However, one thing to note is the of the people who do report seeing smartphones and digital devices in their dreams, most are dealing with some kind of monumental life event like mourning the loss of a loved one.

#2) Writing

can you read in dreams
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Right up there with reading in dreams is writing in dreams. When we’re asleep, the areas of the brain that work to integrate language are less active. Because of this, expressing yourself through writing may be a bit complicated for the dreaming mind.

Just like it’s hard to see the exact time, and also read, it’s very challenging to see individual words when dreaming, which makes writing in dreams near impossible.

However, if you’re a writer, poet, or other kind of word-crafter, it may be easier for you to obtain inspiration in dreams for your writing. These ideas, if you capture them right away, can be like downloads from dreams. You can use this inspiration for fresh ideas and new ways of communicating yourself.

#3) Meeting “Strangers”

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Similar to the idea of smartphones being too new to us to materialize in dreams, it’s very challenging to meet ‘new’ people in your dreams. There’s a strong theory that the people we see in our dreams are people that we’ve had some kind of exposure to in real life.

Further, if they do appear to be people who we’ve never met before, chances are they might be the combination of other people we’ve come across, and the facial features might have just converged to create a seemingly ‘new’ person.

#4) Any Physical Activity 

can you read in dreams
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Welp, looks like the calories you burn when you’re dreaming don’t actually register to your body because you’re probably not going to be burning many calories when you’re dreaming.

This is why it seems like you’re moving in slow motion when you’re trying to run away from a monster, or a strange horse-crow-uncle combination that your imagination has somehow conjured up in its classic abstract way.

Not much makes sense when you’re dreaming, so no matter what kind of a monster comes at you in dreams, chances are you won’t be able to get away.

#5) See Your Own Reflection

can you read in dreams
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Dreams are intricately connected to our subconscious memories. The rules in real life don’t apply to these, which is why dreams can be so very abstract and hard to understand.

Because of this, if you do see yourself in a mirror while you’re dreaming, it’s likely that your reflection will be blurred, or it won’t actually be you in the mirror. Which is super creepy in itself, but also… could be connected to your self esteem or the struggles you’re currently experiencing in your life.

In Conclusion

Dreams are often random nonsense jumbled together by your subconscious, which is why it’s rare to do certain things in dreams. Reading, writing, and seeing yourself in the mirror are just the beginning of examples of things you don’t often do in dreams.

Doesn’t this make you want to keep a journal beside your bed and take notes on your dreams just to prove these ideas wrong?

I think imma do that tonight and see if I’m one of the rare people who can check my phone while I’m dreaming.

  • Related: The Troxler Effect makes your reflection in the mirror look super strange. Try it out!

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