It’s generally accepted that time perception during dreams is totally unrelated to real time i.e. a dream may seem to take place over a period of days or months but in reality you’re only asleep for the maximum of a few hours. But I’ve never been able to prove this to myself until last night when I feel to sleep with a headphone in my ear.
We have a cheap little MP3 player solely for the bed on which we have many hours of radio and stand-up comedy. Frequently we’ll drift off to sleep listening to something, and frequently the audio will break though into my dreams.
Last night, the way it manifested itself in my dream was that the comedian “Spencer Brown” was with me and the others in my dream. Now, his set on the MP3 player is no more than an hour long but it spanned weeks of dream-time. In fact, because I’ve heard this routine many, many times, I was getting irritated that this guy was being seemingly quick-witted about the things that were going on but really he was just using bits of his well rehearsed act. I was pretending that I’d never heard it before and laughing out of politeness but it was getting quite irritating to have him permanently there. One (dream) morning I woke up and he was still there and I was thinking “oh god when is he just going to go away!” Worse was that in reality his stand-up routine was shaping the events in the dream so that he always seemed to have a perfect comment to hand for what was going on. The other people were loving it, but I’d heard it all before…
The main thing that struck me about this was not the audio entering and shaping the dream – that happens a lot – but it was that I was aware of days passing in the dream. I’ve never had that happen before – my memories of dreams are of a long fluid series of events and time doesn’t really have any recognisable divisions.
Alright alright, I just thought it was interesting.