Dream signs

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Counting fingers, a common reality check

Dream signs are any events which may signify that you are dreaming. These may include impossibilities, improbabilities, incongruous features, or surreal feelings. An oneironaut may make use of a dream journal to note their dream signs and be better prepared to notice them another time. When one does notice a dream sign, it is a good time to reality check, as these events will often cause one to question reality and whether they are awake or asleep.

Common dream signs


These events defy well established laws of science, such things happen often in dreams. Examples of some types of impossibilities that may be experienced in dreams include:

Ability to control reality with willpower
  • You are suddenly able to fly
  • You can control peoples actions with your thoughts
  • You can change an object into something else
  • You can move things with your mind
  • You can cause things to appear from nowhere or vanish
  • You can teleport between places
  • Doors lead to where you want them to
Things disappearing in one place and reappearing elsewhere
  • Leaving a person behind you only to find them inexplicably ahead of you
  • The same inanimate object keeps showing up in weird places
Morphing of normally static features
  • Words and numbers appear to stretch and bend into odd shapes
  • You find yourself shape shifting into someone or something else
Things vanishing or coming from nowhere
  • New things appearing when you double take
  • Things disappearing when you double take
  • Things coming in or out of existence before your eyes
Things containing more than they should be able to
  • A room or building being larger on the inside
  • A container of an endless amount of something
Nature acting abnormally
  • Clouds/fire/ripples/wind etc. do not seem to perform normally
  • Light and shadow do not line up
  • Inanimate objects move without applied force
  • Personification of non-human things
Time travel, or things moving in reverse
  • Finding yourself in a situation from your past
  • Parts of your day going missing without explanation
  • The cause coming after the effect
Folding of space between large distances
  • Opening a closet door and seeing your backyard inside
  • Turning a corner in the mall and finding yourself at school
Being able to pass through solid objects
  • Sticking a finger into your palm and having it pass through
  • Falling into the ground and finding yourself in cold black empty space


Improbabilities are events that are known to be possible in waking life but are also highly unlikely to occur. This is not necessarily a definitive dream sign, but since the laws of probability do not apply in dreams, such events may occur at very different intervals to what one might expect. Examples of some types of improbabilities that may be experienced in dreams include:

Recognizable patterns in randomness
  • Flipping coins or dice and getting the same result unreasonably often
  • Images appearing in chaos (eg. messages in tv static)
Expected events frequently occurring
  • Pretending something is somewhere and it being there
  • Thinking you will win the lottery and winning
Something long lost unexpectedly returning
  • Meeting old friends who the dreamer has long since lost contact with
  • Meeting a deceased person as you remember them alive
  • Finding a favorite childhood toy that you no longer own
  • Discovering something hopelessly lost (eg. a wedding ring dropped in the ocean)

Incongruous features

Incongruous features are when something is drastically different than it is usually expected to be. Sometimes these kinds of events do happen in waking life, though there is always a logical explanation for their occurrence, though you may not be aware of it, however dreams do not necessarily have a logical explanation behind such events. Examples of some types of incongruous features that may be experienced in dreams include:

Abnormal arrangement of things
  • Your furniture being placed very different from how you remember it
  • Words or digital clocks being unreadable
Unexplained changes
  • Finding rooms in your house that you should have noticed before
  • Parts of a movie you've seen before being different
Changes when you double take
  • Clocks and watches displaying a different time after every double take
  • Text and writing displaying different words after every double take

Surreal feelings

Surreal feelings are experiences that seem out of the ordinary, though these can be triggered by hallucinations, lapses in memory, or sudden changes -so they may not necessarily be definitive signs you are dreaming. Examples of some types of Surreal feelings that may be experienced in dreams include:

Events seem to be a commentary on your thoughts
  • Someone replies directly to your thoughts without you talking aloud
  • Symbolism in events seems to be a response to your thoughts
  • You feel like your actions and subsequent events are a dialogue with a personified universe
The overwhelming sense that this has happened before (déjà vu)
  • Feeling like the current situation has occurred previously in a dream
  • Being able to predict the future
  • A belief that you have been cycling through the same event for eternity
  • Knowing it's happened before but being unable to recall precise circumstances
  • Visiting the same place in your dreams, despite never having seen this place in your life.
The general notion that there is something bizarre going on
  • The sense that everyone knows who you are
  • The feeling of being watched
  • The suspicion that too many weird things are happening for this to be real
Witnessing things that you can not comprehend
  • The geometry of an object appears topologically impossible
  • You think you have uncovered the secret to everything but under personal inspection can not adequately describe it
  • Something so alien or complex happens that your language is incapable of conveying it

See also