Inception in real life: vivid and lucid dreaming

I had a rough night of sleep. My dreams were plagued with visions of death and pain. I woke up several times in a panic, only to fall back into sleep and these terrible dreams. I finally arose for the day before my alarm, exhausted, and in genuine fear.

The last and worst dream shook me to my core. There was a stranger following me and trying to kill me. This faceless person was relentless, and he or she was attempting to make it look like a suicide. This person succeeded, but this person also took one of my children with me to my death. I woke up panicked, wanting nothing more than to hug my child.

It felt painfully real.

My dreams have always been vivid and lifelike. It’s a part of my brain that I truly love! I have been remembering and enjoying my dreams since I was a very young child. I can usually remember my dreams long after I awake in the morning, and I enjoy deciphering them to see if there is a hidden meaning.

Yet there are moments where having such dreams is neither pleasant or enjoyable; the dreams turn against me.

What is vivid dreaming?

According to, these are dreams that are intense and realistic. We can easily recall the vivid dreams because quite simply, they are so vivid and leave an impression. There can be a variety of causes of vivid dreaming – from stress and anxiety, medications, substance abuse, health disorders, trauma, and even pregnancy. Or you could just be lucky like me and always have memorable, lifelike dreams.

There are some negative side effects to vivid dreaming. It can cause mood problems and feelings of exhaustion, as if one did not sleep enough. In extreme cases, it can lead to suicidal thinking or distorted reality. The only thing I can report feeling is the occasional restlessness the following day – nothing too bothersome.

My first vivid dream is also a recurring dream that I continue to have from time to time.

I was very young, around 5 years old. In my dream, I was Alice from the Disney movie Alice in Wonderland. I was making my way through Wonderland and arrived at the Mad Hatter’s tea party. But then, I was transformed into the cake – a girl shaped, talking cake. The Red Queen, her knights, and all the other guests proceeded to cut and eat me. I could still talk and move my eyes, yet I was helpless to stop it.

Seems pretty messed up for a small child, right? Yet it never truly frightened me. I was more intrigued as to why I dreamt that. I still wonder why I continue to dream it.

It is believed that dreams are a way for the brain to reset itself or to process things in our mind subconsciously. I think that my prevalence of vivid dreams means that I have a lot to think about (obviously) and that my brain is always creatively thinking.

Over the years, I have used my dreams as clues to my life. Several years ago, I had a dream that I dyed my hair blue; I found out a few weeks later that I was pregnant with my son. I often dream of a solution to a problem. I can fight battles and try new things; I can visit places and people that I have never seen. I try to take the dreams and translate them to my real life.

A therapist was curious about my vivid dreaming a few years ago. He saw that I enjoyed having them, and he shared my belief that the stress and a anxiety I felt in my life was being processed in unique ways during sleep. He had me research lucid dreaming. He thought that this could help me process my dreams while in them.

What is lucid dreaming? It is a practice of awareness while dreaming. Think of the movie Inception (one of my favorites) – this is lucid dreaming. And it’s real!


Lucid dreaming takes practice. One must be aware that he or she is in a dream. Psychology Today interviewed Beverly D’Urso, a lucid dream researcher and practicer. She stated, “The best technique for becoming lucid is to actually become more aware and look and listen and pay attention to details, because when you see things that don’t fit, that’s a clue that you’re dreaming.” Once aware that it is a dream, the person can do anything: fly, run into a fire, fight a dragon, live a fantasy. It all feels very real, yet you are dreaming.

How great would it be to know you are dreaming? To have the freedom to explore anything and everything safely? Lucid dreaming is a goal of mine, and I’ve even come close a few times. I have been in strange dreams and have told myself, in the dream, that I am asleep and dreaming. With more time and practice, I think I can master this.

I love my vivid dreams, even when those dreams are a little too frightening. If dreams are mirrors to our subconscious, I want to understand these thoughts, fears, and desires. It would be great to be able to practice lucid dreaming and actually work through these in my sleep. There are never enough hours in the day; why not use your sleeping time to explore your mind further?

Tell me a little about your own dreams: do you remember your dreams? Have you ever heard of vivid or lucid dreaming?


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