How Well Can Can You Read in Your Dreams?

23 Apr

Can You Read In Your Dreams?

Can You Read In Your Dreams?


I had a dream last night that Rob Bryanton from Imagining the Tenth Dimension wrote me a long letter. The pages were oversized and his handwriting style created big, large letters, making it appear almost comically cartoon-like.

I knew I was dreaming when all I could read was the first line on each page, which started with Rob stating where he was at the time of writing the letter. (This is often how I begin my own journal entries.) The rest of the letter I just couldn’t read, and I knew it was because my mind wasn’t coming up with anything!

A few months ago I had a really great lucid dream where I was very much in control of the dream and my surrounding. I purposely willed into existence a newspaper to test my ability to read it. No matter what I did it just didn’t work. The letters would do strange things, like be upside down and appear to be written in a different language!

And the more I’ve thought about my capacity to read in dreams – lucid or not – I’m unable to recall any instances where I’m able to do it. I don’t mean read a sign or a few words but actually a dream where I’m truly reading something, like a letter, a note, or a book.

All of this thinking about dream-reading are a result of Bahbee writing to me asking:

“I have noticed recently that I can read things in dreams, but many people tell me it is impossible to read in dreams. Yet I distinctly remember reading text in a dream. Any thoughts about this?”

On the same note, Shane writes:

“I have to say that I can read in dreams as well…I distinctly remember an episode of Batman (a great source of information ;)) where it said you could never read in a dream because you dream with one half of your brain and read with the other. Since then, though, I’ve found that this isn’t true at all for one reason or another. You’ve failed me, Batman…again…

Perhaps it is because you already “know” what you’re reading since your own brain is the one putting the metaphoric text on the paper. You look at the paper in your dream and your brain tells you that it’s this color, this combination of letters, etc. It would then be more like a representation of subconscious thought through a medium we’re all familiar with from an early age, the written word, although the words could end up meaning anything or nothing at all.”

I’m curious to hear about other peoples experiences reading in dreams, both lucid and non-lucid.

Can you read in your dreams?

How well? For how long? Does it make sense?

How often does reading in a dream lead to lucidity?

    Photo by Dave Matos.

17 Responses to “How Well Can Can You Read in Your Dreams?”

  1. yellowish haze April 25, 2007 at 7:50 pm #

    In fact my first lucid dream was triggered by reading a book in a dream. I can perfectly remember that I really COULD read and make sense of the text. At one point, in the dream I read a cool paragraph which I want to read it once again. This is when the strange things start happening. I suddenly realize that the text has somehow changed because I can’t find the lines I’m looking for. I put my finger on the text and see that when I slide it sideways the text changes as if my finger has some magical properties. This is when I become lucid.

    In another dream I couldn’t read at all. In it, I’m in a restaurant with my friend Sara. (Sara and I used to go to the same high school in Seville, Spain. When I left Spain and came back to Poland, I totally lost contact with her). I become lucid and I tell her that it’s great to see her in a dream. I also ask her if she can give me her e-mail address so that we can stay in touch in real life. She agrees. I tell her to hurry because I feel like I’m about to wake up. She takes out a pen and writes the e-mail address on a napkin. When she hands it to me I realize that this whole idea is absurd because I can’t read it. The address looks quite real – it even has the @ sign somewhere in the middle and .com at the end – but the letters shift places and are sometimes replaced by incomprehensible signs. At one point I decide to stuff the napkin into a pocket and read it after I wake up – but then I realize that this is even more absurd!

  2. David April 28, 2007 at 9:02 pm #

    i have heard alot about literature becoming the jumping point into a lucid dream…i have just started trying to attain lucidity so i am keeping a dream journal at
    if you think you can help me out or give me advie let me know thanks

  3. Michelle May 6, 2007 at 12:40 am #

    I have read in my dreams numerous times before, it’s been getting better each time, at first, only a few words, then a few sentences, and now I’m trying to keep focus long enough in dreams to read more than a ‘few’ of anything.
    The first time I truly became aware of reading text in dreams, it made no sense [once lucid]. It was a book on herbs and their uses, as well as some background data on them. I was stuck in a library for the night and my buddy wasn’t so extroversive, so I read. I understood everything up until the part where I became lucid. The name of the leafy green pond/forest plant was forgotten. I tried to re-read it, now fully aware of the dream. The words began to change as I read! I struggled to keep reading the test until it became German [which I have a limited understanding of]. I awoke my friend and showed him the moving text, amazed as ever. He brushed it off. I would have really liked to have remembered it’s name to see if it was real… But, aside from that time, reading hasn’t made me lucid for now text doesn’t change or move on me, whatever I can’t read is due to a loss of interest/focus.

  4. Ben May 6, 2007 at 3:59 pm #

    Michelle I find it really interesting how you say you “understood everything up until the part where I became lucid.”

    It makes me wonder…what’s really happening (pre-lucid) when someone is reading in a dream? Are we really reading in the same sense as we read in waking life? If so, why does conscious awareness that one is dreaming sometimes lead to not being able to read anymore?

    All this reminds me of a dream I had many years ago. I was hiking in the woods listening to a tape on my walkman (whoa, sounds dated 🙂 and I was listening to an album of music that someone had made that I know. In my dream I was really getting into the music and was amazed that my friend had written it.

    When I woke up, I desperately wanted to remember what all the music sounded like, but I could only remember it in the vaguest of ways. As someone who plays guitar, it intrigued me that maybe my subconscious mind had written this awesome music that I liked and played it in a dream….

    …or did it? Did I really hear it in the dream? If I became lucid would it become all jumbled and weird? Maybe the music sounding good – the experience of it, maybe it’s not a linear experience like we think it is in memory, and when we interrupt it live with lucidity, that’s why it becomes messed up.

    I’m having a hard time putting this into words!

  5. Sophia May 7, 2007 at 5:38 pm #

    Funny, I too had a lucid dream triggered by reading in a dream. I remember I came-up to a sign that was upside down. I remember telling myself that in order to read it I had to turn myself upside down. So, I did and therefore I was able to read it!

  6. Stephane August 4, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

    I was having this discussion at work about the movie Inception and I mentionned seeing this episode of Batman, who to me, is always right.
    Ended up doing a search on the subject and landed on this page….weird. Am i dreaming now?

  7. shoobaba August 19, 2010 at 9:02 am #

    I also watched the infamous Batman episode and was surprised sometimes when I woke up and realised that I had read something.

    However, for me, the difficult part is NUMBERS. I can never read numbers correctly – last night I even dreamt that I was panicking about missing a flight because I got the times wrong every time I looked at the ticket and my watch. And several times, I’ve tried dialing a phone number and NEVER getting it right. Often it feels like I try dialing for half an hour in my dream, but always push the wrong buttons or read the numbers wrongly.

  8. Ben August 19, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    The first lucid dream I can recall started because I was dialing on the phone and realized the numbers were all wrong and I thought “whoa, I must be dreaming!”

  9. Anton August 23, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    I think lucidity is more likely to occur near the end of a dream when you are no longer in a deep sleep. I notice that when I’m dreaming and I know I have something to do or someone to see I consciously try to stay asleep as I am aware, in my dream, that I’m on the verge of waking, that’s when I get the ability to change what’s happening in my dream like making things appear or disappear. I can read short sentences in my dreams during the final stages of dreaming, however when I’m in a deep sleep I’m normally on some crazy dream adventure which doesn’t involve lots of reading. Also when I was younger if I was having a nightmare I would close my eyes in my dream and use my hands to open them, this then made me wake up, has anyone else done this before? Also has anyone ever woken up into another dream?

  10. Dee-nice November 22, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    After hearing a boyfriend and his,stupid cousins have a long arrogant discussion about one’s inability to read while dreaming, I went home on a mission to prove those arses wrong. That night in my dream I read a campus map at a school i’ve never attended trying to get to a classroom. I did wake up almost immediately after that, which leads me to believe your theory about reaching lucidity near the end of sleep may be true.

    Also, what led me to this page was that I just woke up from attempting to read music in my dream.i used to know how to read music years ago. Havent done it in a good 8 yrs. In the dream I was looking at the music then cross-referencing a quiz about the sheet music like I would when I was in orchestra in high school. Tad odd, but again I awoke almost immediately after I read the first quiz question.

  11. Titi December 14, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    hey there! last night i had this dream where i was chatting with someone on Skype. I told my best friend about it and she told me that it was scientifically proven that people cannot read in dreams, i found this really weird and i ended up doing a research on it and found this page.
    The text i was reading wasn’t very long i mean just a few sentences but they were all clear as a day to me..i dont really know if i have ever read before in a dream i honestly can’t recall doing it… But this one was well “special” and it came out of nowhere..usually my dreams have something to do with what had happened the previous day but not this time so i find it really interesting and i wanna know what does it means and why am i dreaming this why did my subconsciousness create it…?
    Also i wanted to answer what Anton said about dreams : actually we ALWAYS dream a minute before we wake up, because a dream (no matter how long it may seem to us) lasts exactly one minute so i think that reading in a dream when lucid is more like recreating something already seen or read but the things we read when we are not lucid are the things that our subconsciousness (or not) is creating at the moment….but then again im not a specialist and i dont know if thats true but i think im gonna do a little reasearch about it because i really find this subject incredibly interesting!

  12. catherine December 18, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    I definitely can read while I dream. Did last night in fact. I was reading a Chinese menu (er, well, the ENglish parts), though I don’t remember specifics. And I got a text from my friend Kayla which read, “I love you mom. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to have a lot of money.” I texted her back, “I think you meant this for your mom.” I also wrote down “General Tso’s Chicken” on a piece of paper as an order for my brother. 😛 I’m often aware that I’m dreaming, but I don’t think I was last night.

  13. soni March 12, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

    I can also read in dreams… The first time I was using my finger to follow along & read some written lines… Last night I was glimpsing pictures and legible writing in a book… Amazing stuff, I love reading 😉

  14. Esther July 19, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    I very rarely have lucid dreams, but I’ve never had a dream in which I was NOT able to read. Once when I was younger I was wandering around a bookstore and spent several hours browsing through the young adult novel section, which was filled with titles I recognized, and I was almost to the final chapter in one of my favorite books…when I woke up.

    It turns out I had dreamed up the bookstore, all of the book titles, and the entire plot of the book I was reading without realizing it, and none of those things actually existed in real life. I was able to remember many of the things I’d read, and I learned from the book several facts about literature that I’d never learned while awake.

    But I guess I’m just weird.

  15. KK May 24, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    I once had a dream where I wrote down a list of words. I don’t remember what I read, as the words were unreadable. However, when I looked back at the list, I saw someone else had added a word at the top. I could read this word, it was “Harmonia”. In my dream I was more focused on who wrote it then what it meant. When I woke up, I thought maybe it was a cross between the word harmony and the word harmonica. I’d never heard of the word before. It didn’t sound familiar, and it wasn’t like the meaning was on the tip of my tongue or anything. I googled it, and it turns out Harmonia is a Greek goddess, daughter of Aphrodite. I know Greek mythology, and before today I never knew she had a daughter. I have never heard or read the word Harmonia until I read it in my dream.

  16. Alamari June 12, 2015 at 7:31 am #

    Actually just last night I dreamt of something that lead to reading. It wasn’t a book, it was a YouTube service violation note that pretty much said I copied somebody else’s work. Which is funny because I’ve never gotten one of those before. Also, I’ve never had an issue reading in a dream before, either. Not that I typically read things in dreams anyway since most of mine involve running around or driving places.

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