Does anyone have an explanation for this dream?

I had a dream this morning, unlike any I've had before. In my dream I heard my cell-phone's ringtone (which just happens to be Martha and the Muffins' Echo Beach).  In my dream, I answered the phone and there was my friend Guy Allman on the line, calling from the UK. He says. "Hey, Chris, morning matey. Guess what? It's 11.30am."  My sleepy, now half-waking brain does the calculation. That would mean that in New York, where I live, it must be 6.30am.  Waking up, and somehow knowing what's coming, but not really believing it, I sit up, lean over and look at the clock.  Not 6:29. Not 6:31.  6:30.

Some background.
- I don't make a habit of rising at 6.30. It's often 6:03, or 5:47, or earlier, or later.
- The phone didn't actually ring, and I didn't have a conversation with Guy in my sleep. It wasn't even next to the bed.
- It's *not* a surprise that I'd dream of a phone conversation with Guy, since he emailed me this week and I do want to call him.
- It's *not* a surprise that my brain guessed the time fairly accurately.  I have a good internal clock and often guess the time in the night within 10 minutes or so. But right on the minute is definitely a surprise.
- Being a Brit I am well aware that the time difference between UK and New York is 5 hours, though I'd always thought of that as a conscious calculation, not something my unconscious mind would be playing with.
- I don't believe that Guy somehow tried to send me the correct time, though I'm going to tell him about the dream just to make sure.
- I don't believe I looked at the clock in my sleep. You actually can't see the face of it without sitting up and moving over.
- I'm a total skeptic on most people's dream stories. I don't think they predict the future, except in ways that your brain naturally could, nor that they take you into a world of ESP, or whatever.

My theory:
- My unconscious mind/body runs a mental clock that is more accurate than I know, and if I could avoid letting conscious estimates over-ride it, I'd surprise myself more often.
- My dreaming mind did the reverse calculation and figured out that in the UK it would be 11.30 and inserted that time into the dream.

But it still seems surprising to me on both counts.  Is this type of dream common? Was the exact-to-the-minute timing perhaps just a coincidence?  What's your theory??  I know there are many much-weirder dream stories out there... !

41 responses
A coincidence, methinks.

I've had a similar dream ...almost to the minute .... regarding the birth of my nephew. I knew he was to arrive sometime that night. I had a dream about his birth day, I learn from my sister that he was born at almost the same time I had the dream (within 5 minutes).

Dreams are a form of preprocessing. I remember seeing an interesting segment on NOVA Science Now on this particular subject. My hypothesis is that based on your background, your brain was processing time zone conversion and how you might talk to Guy if he ever calls. In the end, you can't be certain, however I have some confidence in the theory put forth in this video:

Not exactly an explanation but for several years I would awaken at 3:14 exactly. It was known domestically as my Pi Time.
This is a classic Jungian issue on dreams. You should check out the Synchronicity phenomenon. To me your dream mean that your were right on time. ;)

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy"

It's a mysterious place this world of ours...

much may be said about many far as nailing the time? I believe our instinct often knows the exact time.
Interesting dream.

Have you ever had a 'Lucid Dream' ?
From what I've read of the subject, your chances are far better while you are having dreams like this one (where parts of the Dream and Reality blend together).

I can vividly recall 2 instances of 'weird' dreams or experiences while sleeping.

1. I was taking Drawing lessons from a professor at the University I was going to attend the following year, and made weekly or bi-weekly trips to that town for the lessons.

I hadn't a stable place to stay, so I slept at a friend in the Student Campus. As he didn't had a spare key for me, I needed to stick with him all evening. Friday evening.

I had my courses from 8 am, and needed to get up at 7 sharp to get there in time.

One evening after a lot of alcohol, and arriving 'home' at 4 am, I went to bed with only 1 though. I need to get up at 7. I kept saying it in my head as a mantra, as I positioned myself in a rigid position on my back.

I woke up at exactly 7.00 am, in the exact position I got to sleep. And very fresh considering I only got 3 hours of sleep (I usually need 7).

2. I only once managed to get a Lucid Dream. Very interesting, yet somewhat frightening, and the moment I realised I was in a Dream (I had been trying for a couple of weeks) I got so excited that I woke up.

Never managed to get another Lucid Dream.

Can't say whether it's common, but I've had similar dream experiences. Once I looked up from the bed and the ceiling and one of the walls of the room were rippling like waves. Freaked out I tried to sit up, but couldn't move my body. I looked down at my legs and struggled to move them but couldn't. Then I looked at the clock: 7:00. Looked back up at the ceiling and watched the walls moving in ways that I knew were not physically possible. Then I woke up, and opened my eyes. My body position was in a normal sleep position, on my side and facing away from the clock. I roll over and sure enough it's 7:00. As with you, not the time I usually got up. Agreed the explanation is probably a subconscious but accurate internal clock. Still quote odd. I wish I had dreams like that more often.
Actually I'm a hypnotherapist and have pulled off the biggest trick on the planet ...waking Chris at 6:30 a.m. makes anything David Blaine's done look pretty lame! Guy x
it seems to happen pretty often with me - different country and different time zones, sure; but i tend to have something of a back-up alarm in my head for days i don't wake up with the first mental alarm; and the back-up usually arrives in the form of a dream needing me to wake up.
I've woken up exactly 1 minute before the alarm goes off (not a "regular" time") & also exactly 1 minute before a phone call comes in as if my subconscious was waking me up for the call. The latter can't be anything even close to wake cycle rhythms. I don't think it's as much a "psychic" sort of thing but a misunderstanding on our part in how time exists. If all moments exist now, for example... ah it may be too early in the morning for me to be getting that deep.
I once saw a movie on youtube about a hobo who knew the exact time (to the second!) on any given moment of the day. Do not underestimate the power of your unconscious :D!!
the human brain is an amazing thing and i'm surprised that you are surprised that your body would know the exact time ;-)

consider the extraordinary mathematical power required to lift your hand and touch your nose without poking your eye out... your body does it, without conscious thought, taking into consideration different obstacles, the medium you are operating in (such as water or air) and any weights you add, etc...

golf is also a good example... how does a pro sink a hole in one? considering varying distances, wind speed, etc... for your brain to know the exact time is nothing in comparison... truly awe inspiring:-)

the weirdest dream i ever had : a friend of mine, james, and his wife were trying to have a baby... they had so far failed, even unfortunately having a miscarriage...

one night i dreamed that i got an email from a mutual friend saying that james and his wife had finally fallen pregnant... the next day, james phoned me and i blurted out "hey! i had a dream about you!"... i then felt very awkward give the nature of the dream and james and his wife's history of trying to fall pregnant... but eventually he dragged it out of me...

to my surprise, they had just found out that they were, in fact, pregnant but they hadn't told anyone yet... except our mutual friend who i dreamed sent me the email... [que x-files music]

baked my noodle, i'll tell you... but that's brains for you :-P

Your theory is correct.
It seems like coincidence with a bit of guidance; your mind's educated guess. Let's look at the numbers:
* you say you can guess the time with an accuracy of about 10 minutes plus/minus. So that part is 20:1.
* given your ability to guess time this precisely, I'm assuming you do this a lot. That means you probably see clocks in your dreams quite often. Let's say once per night.
* even if calculating time zone differences is a "conscious" process, you practice it often enough so the odds of getting it right "unconsciously" are perhaps 10:1
* as you said, dreaming about calling Guy was fairly likely, say 2:1

That's of course not a complete overview of the odds of having this dream, checking the time and taking the effort to blog about it. Based on only this you should have a dream like this about once a year. If it was 100 times less likely, you would have it once in a lifetime. If it was 10.000 times less likely, you would know at least a couple of people with a similar experience.

Sweet dreams :-)

Have you spoken with your friend yet? I will wager this friend was thinking or dreaming of you at that very moment. I have experienced this (label if you must) intuitive gift. Everyone has the ability.
I want to believe those numbers, Sjors. But they imply that there would be 20 similar dreams every year with the clock showing approximately but not exactly the right time. The latter have never happened. A surprisingly accurate subconscious body clock we don't normally have access to seems a more likely explanation.

Gaetane, love your comment. I think we need a TED talk on the science of touching your nose!

Thanks to others for posting. I'm fascinated by this.

TNtinman, yup heard from Guy. Despite his witty comment in this thread, he wasn't thinking of me. He was just in a meeting at the time of the dream. (He did say he had been talking about me the prior evening. So if it was a paranormal communication, that would mean that ESP takes 14 hours to travel 3000 miles! I think not.)
Not to put too fine of a point on it, but I've rarely used an alarm clock over the last several years. I simply tell myself before falling asleep when I need to awaken and then I wake up within a couple of minutes of that time. Actually there is a bit of a normal curve, but most frequently I wake within 1-2 minutes of set time. I attempt to calibrate my internal clock by asking myself each morning what the time is before opening my eyes and looking.
Good point. So I perhaps I was off by a factor 10.000 and it's still a coincidence.

After this blog post, you might have this dream more often. Perhaps you could keep a daily log with
a) of the last clock you saw in your dream: what time was on it?
b) your estimate of the time when you wake up (optional, probably interesting though)
c) the actual time
That might give you some insight in how your "internal clock" performs during REM sleep.

Ah, you have been enchanted by The Numbers. For years I would awaken and look at the digital alarm clock to see *only* times that had interesting numerical sequences or patterns: 1:23 AM, 4:31, 3:45, 2:46 (2 + 4 => 6). I came to believe it the play of a Trickster spirit. Or an alien energy. Or a bizarre quantum entanglement. Good Lord, Life is as mysterious as all dang creation. Yes, yours is certainly a synchronicity in the strictest of senses as meant by Jung (a non-causal co-relation between an internal psychological state and an external reality). Enjoy the mystery. Perhaps if you're lucky, more of these will happen. Though you might start to feel cursed. All that aside... Chris: this would be a fascinating subject for a TED talk. Perhaps it is time for one :-) I think that is what the Spirit of the Numbers is telling you. :-)
People in dreams are 99% of the time representing parts of our selves, ie a pregnant woman represents the birth of something like a new project, new job, new home, etc. So what part of you or your life does Guy represent? Maybe then it will make sense as to why the time was important.
To essentially repeat gaetane:
One of the more humbling realizations we can come to is that our conscious is perhaps the least intelligent thing in our little organic operating system. The amazing physical processes alone (which elude most teenage biology students) with all the coordination between various organs continues to hold me in wonder. We have barely scratched the surface of understanding of so much of life's phenomena. Is it odd to think that your subconscious, realizing that you've essentially overslept, manufactured a mental scenario to wake you up? And what better way to make a point to one's consciousness than to do so in a fashion that would keep your waking self wondering?
The day we seriously consider items reserved to the realms of new age "magic" and religious "signs" will be a lovely funeral for one more God of the Gap. Imagine Chris, the wondrous discoveries and self-propelled stages of evolution we enter when we pour as much reflection and study into the study of the subconscious mind as we currently pour into Flash usage on the new iPad! must have an evil twin...
Fascinating indeed! This is but one example of how our brains (and our whole existence for that matter) is a lot more complex than we realize.

Your experience can probably be explained without leaving the boundaries of “soon to be discovered” psycho/neurological science but borders on what is usually labeled as “paranormal”; an appellation that is, in my opinion, a misnomer of the worst kind. With nearly everybody experiencing such occurrences and, as you say, much weirder ones, it seems absurd to consider it anything but “normal”.

There is a lot of baloney out there and a healthy dose of skepticism is in order but such labeling, and the stigma that accompanies it, creates an unnecessary schism between science and these phenomena that prevents serious inquiry into a rich facet of our reality.

A look back at history as well as the most recent advances in science clearly demonstrates that much of the universe and everything in it remains a mystery to us (how dull it would be if this were not the case!). Hence, our current beliefs are best held lightly and with an open mind. What wonders await us if we allow ourselves to peek out of the comforting trenches of skepticism?!

I've heard it theorized that "Time", as we experience it, is really a "shadow" of real time. Maybe that real time is only accessible in pure right-brain surfing... and your left brain made a nice synaptic connection at the right moment to true-up the reality and the shadow.
Very interesting dream although I have had this happen myself on a number of occasions when I've had to be up at a specific time. Before going to sleep telling myself how many hours I need to wake up at that time. Once was in Wyoming whilst stopped on the side of the road and had to make a flight o Denver.

The crazier thing is I had Echo Beach as my alarm tone for about 6 months on my phone as well!

I've had these dreams on a number of occasions and have never been able to explain them other than being weird. I never thought to do any extensive research on them.

I went through a phase of writing down all my dreams because I rarely dream [that I'm aware of] and if I didn't write them down within minutes of waking up, I'd forget them. I found that the more I did this, the more often I was aware of my dreams and the longer I could retain the memory of that dream. I've since stopped recording my dreams and am rarely aware of them again.

I went for a period of about 2 weeks [a while ago] when I awoke at 3:14am on the dot every morning. I was never able to explain it. I lived in a detached house, I didn't awaken to any noise I was aware of, no alarm, I never found any reason for 3:14am being significant other than I awoke at that exact time for that period.

I suspect that our subconscious mind is far more aware of our place in time and space than we give it credit and if we could learn to tap into that we'd be astounded at what we could do.


Dreams are impurities of mind bubbling up from the subconscious. They manifest in the conscious mind as thoughts, dreams, emotional feelings and sensations.

The best things to do with them is to be aware of them, but not give much conscious attention to try and figure them out as they always have deeper roots than we can comprehend. Any added attention paid to them prevent the root still latent in the subconscious to be uprooted and released.

Everything arises and passes away. Layer by layer.


Maybe it's an important day
I have not read all the comments, but i like what people have written here. I am facinated about dreams and the power they can have.

I write down my dreams as often as i can (its frustating when you start writing and the dreams just fades away slowly).

What i think is interesting are the known and uknown in dreams. I dream about uknown/known places and uknown/known people.

I also like to think that there is a connection that people in my dream, dream about the same thing but from their point of view.

Your internal clock is accurate but I think the fact you were bang on is a coincidence. I assume dreams dealing with time happen often and with 6.6 billion dreamers odds are one gets it right once and awhile.
No one offered a simpler explanation: retrofitting. We are not so awake as we like to believe when we just woke up. You think the sequence of evens were as you describes but it's possible that the exact time didn't enter your Memory until after you saw the clock.

I've had more than once a dream that I would see something approach and when it hit the ground it would make a loud noise which was a real life sound. What actually happened is that I would awake because of a noise and in the microseconds that followed my brain creates a memory of a dream that would connect whatever I was dreaming before to that sound

Alexandre Van de sande that makes a lot of sense.
Have you ever watched the movie "Waking Life"? It's a story about consciousness-- in the waking, dreaming, gross, causal, and universal sense of the word. If you are intrigued by this morning's experience, I think you would enjoy it.

A dream within a dream within a dream, or so it seems to me. Part of your brain is most likely awake all the time, and it was this part of your brain that was informing all of the other parts what the objective reality was. What is going to be interesting for you, and I hope you will share it with the rest of us, is whether this dream sequence continues or if something like or related to it happens again. I have had period of time in my life in which I know that I was flying, in my dreams, and I actually believe that in some form of objective reality, I believe that the flying was actually occurring. I actually got better at it over time and that various levels of consciousness were concatenated within the dreaming state. So, let it happen, and see where it goes and how it develops. Something somewhere, even if it is "only" a part of your consciousness that you normally do not have access to is trying to tell you something.
I've been fascinated by 'intuition' for years. I chalk up most spooky, possibly paranormal events to our brains working behind the scenes. My husband never uses an alarm clock, gets up at varying times without a problem. I am not so sanguine, but with my insomnia can almost always guess, often right on, otherwise within a few minutes what time I have woken. And I went through a long period where I woke exactly at 3:00AM.
It is an interesting experiment to question each element in your dream, including, say, the cell phone, ask it what it wants, write the answers that come to you. Relates to astrowebgirl's comment.
check this
I think everyone run a mental clock and it's very very accurate.
For years, unless I was really really tired, I would ALWAYS wake up two minutes before my alarm would ring, just so I could get up and turn if off before it started, because I hated the sound of it. And it worked even though I didn't set my alarm at the same hour everyday. (Like every mondays 8 am but every thursday it would be 10 am).

It's amazing what the human mind/body can do :)

Your internal clock is accurate but I think the fact you were bang on is a coincidence. I assume dreams dealing with time happen often and with 6.6 billion dreamers odds are one gets it right once and awhile.
I have not read all the comments, but i like what people have written here. I am facinated about dreams and the power they can have.

I write down my dreams as often as i can (its frustating when you start writing and the dreams just fades away slowly).

What i think is interesting are the known and uknown in dreams. I dream about uknown/known places and uknown/known people.

I also like to think that there is a connection that people in my dream, dream about the same thing but from their point of view.

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