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A Dream Within a Dream – Symbolism and Common Scenarios

If you’ve ever woken up to find that you’re still dreaming, it’s because you’ve had a dream within a dream. This can be a strange experience and leave you feeling confused. If you’re wondering what it could mean, there are certain things about the dream that you’ll need to take into consideration.  

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For example, the context of the dream, the people you saw, what you were doing, and any other elements you noticed could have an impact on its meaning, making it positive or negative. It’s important to know that everything depends not only on the circumstances of the dream but also on the subtle details.  

In this article, we’ll take a look at how to interpret your dream as accurately as possible and the many possible meanings behind it.  

A Dream Within a Dream – Meaning and Symbolism  

symbolism and meaning of a dream within a dream

1. You May Need a Break from Work 

If you dream about dreaming, it could be a sign that you have been working too hard and need a break from it. Your subconscious mind could be sending you a signal that you need some well-deserved rest. Waking up in a dream symbolizes waking up to a new life or career.  

If you dream that you woke up from a dream, you might need some time to think carefully before making some important business-related decisions or before trying to overcome difficulties. Such dreams are not so rare, and they always serve as a crucial reminder that things are not going well in your waking life. 

Symbol Sage Dreamcatcher-Tree-Of-Life-Necklace

Dreaming of sleeping can also indicate that you’re currently facing various obstacles in your life and career. 

2. Pay Attention to Your Health  

a woman jogging

When a person dreams of dreaming, this could be a harbinger of a long-term illness, the result of which can even be a disability or serious complications. 

This dream could also indicate that you’re subconsciously processing death or thinking about death. Perhaps someone close to you has passed away or you have concerns about such a thing happening. It could also be a sign that a loved one is suffering from an illness that would deny them the opportunity to lead a normal life.  

3. You May Be Feeling Guilty about Something 

This dream scenario can mean that you’re feeling guilty about something you have done or are currently doing. If you have been behaving badly toward another person or hurt someone else’s feelings, the dream could be giving you a sign that it’s time to make things right.  

Our subconscious mind has the most creative ways of warning us about things and the consequences of our actions. Take this experience to rethink your actions and behavior towards other people and try to fix any wrongdoings you may have caused. 

4. A Dream Within a Dream in Nature 

enjoying the nature

If this “double dream” is unfolding in a natural setting and you’re experiencing joy, this might be foreseeing a wonderful trip that you’re bound to go on. If at the same time you are surrounded by beautiful plants, it implies that you will soon receive something you have been waiting for, for a very long time.  

5. A Nightmare Within a Dream  

Dreaming about having a nightmare can have a negative interpretation involving your decisions or forthcoming issues.   

If the events that unfolded in your dream within a dream leave a negative impression, or you have any doubts or cause for fear, then it might be a good idea to prepare yourself for an unfortunate event or for some problems that could soon arise.  

6. A Dream Within a Dream and Derealization 

A dream within a dream is often paired with the feeling that you are not you. In such a dream, you may feel as if you are not yourself and that you are something empty, hollow, and artificial instead.  

In the case of derealization, the feeling that is mentioned above dominates, except that it is directed toward the outside world as well. While dreaming, you might also think: “I know this is my street, I’ve passed through it a thousand times, but it’s AS IF it isn’t. Something is strange, different.“ The experience is very intense, and strong and it can last until you switch into the second dream or ultimately wake up. 

Daydreaming Might Affect Your Dreaming 

day dreaming

Indulging in stray thoughts is most often considered as something negative, a waste of time, and childish behavior, and implies irresponsibility and avoiding daily obligations at work or school. However, drifting into the world of imagination from time to time is beneficial for your mental health and your dreams. 

If you’re a daydreamer and often zone out, you might be more likely to experience dreams within dreams. Many people escape into the world of fantasy at various times of the day. We do this while showering, falling asleep, traveling on public transport, and even at work or school. It’s normal to daydream, and we should always reserve some time to do it. 

What Happens to Your Mind When You Have Dream Within a Dream? 

To understand what’s happening in a dream within a dream, we need to understand that there are defense mechanisms in the psyche, which have the function of protecting the integrity and function of the psyche. During dreaming, many defense mechanisms can activate, and this splitting inside of a dream separates us from the situation.  

The splitting inside of a dream allows the individual not to experience the full force, the surge of overwhelming emotions. Splitting the effect of a dream does not make sense from the logical side. It’s not a matter of will and choice, but rather an unconscious reaction and manifestation of a defense mechanism. 

If you would like to prevent these experiences it may be a good idea to consult a sleep specialist or a psychologist who specializes in anxieties, fears, and defense mechanisms because they might be able to professionally help with your healing

Wrapping Up 

Dreaming of dreaming is not a consequence of a neurotic conflict, but can be a result of many things such as derealization, daydreaming, and our overall experiences in our wake state. 

Dreaming of dreaming has many meanings and while some of them are highly positive, others are a cause of concern. Sleep analysis is a tricky thing to do, especially when it is done for dreams that are not so common, given that sleep analysis is almost always a deep intrusion into such a subjective experience.  

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Nemanja Đukić
Nemanja Đukić

I am a writer and a teacher of rhetoric, international humanitarian law, and entrepreneurship. As a writer, I specialize in writing about history, politics, and finding quirky ways to elevate all the great selling points of a product/service. I obtained my bachelor's degree in International Relations at the University of Montenegro and completed my master' s studies at the Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary where I studied diplomacy. I believe studying diplomacy and politics sets you up for knowing how to craft a sentence, how to fill it with content and ensure that your audience understands the message.