I fell asleep while listening to a podcast, and I am sure I was dreaming but I could also still hear the podcast.

The podcast played an important role in the dream, I was searching for the source of the voice, wondering if others in the dream could hear the same voice. I started to feel a bit panicky and woke up as the podcast also happened to end. I rewound the show and confirmed that it was all there, exactly as I had heard in my dream!

I would like to read more about this type of experience, but I am having trouble finding the right words to search. Is there a name for this phenomenon? Is there anything that contributes to experiences like these? I know it wasn't lucid dreaming, because I wasn't aware of being asleep.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ People are voting to close based on personal medical advice... I think that might be overinterpreting that rule a bit, but you could try to rewrite your question to ask about the more general phenomenon rather than your personal experience, that would be better. Incorporation of external stimuli into dreaming is a bit controversial, but you mentioned you have a baby, and disruptions of or lack of sleep can mess with sleep cycles. You aren't directly describing "lucid dreaming" but searching on that topic might interest you. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Feb 28 '17 at 22:45
  • $\begingroup$ OK, thanks @BryanKrause! I'm not looking for "personal medical advice" since there's nothing wrong with me. But I've edited the question now! $\endgroup$ – ZeroOne Feb 28 '17 at 22:48
  • $\begingroup$ And also no, it wasn't lucid dreaming, I wasn't aware of being asleep. $\endgroup$ – ZeroOne Feb 28 '17 at 22:49
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    $\begingroup$ Yes that's what I figured, which is why I asked you to edit rather than voting to close. I know you weren't describing lucid dreaming, but I feel like that term is sometimes overused. In the literature you will probably find people talking about it as "influences of external stimuli on the content of dreams" or something similar. However, there is some disagreement on whether people are really conscious of the external stimuli or whether they are actually just waking up a bit. The rest of what you describe just sounds like normal dreaming. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Feb 28 '17 at 22:59
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    $\begingroup$ I made some fairly substantial edits to pare down the personal story to the most relevant details which will hopefully encourage people to not vote to close or revert their votes. I'm not sure if there is a name for the phenomenon beyond the suggestions I gave to look into awareness/influence of external stimuli during dreams but maybe someone else will come along with a good answer. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Feb 28 '17 at 23:07

I think I found a good expression : "sensory incorporation in dreams"


It doesn't seem reflected in a Google Scholar search however, and I don't find a consistent terminology in the papers that do seem to be about the subject. That article can be a good starting point though.

EDIT: other good one: "influence of external stimuli on dreams".


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    $\begingroup$ Thanks, I'm going to accept this one, as I feel like this one answers my revised question the best. The latter article is actually a good one: from it I found a link to a web forum dedicated to everything about dreaming, so I should get further information from the people over there. :) $\endgroup$ – ZeroOne Mar 23 '17 at 11:31

My answer is going to be verily based on my experience and thinking, so don't take it for absolute.

When we are dreaming, at the level of the brain, sensual (meaning from senses) experience is being created by projection in the sensitive cortices (visual, auditive, somatic...) from other zones of the brain. In this way the brain is creating a sensitive environment and experience to the self, which, usually unaware that it is a dream, lives through it, making decisions, solving problems, having experiences, remembering and even learning.

In your case, it seems that, while you were dreaming (creating a sensory experience from the "inside"), you were also being sensually stimulated (meaning form the "outside", through a real sensitive organ - the ear). The input from your audition, though not enough to wake you up, still originated the corresponding projections in your auditive cortex, creating the matching experience of hearing the podcast and overlapping it with the experience that was being generated in the dream. This way, the sound of the podcast was incorporated in the experience created in the dream, affecting it in the process.

I tried to explain this in the most biological (neurological) way I could!

  • $\begingroup$ Please add some references to your answer. $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' Mar 2 '17 at 4:22

A classic of the genre of incorporation of sensation occurred in an 1865 dream of psychologist Louis Alfred Maury that S. Freud recounts at p. 21 of the 3rd. edition (1913) in translation, of his "The Interpretation of Dreams".

He {Maury) was sick, and remained in bed; his mother sat beside him. He then dreamed of the reign of terror at the time of the Revolution. He took part in terrible scenes of murder. and finally he himself was summoned before the Tribunal. There he saw Robespierre, Marat, Fouquier-Tinville, and a1l the sorry heroes of that cruel epoch; he had to give an account of himself, and, after all sort of incidents which did not fix themselves in his memory. he was sentenced to death. Accompanied by an enormous crowd, he was led to the place of execution. He mounted the scaffold, the executioner tied him to the board, it tipped, and the knife of. the guillotine fell. He felt his head severed from the trunk, and awakened in terrible anxiety, only to find that the top piece of the bed. had fallen down, and had actually struck his cervical vertebra in the same manner as the knife of a guillotine.

There is suspicion that the dream report was a backwards reconstruction from the awakening realization by Maury that he had been struck by the bed-board. From REM awakening studies, it is known that dreams take about as long to act out in real time as they appear to in the dream, so it could not be that the fall of the bed-board triggered the dream.

I think such hallucinoid dreams are not little stories, but pithy statements about the dreamers life at the time. If the dream images/scenes are viewed as letter-analogues, designed to elicit words or phrase in the dream report, to know what meaning to apply to those words one would need to know the true context -- what was on the dreamers mind at the time. The only clue we have is that he was sick in bed and his mother was with him!! My guess at the true context of the words in Maury's dream report, as understood by the cipher method, is:

"What a pain in the neck!"

Whether this refers to his illness, or his mother looking after him, or something else, we cannot know at this distance. The board falling on his neck brought the dream to a particular focus. There are many equivalent ways that such frustration can be vented, so if not that idiom, then another would have appeared in the words of the dream report.

Ken Arenson

For my blog on the cipher method in modern, post-REM dream science, see:


  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Biology SE! Could you edit your answer to make the link with the question more explicit? It is not clear to me that it really contains an answer to the OP. Also, be sure to include some reputable references for your claims to avoid downvotes or deletion of your answer. $\endgroup$ – vkehayas Nov 5 '17 at 13:11
  • $\begingroup$ Sure. The roots are old: Aristotle's "De somno et vigilia" says sleep and wakefulness result from our ability to feel and comprehend the stimuli of our environment.The questioner added to his original q. "I would like to read more about this type of experience". Maury's dream is considered a classic of the type. Cipher method is also ancient. e.g. see my Blog, 2nd post - Aristandros used cipher method on a dream of Alexander the Great in 322 BCE. See my Blog post 13, Ella Sharpe 1937 "Dream Analysis: A practical handbook for psychoanalysts", gives a modern version named "Poetic Diction". $\endgroup$ – Ken Arenson Nov 5 '17 at 15:47
  • $\begingroup$ rolled back edits because they introduced errors (in addition to fixing some things). Generally, please avoid editing quotes, especially when you change the meaning "(after all sorts of incidents)" vs. "after all, sorts of incidents". $\endgroup$ – De Novo Mar 13 '19 at 4:25

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