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What If You Die In Your Dream?

What If You Die In Your Dream?
VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio
Does dream death equal REAL death?? Join us... and find out!

In this video, Unveiled takes a closer look at the terrifying theory that dying in your dream means you will die IN REAL LIFE!


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If you die in your dream, you die in real life. It’s a claim as old as time, whispered knowingly and ominously everywhere from elementary school playgrounds… to high-rise city office blocks. For many, if anything, it’s an urban myth, plain and simple. But, still, there are some who will swear that it’s true. So, what’s really happening here?


In this video, we’ll take a closer look at this age-old belief to find out what’s really going on. And, be sure to stick around until the end, because we’ll also be taking a closer look at how dreaming might, at the very least, bridge us to parallel worlds. But, for now…


This is Unveiled, and today we’re answering the extraordinary question; what if you die in your dream?


For most people, dying isn’t necessarily something you want to think about. During the day, if the specter of death ever even threatens to rear its head, our brains can feel as though they’re hardwired not to notice it. We don’t usually come away from watching a murder mystery movie, for example, desperately scared that our own lives are about to end. We’re not typically (and instantly) plunged into an existential crisis everytime we pass a funeral parlor. For the most part, our brain just muddles through without any major issues. 


But that’s not quite so true when we’re dreaming. Every night, all of us have the potential to unwittingly enter into a dream world. It’s rare that we ever choose to dream, or choose what we dream about. Dreams just happen, and in the morning we’re left blinking ourselves awake, trying to make sense of it all. So much so, that nightmares can be difficult to recover from. And a dream of death can often feel like the worst nightmare of all.


Here’s where the idea that if you die in your dream, you could die in real life… quickly takes shape. It’s a notion heavily shrouded in folklore and anecdotal tales, and it mostly links back to variously ancient (and modern) understandings that dreams are much more than made up stories in our heads. They’re significant, and particularly as harbingers of future events or as reflections of our deepest fears. Overall, it’s usually said that if you actually, finally and ultimately die in your dream… then it’s either because you have died in real life (in your sleep) or you’re about to die in real life, possibly during the following day. The stipulation is, though, that you do have to actually, finally and ultimately die. If you dream of death in general; or dream of the moments up until (but not including) your own death, then most of the myths, legends and rumors concede that you should be fine.


Over the years, and all over the world, many cultures have viewed sleep, in itself, as a state akin to death. Others have suggested that while we sleep, although being unconscious to everything around us, we’re actually tapped into a higher level of consciousness; a higher dimension, to some. Again, according to various claims, it all leads back to dream death being fundamentally linked with dying in this reality (if not in all). There’s a profound (even physical) link, they say, between the here and there of sleep.


However, and despite its seeming prevalence as a baked-in idea, there is no scientific evidence to support any of these claims. Most notably of all, even if you were to die having dreamt of death, then you’re obviously unable to link the two as a warning for anyone else… because you’re dead. Meanwhile, reports in the living, waking world of a dream of death can always be explained away as not quite fulfilling the criteria, in the event that the person reporting them never actually dies as a result. Much of the fear is quite understandable, however, because again dreams can feel like a very powerful force.


In general, it’s thought that dreams are products of our subconscious minds. They’re seen as a cognitive method to process our emotions and life experiences; even those emotions that we don’t otherwise notice while we’re awake, and those experiences that might’ve similarly passed us by at the time. Most dreaming happens during Rapid Eye Movement (or, REM) sleep, which is during the very deepest parts of sleep. Particularly intense nightmares can certainly cause physical reactions, as well, like increased heart rate or sweating. In some cases, you might even cry out or violently jerk your limbs, as if in self-defense. Or perhaps sleep paralysis could set in. But, while all of this physicality is suggestive perhaps of how impactful dreams can be, there is still no direct link between dream content and actual mortality. According to almost all mainstream science, you cannot dream yourself to death.


That’s not to say that dreams are never related to a person’s demise. Unfortunately, in a broader sense, they can be. From the psychological perspective, dreams about dying can certainly be unsettling. Repeated dreams, even more so. To the point where, with some conditions and in some circumstances, it can feel as though the lines between a desperate dream world and the waking real world are no longer there. If this is the case, then a professional psychologist can help. Because, in fact, some psychological approaches suggest that if a dream about death means anything at all, then it is most likely something much less sinister. Such visions may instead signify change or transformation, in general, with a metaphorical 'dream death' pertaining to old habits or former situations being shed for new growth. Mostly, then, it’s actually a positive thing.


The Swiss psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, posited that dreaming about death typically reflects an inner desire for change or simply a general understanding of one’s own mortality. Austria’s Sigmund Freud - author of the internationally recognised and pioneering text “The Interpretation of Dreams” - suggested it might express repressed wishes or unresolved conflicts, yes, but never an imminent death in the making. In essence, experiencing death within a dream wasn’t (and isn’t) considered a warning or, indeed, a death sentence… but rather an invitation from our psyche to explore wider transitions that are apparently occurring within ourselves.


Some, then, might prefer to think of death dreams as simply being one of many that you might experience (and probably have experienced) in your lifetime. Other seeming dream omens include endlessly falling; which is said to hint at a person feeling out-of-control in life, and therefore thoroughly stressed. There’s also being chased, which some suggest links back to any kind of lingering problem in your day-to-day, that you’re trying to avoid. Dreams of darkness are sometimes tied to depression, in general. Losing teeth signifies a real world loss of something significant. Or, and on an especially epic scale, do you dream of the apocalypse? If so, then it potentially points to collective anxieties in the waking world, as your brain attempts to unpick particularly monumental themes, such as societal unrest, war, or even future technology.


Importantly, we know that dream interpretation is inescapably subjective. It varies from person to person. The context of the dream, the individual's personal experiences, and their cultural beliefs all wield an influence. And, when it comes to dying, we clearly all have our own ideas, theories and past experiences with that. Nobody thinks about it in quite the same way.


So, if you die in your dream, you don’t automatically die in real life. That’s true. But, if you do ever wake up feeling thoroughly reminded of your own mortality, then it is perhaps worthwhile to take some time to think about what’s happening in your life, regardless. 


For now, though, what’s clear is that a lot can happen in our minds while we sleep. So, and steering away from death, how far could dreaming really take us? Next up, we take a closer look at the link between dreams and parallel worlds. At how our sleeping brains might actually be tapping into endless other multiple realities. And, it’s starting right… about… now. 


What did you dream about last night? Before you head into the comments to detail every last moment of the strangest visions you ever had, consider how weird dreaming really is. Yes, there are various, variously conventional ideas on exactly why our brains take us along these nightly journeys, and we will cover that in today’s video. But, alongside all the more expected explanations, there are some truly out of this world notions that dreaming might actually be more than simply random stories that we tell our sleeping selves. A lot more.


This is Unveiled, and today we’re answering the extraordinary question; do we enter a parallel universe when we dream?


Dreaming has long been one of the most mysterious aspects of the human experience. As we drift into the realms of sleep, our minds conjure up vivid and sometimes bizarre scenarios, leaving us to wonder about the nature and purpose of these nocturnal adventures. As strange as it all seems, however, there has been a lot of scientific thought and theory put into trying to understand dreams. So, before anything else, let’s start with that.


At its simplest dreaming is a complex and dynamic process that occurs during the rapid eye movement (or, REM) stage of sleep. This time is characterized by heightened brain activity, which in turn generates vivid imagery in the mind’s eye. Of course, dreams can be mundane or fantastical. They can make perfect sense, they can make no sense at all. And researchers generally believe that they’re influenced by a myriad of factors, including our daily experiences, our underlying emotions, and our subconscious thoughts.


There have been plenty of in-depth studies into dreaming, over the years, and especially in the twentieth century. But three of the most notable and widely referenced are: Freud's Interpretation of Dreams, in 1899; Hall and Van de Castle's Content Analysis, in 1966; and the Activation-Synthesis Model, in 1977.


Sigmund Freud's groundbreaking work in many ways laid the foundation for modern dream psychology and analysis. Freud proposed that dreams were a window into the unconscious mind, revealing repressed desires and unresolved conflicts. And, while some aspects of the Freudian approach have been heavily criticized, the emphasis on the symbolic nature of dreams and their connection to the subconscious remains influential. It was more than sixty years later, though, that another major shift took place, following the Content Analysis study of ‘66. Here, the researchers Hall and Van de Castle systematically logged and analyzed thousands of dream reports. They identified common themes and symbols, providing valuable insights into the universality of certain dream elements. And their findings paved the way for a more empirical approach to dream research from that point on. Finally, however, and developed by John Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley, the Activation-Synthesis Model of ‘77 broadly suggested that dreams are a direct result of the brain's attempt to make sense of particular neural activity during REM sleep. This was something of a pivot, then, as dreams are here seen as a form of 'brain noise' that the mind simply organizes into cohesive narratives. Or, sometimes, not so cohesive narratives. This model certainly challenged Freud’s ideas, highlighting the biological basis of dreaming. And today, researchers are usually caught somewhere between the two ways of thinking; either dreams are a reflection of ourselves and our non-physical minds… or they’re the creation of traceable neural firings within our physical heads.


So now, let’s enter a parallel universe.


The connection between dreaming and parallel universes perhaps understandably arises from the surreal and often nonsensical nature of dreams. In a dream, the laws of physics and reality seem to be suspended, allowing for otherwise impossible scenarios. In your dream world you may inhabit a version of you that can fly, or change faces, a version that’s turquoise all over, or one that doesn’t have eyes or a mouth. Seemingly anything goes. And so, while dreams themselves still don't serve as direct evidence for parallel universes, they have long prompted speculation about the nature of reality and the boundaries of possibility.


Some theories suggest that the bizarre happenings in dreams align with the principles of quantum physics and the concept of a multiverse. Broadly, quantum uncertainty posits that all possible outcomes of a situation do exist in what might be termed as parallel universes. This means that, even in the apparently real world, anything actually is possible. And so, dreams could then offer glimpses into these alternate plains. Quite how, no one’s really sure… but it’s a suggestion that has gradually garnered some support.


Robert Lanza is an American scientist. For much of his career he’s worked in the fields of stem cell research and cloning but, in 2007, his profile took a different direction when he published an article titled “A New Theory of the Universe” in “The American Scholar”. In it, Lanza outlines his model of biocentrism, which he puts forward as a candidate toward a grand unifying theory; a theory of everything. In short, biocentrism argues that life and the universe are inherently related to, dependent on, and created by the individual; by consciousness. It’s said that seemingly key concepts - such as Albert Einstein’s spacetime - can only ever amount to speculation. And that all we can be truly sure about, when contemplating the true nature of reality, is that it’s always, essentially, our own doing. The look of a tree; the shape of our hands; the passing of time; the contemplation of gravity… it’s all biocentric in that none of it exists without consciousness to make it exist.


The bridge between this worldview and dreaming is, then, quite simple. As Lanza and other biocenticrists would have it, all that we do in a dream - creating and experiencing perceived realities - is also all that we do in waking life. There is no, or little, difference, and the two aspects of life only feel as though they’re separate because we require sleep to access one of them. Lanza argues that both the waking and dreaming experiences amount only to the collapse of probability waves into an observer-led reality. In this way, the approach does somewhat mirror the aforementioned principles of quantum physics; things only exist when we see, feel or experience that they do, but quantum uncertainty at the same time means that anything is possible. In dreams, compared to in waking life, that last part is always far more apparent… which is why we can dream fly, among endless other things.


In an article for “Psychology Today”, in 2021, taken and adapted from a 2020 book he co-authored, titled “The Grand Biocentric Design”, Lanza explains further. “In dreams,” he writes “we leave the consensus universe and can experience an alternate cognitive model of reality - very different from the one shared by other observers while awake”. Here, then, it’s never as though we pass through some kind of wormhole while dreaming, to enter into another dimension. Instead, it’s a realization that any alternate universe that might exist does exist within consciousness, it’s merely a matter of access. The waking world is an interpretation of reality shared by all who populate it; the dream world is an interpretation usually shared by far fewer, and often only inhabited by one, the dreamer. It’s as though, on a set that picks up infinite radio stations, your dreams are those where only you are listening.


So, what’s your verdict? How do you view your own dreams? How do you feel when someone else starts telling you about theirs? One somewhat stereotypical response whenever another person begins recounting their dreams is to suddenly drift off; to find their tale perhaps unfairly tedious. Could that feeling, in itself, betray something more? Could it be that you’re often less interested in other people’s dreams because those are “parallel worlds” that you’re simply not a part of? 


Lanza hasn’t commented on that particular aspect, but in general his approach has hardly gone unnoticed in recent times. For some, biocentrism amounts only to philosophy, and has yet to seriously break new ground in terms of the scientific understanding of reality. But, to others, the overriding ambiguity is also key to how (and why) this model works. 


All of us live, all of us dream, but the connection between those two shared experiences has always been somewhat mysterious. Freud argued that dreaming was a reflection of our innermost selves. The Activation-Synthesis Model says it’s the result of our physical brains responding to random neural activity. But biocentrism throws all that out the nearest window. Instead, it suggests that dreaming is every bit as real as living. And that’s why, perhaps, we enter a parallel universe when we dream.