Proprioception While Dreaming

For years I’ve had a dream where, while running, I notice that my arms are totally not doing the regular running thing and are actually totally straight by my sides (or going across my body, or any number of odd non-running arrangements). It’s usually not a central part of the dream, just a small incidental wtf in the middle of some larger plot. Dream-me is also oddly accepting and calm about this. Sample dream snippets include:

  • “Ooo it’s so nice out I will run now” —> “Interesting, my arms appear to be straight down by my sides! And I can no longer control their movement! That seems unusual, I guess I’ll have to remember to bring that up at my yearly checkup”
  • “oh wow I’m back in high school and in the middle of a cross country race” —> “hmm, maybe I would go faster if my arms weren’t folded across my body? Too bad I can’t stop doing that. Oh well!”

For years I thought this was just a weird repeating dream thing and I didn’t think much of it. However, last night I had the weird arm dream right before waking up, and upon waking I noticed that my arms were in the same position they had been in in my dream. I had proprioception while dreaming! What the hell. And now that I’m paying attention to it I can think of other dreams I’ve had that involved me wanting to move my arms and not being able to.

I’ve also had problems with sleep paralysis, as I wrote about here. It seems like I’m prone to weird brain mixups where awake-things happen when the rest of me is sleeping, and sleepy-things happen when the rest of me is awake. I’d love to see more research about this.

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