There are a lot of facts about sleep cycles, and how dreams work, but from personal experience, they don’t seem to add up right.
It is true that dreams are capable of connecting a dream sequence that you consciously recognize as one flow, that was actually separated into many segments. There are small fragmented areas in long dreams where you feel “less aware”, or cannot recall all the exact details. It’s similar to looking back at your own waking life memories. There are bits and pieces that You don’t recall but overall have a general idea of the long term experience.
I usually have fairly long dreams. And my recall is rather exceptional. Due to this, I can often recognize these areas and notice strange things that occur… For example. The other night, I had 3 overlapping dreams. Two of them were taking place at the same time. Or so I recall as I woke up (I recall sequences switching back and fourth between two dreams, but the flow of each dream remained constant). Two running memories. Two presences. The third seeming to start nearing the end of one of the prior.
It seems so normal while asleep, but it’s extremely confusing after waking up.
I’ve had dreams myself that while I’m inside the dream, have lasted up to two years, but obviously after waking, It’s clear to me that it was a single night.
I for one do not believe that dream time is equivalent to real time. I’ve had several experiences where this has been convincing to me. Dreams that - even recalling all of it, and writing it down, have seemed to have lasted the entire night, even waking up, I’ve been ready to start the new day, only to find that it’s only midnight, and I had gone to sleep at 10:00pm. The same goes the other direction.
Time may or may not be fluid in itself, but our personal experiences can cause our brain to register it’s flow differently. There are many many causes for this to occur.
But one of the easiest examples is the difference between boredom, and enjoyment. “Time” Is not actually speeding up or slowing down. But the way you percieve it, is.
To my view, the way we experience time in waking life is expressed through our perceptions, and how they’re exposed to that waking life flow of time. Obviously your brain’s physical existence doesn’t speed up or slow down, but it’s processing may be capable of doing just that. Since dreams are not reliant on waking life’s feeds through perception, it may be able to process vast amounts of “dreaming” in very little amounts of waking life time.
This is quite easily revealed to me due to my waking dreams. Even when I am conscious and exposed to the outside world, I can fall into a dream inside my head, and I completely lose track of time. There are times when I’m lying in bed, or staring out the window of my front room, where it goes both ways. I feel like I’ve been dreaming for half a day, but it’s only been 2 hours, or the other way around. I feel as though I’ve been dreaming for possibly 2 hours, but it’s been 6. I had a serious problem with this in school. I would be trying to pay attention, then suddenly catch myself spaced out, only to realize that the subject being discussed had completely changed in only a minute or so, but it’s actually been half an hour. This is while I’m Awake. My waking dreams are not reliant on waking life’s perceptual input.
Another interesting thing, that may or may not apply as an example, is sedatives. (I think that’s the right term.)
I was put to sleep to have my wisdom teeth removed, and 5 seconds later, I opened my eyes again, and it had been an hour, or longer. I don’t recall exactly how long the operation took. All I recognized at that time was that I felt - for lack of a better term - a glitch. It had consciously felt as though it had only been 5 seconds, but deep under the surface, I felt another experience that it had in fact been as long as I was out. This was only a feeling, however, and my conscious perception still told me it had only been 5 seconds.
The only real facts I can provide about all this is my own observations, and of course, I’m not perfect or by any means more so knowledgeable about how it all really works, but that is just what I’ve had experience with.
Also… I have noticed that the longer dreams I have tend to make me more confused when I wake up… Longer dreams seem to be easier to remember, and feel more solid some how. I’ve woken up in the morning wondering who’s room i was in for a brief moment of time.