A pre-lucid dream is one in which the dreamer considers the question, "Am I asleep and dreaming?" The dreamer may or may not come to the correct conclusion. Such experiences are liable to occur to people who are deliberately cultivating lucid dreams, but may also occur spontaneously to those with no prior intention to achieve lucidity in dreams.
The term "pre-lucid dream" was first introduced by Celia Green in her book Lucid Dreams (1968).
It is generally preferred to use the term "near-lucid" dream on the following grounds:
- Historical priority: it has been in use since 1968.
- Currency: it was subsequently adopted by other writers on the phenomenon of lucid dreaming, such as Stephen LaBerge (1985).
- Clarity: lucidity in dreams may be thought of as a dichotomous variable: one either is or is not aware that one is dreaming at any given moment. Once lucidity is achieved it may have varying degrees of attainment, both from one person to another and from one dream to another within the same person. For example, one's memory of past events in one's waking life may be accessible and accurate to a greater or lesser degree (cf. Green, 1968, chapters 12–13: "Memory in lucid dreams" and "Analytical thought in lucid dreams"). However, the bare fact of whether or not one is aware one is dreaming does not admit of gradations.
However, the term "pre-lucid dream" seems to imply that a lucid dream will follow, which is not necessarily true. The term "near-lucid" helps convey the often humorous "so close, yet so far away" aspect of such dreams.
Vickers describes a number of aspects and variants of pre-lucid or near-lucid dreams:
- Misinterpreted dream signs: the dreamer notices incongruous thoughts, objects or events that suggest that this is a dream, but develops an alternate explanation.
- Failed dream tests: experiments such as pinching ourselves or trying to turn on a light only confirm the mistaken belief that we're definitely awake.
- Pseudo-lucid dreams: the dreamer becomes aware that he or she is dreaming, without quite realizing that dreaming means lying in bed asleep.
- Dreams in which you try to convince someone else that they're dreaming.
- Non-lucid dreams about dreaming: discussing or theorizing about dreams, without being aware that we're dreaming
- False awakening dreams: the dreamer thinks he or she has woken up, but is actually still dreaming
The question of "Am I awake or dreaming?" has been posed by existentialist philosophers in the form "Is life just a dream?"
- Vickers, Earl. "Near-Lucid Dreams and Related Phenomena: Humorous Commentaries on the Human Condition". Figshare. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
- Green, C. (1968). Lucid Dreams. London: Hamish Hamilton.
- LaBerge, S. (1985). Lucid Dreaming. New York: Ballantine Books.