I’ve finally found a reason to be thankful for sleeping lightly. This past Saturday, after spending much more time than usual with Mamie and Tantie (we hit up the holiday market during the day and went dancing at night), I dropped into bed exhausted – both from staying out late and from speaking so much non-stop French.
You know when you’re in that liminal state between wakefulness and sleep and you catch yourself thinking nonsense thoughts? I was doing that in French, which made whatever I was thinking seem that much more bizarre (and awesome). I quickly dropped off to sleep and started dreaming. A guy, maybe a friend?, was distraught because he had found out his girlfriend was rumored to have once been an escort or porn star or something. I responded with a lecture about how even if that were the case, it wouldn’t change who she was, and he should think twice about reacting harshly. (My dream self is not necessarily representative of my real-life self, I’d like to note.)
It was around this point that my dream turned lucid, and my consciousness interjected, “Wait a minute… I’m dreaming in French!! This entire speech I’m making is in French! And check out these crazy complicated conjugations I’m doing!” But then my lucid self questioned whether I was actually dreaming in French or just dream-speaking in French, i.e. putting nonsense words together like I had been doing right before falling asleep. So my conscious self went word for word over whatever I said to the guy next and confirmed that yes, I was in fact dreaming in (somewhat) properly formed, logical French. This in turn inspired my dream self to sermonize further just to hear herself speak.
And then my full bladder unceremoniously woke me up, allowing me to recall that I had been dreaming, to remember a few words and phrases of what I had said, and to confirm in real life that I had crossed over the dreaming-in-French threshold. I have never peed so happily in my life.
Why? Because many, many people have told me that they knew they were becoming fluent in their foreign language when they started dreaming in it. While French has shown up in my dreams here and there, it has always been just a few words or phrases, and I was always too deeply asleep to tell whether it was true French or babble. Lately, I’ve been feeling that my progress in French is crawling along and that I’ll be dead before I’ll be proficient. But now I have a small glimpse of hope.
P.S. Have you ever had lucid dreams? It is so much fun. I used to be an expert at it when I suffered from insomnia in my 20’s and was always on the edge of rather than fully asleep. Not only would I be aware that I was dreaming, but I could also sometimes control the dream like a self-designed virtual reality game. These days, my better sleep comes at the expense of lucid dreaming… though some people think you can train yourself to do it.