Self | Psychology

Why You Never See Your Smartphone In Your Dreams

The ancient underpinnings of why your dreams get so wonky and scary.

Sean Kernan
5 min readSep 19


Pexels Images via Artem Podrez

I woke up this morning in full sweats—but was relieved. I dreamed I was trying to cross a busy highway. My partner Laura was on the other side of the road being wrestled down by some masked criminal. I was rushing through the traffic and running between cars. Then, I looked right to see a car roaring towards me. Just before it hit me, I woke up.

After opening my eyes, I pulled out my phone and used voice-to-text to record my dream into my Google Notes. I began this habit as a creative exercise. I’m a writer and figured there’d be some good inspiration in these dreams.

So far, my journal reveals only the subconscious ramblings of a 40-year-old madman getting hit by trucks, hallucinating about his teeth breaking, and desperately needing to tinkle.

In reviewing the notes, I realized something in particular. I’ve never once seen my smartphone in my dreams. Here I am, using this device all day long, and it hasn’t once made an appearance. Yet it turns out — this is a very common phenomenon.

Why smart phones are so rare in dreams

There’s a concept called the Threat Simulation Theory of Dreaming (TST)— which states that dreams are an ancient biological defence mechanism. Your brain is simulating threats and dangers it might expect to see in real life. It’s a form of preparation. For example, I have a fear of heights. My palms start sweating if I look over a high edge — or if I’m in one of those transparent glass elevators going to the top of a hotel. And so it isn’t surprising that I often dream about falling and slipping off ledges.

As you examine the threats to your existence, smartphones obviously aren’t killing or posing an immediate health risk. Even further, our dream-state fears is still anchored in our ancient selves. Which is why nightmares often involve running from creatures or dealing with aggression from other people.

Even in my dream about running through the highway, it felt like I was running through the middle of a bison stampede. The stitchings of our ancestors are…



Sean Kernan

Always on the hunt for a good story. That guy from Quora. Writing out of Tampa, Florida.