From adventurous to romantic to straight-up heartbreaking.
And honestly, the responses were downright fascinating. Here's a peek into just a few human brains:
My go-to fantasy is that I've been kidnapped. I vividly imagine the situation that would lead up to me getting taken, and what I would do after the kidnapping occurs.
I am a powerful mermaid/fairy princess who knows the solution to every single problem in whatever realm I'm in. And the realms are usually whatever TV show I watched right before bed — I've been in Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, and many more. I even make whatever character I find the most attractive my boyfriend.
This song-worthy affair:
I've had this recurring fantasy about Taylor Swift for years — I came up with it during her “1989” era, then retired it, and now that “Reputation” is out, it's back in full swing. Basically, the fantasy is that we're secretly in a lesbian relationship. I start out as an experiment to her, and we only ever hooked up when she was drunk, but she slowly develops feelings for me and we start secretly dating. At first, it's fun to see the media try to guess what men her songs are about when they're really about me, but eventually, it becomes tiresome to hide and I ask her to be with me for real. She says she can't, because she's not ready to come out, and we break up.
Months later, when her new album comes out, we're reunited when she plays a show at my college, and performs a romantic song while looking straight at me, then invites me on stage to profess her love for me in front of everyone.
I imagine that I'm a down-on-my-luck artist who looks for a Sugar Daddy to get back on my feet. For a while, I only use him for the money and gifts, but we eventually fall in love and he leaves his wife (beard) for me.
I always think back to the times when I was in college, when I was alone with my girlfriend. Nothing sexual, just her calming presence next to me. Neither of us having a care in the world other than being near each other. We are still together 10 years later, but life has changed. Everyday ailments and responsibilities pile up, and it seems like all we can do is try to survive. I fantasize about what it was like to live, not survive.
This alluring post-mortem:
I like to think of me dying. Not in a “bad for my mental health way,” but in a “I wonder how these people would react” way. I often think that I would be able to have written them letters beforehand, and those would be delivered after my death. Then I would be able to see how they feel, like how my crush would act, and how they would feel about me. And also how my friends would feel about me too. I don’t know if it’s weird or not, it just happens.
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In my alternate world, I'm attending university. One day, while studying in the library, I have a moment of brilliance and write an eloquent equation that describes all the physics of the universe in a concise “theory of everything.” I present my work to a physics professor, who steals my work (a la Watson and Crick) much to my chagrin.
However, I take this injustice upon myself and fight the professor with the backing of my great friends. Eventually, the truth is spread that an average girl has discovered this equation, and I win a Nobel Prize. The fantasy ends with me meeting my favorite scientists and I become a real life Ms. Frizzle!
I usually think about my crush finding out about my depression and self-harm. In my thoughts he'll hold me and comfort me, and just be there for me. My last boyfriend found out and immediately used it as ammo against me, as he was emotionally abusive. Dreams let me think about someone actually loving me for my flaws and making me feel worth something.
I imagine little situations with me and my fictional crush, Hiro Hamada from Big Hero 6. Nothing sexual, just the little things that make me happy, like ice skating together or saving the world together.
This unusual home:
I always had trouble falling asleep as a child due to overthinking and an active imagination. This carried on into my young adulthood, until I began imagining at bedtime that I lived inside a loaf of bread. I was very small and lived inside of it. Just me; no additional objects. I can't explain why, but it always calmed me down to the point where I could fall asleep, and it still does today!
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I like to fantasize that I'm the youngest ever delegate of the United Nations, and then a few years into my future I become the youngest-ever UN president, while also being the world's number one female freestyle footballer. I always imagine speaking out about human rights like gender equality, for example, and taking down anybody who opposes. Then, one day I'm on a talk show like Ellen or Jimmy Kimmel, for example, and I'm just known as like that really cool role-model for everyone, sort of like Zendaya!
I always create TV shows for me and my friends to star in. I get really into creating intricate plot lines and complex characters, and I sometimes even think of several seasons' worth of episodes for my fictional shows.
I'm at school. It looks the same as it does in real life. I stumble around and bump into a crush of mine. He's on top of me and we pull apart. I turn away to run back to wherever the hell I was before and he stops me. He pulls me into him and we kiss. I pull away after a minute and I say, “DID YOU JUST KISS ME?! WHY THE HELL ARE YOU ASSUMING THAT A WOMAN WANTS TO BE KISSED? WHAT IS THIS, A ROMANCE MOVIE? OH HELL NO.” And he just stands there puzzled and confused. I tweet about it and it goes viral. The end.
This very important audition:
For several years now, I have been imagining that I am at an audition for some movie. I'm waiting outside the room — either in some outdoor veranda or garden — and I'm next in line. I'm also the only one there at the moment, so I'm running my lines. Then, out of nowhere, Tom Hiddleston walks over and starts conversation, usually picking up the next line that I've been saying. We start to chat and things get a little chemistry-filled. But we're interrupted by the assistant saying that I can go to my audition. Tom asks if he can run in early and just say hi to the director because they're friends. I say yes, and then a few minutes later, I go into the audition room.
Turns out, whoever I'm supposed to be reading with never shows up, so the director asks Tom to stand in for him. So I have my audition opposite him (which may or may not involve a kiss) and the director loves it so much that he ends up casting both of us in the lead roles. If I'm having a particularly restless night, I'll go on to imagine the movie set and the growing chemistry, but I'm usually asleep around the time I get the part.
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I like to think about the Bifrost portal opening up and my favorite Marvel Comics Universe character, Loki, coming out of it and taking me on an adventure in Asgard/space. We go around different realms, messing with various people along the way (Loki is the trickster god, so it's appropriate). We stop by Earth sometimes and FUCK SHIT UPPPP for a certain orange man. I like to think it plays out like the nonexistent Loki solo movie would. Somewhere within the journey, I learn magic, knife fighting, and become Loki’s closest friend — and sometimes his girlfriend? It varies.
I had a heinous boss. For six months, every single day, she used humiliation as a way to control me. One day I just up and quit. I fantasize before I fall asleep about her company coming to work for mine, then I drag her ass off-site and kick her teeth in.
My reoccurring fantasy that I have before I go to sleep is basically an imaginary future of my own life. My (fake) husband and I work together as teachers. It includes a completely made-up backstory for him where we just happened to stumble into each other and fall in love. There are even multiple characters involved! Sometimes it's very simple, and sometimes it gets a little graphic, if you know what I mean.
This romantic moment:
Every night, I fall asleep imagining being proposed to. The person is different most times, sometimes totally made up people, sometimes celebrities or fictional characters, but the big part is the soothing feeling I get imagining what it would be like to have someone love me enough to marry me. So far in my life, that hasn't happened, not even close.
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I'm adopted, so a lot of my fantasies involve meeting my birth parents. I love my adoptive parents, but it's fun to imagine. Sometimes, I find out my parents are billionaires who will give me a lot of money when I turn 18. Other times, I find out they're celebrities who can bring me to parties and introduce me to all of my favorite movie stars and musicians. Sometimes, though, they're just normal people who had a great reason to give me up and are proud of who I've become, and then BAM, I have a whole second family.
Most of my fantasies involve waking up in the body of another person — usually a celebrity or fictional character. That way, I don't get hung up on insecurities or my anxious brain being like, “Well that would never happen to YOU.” Right now, I imagine I wake up as Archie from Riverdale, and let's just say I've gotten myself into a lot of love triangles during my tenure as that dude.
I am at a concert and before it starts, I go outside to smoke a cigarette. The lead singer is out there as well, trying to be inconspicuous. We start chatting. I obviously play it cool enough to get a backstage pass, and we have sex after the concert and I get pregnant. I’m kept hidden from the media until I’m spotted leaving the gyno, and the secret's out! We aren’t in love or anything, but we both want to do the right thing. I end up losing the baby and he is very supportive during the rough time. Our relationship blossoms and I marry rich! Yassssssss!
This life-changing scenario:
Literally I think about winning that darn Powerball Jackpot almost every night; how that money would completely change the way I live. I could finally pull myself out of crippling credit card debts, afford my epileptic dog’s $150/month medication for the rest of his life, take my family around the world in a comfortable but not overly grand excursion, see my favorite stage actor perform across the pond. I could get the off-road vehicle of my dreams and climb every mountain in the country and never have to deal with the mediocre crap life I’m currently stuck in.
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My mother passed away almost five years ago. I have this fantasy that time travel is accessible in the future. However, there are some ground rules with time travel. You are not allowed to change any major event, let anyone know you are from the future, or take any items from the past. I am 35, and have a five year old daughter. I have spent years saving up money to allow both me and my daughter to travel back to the year 2000. We finally get clearance.
We land in a McDonald's parking lot. I open the door for my daughter and she jumps out, examining this new land she has been transported to. We enter the McDonald's Play Place. I see a beautiful petite woman sitting in the middle of the room talking on her cell phone in Spanish. My daughter runs to the jungle gym. I decide to sit close enough to my mother to casually strike up a conversation.
“How old is your daughter?” I ask her. She looks at me with something I have never seen from her before, unfamiliarity.
She says, “Five years old, she is my youngest.”
The girls are playing in the ball-pit together. I smile as I watch my daughter play with myself when I was her age.
My daughter has to meet her, I think to myself. This is why I am here.
“Giselle!” I call out.
My mother stares at me in disbelief. My daughter climbs out of the ball-pit followed by my younger self.
“You're not going to believe this, but my name is Giselle.”
“Really!” I try my best to act surprised. My daughter comes running into my arms. “Guess what, Giselle. You guys have the same name.”
Then I watch as my daughter finally meets her grandmother.
I have this whole entire fantasy world no one knows about except me. Everyone is friendly and kind, as everyone in the world has some type of artistic ability whether that be dancing, singing, acting, painting, or whatever. We don’t use much technology — more of a pencil and pen kind of thing. During special events, when the clock strikes midnight, everyone gathers and lets lanterns float into the air. Oh, we also have magical powers too; pretty cool. Beautiful, unique, and special. One day when I’m older, I want to write a novel about this fantasy dream I have, or maybe put it into a series.
This magical transfer student adventure:
When I was younger I used to have a crush on Harry Potter, so I created a character, Jupiter. She was a transfer student from an American wizarding school, who started going to Hogwarts around her third year. Harry developed a crush on her only to find out later on that she’s the half sister of Draco Malfoy.
I fall asleep almost every night imagining that I’m going to sleep on my therapist’s couch. Sometimes, in the fantasy, he’s just in the room working quietly on his laptop while I fall asleep in his presence. Other times I imagine him smoothing my hair until I drift off. It makes me feel deeply cozy and safe.
I used to fantasize about my version of the American dream, capitalistic success, notoriety, vapid romance. Yawn. Now that this lifelong delusion has been shattered, my favorite bedtime fantasy storyline takes place in a post-apocalyptic society, where myself and my polyamorous marriage of superheroes team up to bring love and consciousness to a healing ether. My dreams are goddamn delightful now!
I create my own romantic comedy filled with overplayed clichés, but it's incredibly dramatic and fun because I'm the main character. I run into “The One Who Got Away” in NYC. I am an up-and-coming film director and he is an up-and-coming chef. To make things complicated, I am dating a great guy. We have a great history of friendship and we never dated, so I invite “The One Who Got Away” to my super ritzy dinner party that I am hosting.
At the dinner party, we share great laughs and rekindle that amazing friendship I was too afraid of breaking in the past. He stares into my eyes and leans into me saying, “I've always wanted to tell you something,” when I hear a familiar voice: my boyfriend. Because of my current boyfriend situation, “The One Who Got Away” and I enter into a When Harry Met Sally scenario.
It always ends with him declaring his love for me in a Pride and Prejudice fashion, ending in heartbreak rather than kisses. I can never come up with a logical reason we can't be together. Still, it never ends with us getting married, happily ever after, etc. I have commitment issues.
This dystopian dream:
If I can’t fall asleep, I imagine I am at a futuristic spa that performs any procedure imaginable. I go head-to-toe and imagine fixing my every flaw. Manicures, laser-hair treatments, magical augmentations, down to the last perfect detail. It’s soothing in an odd way, and by the time I have created my ideal self I have fallen asleep.
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OK so… It's a typical American City, late evening. I am eight to nine months pregnant, and I need the loo. My best friend (on some nights my best-friend-I-used-to-date) lives in the city, so I turn up at his place. My best friend is Marvel's Bucky Barnes, except he has no metal arm, it's not 1942, and he isn't a super soldier, so he's basically just Sebastian Stan with Bucky Barnes name and personality. He lets me in to use the bathroom, despite the fact that he currently has a date over. That date? You guessed it! Steve Rogers. I apologize to Steve Rogers, who is very “AW SHUCKS, NO PROBLEM” and also “I'VE HEARD SO MUCH ABOUT YOU” and “OH WOW, YOU'RE PREGNANT? I LOVE BABIES!” (So, again: Chris Evans with Steve Rogers name.)
He invites me to join them for a drink. I do so. Then we proceed to have a nice chat. Some nights my wife, Kristen Stewart, comes over, and she and Bucky Barnes smoke cigarettes on the balcony while Steve Rogers and I drink tea in the kitchen and talk about how great Bucky Barnes is. Over the years I have honed this to perfection, and at this point I drop off to sleep before they can even pour me a drink.
After a long-time friend took his life this year, a lot of my before-sleep fantasies changed from steamy ones to ones that revolve around talking to him one last time, or how he would have reacted to seeing me again after not talking for a couple years, but mostly just talking to him about my day and imagining him laying there listening and giving witty feedback.
This simple desire:
Every single night, I fantasize about getting undressed as soon as I get home from work or school, getting in bed, taking a luxurious nap for a couple hours, and waking up to my imaginary husband bringing me my favorite homemade seasonal soup, which he cooked for me when I was sleeping. We eat the soup together. That’s the whole fantasy. There’s no sex or anything, just soup.
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I fantasize about telling my roommate that I'm not re-signing our lease next year, and then, when she acts like this is super out of nowhere, explaining in great detail why I would rather rip my own eyeballs out than live with her and her complete disrespect of our space for ONE MORE MINUTE. It always puts me right to sleep, but damn, I wish I could afford to actually carry out this fantasy. It's been six months and it's not looking like I can move out anytime soon.
I imagine I'm already sleeping. Boring, but gets me to sleep every time.