Dream question: why am I hearing my name?

Jessie asks “What about hearing your name called whilst asleep when no ones around?”
Delphi writes:

This is an interesting phenomenon and I hope firstly to reassure you, you’re not alone; many people have shared their experience of this with me.

Hearing your name called out in a dream can feel so real you wake up convinced someone is in the room with you.

Some people will find that external noises in their dreams influence their dream content; so if you dream the ‘phone is ringing you may wake up to find it actually is. (This is similar to dreaming someone’s at the door, to find the doorbell going as you “come to”). It’s also similar to waking up with a song in your head.

But what about hearing your name?

The interpretation of this can depend on the context of the dream, so it’s worth considering not just who the voice might be, but how you felt about it and why has this happened at this point in your life.

Spend some time when you wake up to focus your attention on the nature of the voice and consider the questions:

* “Is the voice male or female?

* Do I recognise it at all?

* How did I feel when I heard the voice, e.g. scared or comforted?”

Determining how you felt about your dream is just as important as what happened in it, and can give clues as to how you’re experiencing life at that time.

If the voice sounds familiar (even if you cant see the person behind it) it may be that someone in your waking life has been trying to get your attention but, for whatever reason, you’ve not been paying attention or taking any notice. Our brains can pick up subconscious clues when we’re awake, which don’t get our attention until we’re asleep (this is one of the theories behind precognitive dreams ). So, perhaps you’ve been caught up in your life in such a way that you’ve been distracted away from giving your time to people who matter most.

If the voice was demanding or scared you, it may be you’re worried you’re in trouble over something or recent events are getting the better of you. If ever a dream feels like a nightmare, it can help talking it through with someone you trust.

Sometimes the voice can be calming and reassuring, almost angelic. Some cultures believe dreams are a divine portal for messengers to introduce themselves to you. People who are beginning to explore a spiritual path may consider meeting their “guardian” or guide through their dreams.  Its important to emphasise that dreams of this nature will always leave you feeling positive and refreshed – re-energised even – never sad or distressed. If you woke up hearing your name, and you want this to happen again, you could try asking, before you next go to sleep – and if you feel ready – if you can ‘meet’ the person behind the voice in your dreams.

On this note, there is an apparent reference to this type of dream in the Bible. In Genesis 31:11 Jacob hears his name; he replies “Here I am” and an angel appears. At the time of the dream, Jacob is involved in an unhealthy ‘to-and-fro’ with his father-in-law, where he seems to be being tricked (certainly, taken advantage of). The angel seems to suggest that enough is enough, that Jacob needs to stop playing this game and walk away from the drama. Whether this resonates or not, it may be time to healthily address any problems in your waking life which are taking their toll on you.

From a different perspective, if you wake up as soon as your name is called it is also possible that your brain is alerting you to an immediate problem which needs your attention in an awake state. You may be getting too hot and so waking you up is the best way of cooling you down. You may also find my article about the First Night Effect (FNE) interesting.

Don’t forget to keep a dream diary if this is something that happens on a regular basis – you may notice patterns which offer an important clue as to why you have this dream when you do.

Most importantly, if the voice feels scary or malevolent this is more likely a symptom of stress or sleep deprivation.  Always speak to your doctor if you’re worried about your physical or mental health.

Subscribe to my newsletter to receive exclusive access to a free resource on how to keep a dream diary.

Interested in mental health? You might like Helping You Sparkle™.

Can’t find the dream you were looking for?  Why not pay for a dream interpretation.

You can also subscribe to dreaming, my regular newsletter about sleep and dreams, for fascinating insights and free online access to The Dreams Maven™ Information Hub, containing eGuides and resources on the topic.

Due to the volume of comments received in this thread, it may not be possible to read and reply to all of them.

Published by Delphi Ellis

Therapeutic counsellor, well-being trainer and author working with grief and mental health, helping people get their sparkle back. Explores dreams on telly. Avid tea drinker. © Delphi Ellis - Helping You Sparkle™ 2006 - 21

25 thoughts on “Dream question: why am I hearing my name?

  1. I get woke up by a recurring deep voice shouting my name right in my ear I’ve never heard it and they’re non too pleasant sounding it wakes me up abruptly at 330 every morning for the past week and I have window unit air-conditioned that as soon as I wake up I hear the beeping like buttons being pushed and it gets cut off. I then can’t get it turned back on until much later in the day. Is this something major is this just coincidence am I going crazy what’s up?


  2. I woke at 6.15 to a voice calling my name, it was a male voice and he called me Chris instead of Christine so I know the voice was familier to me, but not sure who. The voice came from a white tunnel and it was calm and gentle. I wasn’t scared, I felt comfortable, can you tell me what this means, I then woke to the phone ringing but it wasn’t ringing thanks x


    1. Because this phenomenon is still not yet really understood, I think it’s fair to say that anything is possible. However, it’s also worth thinking about what it was saying and how much stress you’re experiencing at the time. The body speaks in lots of different ways, always in an effort to keep you healthy and safe. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself, managing your stress positively if it’s becoming a problem.


  3. Tonight I fell asleep and had an awful dream of throwing things at my ex, children’s father, and his girlfriend. Lately I have been stressed and exhausted. Well, right as I was in the midst of this I instantly in my dream was then laying on my bed the same exact way I was sleeping except in my dream I was at the very edge of the bed (laying on my right side and right hand under my head) looking at the floor trying to focus on an object that was laying halfway under the bed sticking out when clear as day my name was softly whispered and the back of my shirt was being tugged. I’m sitting here 40 mins later and can still feel the tugging. It was like someone was calling my name and repeatedly pulling my shirt to wake me up. My name is Jessica and they said Jess for short. It sounded like my mom almost. I was kind of scared, confused on who it could be. Scared because no one could have possibly done this since my kids are 3 months and the other 2 years in cribs. When this happened, the dream went away, I felt one more tug and couldn’t wake up. I heard my name one more time and was stuck in this weird sleep state where I KNEW I had to get up, told myself get the heck up Jess and finally jumped up with my heart racing. During the time of trying to get up all I could see was what I can describe as clear white water. It didn’t ripple but it moved in a way like how back in the day when you had a chanel on tv blocked….back and forth and it didn’t mix. I’m telling you that I would have put down a million dollars someone was in my room with how real the tugging was and my name called.


    1. Hi Jess, thank you for sharing. These dreams are usually stress related – yours is also an interesting experience and one I would like to explore with you in more detail, if you’re happy to get in touch via https://thedreamsmaven.com/contact The link to the main article on my website is here https://thedreamsmaven.com/2016/05/05/dream-question-why-am-i-hearing-my-name/ which may also be useful. (The lady who prompted that article was called Jessie).


  4. I have heard my name been called out 2 times now it’s never happened to me before now the first time I didn’t think nothing of it as I thought I was just dreaming but the second time I was actually waking up and I responded by saying what then I thought I heard my phone ring I checked my phone but there wasn’t any missed calls my name is called out to me twice and very clearly on the second occasion I actually woke up and was alert to the situation is there any explanation for this please


  5. Only twice has this happened. Once voice said wake up Barbara. Second time voice only said Barbara.Can’t determine male or female.


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