Somatic phenomena are the physical sensations the body experiences while dreaming. When our bodies experience the discomfort or annoyance of pain and pressure, such as discomfort from an uncomfortable position our limbs are in while we sleep, this sensory input can be translated into our dreams.
Our mind uses the dream to convey the uncomfortable state of our bodies. Because the mind does not view reality in dreams in the same way it does when we are awake, these messages often come to us in a symbolic way. Herbert Silberer, a German psychologist, recorded a dream he experienced when he was sick with a high fever and laryngitis, which made it very painful for him to swallow. He reported drinking a bottle of water in his dream, only to find that another had taken its place as soon as he finished the one before it. This represents the saliva he had to swallow continuously, even though it pained him to do so. In a different study, blood-pressure cuffs were put around the ankles of subjects and slowly inflated while they slept. Each person reported a different variation on the theme of being tied down, whether by snakes, ropes, or other items of that sort.