Since a child I used to travel at night. This continued, but less, later in life. A few years ago the alarm clock woke me up in the morning as usual, and I reached over to switch it off, but my hand went straight through it. Then I woke up. And managed to switch it off :-) The quality of experiencing stuff while being out of the body is very different to the quality of a dream. It's a bit like anything in life, you can only understand it if you've experienced it.
The brain creates consciousness: one of those ludicrous modern scientific positions.