False Awakening: Dreaming About Waking Up

a man dreaming he is awake

Have you ever had a dream in which you think you’ve woken up, only to then wake up later for real?

Perhaps you even got out of bed, started your morning routine, and then snapped out of a fantasy breakfast to find yourself back in bed?

If this sounds familiar, you might have experienced what’s known as a false awakening.

Dreaming about waking

False awakenings are often remarkably vivid dreams in which you think you’ve woken up. But later, you’ll wake up in your bed for real, remembering that you had just dreamed about waking up.

Sound confusing? It certainly can be for many people.

In this article, I’ll be looking at false awakenings and ways to manage them; you’ll find practical techniques for preventing them if they’re upsetting you.

You’ll also discover ways to become aware that you’re dreaming. And potentially use your false awakening as a stepping stone to the fascinating world of lucid dreaming.

False awakening poll

I asked 557 readers about their experience of false awakenings. 59% said they found it distressing. However, 17% said they enjoy it or find it interesting. And a further 11% found it can lead to a lucid dream.

infographic showing the results of a reader poll into false awakenings

Too real to be a dream?

One of the fascinating features of a false awakening is just how vivid and real it can seem. So you might not question the reality of it, even if you have some feeling that it could be a dream.

Quite often the experience takes the form of waking up and doing something familiar and normal. For example, you might get dressed, go to the bathroom or sit and have breakfast.

So it’s only when you wake up for real that you realize what happened, and puzzle over what a remarkably realistic dream it was.

Nested dreams

For some people though, there might be a few more episodes yet before the eventual real waking. Repeated false awakenings, all within one sleep, are not unheard of.

This extended version of multiple false awakenings is sometimes referred to as nested dreams, or dreams within dreams.

It might sound like the unlikely plot of movies like ‘Inception’. But these dreams within dreams do happen, and can leave you feeling like you’re trapped inside your dreams.

False awakenings can seem so real that perhaps even on finally waking up you might wonder whether you’re still dreaming or not.

What causes false awakenings?

There’s no scientific consensus on the cause of false awakenings. It’s understandably a difficult area to research, and there’s very little written about it in medical sources.

The two most common theories are:

Worry or anxiety

If you’re worrying about something important the next day, you might dream about it – perhaps to rehearse the event in your sleep.

Your brain might then dream of waking up, perhaps as the starting point for your mental rehearsal.

Some also believe that expectations play an important role in dreaming. If you’re worrying, you might expect to sleep badly and wake up in the night, or need to wake up early for an important day.

This anxiety could influence your dream and create a false awakening.

Sleep fragmentation

Your brain can be in more than one state of consciousness at once. So it’s possible that the part of your brain responsible for dreaming and also for consciousness are both active.

This fragmentation could then lead to vivid dreaming of gaining consciousness and waking up.

False awakening or sleep paralysis?

False awakenings are sometimes confused with sleep paralysis, a sleep disorder which can occur either when waking up or falling asleep.

During an episode, your body is paralyzed, but your brain is conscious and aware of your surroundings.

What some people experience is a false awakening in which they dream of waking up and being unable to move.

This can of course also be very frightening, both in the dream and when you wake up and remember what just happened.

The key difference is that the paralysis really does physically occur during sleep paralysis.

On the other hand, the paralysis during a false awakening takes place purely within the dream. You will usually then wake up in your bed and be able to move normally.


False awakenings aren’t thought to be an indicator of mental illness. In fact, they are quite common, and it’s thought that most people experience them during their lives. So in that respect, they don’t usually require treatment.

However, if you’re repeatedly having them, and they are distressing you, it might help to speak to your doctor about it. They might consider the following options:

  • Dream rehearsal therapy (see the article about nightmares for more on this).
  • Anxiety or stress treatment if it’s thought to be a cause.
  • Medication in certain circumstances, for example with associated PTSD.

It could be that the best option is not to worry and try to accept it as a normal part of dreaming. Alternatively, there are two different paths you can go down in terms of self-help: stopping them happening, or using them as a tool for lucid dreaming.

Self-help for false awakenings

It’s one thing to wake up properly after a false awakening dream and then lie in bed thinking about how odd it was.

It’s an altogether different experience to become aware of it whilst you’re still in the middle of it.

How do you gain that awareness though? And once you do, do you decide to try and wake up, or go with it and see what happens?

The answers to those questions are part personal choice, and perhaps part whatever level of awareness you actually manage to achieve.

So let’s take a look at what you can do in the throes of this strange experience.

1) How to wake up properly after a false awakening

If you have a false awakening, you might just wake up naturally afterward anyway, sooner or later. A moment of awareness within the dream may never actually happen.

Even if you do realize you’re dreaming, it doesn’t always follow that you can just decide to wake up. Sometimes it can take a little effort, especially if it’s an unpleasant dream which somehow grips you.

If you do realize you’re still dreaming rather than awake though, here are some actions which might help you wake up for real:

  • Try and focus your mind on moving a finger or toe. When you gain control of that, move to an arm or leg if you still haven’t woken up.
  • Try blinking rapidly.
  • Focus your gaze on one thing in the dream.
  • If there’s a mirror, try and look at yourself.
  • Try and do a complex action, like running, jumping or even dancing.

All of those techniques, of course, require a certain level of awareness though; you’ll either have it or you won’t in any given dream.

Let’s now look at what you can do if you’re not in such a rush to wake up, and like the idea of exploring your dreams a little further.

2) Turning a false awakening into a lucid dream

artistic image of a woman dreamingIf you’re the adventurous type, the idea of lucid dreaming may be an exciting and fun one.

False awakenings are often reported by the lucid dreaming community (for example in the world of lucid dreaming) as a potential bridge.

In some ways, it’s a fairly straightforward concept. First, check that you’re dreaming and therefore become aware that you’re still inside the dream. Secondly, get moving and explore to your heart’s content.

Becoming aware that you’re dreaming isn’t always so easy though, especially when you just dreamed that you woke up!

Reality checking

Here are some techniques to do what’s known as a ‘reality check’, and find out which side of the dreamworld your feet really are:

  • Try and remember facts or figures. It can be difficult to recall factual information, such as your address, phone number, or someone’s date of birth. If you find it difficult, it’s a sign you may be dreaming.
  • In a familiar room, try moving into the next room or hallway. You might find it changes into something which shouldn’t be there.
  • Try to read any writing, numbers or symbols in the dream. Reading can be difficult in dreams and the words or numbers might blur or morph.
  • If in doubt, you probably are asleep. Despite the fact that your brain can create incredibly vivid scenes, if you’re even asking yourself if you’re dreaming, you very likely are.
  • If you’re doing a complex task in your dream, perform a reality check: in the bathroom, see if you look normal or not. If you’re eating breakfast, check if the food tastes as it usually does. In bed, check if the bedding has the right texture or feel.

The idea is that any of these reality checking behaviors can trigger awareness that you’re still asleep. If that doesn’t then wake you up, then you’re free to explore a whole imaginary world of possibilities.

If you’ve never experienced the kind of awareness that doing these things would require, don’t worry about it. Even reading this and remembering it might help trigger that awareness in the future.

If you want to explore the idea of lucid dreaming further, there are lots of online resources which claim to help you learn the skill.

Do note though that scientists are still largely unconvinced about the efficacy of any one technique. For example, a review of scientific research by Heidelberg University in 2012 suggests that the techniques don’t work on demand.

So perhaps patience and a little luck are required if you’re to master the art of lucid dreaming.

Ways to prevent false awakenings

Lucid dreaming won’t appeal to everyone; if you have bad dreams, you might be more interested in stopping them altogether. And of course, controlling your dreams can be easier said than done.

In this case, there are some techniques which might help prevent them. Or at the very least, help stop them happening again the same night.

Please note that these ideas aren’t guaranteed to stop your false awakenings specifically. In many ways, they are suggestions which are thought to help with sleep problems in general.

  • Avoid caffeine and other stimulants, especially in the evening.
  • Avoid alcohol in the evening since alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns.
  • Try to calm your mind before going to sleep. If you struggle with anxiety or stress at night, you might find it helpful to do some calming mindfulness exercises.
  • Do regular exercise. It might also help to go for a short walk in the evening before bed.
  • If you have a false awakening, get out of bed for 10 to 15 minutes before going back to sleep.
  • Keep to a regular sleep pattern and don’t allow yourself to become overly tired or sleep deprived.

Your thoughts

Have you experienced a false awakening, or a series of nested dreams? What happened and what did it feel like?

Have you had an experience where a false awakening has then led to a lucid dream?

Feel free to share you story and views in the comments below. I’m sure other readers will also find your experience useful and interesting.

677 CommentsLeave a comment

  • For the third night in a row I’ve had what I think is flase awakenings & sleep paralysis. First two nights were just the false awakenings, but last night it was more I felt as if I never actually fell asleep, but I must have done because things were happening that just didn’t correlate when I actually woke up. (My phone went off in my dream and my arms were so heavy all I managed to do was pick it up, switch it off and throw it on the floor, same thing happened with my sons tablet, but when I actually woke up they were both still on charge next to my bed), it took a more sinister turn last night, hearing scary noises and then feeling as though I was struggling to breathe (as though someone was sat on my chest). Sleep has always been a bit of a weird experience for me, I’ve suffered with sleep paralysis (very) periodically since my teens, when I was a young child I used to be able to have dreams I could fly through your my town (I would literally look down at myself sleeping and take off throughout my house and through my town), sometimes my dreams are so vivid it takes me a while to realise that certain things I’m feeling is because I had a dream and not because of an actual event, but now false awakenings. Thank you for writing this article, I was struggling to find something the correctly identified what I was experiencing.

  • I had a false awakening sleep paralysis (or however you arrange those words) dream this morning. It was extremely terrifying. I was lying in bed and heard shuffling like someone’s Jean’s rubbing together when they walked. Knowing my fiance had left for world at least an hour before that and I was home alone, my heart began racing in terror. I tried opening my eyes, but they were incredibly hard to open, like if you’re overtired or when the crust closed when you’re sick, except neither of those were true and I just couldn’t open my eyes. The shuffling got closer and closer until whatever it was was pacing next to my bed, inches away from me. And then, when I could finally force my eyes open, there was a slightly translucent figure on the bed next to me, kind of resembling my fiance but not at the same time, like a creepy, demonic version of him, so naturally I was alarmed. It seemed like it was something completely different just taking the figure of him, not him at all
    Like he was wearing my fiance’s body and face as a mask or costume. It started saying my name and rubbing my leg, and I was finally able to snap myself out of the paralysis part and kicked my leg out at it, trying to figure out if it was real. My leg went through it, but slowly and painfully like I was moving through water or sand. I looked at the thing, which eyes were glowing now right at me, and forced myself to say, “you’re not real.” The thing continues to stare at me and said, “do you really think so.” But not in a questioning way. I then ACTUALLY woke up, breathing heavily and absolutely terrified. This is not the first time this has happened, but it is the first time I have actually seen a figure.
    I’ve been lying in bed since 7am, exhausted but forcing myself awake because of how scared I was.
    I want these dreams to stop so badly.

    • Has anything out of the ordinary happened in your home? There was some spirit or demon in my home for a time a few years back. I started having some bad dreams then and for a while, I kept waking up about the same time every night. There are times I wish I didn’t have to sleep so that I wouldn’t dream. That thing is gone now but I sometimes wake up at night with intense confusion.

  • OMGGG ok i never thought i could figure out what i really had but this article literally sums it up
    ive been having these wierd dreams lately, probably bc my sleep schedule is MESSED UP (im a HS student)
    so i had this one dream where i woke up from my bed thinking it was real life and i kept getting murderered and returnin back to my bed only to get murdered again
    by far the most horrifying thing ever, bc i went throguh the emotionof actually dying or feeling like i was being killed
    i soon figured that i must be in a dream
    i tried to yell and scream and move to get out of the dream but i just couldnt
    its like my voice wasnt coming out no matter how hard i tried
    there r so many details im leaving out of this btw, it was rlyyyy scary
    but ya its like you cant escape your mind and its horribleeeee

    and after a few days i had another creepy dream! i was getting uo in my bed amd there were these crazy possessed dolls lurking and it literally freaked the heck out of me, and i finally jolted awake hopeing they werent real
    my gosh im scared to go to sleep now
    ill try to get back on a regular scheule but this really sucks

  • I must’ve fell asleep and thought I was up but then I knew I was dreaming Bc my dead grandmother was in my dream, and I was so happy to see her I was hugging her and I can’t remember if she talked to me. The next part of this dream I heard winds loud like almost like a movie, so now I thought I was up and feeling freaked out Bc I just dreamt of my grandmother, but the winds were loud and I felt the need to get out of my bed to go see my son. It took so much strength to get up and go but I finally did, to find him crying in his room and when I asked what’s wrong? He looked at me. Waking up in my bed and feeling powerless, I never got up and went to his room at all I dreamt that I did. When I finally got up, my heartbeat was fast I went in his room and he was fine just on his game. This has never happened to me in my life.

  • I’m not sure what kind of dream this was but I want it stop because aren’t the most pleasant and they keep happening. I dreamed about being in bed and sleeping and hearing noises, like a tv on. I knew that I hadn’t turned the tv on so that’s when I realized it was just a dream. I feel like I’m starting to wake up from the dream because I hear keys in the door so I automatically think it’s my bf getting ready to come into the house, but then I don’t hear him come in so I’m just lying there waiting. But somehow I realize I’m still dreaming, but it doesn’t feel right so I try to wake myself up. I can’t seem to move or speak. I’m not sure how long it took me to actually wake up but I was fighting to wake up and when I did my body just kept wanting to slip back into sleep mode and I’m currently trying not to fall back asleep because I feel like the same things will happen. I really would like these dreams to stop. I’m never in the same setting, I’m usually sleeping in the dream and something always feels off so I try to wake myself up and that’s the hardest part.

  • Something like this happened to me the other day and it isn’t really like how some of you had described it in the comments.
    I went to bed (I was sleeping in a swag with my boyfriends swag about a meter away) and I went into one of those jolts when you fall asleep and jolt awake. I heard my boyfriend laughing in the swag next to me. Then I got up and unzipped the swag and lied down on the dirt opposite his swag. The ground was really soft and wasn’t gritty like it should be but I didn’t notice at the time. I could hear my boyfriend laughing and talking. I then got up and lied in a camp chair a few meters away. I thought I was awake the whole time. This is when I realised something was wrong. I hallucinated a man digging a hole next to my swag and it was about a meter deep. I started panicking and my boyfriend got out of his swag and sat next to me. I couldn’t cry or speak and I was trying to say his name but couldn’t and he couldn’t hear me. I closed my eyes and he was asleep next to me and I could feel his clothes this is why it felt so real. Next thing I know I wake up in my swag exactly where I fell asleep with everything zipped up. Boyfriend was asleep the whole time, I hallucinated everything. Anyone had anything like this where they thought they were awake the whole time?

  • I just woke up about ten minutes ago from a false awakening and what i’m going to guess was also a nested dream. Honestly, I’m very out of it and confused but at least I know i’m awake. Basically, I had texted my boyfriend before I napped to call me in an hour to wake me up because we had planned on talking before his break at work. He said he would, I went to sleep like normal. I don’t really remember falling asleep, as none usually do, but I remember falling asleep… again? I think that I dreamt of falling asleep in the exact same state as I had actually fallen asleep. My surroundings were completely normal and the same and I was laying on my stomach, which is how I’d gone to sleep in real life, so there wasn’t any question to me of whether or not I was dreaming- I assumed I wasn’t and went on with falling asleep. In the dream (that I thought was real life) I woke up when a weird sort of… something happened. I remember that I described it in the dream to myself in my head as my soul leaving my body, and I became very unnerved and upset because I thought that I was going to have a lucid dream (which I don’t like to have as they are often nightmarish and difficult to wake from). I remember trying to wake myself up. Generally, when I am trying to wake up from a dream in real life, I try to yell or make noise with my mouth, but it never works. The sound and air feels trapped in my throat. Still, I tried to do this, but it didn’t work until I stopped trying and focused on opening my airways for a second and then tried again. I managed to make a noise (since this was still in a dream I have no idea if I made the noise for real, but i thought that I wasn’t dreaming at this point) and my ‘soul’ reentered my body. I remember texting my boyfriend about what happened and saying that I was very scared and we had a full on conversation about it. In the dream that I thought was real. Anyways, I then remember texting him to wake me up when it was time and that I was going back to sleep. I fall asleep again, don’t let my soul leave my body, and have what would be considered a normal dream while I’m asleep in my other dream. This was the reason I woke up so confused. I was having a dream in my dream about being asleep. That’s what made it feel very real. The dream inside the dream was standard “this makes no sense but i’m dreaming it” and I don’t recall if I was controlling what was happening. I felt like I knew it was a dream, but at the same time I didn’t. It was pretty trippy. When my boyfriend actually called in real life, I actually woke up and I was extremely confused since I think at that point I was texting him again in the dream (I had been slipping in and out of dream and waking up multiple times throughout the whole dream, but never really woke up). I answered the phone and with how confused I was, tried to explain what happened after looking at my messages and seeing I hadn’t texted him at all in the time that I thought I had been. After explaining it to him (or trying to, at least) he asked if I was high, so… Haha! I am still a bit dazed, but at least I’m really awake.

  • I thought I had a lucid dream but now I think it was this, this “false awakening “. I was in bed last night and I always wake up in the middle of the night because of pain and such. Anyways, I “woke up” last night and I was laying there looking around at first and my room looked like it was in a dream like state. It look like the Northern Lights. Then I later backs and my ceiling (having patterns on it) started forming words and sayings but they were unreadable. It was then I realized I was dreaming. I did my reality check, (my finger through the palm one) then I told my self I would have a lucid dream and tried to go back to sleep) which I did and woke up an hour later. So it was either lucid or false wakening. But now I know. I do this all the time. Wake up, stay awake for a while do “normal” things then wake up later on and not really feel like I woke up earlier. I even have watched movies in my “sleep” and not remembered, but I “do” remember doing in a dream. I always thought that was a boring but weird dream! LOL!

  • Last night I had reoccurring nested nightmares, where I would wake up to a new way of the world ending. It was such a mortifying experience and I never want to have it again. The cycle kept going until the sixth time, I finally woke up, in tears and hyperventilating.

  • I just love lucid dreaming bt sometimes it becomes scary…the 3rd last dream was really interesting there I met a girl played with, her father was very strict .there was a apartment in which she lived in b\w when I realised it was a dream I asked her to show her when I went in her room there was calendar of Thakur Prasad bt i was not able to see the date lol and the most interesting thing is that I didn’t noticed any person other than her…bt I really felt good at that place ..
    Before that I had a dream in which I had a magzene from which I could take anything like dishes , clothes etc then it turned in a lucid dream when I realised it was a dream I took my fav dish bt lol I was not able to taste It ….
    After that I have only got two scary lucid dreams together with sleep paralysis😡😔

  • I’ve been having false awakenings (?) every so often just recently. I’ll be dreaming and then I’m ready to wake up, but I’m not able to open up my eyes or move my head. I will be using my arms to try to lift my head up, but there’s pressure behind my neck straining it down. I’m fully aware I’m sleeping and just cannot wake up. It’s extremely distressing when it happens and I feel like when I do wake up, I jump awake. I work night shift so have an irregular sleep pattern so not sure if this contributes? I usually wake up with a headache after these episodes happen. Is this sleep paralysis or false awakenings or something entirely different?

  • I’m a teen and my false awakening are very frightening in the moment. I have terrible memory but the last dream was just a dream but I had thought I had woken up but I tried to wake up my sister and she would wake up and again i thought i woke and realized i was still dreaming at this point i tried waking my self up while still in bed and I was thinking on how to wake up when suddenly it felt like “dream me” could feel and hear the real me breathing when I actually woke up I jolted up taking a deep breath in but not feeling scared, at least im pretty sure this is what I did, my dreams usually tie to reality so often now that it’s hard for me to distinguish what things actually happened and what happened in my dream.

  • I have very vivid and lucid dreams. My problem is that when I dream, they usually aren’t very nice. I try to wake up by pinching, hitting, slapping my self, reading something, running water on me or moving my feet to remind me I’m in bed. When this happens I feel better for a second but realise a moment later I’m still dreaming. I try explaining to the people in my dreams what just happened and retracing my steps, only for something else that’s undesirable happens, where I want to wake up. I even tell people in my dreams that this isn’t real, I’m dreaming. The people in my dreams think I’m crazy. They try telling and showing me things to prove to me I’m not in a dream, try to console me about my previous horrible dream and say I have woken up, the dream before was just a dream. I give up trying to convince them and start to believe them. I have people even wake me up from dreams, telling me I’m having a bad dream, in my dreams. Sometimes I can control what I do, where I go, and then my conscience takes over and takes my power away to control what happens. It makes it really hard to tell what is a dream and what isn’t sometimes. What has happened and what hasn’t. What I’ve done that I had no control over. What makes it worse, in my dreams I’ve obviously pinched, punched or smacked myself so hard, I have marks, welts and bruises where I’ve tried waking up but some of my attempts haven’t been successful. When I really wake up, I’m so exhausted from all the things I’ve done in my dream I just want to go back to sleep. I’m glad it’s a normal thing now because it does feel very distressing when you wake up and have to really really ask yourself am I still in a dream or not.

  • I think I really can explain the cause behind false awakenings. Because I just had one & it truly felt to me that this is the reason why. I believe that false awakenings happen to those individuals who hadn’t had a deep sleep (good sleep) for a long time. So whenever it’s time for the body to be set into a relaxation mode, it is more often that your body automatically tends to put itself to a deep sleep as you go to bed at night. The cause of a deep sleep in a dream is hence the effect of a false awakening. Now with just a single false awakening or multiple ones in a single night would depend on how deep you’re into sleep, which as a result it’s how much your body demands for rest as a result. The deeper you’re into sleep, the more false awakenings you’d generally experience throughout the night, which is exactly in my case. Another way to put it is like this, think of sleeping as different layers of depth, if you’re sleeping deep enough for your sleep to reach to that layers of depth as a result of what your body demands in order to restore itself. This is when false awakenings happen & the reason why it feels so real is because your not used to having such long hours of sleep, so generally whatever time you’re suppose to wake up, you wake up inside your dream as a result. As you’re inside a deep layer of sleep, you’re awakened in a certain layer upwards towards reality if that makes sense, but you’re not completely awoken. Only when your body restores itself to a point when it’s ok to reach those upper layers of depth towards the real world. Then perhaps, your body allows you to become awoken. This is my theory behind the false awakening experience of my own!

  • I don’t really know weather these are false awakenings or not, but I have two very specific dream types that I am aware of. The first is like a video game where if I survive I repeat the dream except it gets a little more difficult. And the second is the first thing in the morning dream where I ended up late to work because I want to see where this goes. The second is the the weirdest. I have actually gone to the bathroom with my eyes closed knowing that if I opened them the dream would be over. I even guess the time mid dream to see if it’s time to get up.

  • I often get false awakenings when I have woken up from sleep, and then decided to go back to sleep around half an hour later.
    Sometimes it can be that I wake up in bed, and try to get up but my body is very sluggish, and I can’t move properly. I usually fall onto the floor and have to drag myself around. Then I will find myself back in bed again, and the process starts again until I wake up for real. It can be very frustrating and a bit scary, and it usually takes me a little while to realise I’m dreaming.
    Other times, it can be a much more pleasant experience. Sometimes I falsely wake up to sexual encounters. They feel physically VERY real, like I can physically touch things. The way I explained it to my boyfriend is that if you reach out and run your fingers down the wall, you KNOW that you can feel the wall under your fingertips (it’s cold, smooth, textured etc.). But, if you imagine running your fingers down the wall without actually doing it, you can conjure up what it would feel like in your mind, but your fingers don’t actually feel the coldness and texture etc. In my dreams, I have the former, so I can actually feel skin and sheets etc. but I know that I am not really moving in real life (because my boyfriend has told me). I can also control what happens next in these dreams – so these ones are generally quite enjoyable haha.
    Does anyone else have dreams where they can vividly touch things? It’s so odd!

    • Yes I have touched a hand in my dream bt don’t know whose there was something jst closer to my pillow I knew it’s not true but was not able to wake up and heard a sound everything was all about the dream except that sound..

  • About 4 years ago I began having episodes of “sleep paralysis”. I asked my college psych professor if it was normal to experience these episodes so frequently, and he told me not to worry. It was absolutely the most terrifying thing I had ever experienced. It would happen frequently throughout the next couple years. I have learned to just deal with it. It became less scary because I knew it was happening. I would wear earplugs and a face mask to prevent the hallucinations and the noises I was experiencing from bothering me. Most of the time that prevented anything from happening and I would sleep without incident for a couple months. It was great. Now lately all of the sudden I noticed a difference in my “episodes” I no longer wake up paralyzed. Instead I have been realizing that I’m in a dream and I am unable to wake myself up. It is very unpleasant, and happens in loops. I guess nesting dreams. I am extremely drowsy when I actually do wake up that I tend to fall right back into the loop. Sometimes I can control what I see but it usually turns into something frightening shortly after. I try to focus but I sort of panic in my dream trying to get out of it. I wake up with my heart racing and my head usually starts to hurt. I am just a big ball of anxiety, stress, and lack of sleep. I don’t know if I need counseling or what I need to do to help with my horrible disorder but it is very upsetting and frustrating. I don’t drink coffee or take any stimulants. I don’t know what to do. It really sucks to sleep for hours and feel like you have only slept 10 minutes, but feel as though you will never wake up when you are in your dream, then when you do, you are filled with anxiety and don’t want to go back to sleep because you are too afraid. Ughhh HELP! Is anyone else experiencing this as bad as I am?

    • You sound exactly like me! Usually I realize that I’m dreaming and I immediately start to panic. Then I tell myself to calm down and to steadily breathe, but sometimes it feels like I CAN’T breathe, so I’m trying with all my might to wake myself up, but I just can’t. When I finally DO wake up, I have to catch my breath, and sometimes, I’ll feel so drowsy, I can hardly sit up or keep my eyes open. Like you, there are times where i am so out of it upon waking up, that I fall right back to sleep and go through the same thing all over again! This happened to me this morning, about 7 hours ago, and it’s been affecting me all day…fast heart rate, anxiousness, an “off” feeling, a headache, fatigue…..but I’m too scared to take a nap!! I don’t drink caffeine but I DID have a half glass of wine last night. Very low alcohol content. I haven’t found a rhyme or reason for these episodes and I fear that I may stop breathing all together and die in my sleep. It scares me beyond words!!

    • Yess so for me I usually get the being unable to wake up dreams if I go to sleep after I have already woken up so it could be straight after or six hours later. It’s very frustrating and scary I remember one time when I was 13 years old I again was stuck in a never ending loop of dreaming and when I woke up I had tears in my eyes it was so scary. I just experience nesting dreaming like 5 min ago which is why I got here on the first place I really want to stop them it’s horrible.

    • Wow, this happened to me last week and last night..xmas eve…I have not been going to sleep till 6 in morning or 7 worrying about things or not tired and the first time i struggled to move my foot in a dream to wake myself up. I knew i was in the dream and wanted to wake up. It was not scary , the dream i mean but it is now making me nervous. I am very tired now no sleep in awhile and i just TRIED to explain what happened last week to my son. Now tonight feeling very exausted i told my other son. I had a harder time waking myself up this time. I never thought this was real until it happened again and trying to move your body and thinking you have woke up only to realize you have not woke up and are still trying is draining and nerving to me. I feel the same way and cant believe im going through this. I feel the same as you ….

  • Last night I went to sleep but woke up with the feeling that someone had clapped their hands right next to my face, I opened my eyes instantly but there was nobody around… what does this mean ? And has anyone else experienced this? I had a on and off sleep all last night and the dreams were very vivid, one were I was walking in a dark tunnel and spiders webs clung to my face.

  • I have experienced false awakening twice now. The first time happened when I was lying in bed and I was very tired. I woke up in the same room where I fell asleep. I could see my room clearly and before I slept, I kept my bedroom door opened so I could see our living room as well in my dream and part of our kitchen where my dad was at before I fell asleep. I tried to get out of bed but my body felt so heavy. It felt like my soul was trying to get out of my body but it couldn’t get very far. Then I awoke again, only for the same thing to happen. I screamed for my dad to help me but it was like I was trapped inside my mind. On the 4th or maybe 5th time that I woke, I said to myself “I’m dreaming”. Then I woke up for real. It was terrifying while I was dreaming but when I woke up, I was amazed because I have never been in a dream and realized I was in one. I thought I was lucid dreaming!

    Then this happened to me again several days ago. I took a nap in the afternoon. I turned off the lights before I went to bed but I could still see my room through the afternoon light coming from my windows. When I woke up in my dream, my room was dark. It was just like my first experience. I would try to get out of my bed and I do, repeatedly, but it would take some time because of the heavyness of my body. I even crawled all the way to my door after having done it so many times, and I was feeling relieved until I went right back to my bed and started the process all over again. This time I didn’t realize I was dreaming. And I only really woke up when I heard a loud noise outside. My room was dark with some reflections of light on the wall and it looked exactly like it was in my dream.

    • This happened to me exactly ! My body/soul feels bery heavy and I can see some stuff and recognize where I am but often I see things blurry. Other times I feel my body is floating and a unknown force takes me to see different places, but I don’t like those ones because I feel that force takes me without my desire to do so, in otherwords seems that I have no free will in that dream dimention and it stresses me out for sure !

    • I get exactly the same thing frequently. I “wake up” in my bed and everything seems as it should be, and then I try to get out of bed and my entire being is very very heavy, and I have to struggle to get out of bed. Usually I will fall onto the floor and then try to drag myself to the door. Then at random points in this cycle I will “wake up” again, and it all starts again. Then eventually I wake up for real, but I don’t know what triggers this final wake up.

  • This happens to me a lot and usually a few days after a heavy night of drinking. It is usually caused when I am anxious before I go to sleep which means that the dreams are never pleasant! I wish I could have a positive nested dream but they always seem to be nightmares!! I thought it was sleep paralysis before reading this forum. so glad to know it has a name! I am always too afraid to try and turn the dream around by controlling it I just do whatever I can to wake myself up as quickly as possible. In this last one I was a few layers deep and had falsely woken up in my own bed but I had a really sore throat and didn’t quite feel myself but defo thought I was awake. So I tried to go back to sleep It was only after falsely falling asleep again and waking up properly that I understood the first wake up wasn’t real. After “going to sleep again” I am dreaming about getting into bed beside and old lady who was familiar in the dream. I was trying to get to sleep and not being able to sleep. then I realised I was dreaming by looking at my phone and the time was earlier than the time I had gone to bed in the first place. And my background picture was a horribly distorted and terrifying picture of myself. I looked to my left and didn’t recognise the old lady at all. So I totally freaked out and started kicking my legs up in the air and silent screaming (nothing would come out) until I woke up for real. Where I realised that I hadn’t moved a muscle since I fell asleep. I’m too scared to go back to sleep now. I just wish I was able to turn it around in the moment into a positive experience. Anyone who has experienced positive lucid dreams in this forum able to tell me if I am able to imagine away my surroundings completely and instantly in a lucid dream or would I need to get up out of that room before I can take control in a positive way? Or is it likely that my anxious energy will spill out and create more horror for me even after I change my surroundings? Does your subconscious play a part once you are lucid? I’m always too terrified to stay in the dream to find out in case things get worse and I’m aware I am dreaming! Hope that makes sense. Any insight would be much appreciated

  • I frequently have false awakening and lucid dreams… maybe once a week but they are far from being an enjoyable experience. I usually dream that I wake up in my bed, or wherever I fell asleep. I can see my surroundings but I can’t move, my body is heavy and I feel like passing out but I fight it hard. If feels as if I were drugged. Sometimes I try to scream but can barely get any sound out. It’s torture. For a while I was seeing a figure that grabs at my feet and blanket. I’ve had it happen to me after I fell asleep on my couch and then got up and went to my bed, only to dream of the same figure grabbing at me. I thought it was real at first. When it’s happening, for some reason, I tell myself to remember what’s happening. It’s been months since I’ve had that dream. This morning I had a false awakening dream where I was trying to get out of bed but my body was too heavy and my eyes kept closing like I was falling asleep. I was freaking out and I had a hard time breathing, I almost felt like I was choking. It’s terrifying. I am always having nightmares where I know that I’m dreaming and I try so hard to change the dream. I close my eyes and imagine being someplace else. It usually works but I can never wake myself up. These dreams cause me to stress about going to bed.

  • I had a nested dream last night, I woke up 3 times but I was still dreaming. Everything was real, but something was different each time. In the first dream I woke up like normal but it was sunny outside, and I usually wake up early in the morning so I checked my phone for the time, and it said 3:00 pm. I couldn’t believe it, so I asked Siri what time it is, and she said 3:00 pm. I knew something was off because I never sleep in like that. Then I woke up (still dreaming) and it was night time again, but I noticed my closet door was open and my blinds were open, and I always close them before I go to sleep..so I knew something was wrong. I laid under my blanket and heard a hanger drop on the floor, I was frightened. After what seemed like 10 minutes, I threw my blanket off me and threatened to kill whatever was in my room. I checked the closet and there was nothing. I turned around and looked at the window and there was someone staring back at me, it was creepy as hell. I tried to run out my room, but once I did.. I woke up(still dreaming again). This time, my room was like normal, everything was shut, it was night time, and I really thought I was awake in reality. Until I couldn’t move. I was laying in bed with my blanket covering me up to my nose, and I saw a blurry shadow of a man standing at the edge of my bed staring at me. I couldn’t do anything. I kept telling myself “you need to wake up! Wake up! Wake up!” I got control of my right arm and punched myself in the jaw, I felt my knuckles touch my face, but there wasn’t any pain. I couldn’t move anywhere. I was at the edge of my bed… so I told myself to roll over. And the harder I pushed the closer the shadow came and it was right in front of my face, then I woke up(in reality). There’s way more details but you would have to know certain things in my reality to understand… but it was a crazy experience. I almost feel like this could be a dream still, that’s how real it was. I want to lucid dream.

  • I had false awakening and it was like torture. in one of them i waked up in another dream and i told everyone that i had some experience like inception movie but all those dreams were nightmare while i was telling this i understand that I’m still in a dream i tried to wake up by biting my lips or slapping my face but didn’t work and everyone around start to be scary. in the last one i was asking everyone in my dream if they could help me they told me to close your eyes and put your hand on your ears and focus then i waked up

  • I experience False awakenings whenever I try to take a nap during the day. My dream is waking up in my room. I think someone is there. Sometimes I see my dog and pet her, then I realize I’m dreaming and I have a hard time coming out of it. It freaks me out cause I’m afraid I won’t be able to wake up. So once I get control of my body, I get up and hop in the shower to make sure I’m awake. It really freaks me out.

  • I had a dream of waking up and going to the bathroom repetitively. I woke up and realized that I couldn’t move properly to the bathroom and it was hard to take a single step. When i finally got to the bathroom, I was back in my bed still having trouble moving. This happened a few times until I finally woke up and was surprised that I could move property

  • I have had nested dreams a lot lately. It actually scares me because the first time I think I really am awake but the second time I wake up I know I am in a dream. So I try to wake up but I can’t I do end up waking up only to find out I am still asleep. Then I try once again to wake myself up by slapping myself or screaming for help. But I wake once again to find out I am still asleep. Usually happens about 4-6 times before I really wake up, and when I do wake up I get up imediatly and don’t go back to sleep. I hate it when it happens because I am usually screaming (in my dream) for somebody to come get me to wake up but no one comes.

    • If u are new to this, yes i know its can be really scary. but if u have had a lucid dream and created ur own world,u might wanna stay strong against that. practice every time. The important thing is not to think abt how terrifying it is, but to calm down.the moment u pass that point u can enter your own dream world my friend, and that is the art of lucid dreaming

    • I have been having a series of nested dreams also. I have the same type, where I’m sleeping and I wake up only to find out that I’m still dreaming. It happens over and over each time I get more and more scared. By the time I actually wake up I’m so scared to go back to sleep that I can’t. Last night I had a series of nested dreams but this one was terrifying. I was in pain. It felt so real. I was extremely terrified that that was my new life. I just had another one during a nap that I took due to not sleeping last night. I’m not sure what it all means so I googled it. I am relived to know I’m not the only one with these dreams!

    • I had the exact same dream tonight. It was terrifying because in my dream I would wake up but still be asleep. I would scream and scream for help and was never heard. I lost count how many time this actually happened before I woke up but now I don’t want to go back to sleep

  • 3 out of 5 times I know the dream is going to be a nightmare and that’s when I try to wake myself up. Its awful having full awareness and trying to wake myself over and over again. Each time becoming more sure you’re stuck waiting for what ever scary things your mind conjures up, yet knowing its happened before and you woke up fine and nothing scary came just the hundreds of false wake ups

    The other times I can control what happens make my dream do what I want
    Lucid dreams can be fun but the other times they are terrifying

  • Just happened to me, had a Batman cartoon dream (not bad), woke up saw my “s.o. woke me up to do laundry”. I said “okay no problem I had a really bad dream and kept talking. “ Then I woke up foreal and continued conversation and she said “I’m trying to sleep wtf r u talking about” might go to bed again and set alarms

  • Just this morning, I dreamt about waking up in a dream. I was aware that I am dreaming, so I tried waking up but I can’t. I do think I was experiencing sleep paralysis at that moment. So I struggled waking up, until I roll over the bed and was awake. I cannot remember the stuff after that but then moments later, I woke up again only to realize that I was still dreaming and the previous waking up was just a dream. It was weird and tiring.

  • I have it all the time, mostly when I go sleep for a few hours in the midday.

    I wake up in a dream in a dream in a dream in …. like 5 – 6 times, its really scary, and you feel that your brain is overworking – even in the dream –

    Mostly I wake up and recognize the taste of toothbrush, or something really strange / scary that takes me back in the vivid dream.

    A lot of times I realize that I’m dreaming, I try to move my mouth and wake up, and then I am in another dream lol….

    I have it almost every time, when I go to sleep in the midday. It is pretty cool though cause when you realize you’re dreaminig you can imagine huge 3D objects and just enjoy looking at them with your imagination, for me, who usually has a hard time imagining objects, its pretty cool.

  • Four false awakenings in the same dream at one time, back to back. Glad to know im not the only one.

    Trying to wake up each time and it’s as if my eyes are glued shut and can’t move.

    Annoying that u can’t get up. Feels like an unwanted stranger is playing your mind instead of you. And you are aware of the unwanted stranger.

    Thanks for the read.

  • Sleep deprivation causes false awakening that leds to lucid dreaming. This is based on my experience, I am 23 and i have this false awakening in the past and until now. I work at night and sleep at the morning but I can’t get a solid 7 or 8 hours sleep unfortunately. This happens when you’re having a hard time to adjust in certain changes of your schedules. This forum helps me understand and feel that I am not alone.

  • hi guys, do any of you love nightmares, since puberty, 11 / 12 years old i’ve been able to have the most epic lucid dreams, im now 45 and its getting to be a problem where i can incorporate my alarm clock in to my dream and turn it off, which leaves me late for work, i love my nightmares, if i dont like how its going, i just rewind to where it started going soft and start a new avenue of horror, and go again, does any else have that ability, and how do i stop it?

  • I just woke up from a string of false awakenings. I ‘woke up’ 4 or 5 times in my dream and was convinced I was really awake. At first my dream was very vivid and strange to begin with then it gradually got very whimsical yet twisted. I was flying, body shapes were changing, people were multiplying. Then I ‘woke up’ and walked down the hall to the bathroom but it was the same room as in my dream and when I became aware is when I ‘woke up’ again to what sounded like a radio that was on outside and when I looked is when I realized that was coming from my room. I became fully aware at this point and told myself to look at my phone and if it was strange then I was still dreaming. It was not normal and I knew I was dreaming. In my dream I stood up in my room and slapped myself but I could not feel it, again I knew I was dreaming. My dream then took yet another twisted turn and I was convinced that I was stuck in this nightmare forever, in Hell. I woke up for real this time, checked my phone and slapped myself to make sure I was awake, which I was. It felt like I was choking in my dream and upon waking my throat feels strange, my heart is racing from terror, I am sweaty and terrified to sleep again.

    I have a HUGE life change coming up in about a week or so and this anxiety may have triggered the dream loops. I have had sleep paralysis once and often struggle with bouts of insomnia. I hope this helps someone struggling. Maybe if it happens again I will take Myself on a less terrifying adventure

  • I currently can’t sleep it’s 6am. I had a horrible string if dreams within dreams. It started with me waking up to a world ending earthquake to me waking up to my roomate in my room and my breathing stopping. I woke up for real. Half asleep i set my alarm and fell back into the same series of dreams. Each time my roomates tv got louder and i was more on edge. I finally got up in my dream suspicious it wasmt real to go into an unknown room and turned the tv on. My dad somehow showre up amd suffocated me with dog food. Then i woke up and it was so realistic this time. It was bright out and my roomates dogs came in as usual and i was like ok the dreams stopped..and then one of the dogs turned into a giant monster and the other a pink goat and i screamed until i really woke up.

    Never being sleep deprived again. Absolutely horrifying

  • The other morning I went back to bed after making breakfast for my s.o and I went to sleep and I woke up in my bathroom and I told myself I was dreaming but I was too scared to walk out or try anything I just tried to wake myself up…. Why am I so afraid to explore my dreams? There was more too my dream but I can’t really remember much anymore

  • Just today I dreamt of being awake in a dream but ends up I’m really not awake in reality! This was my second time so I thought that I should move a toe but when I did, I think it was just in my dream that I moved it! I also screamed to myself to roll over the bed I’m in so that when I fall I’ll wake up eventually but it reality I never moved an inch! I was really scared but a few moments later I woke up! Maybe it takes time for us to wake up from that scary dream!

  • I just had a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream. I thought I woke up about 5 times. But figured out I hadn’t n I couldn’t wake up. I was also freaking out. It’s 3:22 am n I’m writing this. My surroundings were different n there was some weird words playing in the background on what I think was a clock radio. It was muffled n I thought I should try to listen to what it was talking about but I was afraid. so I concentrated on waking myself up. My body moved in the dream but I noticed it was not real so i continued to try to move my body parts n telling myself to wake up. Very scary n not interested in exploring.

    • I had the same experience the past 3 nights. I false wake up 4-5 times and by the second time I become aware that I am dreaming but it no way can wake myself up. I start to freak out more and more each time I “wake up.” i scream at the people in the dream but none of them help me and usually the last time i “wake up” i hear static that sounds like a white noise that gets louder and louder until i swear my ear drums are gonna pop and that’s what wakes me up in real life. Each loop gets more twisted as it goes on though. By the time i fully am awake I can never be really sure if it is real or not. The night before last my mom told me I came into her room and asked her, “mom is that really you?” Though I only remember that being a dream. I wake up so frightened, crying and the fatigue! I can barely get myself out of bed after the last couple nights and every muscle in my body aches as if I had just done a very intense training session at the gym.

  • I keep having reoccurring nested nightmares where I’m in bed and awake to horrible things like having a seizure or evil things attacking me and causing excruciating pain. Inside the dream I try to scream to wake myself but can’t. Inside the dream i physically strain and sweat trying to move in order to wake up but I’m paralyzed. I can’t wake myself up from the dream inside the dream. I then finally falsely wake up and sometimes I’m so afraid I am shaking. I dream that i get out of bed and try to keep from falling asleep but then it happens all over again. Sometimes in a horrible loop of 8-10 false awakenings. Oftentimes when I finally wake up in real life I have tears streaming down my face and I’m covered in sweat. I’m so afraid of these dreams I try to stay awake as much as I can.

  • Okay so I need someone to clarify what is happening.
    It seems like every time I take a nap, I almost always dream the same thing. In the dream, I think I have woken up, and am vividly seeing the room I fell asleep in and whoever was near me, like if I was on the couch and my dad was sitting in his chair, I will see him in the chair. I will start screaming, begging for whoever is in the room to please wake me up. I often will try and pick up my phone and when I do I can’t ever see it in my hand but I can feel it. So I never can use it to get help. I have also had a dream like this where I thought someone broke into my house and still think it was the worst one so far. But mainly, whoever is in the room with me I dream that they get up and put a pillow over my face. When I lived in my dorm it was my roommate, now that I’m back home to save some money while I’m still in college, it has been my stepmom.
    Yesterday I was on the couch and begged my dad who was there when I went to sleep to wake me up. In the dream they either hear me and put a pillow over my face, or they can’t hear me at all. I can’t ever move usually, and if I do it’s tend to one very very hard to. When my eyes actually truly do open, they are Extremely hard to keep open, and usually they close after trying so hard to wake up and I fall right back into the same dream and I will get so irritated “No! No!! You were finally awake!! Wake up wake up!!”. I am always Exhausted after dreaming like this.
    Has anyone else ever experienced something similar?

    • Yes. back when I was stressed out and depressed I dont have those terror dreams anymore but I know exactly what that is like to be able to pick up my phone and not see it once I ‘woke up’ blind and crawling all over my bed trying to wake up

    • I had an experience similar to that.
      I woke up but I wasn’t in my room, (I didn’t notice that at the time) I felt really tired but I decided to get up. I really slowly moved my legs and I eventually got the covers off, then I woke up in the same room again with my eyes closed and I inhaled sharply.
      I thought it was weird and I thought I already took my covers off, so I tried again, very slowly I moved the covers off and very slowly I opened my eyes, it was kinda hard to open my eyes and I could never fully open them, I was always squinting.
      I woke up again, eyes closed, sharp inhale. I kept repeating to myself, that’s weird I thought I did this already, but by the 5th time I realised I was repeating the same thing in a dream.
      I started to freak out and move quickly, that when everything got difficult, all my limbs were now extremely hard to move and even my eyes were hard to open.
      I kept waking up but it was in quick succession now, I would try to move an arm, wake up eyes closed, sharp inhale, I would try and sit up, wake up eyes closed, sharp inhale, this went on for over 20 cycles. I also found out I could start new cycles manually by sharply inhaling,I was aware it was a dream but I couldn’t do anything to stop it.I could also feel my heartbeat, it was really rapid as I was freaking out (later when I woke up for real my heartbeat was immensely fast as well).
      Then I realised that there were other people in the house, I tried to call out to my brother who I could hear in the next room. My throat was sore and my voice was basically non-existent, it was hard to move my mouth. I kept trying to scream to him and eventually he came into my room, he talked to me although I don’t remember what he said, and then he left.
      I then tried to call out to my mother, I could hear her walking around I tried so hard to move my arms to try and hit something off my bedside table so that she would come in, I was also trying to scream for her. I tried banging on the headboard of the bed, I couldn’t hit very hard at all so it didn’t work. I eventually managed to knock something off but she never came in and she never heard me.
      Then I woke up for real and I first thing I did was get up out of the bed.
      It was a terrifying experience.

  • This has happened quite a few times in my life. The past few months I’ve been noticing it has been happening very often like once or twice a week and it’s been scaring me. Mainly because in the past once I woke up for real I’d stay up and it was done and over with. Now at age 24, i can’t control it I wake for real just long enough for me to process I had been dreaming and then I’m pulled into another dream! Even the times in between when I used the bathroom quickly before laying back down I’d still get pulled in.

    At first I thought it was because I’m an insomniac and it’s hard for me to sleep anyway and I was just getting caught up on sleep, but recently I’ve been okay with getting to bed on time and sleeping my required hours. The last time this happened to me and I couldn’t wake for real until I had slept almost 15 hours because I couldn’t wake. I’d wake just long enough to see the time. First 9:30 then at 11 and then 12 and it kept going and going. And sometimes I can tell when I’m dreaming but I cant control anything that I do or say. Its usually when I try is when the dream takes a weird turn like it doesn’t want me to wake up. I’m glad this is actually a common thing and that I’m not as crazy as I thought I am.

  • I had a completely lucid false awakening loop of a dream this morning. It started with me not recognizing my surroundings. I wasn’t in my house, and I was going to bed with my children. That seemed weird so I explored and realized I was dreaming. I had a full on panic attack because I couldn’t wake up. I threw myself around, jumped, screamed at myself to wake up, hit myself, ran around tried holding my eyes open. I probably could have done some really cool stuff if I wasn’t so freaked out. Never want a dream like this again.

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