False Awakening: Dreaming About Waking Up

a man dreaming he is awake

Have you ever had a dream in which you’ve woken up, only to then wake up a little while 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?

Waking up twice in a row without falling asleep in-between sounds impossible. But that’s what it can feel like if you have what’s called a false awakening.

False awakenings are remarkably vivid dreams in which you think you’ve woken up. Only to then later realize that you were, or still are, asleep the whole time. And like dreams generally, they can range from being fairly mundane to quite distressing.

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

And I’ll also look at ways to become aware that you’re dreaming, using it as a stepping stone to the fascinating world of lucid dreaming.

False awakening poll

In 2016 I polled 557 readers regarding their feeling about false awakenings. The majority, 324, said they found it distressing. Interestingly though, 91 said they enjoy it or find it interesting. A further 59 said that it can lead to a lucid dream.

graphical results of a poll about 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 much so that 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 to then do something quite normal. You might get dressed, go to the bathroom or sit and have breakfast for example.

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

For some people though, there might be a few more episodes yet before the eventual real waking. It’s uncommon, but 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 a little like the stuff of movies such as 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?

False awakenings don’t yet have any firm scientific explanation. It’s understandably a difficult area to research, especially as scientists still don’t agree on why we dream. The two most common theories are:

Worry or anxiety

If you’re worrying about something happening the next day, you might dream about getting on with the day. Your brain might then dream of waking up, perhaps as the starting point for rehearsing whatever it is you’re worrying about.

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 could influence your dream and create false awakenings.

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 that 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 one of the scariest of all sleep disorders, known as sleep paralysis.

Sleep paralysis can occur either upon waking up or falling asleep. During an episode your body is paralyzed but your brain is conscious and aware of your surroundings.

But what some people experience is a false awakening in which they dream of waking up and 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.

In the article I wrote about sleep paralysis, many readers have since described experiences which sound more like a false awakening rather than sleep paralysis.

The key difference is that the paralysis does physically occur during sleep paralysis; you will lie in bed and feel unable to move at first except for perhaps your eyes, a finger or toe.

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


False awakenings are not 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, then you can speak to your doctor about it. They might consider the following options:

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

It could be though that the best option is not to worry about it 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 afterwards 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. This is also a very effective technique if you’re either experiencing sleep paralysis or are dreaming of being paralyzed.
  • Try blinking rapidly in the dream.
  • Focus your gaze on one thing in the dream.
  • If there’s a mirror, try and look at yourself.
  • Try and do something complex in the dream.

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

If you’re the adventurous type, then the idea of lucid dreaming may be an exciting and fun one. And 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 straight-forward 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 can be confusing though, especially when you just dreamed that you woke up.

Here are some techniques to do 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 current address, mobile phone number or someone’s date of birth. If you find it difficult, then it’s a sign you may be dreaming.
  • If you’re in a familiar room, try moving into the next room or hallway. You may find that it suddenly changes into something which shouldn’t be there.
  • If there’s any writing, numbers or symbols in the dream, try and read them. Reading can be difficult in dreams and you may find the words or numbers 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 doing a complex task, perform a reality check. If you’re in the bathroom, see if you look normal or not. If you’re eating breakfast, check if the food tastes as it usually does. If you’re 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 in fact 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 may 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 it may be that time, patience and a little luck is required if  you’re to master the art of lucid dreaming.

Ways to prevent false awakenings

Using false awakenings as a bridge to lucid dreaming doesn’t appeal to everyone. And if you regularly have nightmares or unpleasant dreams, you may be far more interested in getting out of them. And of course you may just struggle to gain any control in your dreams.

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

Please note that these ideas are not set in stone as cures; they may or may not work, but are definitely worth trying. In many ways they are suggestions which are thought to help a variety of sleep problems, not false awakenings specifically.

  • Avoid caffeine, especially in the evening. False awakenings may happen more to hyper-sensitive people, so avoiding stimulants like caffeine might help.
  • 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 mindfulness exercises.
  • Do regular exercise. It might also help to go for a short walk in the evening before bed. And if you have a false awakening, or series of them, then getting out of bed and having a short walk or doing some stretching might help prevent it happening again.
  • Have a light snack before bed. The article about good bedtime snacks has some ideas for you. And if you experience an episode, get up and have a snack or some milk, then go back to bed.
  • Try and keep to a regular sleep pattern. This is one of the most effective ways to help you sleep better in general. Getting enough sleep, avoiding sleep deprivation and having a stable routine can help prevent strange things happening when you do sleep.

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? Do you think it’s something you would like to try and achieve, or would you prefer to just stop them happening?

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.

506 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Hello! I’m wondering if what I experienced a few nights ago and a handful of time in the past would qualify as a false awakening..a few nights ago I fell asleep and I had a dream that I was sleeping but couldn’t wake up from the sleep I was in..not sleep paralysis per se…but more of a dream sleep paralysis. In the dream I was desperately trying to speak, move or snap out of it but I couldnt. I could barely open my eyes and was fighting to just move. I could see my dresser and it was creepy looking because the light fixture in it had turned into a face that looked like mine. I was in my bed, felt like I couldn’t breathe and I was convinced I was dying. Finally after a moment of pure panic I snapped completely out of the dream and woke in the real world. It took my brain a moment to process that I wasn’t still in the dream. I was terrified to go back to sleep and I couldn’t figure out whether or not I was still dreaming… i sat up for awhile before I realized I was ok…scary stuff :/

    • Hi Jamie
      Thanks for your comment. It sounds to be like it was either a false awakening, or just a nightmare. In this article I wrote about sleep paralysis, many readers have left comments about how they had dreams of being unable to move. I think that unfortunately, this one type of scary dream is something quite a lot people go through!

  • I recently stayed over at my bfs place which is 2 hours away from where I stay and i fell asleep and woke up back at my house… I was quite shocked because I knew I had just fallen asleep at my bfs and now I’m all the way back at home… I then went to my computer and started to Google being awake while dreaming and trying to figure out how this happened because it felt too real… It honestly felt like I had transported back home … and I got upset because I wanted to see my bf and i would have to travel 2 hours to see him again… I was a bit scared to interact with my parents incase it made it real that I actually was at home and couldn’t go back…. later though I saw my sister leaving the house and a plane then crashed into the park next to the house which was obviously scary….

    I then thought to myself that maybe if I tried going back to sleep then I would wake up back in my bfs bed… so I lay down and then started to get this weird transition sort of feeling and i could slowly start to hear the dog barking outside and then I also slowly started to feel like I was back in my bfs bed and then I woke up properly… It was a very weird experience but I’m definitely fascinated by it

    • Hi Simone
      Thanks for your comment. It seems like you had a lucid dream! It’s a fascinating thing indeed, and perhaps if it happens again you’ll remember that you have the capacity to take full control of the dream with a little practice and luck. Maybe next time you could fly back to your boyfriend’s in the dream!

  • Hi, I’ve been having strange dreams for years. My favourite one being that I woke up to the feeling of an arm over me, hugging me. (I thought I was awake) I was filled with immense love like I’ve never felt before. This man was also, very gently, making love to me. I was laying on my side and he was behind me. I have had these dreams before where I have been aware of someone in my room and my bed and have always been to scared to look. This time I did, I turned right around to be greeted with a smile from a handsome man with a beard. I then kissed him and said “Who are you?” and he replied “Right” and he got up and vanished before my eyes. I awoke later to realize I had been dreaming it.

    I had one before, where I heard my bedroom door open. Now I had done something that night which I never do and haven’t done since. I left my lamp on so when I looked at my bedroom door, I could not only hear it open but I saw it. My light was also on. I was scared and closed my eyes. I then heard footsteps on my carpet and a zip going down. The person then climbed into my bed beside me and lay there with his back to me. I turned around and cuddled him then I woke and realized I had been dreaming.

    I live only with my daughter, she is 8 now but was about 4 when these dreams of someone started. They also only ever happened when she was not in the house but was staying with her father. The trouble is that I can hear, see and feel every single thing, emotions aswell and I feel like I am awake. No one has ever gotten in the house and I lived in 3 different houses since these started. I didn’t move house because of these dreams though.

    Previous to these ‘more real’ dreams, I would have very short dreams, even when I had a boyfriend, which I knew were dreams, of a man making love to me in my sleep and to be honest, I was disappointed when I woke from them lol infact I am disappointed when any of these dreams end. I haven’t been with anyone for 4 years, I gave up and remained single but I don’t think that is the reason why I have them, as these dreams started before singledom. Lets just say I have very,very high standards these days.

    What is this? I think its safe to say that the man of my dreams has finally made contact lol

    • Hi there
      Thanks for your comment. It does indeed appear that the man of your dreams has arrived! I don’t really have a perfect answer for why this happens. You might find some clues in the article I wrote about why we dream. There are several different theories, so perhaps you can dig around and find the one which most makes sense to you!

    • Omg. This happens to me too! I swear that I know this person or this person is an alien lol I’m always so upset when I realize it was only a dream :( but this person always makes me feel whole and complete and loved.

  • I found this article after having my first false awakening in almost three years. In 2013, they were very persistent for about a month – and when they finally stopped I was relieved beyond belief as the experience was never pleasant.

    Years ago, I thought these false awakenings were the result of stress. At the time, my mother was in the hospital in the midst of passing away (cancer), and I was so drained and distressed that I would often come home from visiting her and have to have a nap. I was so emotionally exhausted that month, I was napping at least 2-3 days a week – something that is very unusual for me as I rarely ever feel the need to nap. Yesterday when I had my false awakening, it was during an afternoon nap as I was sick and needed some extra sleep. Looking back at it now, I don’t believe the awakenings are due to stress alone (perhaps a contributor though not the sole cause), but instead are a result of me having naps, or brief but deep REM sleeps.

    With me, the false awakenings always come in combination with some sort of sleep paralysis – again, I am attributing this to the napping, as during naps I tend to fall into deep REM sleep, causing my body to shut down, but my brain remains active and I’m almost subconsciously aware of my surroundings. This may also explain why my false awakenings are always set in the house I am currently sleeping in and never in any other environment.

    That being said, I would love to share some of my false awakening experiences.

    My very first set of false awakenings happened during the month of September 2013. It was always the same. I would come home and crawl into my bed for a brief nap, and fall into a deep REM sleep though my subconscious always seemed to stay awake, just a little bit. I would dream that I had finished my nap, and would get out of bed and get myself dressed and make my way to another part of the house – usually the bathroom, since in real life I almost always have to relieve myself after waking up. I would go into the bathroom, do my business, then begin walking around the house some more until I noticed that something was “off”. Perhaps a piece of furniture was out of place, or I would notice that I couldn’t find my two cats. Upon realizing these things, I would think to myself, “Oh, I must be dreaming…” and then my dream would reset, as though my brain did not like the fact that I had realized I was dreaming… A cruel game. I would then find myself back in my bed, but this time a little more skeptical about my surroundings. Rinse and repeat, I would start wandering the house, each time noticing that I was dreaming sooner than the last. Every time my dream would reset, I would feel more panicked – afraid that I would be stuck in this endless loop forever. Something else that was strange, was that each time the dream was reset, moving around became more and more difficult. I almost felt weighed down by something. It’s as though every time I realized my dream state and began demanding myself to wake up, my dream held me down further, keeping a tighter grip on me. This terrified me, and panicked me even further as all I wanted to do was wake up from the nightmare.

    These dreams continued on throughout the month whenever I would come home to nap. They were always the same. The last few times the false awakenings occurred, I would get to the point where I would try wiggling my fingers and toes to wake myself up, which would reset my dream to me laying on my bed, in whatever position I had fallen asleep in. I would then be half asleep, half awake, unable to move – able to hear real things going on around me, but still be half-dreaming. I would feel a sort of dreadful presence around me, as though someone was watching, but I would be scared to look around to see if my theory was true… though I had a terrible feeling something was in the corner of my room. One time, my cat was sleeping at the foot of my bed and I made a desperate effort to move my foot and touch him. I would continue to try moving parts of my body until finally, I would wake up.

    These dreams terrified me so much, and they happened so often that month, that eventually I stopped napping altogether in fear of the dreams continuing. I never once had this experience during a night time sleep. My mom passed away at the end of September that year, and when I moved out of the house the dreams stopped and never seemed to return.

    Fast forward to yesterday, almost 3 years later. I want to note again that I do not nap and in fact, yesterday was the first time I had napped in a very long time. Before my boyfriend and I laid down to rest, I knew I didn’t want to sleep for long as I had other items on my agenda, so tried to ensure that I only slept lightly. BAD IDEA! Once again, my mind remained somewhat conscious but my body shut off and I fell into REM sleep. I dreamed I had woken up from my nap and walked out of the room, passing my boyfriend and his roommate in another room along the way, listening to them talk about their day. Nothing unusual so far. I go downstairs heading to my office (usually the first thing I do when I wake up these days), then for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on, I notice I am in fact dreaming. The dream resets. Once again I start heading downstairs, this time a little more distraught – so instead I change my mind about half way down and try to go back up the stairs to see my boyfriend, hoping to find comfort in him. When I try to climb back up the stairs, I get that “heavy” feeling again. I have to really push myself and crawl up the stairs; it’s difficult, as though my brain does not want me to see him. I start calling out to him that something is wrong and I don’t feel right, and he rushes down to me to comfort me, accompanied with one of my cats… whom I notice is moving in an odd and creepy way. The dream resets. Again, I get up and go downstairs. This time I make it all the way to the finished basement where my office is (my original destination), but for some reason I stop at the laundry room on my way there. Even though all the lights are on elsewhere in the house, this room is dark. As I peek in, I immediately notice a small shadowy figure with noticeably long, platinum blonde hair sitting in between my washing and drying machines, peering back at me with glowing red eyes. Immediately I turn around and try to get up the stairs, once again feeling too heavy to do so. I am trying, desperately, to crawl up and get away from whatever was in the laundry room. I’m crying out for my boyfriend, screaming his name as I try to pull myself up the stairs, but find myself vocally paralyzed. I keep screaming his name over and over, until my voice finally finds itself after what seems like an eternity, and I can hear him coming down the stairs to find me.

    The dream resets before he gets to me. I am too scared to move out of my bedroom this time. Now I am desperately trying to wake up, attempting to move my body parts like I have in the past, and so while dreaming I do not leave my bed. Suddenly, I’m preoccupied with an intense, searing pain in my left cheek. I sit up in my dream-bed and feel around in my mouth, wondering if my back molar is falling out or bleeding somehow. I’m in a lot of pain.

    It is at this time that I finally wake up. I had been sleeping on my left side with my right hand under my cheek as I often do, and a ring I was wearing had been digging into the side of my face, causing real physical pain which translated into my dream, and thus waking me up. Normally I would be frustrated at the pain, but this time I was nothing but thankful for it as it was my saving grace – the only thing able to was able to wake me up in the end, as my attempts at controlling my body on my own were failing miserably.

    After reading everyone else’s experiences, and having quite a few (too many!) of my own, there is one thing that leaves me disturbed and perplexed: why are these dreams always so nightmarish? It seems that the first false awakening is always somewhat pleasant, but as soon as the dreamer realizes he is dreaming a sense of dread begins to loom, causing each nested dream thereafter to become more and more terrifying and stressful.

    What is truly scary for me is the fact that I almost feel as though I am being held hostage by my own brain… like it wants me to stay in the loop forever, torturing me over and over again. It seems I am not the only one.

    …Has anyone ever seen “Jacob’s Ladder”? Although the premise for the film actually has nothing to do with true false awakenings at all, I do find the relationship to them is scarily similar. I won’t reveal any of the plot, but for those who go through the experience of having nested dreams with creepy undertones and a prevalence of shadowy figures, the movie will be strikingly similar. I definitely recommend watching.

    In the meantime, does anyone have any tips for waking up from this type of dream-state, especially if accompanied by sleep paralysis?

    • Hi Bre
      Thanks for sharing your your experience of false awakenings and sleep paralysis. I can understand why you’re disturbed by the on-going nightmarish transitions that seem to occur in your case. I think perhaps the best way might be to try the lucid dreaming route as you already have some level of lucidity it seems. Maybe if you work on that a bit longer, you’ll gain better control and learn how to turn the dreams into something more enjoyable. As for the sleep paralysis, if you do actually wake up into sleep paralysis rather than dreaming of being paralyzed, you might find some of the readers tips helpful which I listed in my article about sleep paralysis.

  • This is all very new to me…
    I’ll say with in the last 2 months…. first it started with me ‘waking’ to a noise… as though someone was coming in my back door… I thought to myself maybe it’s the bf home early from work and that somewhat calmed me but than I began to feel my heart race and I told myself ” move, roll over, get out of bed Keri-Ann” but I was unable to move…
    My head was turned to the wall which it norally is when I sleep and im on my back, next thing I felt was movement on my bed, it all felt so real ‘he’ leaned over me and his face was a blur. I was panicking. I could feel myself wanting to move but I couldn’t. I tried to yell but it came out as a low exhale. After having a panic attack I woke to reality and sat up as fast as ever, breathing incredibly heavy and fast. That was one of my first scarey dream and paralysis encounters.

    My most recent dreaming encounters have been repetitions of me ‘waking’ up in our bed in the same position I went to sleep in.
    All seems normal and real so I proceed to remove myself from bed and think nothing of it until I step out of my room and realize there are either people there I know or don’t know. Or I walk into a world that makes somewhat sense but something feels off… I have that encounter and than I’m ‘waking’ AGAIN in my bed, same position that I went to bed in. I think to myself okay this time I must really be awake and than it gets weird, I can’t move and my dream takes a terrifying twist, to a strange place with strange people and beyond bizarre situatuons.

    The dreams gets so terrifying that I feel myself wimpering and crying. It continues as such until I’m woken either by an alarm or if bf is home on weekends.

    It took me a while to get out of bed today as I was thinking about what just happened. I was in shock that I couldn’t wake myself and or because of the dreams themselves.

    • Hi Keri-Ann

      Thanks for your comment. I know this kind of experience can be scary, especially if you’re repeatedly going through it. Perhaps you could try some of the things I talk about in the article to see if you can gain control of the dreams? That would be a great way to turn something which is currently unsettling you into something more positive. Do try not to allow it to worry you too much though, as it’s important not to allow the worry about sleep in itself to become a reason you don’t sleep well. Every night is a new night, and it’s good to try to stay positive about your sleep.

  • I had a series of nested dreams on the 16th of February, with at least two false awakenings. At the time I felt as if there were three, but for the purposes of this post.. I can’t seem to remember the middle.. so we will say there were 2. In the first dream I was laying in my bed in my room, and I was talking to my boyfriend who all of a sudden was on top of me, his voice went low and scratchy, why of course ..he was demonically possessed . I woke up, or so I thought… to enter another disturbing dream that I can’t quite remember, I just know that in that dream I was trying to tell him about my dream and how terrifying it was. I think I may have driven off a bridge.. or something.. relatively traumatic. Also possibly trying to make emergency phone calls but I was never able to get all of the digits pushed I needed to make a connection. Of course I woke up from that dream, again in my bed, in my room. Although no boyfriend.. that I am aware of, and there was a picture on the wall that I don’t have in my actual room (reason I know this was not sleep paralysis). The face in the picture started to creepily change. Then all of a sudden I felt a crushing presence on top of me, but of course this is the part of the dream where you know it’s a spirit of some sort and you can’t move or call for help. The minute I realized this, I was all of a sudden being strangled.. and the pressure was building. I could feel myself trying to call out for my boyfriend but I couldn’t get the words quite out. The pressure would tighten around my neck. I finally woke up, frantically trying to wake up my boyfriend. My throat actually did feel as if someone had been choking me, it was tight and my neck was sore (wasn’t him I promise he was asleep :) ) The only things I can attribute this to are probably lack of sleep and change in diet (started the whole 30 that day)). My throat? Maybe I was sleeping with my mouth open, so it was super dry and felt like i had been choked? It was really interesting, I was talking to one of my co-workers in the break room at work the following morning and he asked if I was sick, because he said my voice sounded hoarse.

    • Hi Dena
      Thanks for your comment. That must have been a freaky experience! I think sometimes when people wake up and feel a physical after-effect, they are quick to say it must be evidence that they really were attacked by evil forces. Many people have said that over the years in the comments in the sleep paralysis article for example. However, I think it’s important to remember that we do sometimes just wake up not feeling quite right psychically, for all kinds of reasons. So it’s good that you were thinking about other explanations, such as sleeping with your mouth open. Because it’s very likely it was something like that!

  • I often scream or jerk as my brain begins to fall asleep, Ive always had nightmares, occasionally I can control my dreams, and sounds from my enviorment are incorporated. I’ve had times both in dreams and awake that I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming. So I’m not unused to weird sleeping issues but this newest one troubles me.
    My husband gets up very early with his first alarm going off during the hour of 4am and getting up during my deepest stage of sleep 5am. When he leaves I close my eyes. Shortly after i hear him drive away ill hear the door creaking open. I’ll open my eyes see an intruder but be so tired that I’m unable to move and I fall into a deeper sleep. Panic sets in and I fight to wake up. Whenever I do awake I see that no one ever opened the door.
    I’m thinking that it’s a false awakening incorporating the neighboring apartment noises into my dreams then my brain using deep sleep to explain why I’m unable to move.
    But how do I stop it? I mean I’m dreaming that I’m unable to wake in an emergency.

    • Hi Malie
      Thanks for your comment. I’m wondering if it’s a false awakenings, or perhaps even a brief moment of sleep paralysis. If you’re waking up from a deeper stage of sleep, but just for a while, it’s possible that it’s a short episode of sleep paralysis in which you’re hallucinating the door opening. You’ll need to work out which it is before deciding how to tackle it, as both require different moments of awareness to remember what you can do. Have a look at the article I linked there for some advice about that. And if you’re sure it’s a false awakening, then try to remember some of the things I talk about in the article here.

  • Ok so i just had my first false awakening. First i woke up in my bed but the bed was not where it was supposed to be and my fiance was asleep next to me but she was having a nightmare. She was punching something it seemed then she woke up she told me this happens all the time which i knew wasn’t true. I got up and there was a naked girl by the desk in my room. Mind you my fiance just disappeared for some reason. Anyway, i told the girl i wanted to smoke before having sex which i dont know why i said that. It was weird. Then i just woke up. I couldnt breathe i could barely see. I woke up in my old room at my moms house but it was the old house. Nothing about it was familiar but it just seemed like it was the house i grew up in. Anyways, i walked downstairs still couldn’t breathe i tried. It seemed like it was hard to breathe. I saw my mom she asked if i wanted to smoke a cig so we went outside i couldn’t find my cigarettes and the ground was wet so i went back in to get my shoes. I saw my old dog sasha a black german Shepherd. She was chained to the side of the house. She died when i was like 12. Im 27 now. It seemed normal though. Then i woke up again. This time was creepy. I was in my room it was dark. I could hear sometime type of audio. I dont know if it was the tv ot my phone. Everything was rearranged again. Which is weird because in my mind while i was dreaming i could only think that this was a simulation created by extraterrestrials. Idk i just found this all to be really odd and kind of think there is sometimes of meanings behind it. I always seem to have extremely weird and vivid dreams when things get stressful in my real life.

    • Hi Jesse
      Thanks for your comment. That sounds like a confusing series of false awakenings indeed. People do sometimes have these kind of apparently random, series of false awakenings. Try not to get too stressed by this if you can. And perhaps if you think stress plays a role in the type of dreams you have, it’s another good reason to take steps to reduce stress in your life.

  • My false awakenings have been occuring from my mid-teens. They were very active until my mid-twenties before becoming sporatic (due to the following): They never occured if I slept during the day, if a light was on, or someone else was in the room with me and because of how terrifying they are, I almost always sleep with the TV on. I am now in my early forties but went to bed without the tv last night and my false awakenings were back with a vengence. In my teens, the first dream was that something evil was after me, I could hear its demonic chant. Once I realized I was asleep, I would fight to wake up. Waking into the second dream, everything would appear as it was when I had gone to bed except it was always dark. Sometimes I’d be paralyzed, sometimes I could move but the lights never worked. I could never talk or scream. What made this terrifying was that I could still hear the chanting from the first dream and it was still coming for me. I would physically wake for real multiple times throughout the night but each time I fell asleep it would restart the process. Fast forward to last night’s dream: I immediatly fell into the first dream when something evil grabbed me by the arms and you know that you have to get away…you need to wake up. So I would push myself to waking and found myself in my room but something wasn’t right. The room was dark and I could see that my closet was open (something I don’t do before bed). As I left the room, the lights didn’t work. In the hallway, I could see the door to my entryway was open (something else I don’t do). Something was really off so I went to wake my mother. Entering her room, again the lights didn’t work and I remember thinking that maybe we’d blown a fuse but I was scared so I tried to shake her awake and no response. It was when I went to call her name that I realized I was vocally paralyzed and totally started freaking out. It was after that that I actually woke up. Each time I tried to drop back off due to fatigue, the thing would immediately grab my arms. I now wonder if all the times I “immediatly” woke up were also false awakenings. Too bad my fitbit is down since it could possibly clue me in. Either way, I am terrifed to go to bed.

    • Hi Amy
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand why this would be a scary experience. It does sounds like a long series of false awakenings to me. I think it’s important to try not to allow things like this stop you from being optimistic about getting a good night’s sleep, easier said than done I know. Try to keep in mind that it’s harmless, though disturbing at times. And perhaps having read this article, you’ll be able to take better control in the future if it happens, because it does sound like you already have a good developing level of lucidity when dreaming.

  • I suffer from anxiety and depression due to events in my life that have led me there. I frequently have bad dreams and my girlfriend is constantly waking me up in the middle of the night because I’m screaming or kicking her or hitting her because of whatever is going on in my dream.
    I actually just woke up from a dream where there was this girl. She was in a wedding dress, but was obviously a ghost. She glowed as she walked down the street beside me. And in my dream, she haunted me and it is absolutely terrifying. Every single time I wake up from my dream, I blink a few times then try to go back to sleep and it just takes me back to where I was in the dream. Even if I’m awake for 20+ minutes and go back to sleep my bad dreams will continue. I cannot remember the last time I had a “good dream”. I’ve had nothing but nightmares since I can remember. And I don’t know if this is a false awakening or what is happening. But the nightmares are always extremely vivid and I try not to think about it but as soon as I go back to sleep, it continues. It’s super scary and I don’t know what to do about it.

    • Hi Elizabeth
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you’ve been struggling with these bad dreams. I don’t think they are false awakenings, just nightmares. Sometimes people do jump right back into them after waking briefly. That’s why I think it’s good to get up for 10-20 minutes, do something familiar, relaxing, watch something funny for example then sleep again. Have a look at my article about stopping nightmares for some more ideas about this.

  • I am 25 years old and I suffer from anxiety and bipolar disorder
    I have always had crazy vivid dreams some were crazy out of the ordinary that made no sense to me like a plate chasing me down an alley way and some were scary and emotional like people dying or me getting severely hurt or something about my kids
    But that was only every once in a while I would have those
    And the last two weeks or so I’ve been having dreams like that every night all night I wake up every 30 mins to an hour panicky cold sweats and then it takes me a few mins to calm down and go back to sleep then another 30 mins to an hour goes by and it’s the same thing but a different dream
    Some of them I remember every little detail and some of them I can’t remember I just feel panicky and I get cold sweats
    But now that I’ve read about this I’m questioning am I really waking up every 30 mins to an hour panicked and sweating becaus of a dream or am I just dreaming that I’m waking up and had a bad dream
    I am so tired during the days because I feel like I have gotten no rest because I’m thinking I’m constantly waking up but am I really waking up or just dreaming that I am
    How do I figure that out? It’s scary to me
    Last night it happened all night but I don’t remember any of the dreams details but my daughter slept in the bed with me and everytime I would wake up or thought I was waking up it was so real she was in the bed in the pj’s she went to bed in I was in bed with the same pj’s I went to bed in the tv was on the same channel as it was when we fell asleep everything was just lik it really was but how do I know if it was all real and this is all real or if it’s just dreams of me dreaming bad things?
    Help please?

    • Hi Lindsey
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your confusion and why you’re distressed by it. I would say that the way to tell is if everything is completely normal, then it’s probably a real waking. Usually in a false awakening there are some clues that it isn’t quite the real bedroom. You could also try telling yourself that if you do wake up, you’ll do something very normal, like go into the living room, make a small drink and read a book for 10 minutes or so, then go back to bed. If you’re able to do all of that, you’ll probably find that you become completely sure you’re awake.

  • Last night I dreamt my hair was burning, so I ran to my shower in the dream to rinse my hair. I then felt myself wake up, only to find myself in the bathroom rinsing my hair. some how I still felt like it was a dream but ignore it, as the shock of finding myself washing my hair in my sleep over took it. I ran out the bathroom to tell my mum I had just woken up washing my hair, but stopped because I noticed all the door ways leading to rooms on the landing were bricked up. At this moment I realised I was still dreaming, and so I thought to wake up. I couldn’t at first knowing I was trying to move my body outside of the dream. After a few minutes I managed to wake up in a gasp of air. I was really freaked out. Is it normal for a false awakening to happen this way?

    • Hi Chloe
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand why you were freaked out by this. But yes, it does sounds like the kind of thing that can happen in a false awakening. Now you know what it is, perhaps if you have that level of insight that you’re dreaming again in the future, you could try to control the dream – lucid dreaming. If you manage it, you could have a lot of fun, and also learn how to wake yourself up if it gets too much for you.

  • Last night it was the second time i think i experienced a false awakening. The first time it happened, i wasnt so sure what it was and disregarded it until last night. I didnt even know it was a false awakening till i read about it online. I woke up at about 4 30 am panicking. It had felt so real. I was in my bedroom wearing the exact clothes i fell asleep in. In my dream i woke up confused about what i was doing awake, i heard music play over and over, old music that i dont even like, seeing shapes and toys in my room, confused where it had come from. I kept on dreaming that i woke up and it felt real like as if i had really woken up and that my brother and my dad was in my room confused of what was happening, i dreamt that i was shouting his name but unsure if i really was. at a point in my dream i had gone downstairs, i think that was the point i had woken up. The worst part of the whole thing was dreaming that i kept on waking up but i didnt until i really did. Im not really sure what to think of it and hopefully it doesnt happen again.

    • Hi Samantha

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, it sounds very much like a false awakenings, and not just that but one in which it happens repeatedly. I know it can be confusing, but hopefully now you know a little more about it, you won’t get so disturbed if it happens again. And as you say, hopefully it won’t happen again anyway.

  • False awakening has been happening a lot to me recently. I have dreams where I wake up, do whatever it is I need to do, and then I’m back in my bed. But then I keep waking up several times before I wake up for real. I also skipped school a few days ago, and when I “woke up” in my bed, I felt very unsure about if i was awake for real. Thinking I heard my mother call my name, looking to see if I was gone.
    My theory is that I dream about waking up when I’m distressed about what’s going to happen when I do.. if that makes sense.

    • Hi Lina
      Thanks for your comment. That sounds exactly like false awakenings you’ve been experiencing. You might be right about the anxiety playing a role. Do you think it happens more when you have important things happening the next day, or you know you’re stressed or anxious?

  • Hi i think am still a bit confused. So i fell asleep and started dreaming. I believe i knew i was dreaming based on the people in my dream and where i was, i decide to wake up from that dream.. When i was trying to wake up i had to fight because it felt like i wasnt going to wake, i had to calm myself down and force myself because my mind was awake but my body wasn’t.. After i was awaken from that i notice some changes in my room, my fake lash was falling off due to the struggle of trying to wake myself, suddenly my phone ran and i was talking to my aunt telling her about my dream and how it felt horrible, still trying to figure out why my room is kinda dark and why i got a mirror on my bed. While on the phone with my aunt i said to myself am pretty sure i fell asleep around 8am and it feels like i was sleeping for a long time dreaming that strange dream i struggled to wake from yet my room seems like it was still 8am, i then grab the mirror up and look in it and BAM! I was awake in the real world, my eyes open am still laying in position and i notice i was breathing heavily and deeply, my heart felt like it was beating slow but heavily. I got up, look around and notice my room is normal and i look at the time and realised its 10am. I took my phone up and call my aunt wondering if am still dreaming but gladly i was awake for real but my fake lash was actually falling off as in the dream. I had previous dreams like this before, in one case i woke up out of one dream, thinking am really awake and then realised i wasnt, woke again and then finally woke in the reality world. So i had a dream that i was dreaming that i was dreaming. I really dont like it and its a bit scary for me.

    • Hi Cindy
      Thanks for your comment. I think you describe false awakenings perfectly there, and it’s understandably a bit worrying at times. Try not to allow it to stress you out too much though, which I know is easier said than done. But it is important not to allow your worry about sleep to stop you sleeping well. And hopefully having read the article you’ll be better equipped to manage it in the future.

  • I was trying to calm myself down this afternoon I had a bit too much coffee in a bit to short of time. My heart felt like it was beating heavily not fast just heavy so I laid down and focused on my breathing. I had no intent on sleep I really didn’t feel it was even possible but once my heart felt normal I figured I’d just relax a bit and fell asleep. It was a short sleep only about an hour and a half. I had a false awakening I was laying on the floor in some sort of store right in front of the enterance with a pillow and blanket. Confused on how I got there I looked around realizing it was a store. No one was around and the lights were off it was later in the day as a dim light was shining in through the glass door. I tried to get up but was too weak I’d push against the floor slightly rising and fall back down. I did this a few times even once managing to sit up my back against the door only to fall back to the floor. I then tried to call out to see if someone could help me up it was as if I’d lost my voice only able to get out some scratchy throat sound. I heard the clacking of a dogs nails across the room it must have heard me and walked in the room only to stand there and look. It must have been confused be it by not knowing who I was or the noises I was making. I tried hard to look at the dog figuring if I knew it I might know its owner and at least that would be something. When I finally focused enough to begin making out the image of the dog my eyes opened. I was staring at side of the couch by my bed unable to move or even keep my eyes open for much more than a second or two. I did this a few times then was finally able to sit up. I went downstairs and thought I wonder if there’s any significance to waking in a strange place during a dream and came across this article then figured I’d share my dream. I’ve had similar dreams where I’m too weak to do anything and lots of the time I wake with one or both of my arms asleep from lying in a strange position. On a side note I usually have nightmares when sleeping on my back or left side so I typically sleep on my right. This dream I fell asleep on my left as I wasn’t planning on sleeping. Most of my sleeping on my back dreams are either falling or being strangled on the left just freaky. The few lucid dreams I’ve had were on my back and rather enjoyable but I’d rather not risk the nightmares to try getting better at it. Maybe one day when I don’t have much to do I’ll take a nap on my back and give it a shot.

    • Hi Mike
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience of false awakenings. That must have been quite unusual indeed, knowing you were asleep and struggling for so long to try and wake yourself up. I can understand why you might be hesitant to experiment with lucid dreaming if you tend to end up unable to control your movement in the dream. If you do decide to give it a go one day though, feel free to report back. I’m always very interested in hearing people’s experiences of lucid dreaming.

  • I just had False awakening now..i woke up in my dream about 17 times…the first 12 times i didnt realize it was a dream but my last 5 times of dream i was trying to wake up to reality but keep getting False awakening everything look so real then i realize it was still a dream..like my last dream…i woke up and i though i was awake for real and went to my dad and i explain to him about my dream then his face started melting..i was getting frustrated and just yelled and i really woke up..

  • I’m typing this at 3:30 am after an unpleasant experience. I’ve always been a natural lucid dreamer, it doesn’t happen every night but since I was a kid it’s been relatively easy for me to become aware in dreams. False awakenings have happened before: usually I become aware and then jump out the window to fly, but tonight was different. I “woke up” in my room, in the dark, and decided to walk upstairs. As I was walking I started to question why it was so dark. I looked in a mirror, and a scary face was looking back at me. I immediately shut my eyes to try and wake myself up. I’m in my bed again, in the dark. Same situation. Walk upstairs, trying to find my mom. Once I get to her empty room, I hear someone behind me. I start naming people to myself. I say my ex boyfriends name, and when I turn around, he’s jumping out at me from behind. I “wake up” again. This time I check my phone: 11:31, which I know is untrue because I’d woken up at 12:30 earlier that night. Check it again: 11:47. I decide to change the dream, I stand up and shut my eyes,
    willing the sun to come up. It does, but only slightly – it’s still pretty dark. I go outside and get in my car, but it floats up and takes me to the moon. Then I wake up for real.

    I don’t have nightmares very often, but I used to have night terrors as a kid and it traumatized me. Now I’m too scared to fall asleep, I don’t want to experience those scary things again.

    • Hi Chels
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your story of what definitely sounds like false awakenings. It seems like you’re having repeat experiences, and I can understand why it might make you scared. I think it’s important though to find a way to not allow these kind of experiences to scare you so much that you don’t want to sleep. The good thing is that you already have some positive experience with lucid dreaming. Perhaps the trick in your case would be to focus on using the false awakenings as ways to lucid dream, and try to learn to control the dreams even better. Perhaps by telling yourself in bed that you’ll have positive, happy dreams and imagine what you will do if you have these kind of dreams again. Sometimes a bit of positive mental imagery can help a lot. Don’t give up, and try your best to be positive and optimistic about your ability to have good dreams. It might take a little time, but hopefully you’ll get there.

  • I just woke up from probably one of the most terrifying vivid dreams I’ve ever had. I typed short phrases that I remembered from my dream in Google, and your sleep paralysis article came up. I read all the way through the article, as well as the comments, and then I ended up reading this article. I’m not exactly sure what just happened…I’m hoping you can help steer me in the right direction.
    I am in my college apartment, and my boyfriend has been living with me on and off for the past year. Tonight I fell asleep around 10pm, and then moments later I felt that I was awake again, only in a different place – my second childhood home room (my parents’ current home is our third home). There was this voice calling me from the game room outside my door, asking if I was home. My boyfriend was still sleeping next to me, but I was “awake,” trying to be quiet so whoever was outside wouldn’t hear me. I have my mini Christmas tree on right now and I remember seeing it and trying to wake my boyfriend up. I opened the door in my dream, and a shadow figure came into my room and left a gun. The figure disappeared. I asked my boyfriend if he saw the figure leave, and he said no. So I go back to bed, and I’m trying to close the blinds because these guys were being rowdy in the street below, and I felt exposed as they could see right into my room. One of the guys climbs up to an open window in my room, comes in through the window, and I start screaming at him to get out. He comes toward me, then turns into a shadow figure. I woke my boyfriend up and he tries to pick up the gun that the other figure left, but then this figure picked it up and started shooting us multiple times, floating, circling the bed. I was yelling and crying; I felt little pinches, but didn’t feel bullets or see any blood.
    I remember there was another part to my dream, but it was very complex and disturbing. It was something about me reading these texts sent to my mom from someone who was impersonating me, trying to get access to inside my house. There was a book that had very creepy pictures of dead-looking women strangely posing… They started coming alive, like moving pictures, threatening me somehow. It was after this that I actually woke up, sweating/breathing heavily in my apartment bed, Christmas tree still on, with my boyfriend reassuring me it was only a dream. I had a weird feeling that my mom was in danger, so I checked my phone. She had texted me an hour ago saying goodnight. I remember hearing my phone vibrate from a text, so I was really only asleep for less than an hour.
    I have no idea what to think from this dream. So much happened in so little time sleeping, and I’m still so freaked out from it. I have had a lot of stress, anxiety, and slight depression this semester, but now that finals are over, you’d think I’d be a bit more relaxed.
    Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. I appreciate any feedback.

    • Hi Christina,

      Thanks for your comment. I can understand why you were distressed by your dream, but I don’t think it’s anything you need to worry about. It sounds to me like it was a nightmare, and that you then either had false awakenings in which you thought you were waking up your boyfriend, or simply it was an extension of your nightmare in that you were dreaming of waking up, but then the nightmare continued. I don’t think you had sleep paralysis, even though you saw shadow figures in your dream.
      Stress and anxiety can take time to dissipate, so even though your finals are over, it may be that you need a bit longer to unwind and relax. Perhaps do some things which you find really relaxing and enjoyable, give yourself some tlc and hopefully you won’t have any repeat nightmares.

  • I want to start by saying thank you for the article. I’ve been having sleep paralysis growing up all my life and am very good at combating it and getting out of it very quick. Even before i fall asleep i know i will enter sleep paralysis just by the way my body feels before. Only recently I have been experiencing false awakening. I have them in succession to one another. Recently I dreamt that I awoke into sleep paralysis and “fell” back asleep. In the dream my dad was waking up for work (I am at my grandpas not my dad’s, and he never comes over here) and I false awoke again in that dream of me saying good morning to him with the same visual sense of surrounding prior to false waking. I then was getting back to fall asleep and felt the sleep paralysis coming on I tried to prevent it but already took a hold. I then was laying in dark and was being bothered by a dark figure who spoke with no proper words and would pull my arm and lay on top off me. I then would false awake again and go to my work with my friend and drink at the bar across the street. I got drunk there (remember this is still a dream) my dad was texting me and wanted me to get a signature from a non existent band that was playing at the bar the next night. I went home and I got up the next morning to go outside with my dad and smoke with him and tell him about this particular experience I’m telling you now. Only then I false awoke into another dream and so on and so forth about six more time. The last time before I finally woke up, a man came up to me while I was in sleep paralysis and was laying on top of me, he kept asking me to come with him and was pulling me. Everything was black in my dream. I started to speak so I could wake up because I knew it was a dream. He kept addressing me saying everything was okay and he will take me some place better. He had normal legs of a man but his torso was only 6 inches he had long black hair. Than I finally awoke and all was well. this happens quite frequently and always happens right as i am entering sleep. It never happens during the middle or the end. That particular dream lasted a hour before I set my phone down and opened my eyes. Sorry for errors in the text. This is all off my phone.

    • Hi Hunter
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your false awakenings stories. It’s always fascinating to hear readers’ experiences. It’s good that you’ve managed to find a way to control the sleep paralysis. I wonder if you’ll also manage to find a way to control the dreams? At the end you say you knew you were dreaming – that sounds like a good sign, and that with some practice you might be able to take control and lucid dream. How great would that be!

  • For the past year I’ve started having weird experiences with my sleeping, but the first one I had I was laying in bed and I opened my eyes and could see my surroundings but could not move a muscle in my body and I started hearing rushing wind behind me with whispers and it started to put my body under a lot of stress, I finally was able to move my leg but was instantly pulled back into it after 5 minutes of this I was able to get up and walk around.

    Earlier today I was just trying to rest my eyes but not fall asleep for a long period of time, I started hearing a woman whining for my attention and could feel something rolling around in my bed and touching my chest and shoulders, In this I crawled out of bed pulling my sheets and pillows off the bed and then opened my eyes again to have everything back in it’s place but could not move my body and then opened my eyes once more and was able to finally get up and walk around because I was really stressed out and my stomach was hurting a lot from the pressure it put on my body.

    Any idea what this might be it’s been bothering me for quite some time, I enjoyed the insight of the article by the way it’s really given me some information on what others may be going through and myself however I am not certain if it’s a mixture or something completely different.

    • Hi Nick

      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you found the article informative – that’s always good to know.
      It sounds to me like two separate things going on. The first sounds very much like sleep paralysis. Have a look at the article linked there for some more information about it.

      The second experience – well, first I was thinking perhaps hypnagogic hallucinations. But actually, it sounds more like a false awakening due to the feeling that things were happening in your bedroom, but then you woke up for real with everything back to normal.

      Does that make sense to you?

  • For the past three years I have been experiencing what I now understand as false awakenings; well at least I think they are. I find it very distressing, confusing and draining yet mundane. In my sleep I awaken, but it is as if I have woken straight after falling alseep. I’m in bed in my room, it’s dark and very uncomfortable atmosphere, I begin to panic, it sounds crazy but it’s as if I’m hearing something. Usually I try to wake myself, sometimes I take control of the dream in little ways such as increasing the size of furniture to calm my self down and persuade my self I’m in a dream. Usually it ends with me falling out of bed onto the floor. Then I actually wake up in pool of sweat in my bed hot and flustered. I write this 4am in the morning after a false awakening, in fact several in one dream; I’m considering a doctors appointment.

    • Hi George
      Thanks for your comment, and it does sound like false awakenings indeed. It’s good that you’ve found a way to possibly combat it by controlling the surroundings in your dream. It must bit a bit disconcerting to wake up on the floor! Have you thought about getting a bed brace? You can find them to help keep your in the bed – a little like what kids sometimes have, but they are also available for adults who have sleep disorders which can mean they end up rolling about too much in bed. If you do see the doctor, hopefully they will have some ideas for you – if you have a moment it would be interesting to hear back from you with some ideas.

  • hi so im 17 i woke up this morning after like 4 hours of sleep and i heard these gunshots and my sister screaming thats is who i thought it was and thought it sounded like.
    I jumped up and looked out the window cuz it sounded like it was outside by the pool and then i saw my mom acting normal . Thats when i went outside and asked my mom if she heard any gun shots or if my sister was screaming she said no . It sounded so real and it freaked me out .

    • Hi Scott

      Thanks for your comment. I’ve just noticed that you found the article about exploding head syndrome and left a comment. I’ll reply to you there as I think that could be a better explanation.

  • I have had a few experiences with false awakenings. The funniest one I had was when the dream ended like a movie and then there was a commercial. Not sure if this qualifies. Also I once had a dream where it took three tries to wake up. Not distressing at all.

    • Hi Karen
      Thanks for your comment. Wow, that must have been quite funny indeed! I guess it qualifies if you thought you were awake, though that doesn’t make sense if you were watching a commercial. But taking three times to wake up sounds like it probably was false awakenings.

  • I’m a very vivid dreamer, often remembering my dreams in detail. I recently had a nap – being ill and away from my boyfriend, I was dreaming about him texting me and my phone breaking (I was obviously excited for him to come home) and then I woke up, to him coming in the room but I thought I was still half asleep and I told him to turn the light on. A minute or so later I woke up for real. It wasn’t a bad experience but kinda confusing remember I woke up twice. I’ve had sleep paralysis before as well. Dreaming there were spiders crawling all over me, waking up slightly but not being able to move my body. It was scary. Thought you might be interested to hear about that.

    • Hi Jo

      Thank you for your comment and for sharing your interesting experience. I think false awakenings like this can sometimes just be confusing, and not have any real negative feeling attached to them, fortunately. Did you read the article about sleep paralysis too? You might find some helpful tips if it happens to you again.

  • I’ve had dreams where they were getting scary or I was being chased or just not the way I wanted the dream to be going.
    While in my dream I realize “Hey, this is my dream.” I could change the outcome of the dream.

    • Hi Marie
      Thanks for your comment. It’s great that you’ve had that level of control in your dreams. If only we all had the ability to lucid dream like that and stop any bad dreams!

  • I had a dream a while back after I came back home from the country and the city was rather loud that night so when I fell asleep there was a lot of noise in my dream.I tried to speak out to tell the noise to stop but after what felt like a while of not being able to speak I eventually woke and spoke out loud to an empty room. I wasn’t really sure what had happened. Would you by any chance know what this may have been. I have also experienced nested dreams but my parents don’t believe me when I tell them that I thought I had woken up when I was actually still in bed.Its a bit frustrating not being believed but I like the idea that our minds can create such a vivid reality inside our eyelids even though its just a lie.

    • Hi Leanna
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your story. I’m not sure what the first thing is exactly – but it sounds to me like you simply woke up, and a little confused spoke out aloud. I think sometimes our dreams do overlap with reality, so it’s possible what you wanted to do in the dream just came out when you woke up!
      I can understand the frustration about not being believed. There are so many strange things that can happen in your sleep, it’s not always easy for someone to understand unless they’ve had it too. Perhaps show your parents this article and see what they think after reading it.

  • I used to get this a lot too. The sleep paralysis was bad enough, desperately trying to ‘wake up’ for real but so many times I used to wake up into what seemed like a normal situation, but with some odd hints of surrealism that made me wonder what the heck was going on? Just silly things like something on the bedside table that wasn’t there the night before or a slightly strange view out the window, maybe something in the distance, a building or such that wasn’t normally in view. And then BOOM ! I would wake up, in bed again, but somehow feeling more attached to reality and frantically checking everything around me was as it ought to be. But as you have written, on the odd occasion, this cycle of thinking I was awake, and really wakening up could sometimes take 2 or 3 cycles before touching base with actually being awake. I remember being quite confused as to which ‘zone’ I was actually in, and sometimes hours after I’d gone to school or college or whatever at that time, I’d still wonder if I was having a surreal experience or an actual one? Quite scary !

    • Hi Allen

      Thank you for your comment and for sharing your experience of false awakenings. It’s an interesting example of the nested dreams concept. It must have been quite disconcerting to still be going about your normal day but unsure as to whether you were still dreaming or not. Did you ever manage to convert the false awakening into a lucid dream? Or was it always a linear thing you just had to wait out?

  • If anyone can have false awakenings frequently, and still retain a sense of calm, then they may have more ability to achieve lucid construction of themselves. After all, being in a state where strange things are happening even though one was just previously ‘asleep’ and are aware of it occurring is fascinating.

    • Hi Naoan,

      Thanks for your comment. I agree that this is a fascinating phenomenon and one during which staying calm will surely be helpful in achieving a further level of lucidity whilst dreaming.


  • I’m not sure if this is what I do. I have very vivid dreams in which I know I’m asleep and try to awaken myself, even to the extent of hitting myself. I also try to talk in the dream to call for help but the words are impossible to utter, a lot like a stroke patient. I will eventually awaken with an abrupt start, and will sit up in bed. Very distressing and scary.

    • Hi Ken

      Thanks for your comment. I completely understand why that kind of dream is distressing. I don’t think what you describe is a false awakening, due to the fact that you don’t dream about the specific event of waking up. What it does sound like though is lucid dreaming. Perhaps you might have a better experience if you try to relax and go with it instead of fighting it to try and wake up. Many people actively try very hard to lucid dream, so the fact that it’s happening to you naturally and regularly is in some ways potentially an interesting and/or fun thing. Maybe next time see if you can decide to explore and control your dream world instead of hitting yourself. Have a look around online about lucid dreaming as well and you’ll find lots of interesting sites offering suggestions for things to do once you do have a lucid dream.

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