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.

Treatment

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

  • For the people who get scared when they false awaken in their dream and see something that they are scared of it is becuase of your subconscious fears and the truth is you are doing this to yourself, so remember this is your dream you controlled every movement of your body and when you get scared you think of some more scary things that might happen.

  • last night I had it about 5/6 times in a row, I knew immediatly that I was dreaming though, and I tried to wake up because it was very unpleasent, but everytime I did wake up I woke up in another false awakening, and then, when I did wake up I was in a staat of paralysis, for a minute or so so it wasn’t that bad, but I’m sure I was awake at that time because after that I got up to drink some water and smoke a cigarette, and I did some realitychecks, because normally when I’m in a dream I’m kinda numb and everything is a little bit different, and everything seemed to be normal so I’m pretty sure I was awake, I didn’t like the experience because they were no pleasent dreams, not nightmares either but it had a dark mood / tint to it so I tried my best to wake up before I did end up in a nightmare. however, next time this happens and it’s not in such a dark mood I wil try to switch over to lucid dreaming because I’ve had that before and it’s a fun experience, but you wake up pretty confused not knowing if you’re still dreaming, until you realize you’re no millionare anymore, LOL

    • Lucid dreaming is kinda fun but be careful because sometimes your subconscious fears may mess up your dream scape and may cause your fears in your dream.

      Fyi I got that from Jake in Adventure Time

  • In my dream one night it was a nice dream then I felt my eyes opening and me waking up Iw as sort of sad becuase I enjoyed the dream then when I woke up something didn’t feel right so I got under the covers then thought to myself “am I still dreaming?” so I remembered that they say in dreams the clock goes the different direction so I saw a small square clock in the desk of my room, the hands were moving the right way but the small hand was moving like the thin one that is for the seconds and the colors in my room were brighter the I realised I was still dreaming I got scared becuase as I usually randomly wake up in the middle of the night I was thinking it was night then I was scared what will happen next, will I be able to wake up and is something or someone gonna barge in the door will something from my nightmares come. I didn’t want to control my dream or do lucid dreaming becuase I was scared that my subconscious fears will mess up my dream and I will get scared and I will be traped in this dream. So I tried waking up by closing my eyes and opening them but still nothing happend and the more I got scared so I tried to do it again while saying wake up repeatedly but nothing so I was hopping someone will wake me up.Then finally I woke up and I was so relieved then slept again then I had a normal random dream but the night after that I was so scared to sleep becuase I was worried to have that dream again.

  • I had 6 of these last night. I’m still not sure what was real and what wasn’t. I knew after the first dream, that when I switched the light, and no lights turned on, that I was dreaming. But I don’t know if I woke up after that, only to fall asleep to have it happen again, or if I woke up in the dream, only to repeat, but change the events while in the dream. I can’t even explain it, but it was terrifying because they weren’t regular dreams, each one was a higher level of a nightmare. Until I finally woke up for real and drunkenly walked into my office, the light switch actually turned on the light and I found this article. I assume I’m awake, because the lights are working. But it is so confusing, that there is every possibility I’m not actually posting this, and I’m still dreaming.

  • I just had four or more in a row. I got up this morning at 5am, school days that it my wake up time. Got my grandson off to school, came home from the bus stop, and climbed back into bed. I woke up in my dream more than four times, finally when I did wake up, I was so mad at my husband for what he said in the dream, it was so real. What gets me is the dream of me waking up happens several times in a row in these dreams. These type of dreams have been happening to me a lot in the past year, I never had them before in my 60 years of life , and yes it’s scares me to death because how I actually think I am awake. My main fear is that I won’t wake up, that I will be stuck in limbo somewhere in my dreams, yes I know that sounds crazy but it truly scares me.

  • Am so happy I’ve found this. Last night I was trapped in 4 dreams. I can see myself screaming at my husband to wake me up. I’m shouting so loud ‘Chris please wake me up’ I’m hitting the bed and he’s just looking at me!
    I only realised I was in a dream half way and tried to change it but ended up deep in to the dream and I made myself walk up stairs from my old school…you know that feeling you get when you walk up the stairs and it feels like someone is behind you. I actually made myself feel terrified and I don’t know why? At the top of the school stairs there was about 3 maniquins that had twisted faces, I feel like i made them have that face like i forced then to do it? l don’t understand why I’m bringing fear into my own nightmear. I can feel myself doing it on purpose! Then that’s feeling comes where i can’t move and feel like I can’t breath and I panic and I’m trying so hard and it’s hurting. Then I felt my dog bite my hand but I can actually feel my hand tingling like I’m being bit. And I wake up still trying to saying ‘wake me up, wake me up’ I can feel my husband shaking me saying my name. Then am awake and I know I’m awake but can’t open my eyes yet. Last night for the fist time I busted in to tears. I’m was so scared I felt like I’d never wake up. I felt so trapped. I can remember all the dreams and how they changed. I can remember me hitting the bed and even saying ‘Chris wake me up please’ and for some reason thinking ‘i said please…thats really polite’

    • To Collete:

      The reason you were scared and had those scary events in your dream was becuase of your subconscious fear and the more you get scared the more you think of more scary things that will happen next and remember this is you brain, your mind, your dream you create your thoughts so you create your dream and you control it. Just think about it you were controlling your body going up the stairs.

  • I’ve just had a dream and am quite distressed by it. I must discuss the reality first as it may have some connection. I was listening to a relaxation meditation cd which actually guided me into sleep in the first place and was probably playing for about 20 minutes. I dreamed that I was driving in a car from the back seat. A friend’s dad was in the front passenger seat. I felt like I didn’t really trust him but I tolerated him and was nice to him. It felt like he was a but of a sleaze actually. **He wasn’t actually a friend’s dad. I don’t have a friend who’s dad looks or makes me feel like this man in my dreams did. It was more like he was a representation of a friend’s dad or at least this is how my subconscious mind portrayed this figure** I was dropping off to sleep while driving and so he took over. Dont know where we were meant to be going in the early part of the dream. When I “woke up” he said that I had fallen asleep and that he’d taken over. When I looked around, we were so far away from where we were meant to be. In a town called Mota. **I don’t think this is a real place, certainly nowhere I’ve ever been** I got upset and a little scared that he’d taken me so far away. Somehow, I feel asleep again only this time, it was in a room. Not one I know but I felt comfortable there. By this stage, I was aware that I was asleep and was trying to wake myself up because I could sense him in the room. It’s like I was trying to move and possibly groaning. I felt very fearful that I couldn’t wake up. I felt a cold kiss which really freaked me out. It was him. He implied that he was trying to comfort me because he could see i was having a bad dream. I tried to slap him and tell him off but it’s like I was still asleep. I was fighting to wake up. I was incredibly frightened and felt paralyzed. I was trying really hard to force myself to wake up because I was afraid of this guy and what he might do to me if I stayed asleep. I was trying to move and to open my eyes. I was also trying to scream but I couldn’t talk or move my mouth. I was also trying to kick my legs. I have experience false awakenings before and so I was aware that I was in a dream state by this stage. The mediation cd I’d been listening to was about mindfulness and focusing on your breathing during times of anxiety. So I stopped trying to wake up and focused on my breathing while I was still in the dream state. Within a few seconds, I woke up back to reality. I have woken up feeling extremely exhausted and scared. Took me about 10 minutes to wake up fully and feel better. I have been abused in the past ***Not by a friend’s dad but a man I knew and was trusted by family*** I have repressed allot of this but since I have been awake just now, memories have come to my mind. First thing I have done is try to look up dream interpretations which is how I found this blog. Ive had dreams like this many times before where I’ve either dreamed that I’ve been dreaming or that I’ve not been able to wake up from a nightmare or that I’ve felt like I was awake doing mundane normal things but actually was asleep. Not being wale to wake up is terrifying and very distressing. Interesting that this time I stopped fighting and just concentrated on breathing which was how I managed to wake up. All in all it is a very terrible experience and one that i definately do not enjoy or wish to explore

  • In real life I woke up at 3 AM thinking I drank too much champagne that evening and that the heat in the house was too high, went to the bathroom, was praying and fell asleep shortly after.

    In my dream I went to the bathroom AGAIN and was so groggy about it; stumbled back into my room and couldn’t see out of my right eye and realized I had a pillow stuck to that side of my face. Collapsed into bed to “fall asleep again” and I’m not sure if I thought I heard something or just felt a presence in the roo but I kind of peeked over my shoulder to look at my door and just felt soooo tired and nearly drugged and started whispering “Jesus” and even tried to yell it but wasn’t able to. I felt unsafe or under attack. And then I “woke up”, looked around, felt super groggy and might have even gone to the bathroom again and “tried to fall asleep” again and felt like I heard a voice or felt a presence and I tried to yell “Jesus” again and felt choked about it. I felt held down to my bed, paralyzed and I managed to sing/ belt out “our God is an awesome God” (which is not a regular tune in my head, by the way) and then I ACTUALLY woke up mid song.

  • This used to happen to me a lot years ago. I had never heard of false awakenings before and believed I was having out of body experiences.

  • These dreams really bother me. Years ago i had them. And 7 years later i am again. I hear people talking and think they are coming into the house. I try and try to wake up and think I do but find myself in the bed and almost paralized. By the 3rd or 4th time i wake up terrified. Years ago i kept a lighter on the night stand. I knew that when the flame hurt my hand that I was finally awake. I may have to start doing that again.

  • I’ve been having this lucid dreaming-type problem since high school that is often like False Awakening. I have some that aren’t about imagined insomnia, but often it’s a hyperrealistic dream about waking up or being unable to sleep. In either case, they are so realistic that I don’t realize they were dreams until I find some evidence that proves they didn’t happen (e.g. it turns out the person I was speaking to in what I thought was reality was out of town that day). It’s kind of scary because I pretty regularly can’t easily distinguish dream from reality… I will try to use these tips for recognizing whether I am dreaming, and I do often have lucid nightmares-where I’m aware of the fact that it’s not real but still can’t prevent the scary events, so hopefully I can figure it out…

  • I have had these false awakening dreams a lot, so I thought I had gotten used to them by now. They are not pleasant at all to begin with, but they have been getting worse. I just (woke up?) from a nap, and I feel disoriented as hell and still tired, but I’m too afraid to go back to sleep. It seems like it has been taking longer and longer to wake myself up from these dreams, and to make it worse, they haven’t been the everyday life false awakening ones I used to get.
    These days, they’ve been the false sleep paralysis false awakening ones. In this particular one, I (woke up) in bed on my stomach (the way i fell asleep) and someone/something’s fingers were trailing up and down my back. I tried to flip around because I sleep on my own room on campus and have no significant other. I couldn’t move though, and the fingers kept going. The crazy thing is, I realized I had to be dreaming soon after (idk how) but still couldn’t get out. When I tried the steps I used before for real sleep paralysis, my head began hurting tremendously. That’s when the fingers grabbed my head and held it into my pillow. I’m still freaked out a little.

    Sometimes it’s like when I wake up (for real) I left the house of someone who didn’t want me there in the first place. It’s like I don’t own my own sub conscious.

  • i just had five or six false awakenings in a row tonight. it was/they were quite disturbing as i felt quite unsafe and in danger in my dreams. i fear if i go to sleep again it will happen again.

  • Just had a nice afternoon sleep and woke up as my phone was ringing. Tried to answer it but my eyes were stuck together, thought I must have conjunctivitis as I have a cold. My dogs started barking, someone knocking at my door and thought it may be my daughter knocking and ringing me from outside the front door. Desperately tried to open my eyes to answer my phone again and saw, through a tiny gap in one eye, my phone screen, had a brightly coloured my little pony screen saver, (which is not usually there. At last, I answered my phone, my daughter was saying “hello mum”, but I tried to speak but nothing would come out of my mouth, so she hung up. Then over the top of the dogs barking, I heard motorway traffic outside my bedroom window, I thought what on earth could be happening. Then through a tiny slit in my eyes, I noticed my bedroom walls were decorated in the same wallpaper I had as a little girl! My dogs were running up and down the stairs, I was starting to feel frustrated that I couldn’t open my eyes, then all of a sudden I actually felt someone’s hands on my shoulders shaking me , then a hand on my forehead pushing my head into my pillow. This is when I thought that I must be experiencing psychosis……………………then I opened my eyes………………My daughter hadn’t called, my dogs hadn’t been downstairs as my bedroom door was closed, I didn’t have conjunctivitis, and there was no heavy traffic outside as I live on a quiet street.
    I REALLY thought I was awake, SO glad I wasn’t terrified of the person shaking me, but still in my dream had come up with a “rational” explanation of what had happened.
    I don’t think this was a lucid dream as I wasn’t aware that I was dreaming. I THOUGHT I was awake!
    Were these hallucinations?
    I’ve had dreams in the past, hearing noises that were actually happening and were incorporated into my dreams, but never one like this…………….all new to me!

  • I just woke up. I never had a nested dream before it feels unreal but completely terrifying to me. In the dream I wake up in my room but it’s dark then out of nowhere my eyes wont open like as if someone is lightly putting their hands on my eyes without the feeling of the hands if that makes sense. I wake up at least three times in the dream, I walk out see my family and go on my phone which has some sort of detail I was on snapchat but the guy I was talking to I’ve never met in my life. When I woke up I didn’t feel scared as I felt in the dream. And that worried me for some reason.

  • I’ve recently started having these type of disturbing dreams. I’ll try to follow some of this advice as they are extremely distressing.

  • I had about 10 false awakenings this morning it was amazing, as at first it felt like I was really waking up in reality but things and behaviours in tHe dreams made me realise that I was dreaming every time. I could explore my dreams but after I tried to wake myself I kept waking up in a dream it started getting stranger and stranger as it felt so real every time. Once I really woke in reality I was very drunk and disorientated. I was surprised at how many time it happened and how much I could remember also how little things in the dreams could make me realise I was actually dreaming. I love dreaming and it excites me when I am aware I am dreaming.

  • I had a dream this morning and it shook me to the core. I had fallen back to sleep after I took my children to school. I had laid on the couch for a while waiting to fall asleep it took me a while, but I finally fell asleep. In my dream, I could see myself walking around my house. (It seemed way to real that I doubted myself). I see my husband in his office but all the furniture is moved around, not in its normal spot. Then my dreamself walks away and I could see myself laying on the couch and I try to wake up. It didn’t, I didn’t wake up. I remember getting back up and seeing my kids get ready for school. (they were already there). In my dream, I panicked thinking this already happened. my dream self tries to wake myself up again. it didn’t work. This next time my dream self decides to get up and and lay down in the exact same spot on the couch that I am already. I panic even more. In the dream, i could feel my heart beating like crazy and i start to freak out. I am able to finally wake up only to have my husband standing over me, reading my phone’s text messages, which startles me even more. I wake up in sheer panic mode, it took me a while to realize that I was actually awake this time. I hope I NEVER experience that type a dream. It messed with my entire day.

    • That’s how mine are. I just continuously wake up from a dream but am never actually awake. And I’m aware that I’m dreaming and I keep trying to wake myself up. I’m like in first person mode screaming out to nothing/myself, if that makes sense, to wake up! And then I’ll wake up to find that I’m still asleep and dreaming. It’s terrifying and I have had it happen twice in a week.

      • OMG! Me too!! For the past two nights in a row! Multiple false awakenings (felt like 10 in the one I just woke up from). And I am fighting like MAD to wake up and I think I do only to realize that I am still sleeping – and this cycle just keeps repeating. And it is really freaking me out. I’m afraid to try and fall back to sleep tonight.

  • I just moved in with my dad and the house is haunted. This does scare me but I do think that it is starting to affect my sleeping. Recently, I had just start to experience sleep paralysis. I have experienced this multiple times and just today I started to experience a new dream where I am dreaming, of a dream within a dream. And in that last dream, I have the sleep paralysis. Then I think I wake up when really I haven’t and I wake up actually and I’m just like in shock. This has stopped me from getting the amount of sleep I need because it freaks me out so much.

    • Do you try to scream something but nothing comes out? And when you think you woke up and actually got up and walked around, you never even woke up? Finally, when you do wake up you’ve never actually moved? Did you see the ghost in your nightmare?

  • So about a hour and a half ago I was sleeping with my husband. I was having a normal dream when all of a sudden this guy started screaming and didn’t stop. My heart started racing, that dream ended, I was still dreaming but I still heard the screaming and I could see my husband in bed with me. I kept saying “babe wake me up” and I was trying to move but couldn’t. I then woke up and told him about it. I went back to bed and heard a really loud beeping, my heart felt like it was racing again and I was trying to touch my husband so he would wake me up but I couldn’t move again. I got up and turned on the t.v. and thought maybe that would help. He got up for work and I went back to sleep. In my dream I was up and about and then was sleeping in bed with my baby. I kept waking up in my dream to see if my husband was there and he was I could see the t.v. and excatly what was playing. I told him about my dreams and he comforted me. As I was laying with him he started talking jibberish in another voice. I’ve never experienced anything like this before but I hate it, It’s so scary. I woke up crying.

  • I just woke up for real from a false awakening and this article was extremely helpful. I tried to wake myself up three or four times, and legitimately thought I did it in the dream because I could roll around after feeling stuck for a few moments. Almost afraid to fall back asleep tonight at this point, but the article helped

  • I had this dream this morning where I woke up but kept feeling paralysed and very tired
    So I started to try and get myself awake as I didn’t want sleep paralysis as I have had this before. I couldn’t open my eyes and I was walking round in the dream with my eyes closed and everytime I managed to open my eyes it was completely different to where I thought I was. I then thought to myself in the dream that this could be a dream so I kept my eyes shut and went for it. Obviously still in the dream but rather than fight the weirdness of it all I realised I was dreaming so I carried on. I think I have just had my first lucid dream which started from thinking I had woken up!

  • I woke up and struggled to get out of bed I felt slow and heavy like I was drugged up. I went to the bathroom and then to the kitchen. I thought I may be still dreaming due to that drugged up feeling having happened the last time this occurred. I went to the mirror and looked around my house for clues of dreaming. There were balloons in the living room, i started popping them to wake myself up. Husband came home from work and I told him I was dreaming and that I needed him to wake me up. He tried tickling me but it didn’t work. I grabbed his glass of water and threw it in my face and then hit myself over the head with the glass. I also started shouting out very loudly. Husband was asking me to stop I was telling him I needed to wake up. I asked him the date and he said june 17. I told him it was August and that proves I’m still asleep. I looked at my phone to check the date, June 17th. I tried to read some text messages and could just about make a few out. A stranger then walked into our house and grabbed me. I was shouting my husband for help, he got on his knees and begged me to wake up. Stranger threw me onto the bed. I smelt his breath as he spoke. I knew I had to wake up and was trying so hard. I bit his hand as hard as I possibly could before finally waking up.

  • My issue is I have multiple false awakenings in a dream. At first I dont realize whats going on but then I start to realize that I am once again going through a dream where I wake up only to be in another dream. I “wake up” about 15 – 20 times and each time I get more and more freaked out to the point that when I am awake I am not sure if Im actually awake. I am only 20 and this has been going on for as long as I remember.

  • I’ve been having these kinda dreams for as long as i can remember, i dont know, since i was like 7 or 8. And i woke up today from a false awakening as well, i didnt find it distressing tho cuz i woke up by someone hugging me. I was still in a dream, but the hug felt so real. I even asked my sisters if they were the one who hugged me after i actually woke up. The most I got are 2 false awakenings in a row, that one was distressing for me tho. But the dreams weren’t as bad as the first time i got them. Cuz id always wake up feeling neutral, like i wasnt happy nor scared (eventho i dreamed about an old lady wearing red chasing people who she saw had fingernails and threatening to cut them off…welp i hit mine cuz someone told me to). In all my dreams, i never know that im dreaming, it doesnt cross my mind. But there was this one time (actually 2) that i woke up questioning if i was still dreaming, cuz i woke up feeling surprised, like that dream felt so so so real that i was surprised i woke up and that creeped me out. I once almost had a lucid dream but somehow in that same dream i forgot i was dreaming, when i found out i was dreaming the next few minutes my head started hurting and i felt dizzy, it didnt take more than 2 min before i forgot i was dreaming.

  • I’m 42 years old and I believe I just had my first “dream inside if a dream.” At least that’s the only way I can describe it.

    In the first dream, I was back in the National Guard and was sitting in uniform inside a classroom at my unit’s headquarters. There were other people from my unit there. However, some things were strange. I remember forgetting my beret and was worried about that in the dream. I had it in my mind to ask someone if they had an extra in their locker that I could borrow, but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Anyway, enough strange stuff happened that I realized it was a dream and became intent on forcing myself awake.

    It took quite an effort, but eventually I willed myself awake. I awoke only to see one of my closest friends who was in the National Guard with me standing above me in my bedroom. He was in full uniform. I realized that he had been shaking me awake from my dream. I said his name and he was speaking to me but there was no sound coming from his mouth.

    It took only seconds before I realized that this couldn’t be real. At the same time, I began to doing I was still dreaming because I had just woken up. My mind kept telling me that I was surely awake.

    I decided to try and wake myself again anyway. It took incredible effort but I told myself I had to wake up. I had to get out of this.

    This time when I awoke I was actually awake. My heart was pounding and I was feeling a wide range of emotions from shock to fear to finally, relief.

    I believe this is the first time in my life that I experienced a “false awakening.”

    I have been able to realize I was dreaming in the past and was able to become aware enough to control the dream.

    This was different, though. I must say I hope it doesn’t become a habit, because it was quite unpleasant.

    I then Googled the phenomenon and came across your artice. Very informative BTW.

  • I actually had experience it last night. I tried to wake-up 4-5 times only to find-out, i was still dreaming. The first time i tried to wake-up, i couldn’t see my hands, i tried to wake-up again, the second time and i already started reciting prayers the only thing i can depend on. The 5th time i tried, it feels like i had a hard time breathing still i continued to pray, then alas, i finally woke-up. I look at the room, wiggled my eyes, i tried to cover the window with curtains because it feels like somebody is making me having bad dreams outside the window. Also, when i woke-up, i was full of sweat eventhough the room was very cold due to aircondition.

  • I really have to stop watching rick and morty this false awakening dreaming was one of the most terrifying things that has ever happened to me I woke up several different times in my dream only to realize I was still in the same exact dream and every single time I would wake up in my room but as I walked out everytime the places would change……

  • I had a nested dream where I couldn’t wake up in reality but in my dream I woke up numerous times after every 2 to 3 seconds. I couldn’t leave my bed in my dream and that was very frustrating.

  • I’m having a terrible time with nested dreams or dreams within a dream that are like sleep paralysis.. I’m stuck between being asleep and awake…I know I’m asleep and can’t wake up..I panic and try to scream but can not..I usually have to wake up SEVERAL times to get out of it.. It seems to go on for hours. But I know in reality is only a few mins..I don’t feel a presence.. I’m alone stuck in my head and feel like I’m dyeing.i have the type of urgency u would feel if being stuck in quick sand right at your face sinking, struggling in vain and making it worse. I also suffer terrible night terrors..I wake screaming and crying hysterically several times a month. Like I mentioned there is no presence or thing after me.. My mind uses the Ppl that I love to torture me.. I’ve seen my children die multiple times ect.. My grandparents that are deceased are alive.. So even the dreams that aren’t horribly scary are emotionally draining.. It’s a special kind of hell… I’ve struggled with this for years.

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