False Awakening: Dreaming About Waking Up

photo of a woman dreaming of being awake

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

Perhaps you even got out of bed, started your morning routine, and then snapped out of an imaginary breakfast or journey to work to find yourself back in bed?

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

What are false awakenings?

a man dreaming he is awake

False awakenings are usually vivid dreams in which you mistakenly feel like you’ve woken up. And it’s often only when you wake up later – for real this time – that you realize your previous waking was just a dream.

Sound confusing? It certainly can be for many people, and has been for me on a number of occasions.

Thankfully, I don’t have false awakenings as regularly as some people do, but have had several during the last few years.

In this article, I’ll be looking at false awakenings and ways to cope with them if you find them upsetting.

I’ll also look at some interesting techniques to gain awareness that you’re dreaming. That way, you might be able to use your false awakening as a stepping stone to the fascinating world of lucid dreaming.


False awakening poll

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

infographic showing the results of a reader poll into false awakenings

Too real to be a dream?

One of the fascinating features of a false awakening is just how lifelike it can seem. So even if you have some vague awareness that you’re dreaming, the fact that you’re dreaming about your normal routine might stop you from questioning it further. Plus you’re still asleep, so normal conscious reasoning isn’t to be expected anyway!

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

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

Nested dreams

Some people experience more than one episode before they eventually wake up for real. Repeated false awakenings, a kind of Russian doll of dreams, can happen in one night – something that many readers have described in the comments below since first publishing this article.

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

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

False awakenings can seem so real that perhaps even on finally waking up, you might need a while to be fully convinced that you’re actually going to eat breakfast this time.


What causes false awakenings?

There’s no scientific consensus on the cause of false awakenings. When I started investigating the causes of my own false awakening episodes, I was surprised to find that there’s very little written about it in medical sources.

And as if to mirror its own nature, information about it is often buried inside articles and research about dreaming in general, lucid dreaming and other sleep disorders.

Two possible theories are:

Worry or anxiety

If you’re worried about something important in your life, you might dream about it. Some sleep experts suggest that this is perhaps to rehearse the event in your sleep.

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

Some believe that expectations play a key role in dreaming. If you’re feeling anxious, you might expect to sleep badly and wake up in the night, or need to wake up early for an important day. This anxiety could influence your dream and create a false awakening.

Mixed brain states

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

This could then lead to vivid dreaming of gaining consciousness and waking up. Some sleep disorders can lead to this state, as well as environmental factors such as sudden external noise.


False awakening or sleep paralysis?

False awakenings are sometimes confused with sleep paralysis, which can occur either when waking up or falling asleep. During an episode, your body is paralyzed, but your brain is conscious and aware of your surroundings.

What some people experience is a false awakening in which they dream of waking up and being unable to move. This can also be frightening, both in the dream and when you wake up and remember what just happened.

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

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


Treatment

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

However, if they are frequent and distressing, it might help to speak to your primary care doctor about it. They might consider the following options:

  • Dream rehearsal therapy.
  • Anxiety or stress management.
  • Medication in certain circumstances.

It could be that the best option is not to worry and try to accept it as a normal part of dreaming. Alternatively, there are two different paths you can go down in terms of self-help: trying to stop 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 strange it was. It’s an altogether different experience to become aware of it whilst the dream is still happening.

How do you gain that awareness though? And do you then try to wake yourself up, or just ride it out and see what happens?

The answer to the second question is a personal choice. But it will also be dictated by whatever level of awareness you manage to achieve.

So let’s take a look at some techniques to consider for the next time it happens.

1. How to wake up properly during a false awakening

If you have a false awakening, a moment of awareness within the dream might not happen; it’s often the case that we are simply a witness to our dreams, not an active participant.

Even if you do realize you’re dreaming, it doesn’t always follow that you can simply decide to wake up.

If you do become aware that you’re still dreaming, here are some actions which might help you wake up for real:

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

All of those techniques, of course, require a certain level of awareness though; you’ll either have it or you won’t in any given dream. If you’re having regular false awakenings, it might help you remind yourself of these possible actions just before you go to sleep to cement them in your mind.

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. Turn a false awakening into a lucid dream

artistic image of a woman dreaming

If you’re the adventurous type, the idea of lucid dreaming may be an exciting and fun one.

False awakenings are often reported by those with a strong interest in lucid dreaming (for example, World of Lucid Dreaming) as a potential bridge.

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

But how exactly do you start checking that you’re dreaming? The theory goes that you need to plant the idea in your head that you’re going to start doing ‘reality checking’ in your dreams. Then cross your fingers that it happens!

Reality checking

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

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

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

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

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

Do note though that the various suggested methods to induce lucid dreaming still don’t have strong scientific backing.

For example, a review of the evidence for lucid dreaming techniques, conducted by researchers at Heidelberg University in 2012, found that the techniques don’t work on demand. The concluded that:

None of the induction techniques were verified to induce lucid dreams reliably and consistently, although some of them look promising.

However, lucid dreaming does happen, so there is hope. A German study in 2011 found that 51% of the 919 participants had experienced a lucid dream at least once in their life.

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

3. Can you prevent false awakenings?

The idea of lucid dreaming understandably won’t appeal to everyone. If you have bad dreams, stopping them in the first place would be preferable.

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

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

  • Avoid caffeine and other stimulants, especially in the evening.
  • Avoid alcohol in the evening.
  • 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 relaxing mindfulness exercises in bed.
  • Do regular exercise. It might also help to go for a short walk in the evening before bed.
  • If you have a false awakening, get out of bed for 10 to 15 minutes before going back to sleep.
  • Stick to a regular sleep pattern, and try to avoid becoming too tired or sleep deprived.

Your thoughts

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

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

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

754 thoughts on “False Awakening: Dreaming About Waking Up”

  1. So interesting to read thanks for this info.
    I constantly have false awakening inside lucid dreams. I will wake up in my room quite often to then realizing something isn’t quite right and I yell out wake up to then wake up in my room again a bit out of breath thinking man that was hectic to only move my head to see something out of place that in reality isn’t there so yell out again to wake up.
    Last night this happened 5 times to then waking up out of breath getting up to check on my kids and while I was standing there I felt like I was knocked in the head and I fell to my son’s bed barely able to open my eyes.
    I then actually woke up and had the sorest head.
    I could these dreams nearly every night.
    I have noticed it happens within 30 minutes after falling asleep. And usually when I go to sleep late after watching Netflix for too long haha.

  2. I experienced multiple false awaken dreams in a row. Now I’ve decided to not go back to sleep.
    The first dream – I was with my friend Carolina on a ship in the evening looking out to the ocean ( I hung out with this friend a few hours before sleeping ) we are going to go eat but I end up memorized by the other ships and light I walk down steps that lead to water (this is when I realized I was dreaming) a man comes over and asks if I want help out the water bc my shoes were wet and I said yes please – I was able to wake up after that.
    Next dream was the scariest – I dream I was in my bed listening to the thunder outside sleeping and then I began to feel like lighting was striking and my eyes started twitching and my whole body felt weird in the dream – then I wanted to get up to ask my roommate if we were experiencing getting hit my lighting or if she was experiencing the same feelings I had – when I turn Carolina is next to bed and I am trying to ask her if she feels what I feel but I can’t talk in the dream – like I was talking so slow I couldn’t get the words out and all I can hear is her saying she was scared. I started focusing on trying to move, even though it was difficult and eventually woke up disturbed looked at the weather and it wasn’t even raining or no sign of lighting.
    Last dream – my friend Randy who lives in California (I live in Arizona) invited to his work party I accept the invitation and he picked me up I went to the party and it was hard to move around without feeling dizzy or heavy like you’re going to fall over ( that’s when I knew I was dreaming ) we leave the party and he comes to my house and is in bed with me and I’m telling him about my dreams and that I don’t believe what’s currently happening is real and he is just starring at me confused – at this point of my dream I’m frustrated bc I’ve had three or four vivid dreams so I think to myself I’ll bite my arm and see if it hurts so I bite my arm in my dream and can’t feel it and eventually wake up .

    It’s been a tough night I don’t want to go back to sleep I don’t like false awakenings. I’m glad I found this website and know others have experienced it too.

  3. Sleep Journal 10-3-19
    i started dozing off while watching the princess & the frog, and it wasn’t for very long at all cause i’d been asleep for all of 20-30 minutes when i finally woke up. but it was so scary. after the last time this happened, i knew it was sleep paralysis, but before that i would experience this & not have any idea what it was other than a seemingly very real nightmare.
    i was falling asleep, though, and i woke up. i thought. i woke up into my dream? but i couldn’t see anything. it was terrifying and i could hear a loud white noise as if someone had the tv set to a bad channel, and a sound like someone was trying to get into my room. the squeaking of the door, the turning of the handle, etc. i was trying so so hard to open my eyes, but it was impossible. it felt like something was literally sitting on top of me and i couldn’t move. my heart was racing & i felt like i was hyperventilating. i could hear people talking, but i couldn’t make out what they were saying or who it was & i still couldn’t open my eyes at all. finally, i was able to open them enough to where i could see all blurry & stuff, but i still couldn’t make out anything that was happening. my eyes were hardly open & i was straining to keep them open because i felt like someone was trying to break into my room to kill me. i had this feeling of impending doom. the only thing i could see was my phone & the movie was still playing. i was able to calm myself down enough to kind of steady my breathing & it was only after i got my heart rate down & my breathing somewhat normalized that i was able to wake myself up completely. even then, i had to pull myself out of bed & go look in my mirror to make sure i was really awake.

  4. I had a nested dream a few years back and I was both scared and fascinated by it. It started out like a normal day where I wake up and get out of the room. But as soon as I stepped out of the room, I woke up again and realized that it was just a dream, so I got out of bed and tried to leave the room only to wake up again. This time before going out of the room I tried to turn on the light, but when I flicked switch nothing happened, so I immediately knew I was still in a dream and I started to feel stressed out and a little scared. This went on several times where I wake up and try the lights or go out of the room but I just end up waking up again. I don’t really know how many times I false awakened but I’m it was more than 10 times. It got to the point where I just wanted to scream but I couldn’t. I wanted to cry. I was really desperate to wake up. I felt like I was trapped in the dream and couldn’t get out. I tried praying. And when I finally woke up for real I was still skeptical at first so I checked my room first and tried to look for something weird.

    It was a really creepy experience. I just remembered it because my girlfriend just had sleep paralysis and I thought of looking it up.

  5. I had my first ‘nested’ dream last night. Normally when things get really weird or disturbing and I know I’m having a dream I can wake myself up. However, I don’t think in reality I knew I was dreaming, but in my dream within a dream I was sleeping on my back in bed (in reality I was sleeping on the couch, in my living room, with our new puppy, laying on my side). In my dream I was sleeping but dreaming about looking out my window and noticing the sod on our front porch had been stolen / ripped up. I’m currently doing a lot of yard work IRL and in general have my mind on the health of my grass a lot lately, so it makes sense I would have an anxious dream about it. Anyways, in the dream a homeless person had dug a huge ditch on the side of the road and was carpeting it with my grass, I guess he was going to setup camp in the ditch or something.

    This alone triggered the “I know I’m dreaming” sequence and I began to try and wake myself up (in my dream). First I tried just sitting up in bed but I couldn’t move (not in real life, but in my dream sleeping state – I know I wasn’t flailing IRL because when I eventually woke up my puppy was calm / sleeping right there curled up by my chest and head on the couch), when that failed I tried flailing my arms but they were heavy like concrete. At that point I decided it must be real and I must not be dreaming, so I started wandering around the house and noticing weird things like the large flat screen TV in the living room had been replaced with an old CRT TV, furniture had been moved around, etc. Of note, the TV in my nested dream was playing showing an episode of ‘The Office’ which was playing quietly on the TV in my living room IRL, so the audio was bleeding into my nested dream.

    At this point I tried yelling to wake myself up but no matter how hard I strained only the faintest whispers would come out. I think this, more than anything, distressed me the most in my dream. In my nested dream I walked into the bedroom where my girlfriend was sleeping (in my nested dream) and was telling (scream whispering) her to wake me up because I was having a nightmare. I watched her go out into the living room where I was sleeping on the couch (the only point in the dream where my real versus nested sleeping positions merged, remember: IRL I was on my side on the couch, but in my dream I was sleeping on my back in bed). So….in my nested dream, I was telling my girlfriend (who looked completely different from my actual real life GF) to wake up my actual self on the couch….BIZARRE).

    Shortly after my alarm on my phone went off and I awoke, perfectly calm, not sweating, and no rapid heart rate like I would normally have awakening from a stressful dream. While having the memory of the dream, I honestly don’t think that at the time I knew I was dreaming since I woke up so calm, which has been really hard to get my head around, especially considering that in the dream I never woke up from the nested dream, but was rescued from both dreams by my alarm in real life.

    It wasn’t overtly traumatic, just really confusing and kind of mind blowing. Definitely disturbing enough to haunt me all day, and I hope it doesn’t happen again, or at least often.

  6. I false dream often.. sometimes I enjoy it and sometimes it becomes difficult to wake up. In my dream I am aware that I am dreaming and i tell to myself that I have to wake up. It is possible that in your false wake up you can see yourself switching off alarm too. So alarm thing is not going to help u wake up in real.. All you have to do is to focus on waking up or try screaming.

    1. I had a nested dream for the first time ever last night, and it was not pleasant. That night, I initially had trouble sleeping and tossed and turned for hours. The first time I “woke up” I looked at the clock and it was about 4am. I realized the light in our bedroom was on so I turned to my husband and said “Why did you turn the light on?” And in my dream he was awake but I could hear him snoring in real life, so I realized I was sleeping. That kicked me into the next “wake up” sequence where I again wake up, light is on, I look out the bedroom door and see a piano and my daughter playing it (we don’t have a piano there). That realization kicked me into my next “wake up” where, light on, I wake my husband up and tell him that I’ve had these weird dreams. Then I realize there is a cat on the bed and next to our bed and we don’t have cats. This is when I started to panic because I’m realizing that I’m dreaming again! I decided if I scream maybe I will scream in real life and my husband will wake me up, but when I try screaming no sound comes out. Then I woke up for real. Super scary and I hope this doesn’t happen to me ever again!

      1. Oh wow! This is almost identical to the dreams I have?? I wake in dream but notice something not quite right in the room so realise I’m dreaming? It repeats like this 4-5 times? I start to panic and try to get partner to notice? He does by about the 4-5 repeat dream but only because by then I’m screaming in dream to get his attention and I’m screaming for real too! So he does wake me? This happens at least once a week, I hate it it scares me so much as sometimes the images I see are night terror stuff!

  7. I just took a nap and woke up in my dream because my phone was ringing. I can not remember what I was dreaming about but when I woke up, still in the dream, I answered the phone and it was my ex Face timing me but he was with three infants in carseats. Then he was with his new girlfriend I guess so I disconnected. Then my current boyfriend comes home with two women who sit down in my room and started braiding each other hair. I ask my boyfriend who these women are then we started fighting and breaking up but we hardly ever argue in real life. Someone knocked on the door and woke me up for real life. I think I’ve only had this happen to me once in my life when I was really little and I thought I went to the bathroom. This time was very weird. It felt too real

  8. I was having a nap today and thought I heard someone knocking at the door so figured I better get up and check. That’s when it started, it’s like I felt so tired I could barely open my eyes to wake up let alone get out of bed. Every time I thought ok I’m awake now and went to sit up or put my leg on the ground it’s like I’d wake up for real and realise that whole part before was just a dream. But then the whole process of thinking I need to get up now and then not being able to open my eyes or move my body to get up would start all over again. This happened about 5 times and it was terrifying, in the end I started to panic that I wasn’t able to wake up or move and my face was getting more and more smashed into the pillow as if I’d suffocate (sleep on my stomach). I never want this to happen again.

  9. Last night I had my first nesting/lucid dream. I could never control my dreams before this. I woke up in my bed feeling like I had to work but it was Saturday. I carried on doing regular morning routine work when strange things started happening. I have a boyfriend but there was a dream I was having sex with a woman. I knew this was strange, and usually, when I try to wake up after realizing I’m dreaming I have no problem. This time I opened my eyes and I was in bed again, checked my phone for messages, and did normal things once again. Then scary things were happening. I tried to wake up and woke up in my bed once again, thinking I was conscious. Over and over again nightmares were playing and I would wake up in my bed, still dreaming. I tried to scream to get my body to scream so someone would wake me up. I tried flailing my arms in the dream as hard as I could, yet I was still stuck in this continuous loop. I began to fully panic when I thought I died in my sleep and I was in hell. I thought my nightmares were a loop of my own personal fears replaying for all eternity with no escape. I don’t remember how many times I woke up still in a dream, I do remember that when I finally did wake up, I sure as hell didn’t believe it for about an hour or so. Very scary experience for sure. But I hope if it happens again I can just go with the flow rather than panic so much!

  10. It’s the first time that I read about false awakenings and didn’t know that so many people live that. I had once a very clear false awakening that became a lucid dream. It really felt unusually real and detailed. I regret that most of the people on the comments write about bad experiences. In my case it was very weird but at the same time extremely beautiful dream.

    Almost 4 years ago I passed the night on the sofa of a living room in Berlin. It was the first and only time that slept there. I “woke up” there in the middle of a sunny spring morning and I suddenly realized that my uncle, who had passed away some months before, was sitting next to me. He looked fresh and healthy. (I knew that he was in very bad state before dying, I couldn’t see him during this period because I live far from my country. He actually passed away just few days before I arrived to visit my family in Colombia for the first time in 4 years.)

    Back to the dream:
    I couldn’t believe that he was sitting on that sofa, so I had to ask the obvious question:
    -Is this a dream?
    And with a funny attitude he said:
    -Of course! You know I’m dead.

    I felt relaxed and started to talk with him. There is a part of the conversation that I don’t remember so detailed but I know that I started to make many questions. He said that he couldn’t answer because there are things that we living people can’t understand. He said that he was still around because he still had something to resolve. Then we gave each other a hug. I really remember the warmness of that hug because I was impressed. Then I woke up for real. I never dreamt with him again, at least that I remember.

    I also had another dream 5 years ago with another dead relative during his after-death-life. I’m not sure that it was a false awakening because I don’t remember exactly the beginning but it’s probable that it started on my bed, because I remember it was night and I was getting out of the small town in France where I was living at the time. It was cold and it was raining a lot. I was running through the road and the forest until I find a little wooden house in the middle of the mountains and I could see some firelight inside. I arrived to ask for help and my dead grandfather opened the door and was waiting for me with a blanket. I was very surprised to see him in France. (My grandfather had a farm in the mountains of Colombia. He died 21 years ago exactly the day of my 10th birthday, on a Friday 13th –I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true-. Two days before he died, he was staying in the city in my parents’ house because of the hospital. I was late for school, he saw me and he said to my mother that she shouldn’t care about school that day. I went to his room, sat on his leg and he gave me many bits of advice for life. As a kid, I couldn’t dimension everything that he was talking to me. My mother and my grandmother were also surprised with the time that he took to talk to me. It seems that he just gave a proper goodbye to me and to my uncle, who is a doctor and saw him dying in his arms.)

    Back to the dream:
    I entered the small house of my grandfather and sat down on the only chair next to the only table. It passed through my mind that it could be a dream but I was so hungry that I couldn’t resist the warm lentil soup on the table. I just ate and ate without being able to stop. His house was very rustic and there were very few things, just the extremely necessary stuff. It was visible that he lived there alone. He brought more wood for the fire and another chair. He sat in front of me and observed me eating while being very calm. He said that he had something to tell me and then I woke up. I think that I dream with him another time but I don’t remember very clear.

    The level of reality sensation of that dream marked that moment of my life. I had it very present in my mind and it helped me somehow in that period of introspection. I even started to write my dreams on a notebook.

  11. I have reoccurring sleep-paralysis and false awakening dreams but the one last night was different. I “woke up” in my living room, it was night like just after I fell asleep. I sensed this eerie vibe coming out from one of the bedrooms and this eerie feeling is a theme in my “episodes”. The thing that made me aware it was a dream, was the Christmas tree in the corner of the living room. As soon I became aware I was dreaming I just jumped out of the couch and ran towards the door that leads out to the balcony and I ran right through it! out on the balcony and jumped! I just floated around outside right above the rooftop and I wanted to go further but was too afraid to go anywhere else so I went back to my apartment. When I came back my home was full of people I didn’t recognise and I learned that they were part of a travelling theatre who had rented my place. From there my lucid dream was over and I could not control my environment and went into a discussion with a man about this strange misunderstanding about renting-out my home. But it was not eerie anymore and I have had this cool feeling all day. I loved running out through the locked door and just jump out into the sky <3

    1. In my first sleep paralysis I felt like I was asleep in my bed and could hear my dad listening to tv the floor above me. I could see a darkness in the room in the room the far corner. I was bound to the bed. So I guess my false awakening was crawling up the stairs. I can self awake from a crappy dream. sometimes I don’t complete wake up and dream again. Basically, I become fully conscience before going back to bed. ill wake up but don’t stay awake long enough before I fall asleep.

  12. I’m 62 years old and have had various sleep “anomalies” over the years similar to a lot of these comments. I’ve had a few since starting a Spiritual path where fear keeps me from opening my front door to see who is knocking on it. I have told myself I really want to just open the darn door already and confront who is there; then I stopped having those dreams and now experience this: *while sleeping on my recliner*
    There is nothing but darkness and something is in my house; lurking or attacking me. I get scared- push the button to get out of the reclining position *actually hear the noise it makes* – run into the bedroom and try to wake my husband up. Last night I “ran into him” at the bedroom doorway, could feel his skin very plainly as he sleeps without a nightshirt on. Always though I have the thought “It’s still dark- you cannot see” makes me realize I am still sleeping and then I wake up for real with my heart pounding.
    I have noticed that these dreams usually happen when I fall asleep with my hand in a fist position at the base of my skull; regardless if I fall asleep in bed or the recliner. One day I will just turn around and face my fear.
    I like the term False Awakening…

  13. My dreams keep getting worse and worse. I’ve always had nightmares at least 9/10 of my dreams are nightmares and out of that 7/10 are lucid. And it feels like it’s gradually getting harder and harder for me to wake myself up. What would you recommend I do? It’s getting to the point where I’m scared to sleep.

    1. Talk to your doctor about Minipress (Prazosin) – made a world of difference for me. Nightmares and false awakenings every single night til I started that RX.

      1. I have had a few false awakenings in my life. But today was the worst. Real psychotic rollercoaster in and out of dreams trying to get out. Almost understanding that I was just sleeping. It ended with my believing for real that I was back in the hotel room I’m at with my girl. And her coming to the bathroom having a face exorcism of some kind. I panicked and ran around until I tried to see my face in the mirror and woke up hyperventilating feeling pain and scared. Happy that I found this site and could get a bit calmer.

    2. I used to have this when I was younger, I found it was almost always related to stress. I don’t know you but if you have some sort of chronic stress in your life, start with that. I get horrific nightmares with constant glade awakenings and become lucid but almost only when I’m feeling out of control and stressed in real life. I still get scared but try to remember you’re not in any real danger ❤️

  14. Well I’m a 16 year old girl and I have these types of dreams a lot.
    The first time I noticed it I was being possessed by a demon who was sitting on my shoulders and the pain was so bad. I was so scared and told myself to wake up since I understood it was a dream since I don’t live in a house like that. I did wake up BUT in my sleep and the demon was looking for me so I had to hurry and wake up i tried to scream, fall and tell myself to wake up but it didn’t work. I woke up like 6 times in the dream before I woke up in real life and all my energy was out when I woke up. I had two dreams like this yesterday and today as well about the same things. Something or someone is haunting me and is trying to harm me. Yesterday I woke up in the dream and I had no arms so i knew it was a dream but I tried so hard to wake up it didn’t work after 5-6 tries I did wake up AGAIN with no energy left. Today I dreamed about different things but the ending was scary and I was haunted by a damn cat that flew into my face and the cat was ugly and scary. It released 8000 bugs on me and I hate bugs so yea I wanted to wake up so bad. Even in my dream, there were two guys who told me “ false awakening is good for depression” which is super weird why would I dream about something that’s gonna happen like my dreams are so weird. I really want to stop this cause it makes me worried and sad all the time, I can’t have those good old days dreams anymore when I dream about happy things. Now I always wake up with stress and sometimes I’m panicking. The first time I got a dream like this I had a heart attack in my dream and I could feel it in real life, I literally thought I was gonna die.

  15. I’ve had this on numerous occasions and often woke up having a panic attack … unsure on whether I’m awake or still sleeping … with a wind in my chest that makes it hard to breathe and a feeling of needing to vomit.
    I’m lucky enough to say they don’t happen to frequently; often once a month and once they have happened and I have come round … my next night sleep usually isn’t affected.
    I recently got diagnosed with PTSD and spent a week living on a psych ward … during this week I realised there are many illnesses and I’m almost happy to have the ones I do. I’d like to say now this is most certainly not the cause of my admission and I also have chronic anxiety and depression that left me scarred daily. The reason I say this is to not worry or illude anyone about thier own issues … I don’t want them reading after a frightful nights sleep thinking … ‘OMG I might have PTSD’. That’s honestly an unlikely outcome.
    But what I can say is that my dreams often are linked to high rates of stress, anxiety and depression in my life.
    Also what I’ve noticed is I often seem worse when there is a background noise or something going on in the background. One example is me getting stuck in a dream where I’ve clicked my alarm numerous times … this loop occurs because I’m thinking about my alarm buzzing … often because I’ve got a big event I’m anxious about the next day and my brain is telling me ‘Don’t sleep through this alarm whatever you do !’.
    Other times its deeper; for example it was heavily raining one time and my chill-out tent I’d set up in the garden was being damaged (I could hear it); so I went outside in the early hours and moved the tent to behind the shed to shield it from the wind, I had it again this night but with different reactions to the people in my household on where the tent was and why it was soaking wet on the inside and not just the out.
    All in all I wanted to share my story in case it provided any perspective to other people … I often describe it as the process leading up to a morning of panic that lasts half an hour at most … then my day continues (often slightly drowsier than usual) … but nontheless … it continues.

  16. Omg! I’ve been having nested dreams for years. I had no idea what it was. I’ll be sleeping but really think I’m awake, getting ready for the morning. I’ll be getting a shower, doing makeup etc, only to realize I’m still in bed. Often it happens 5-6 times at once. I start panicking because no matter what I do, I cant wake up. I think to myself, ok, move, do something and then it will start all over again. I can remember many times trying to roll myself off the bed just so I’ll wake up. I do not enjoy these episodes, I have extreme fear, panicking and I just keep trying to wake. It’s almost like that movie Groundhogs day. I also tend to sleepwalk during stressful times in my life. I’ll wake up at my computer, typing gibberish or I’ve woken up on my back deck because it was raining and the rain woke me. I’ve also experienced astroplaning, where I’m flying overhead at the ceiling, I can see myself sleeping in bed, my family in their beds but usually I start getting scared because all I want to do is get down from the ceiling because I’m extremely afraid of heights. Most of all these strang sleep anomalies happen when im under stress in my life.
    At least I know now what false awakening are, I don’t know if it will make a difference on how I feel next time it happens.

  17. Last night I had sleep paralysis mixed with false awakenings. I could see my room clearly. Then I would get up only to realize it was a dream when I “woke up” to see my room once again. This kept happening over and over. I felt like I kept semi waking up to see the room but I couldn’t fully wake up. To try to wake myself up I started shaking my head rapidly from side to side. I learned this trick as a child because I suffered from terrible nightmares. Usually when a dream starts to turn “scary” I can shake myself awake… last night I couldn’t.
    I felt stuck in a dream loop, doing the same thing over and over. About the third time dreaming I had gotten up I started panicking. I started trying to yell for my husband who was all the way out in the living room. I kept yelling his name over and over as loud as I could but it wouldn’t come out right; instead it sounded like muffled, incoherent mumbling. I kept praying that he would hear me screaming for him. I was wondering if I was actually yelling in the “real” world or if this was just part of another dream. I remember at one point knocking things off the nightstand to try to get his attention and trying to knock a cup over so it might pour water on me and cause me to wake up. In the midst of all this I saw him walk in the room and ask me if I was okay. I said No. He walked over and sat me up…I was finally awake.
    I looked over to the nightstand but there were no items knocked off , no water spilled on me but I could have swore those things happened the instant before he woke me up. I’m just glad he heard me calling for him. I asked him if he heard me calling his name. He said he was watching tv and said he thought he heard me making noise like I was having a bad dream. I was so unnerved by the whole experience and so grateful to him for waking me up that I burst out crying because I felt he had saved me somehow. I told him I felt like I was stuck in some sort of dream hell/purgatory where I could “almost” wake up but then kept dreaming I was awake until I’d realize it was a dream. I hope I don’t have this happen again. It was very unsettling.

  18. I woke up in a dream to being haunted by a Poltergeist i was fully aware of my surroundings of inside my house as if i had just woke up for real as i usually do but this time i jumped out of bed to find everything banging around me things flying across the room towards me i couldnt see anything there but i had a feeling it was getting closer and closer so i jumped back into my bed hid under my quilt like a little kid like you are scared of somthing grabbing the quilt and pleading it to go away but i had the worst feeling that it was right nxt to me lookin down at me i couldnt move a muscle so i squeezed my eyes shut and i woke up in my bed for real this time to find out nothing had moved and i was fine later that day i told my mother about it and she mentioned i was nearly crying like i was afraid of somthing she said she was going to wake me up but she thought it would make me worse i went all day thinking about life and how real that dream was it got me thinking about the whole of reality and is it real or one big dream who knows when we die we might wake up in bed?

  19. I’m glad I’m not the only one experiencing false awakenings and sleep paralysis, tho I hate to wish it on anyone else. I thought I’d invented it because nobody I’ve told this about has had it happen. I’ve had extremely terrifying dreams and I must be able to make some sort of noise at times to wake my husband so he can wake me. Sometimes trapped in my dreams I’m trying to make a noise to wake him, but I can’t. I can’t move, speak, open my eyes, breathe, and I think I’m going to die.
    Both my parents died last year and I dream about them a lot. Nothing scary, they’re just a part of the dream. Last night tho, I dreamed my mother was lying next to me in bed and I knew that couldn’t actually be so. I told myself I was dreaming and reached over to wake my husband – I pictured myself putting my hand on his shoulder, but when he turned to face me it was my mom. Scared the crap out of me and fortunately, that woke me.
    On a lighter note, I have a recurring dream theme of bathrooms. It’s got to be in the night when I actually have to go that prompts the dream search for a bathroom. Never the same dream, but there is always something wrong with every bathroom I find – no doors on the stalls, stalls have half walls, toilets have overflowed, bathroom has multiple doors to it that won’t lock, toilets in a public hallway, I’m looking for a bathroom and suddenly have no clothes, etc. At times I’ve gotten to a dream bathroom and start to use it FOR REAL which wakes me up for real! I’ve not wet the bed yet, but it kind of worries me. In my dreams, I’ve started reality checking, but it’s just part of the dream. Wide awake, I’ve done bathroom reality checks, but then I doubt that I’m really awake! Weird.

  20. OK so lately I’ve had a lot of things going round my head. The past week I have felt tired during the day so went for a nap before collecting my daughter I’m asleep no longer than an hour but feels like forever. The first few dreams were like waking up for the loo, waking up and my security light being on and iv looked outside. I fell asleep for an hour today and it happened again but it was like I’d woken up and something lifted me bending my back my partner shouted something and a deep voice came out of my mouth it wasn’t my voice. I tried to wake up but I couldn’t when I finally did awaken it still felt like I was asleep for 10 to 15 minutes after.

    1. I’ve been going through this for about a year now,I have these really scary dreams that seem so real,I try to scream for help but nothing comes out my mouth and I can’t move then I wake up then get a feeling of falling to find I’ve not actually woken up.every time it happens I get a load buzzing noise in my ears. Every time it happens and I wake up for real I always here church music,it really does scare me to the point where I have to put my light on and leave it on till morning.im a 31 year old woman sleeping with the light on because it scares me so much. It probably happens once a week or sometime longer. I just want it to stop and will be trying these techniques to wake me up.

  21. It happened to me just now again! I normally get these type of dreams when taking a nap after lunch, and I usually had an urge to go to the bathroom. I thought I opened my eyes and tried to move myself to the bathroom, but instead, I was doing something else which reminded me that I was dreaming. So I tried again to get up, the scene went back to the initial one (like the surrounding), I thought this time I woke up, but still not. Then just tried several times before I got scared that I would be trapped in the loop forever. I shook myself heavily out of the dream. I woke up not rested. :( Luckily it doesn’t always happen. But when it happens it can be fun in the dream if I don’t need to go to the bathroom.

  22. Hi I was staying up until 5 am and then I went to sleep and while I was asleep I’m pretty sure I was dreaming of me at that same exact time sleeping on my phone. But then when I woke up i didn’t have my phone and I was really sleeping and then I went to sleep again woke up 30 minutes later and felt like I was insane like delusional , I felt like I was trapped in some sort of curse or repeated dream that I was never going to get out of and I just felt which one is the real one and is it going to stop.

    1. Hi my 9 year old daughter is going through exactly what you just described every night for the past 2 months and we are trying to figure out what to do. She is so scared to go to sleep at night she stays up till daylight and then goes straight to sleep and says because when she sleeps at night time she can’t tell when she’s in a dream or when it’s real life. If anyone has any idea or information I’d greatly appreciate it.

      1. Have you tried teaching her some techniques to wake herself up? Moving a limb, shaking her head, etc. If she realizes she’s dreaming while she’s dreaming, tell her to try and have fun with it – flying or running and laughing, dreaming up something beautiful.
        I’ve written down in as much detail as I can remember, some of my dreams and it helps me to get it off my mind. It must relieve some kind of stress. Maybe it would help your daughter.

  23. I always have a dream that I am laying in bed with my eyes shut but I can’t open my eyes and no matter how hard I try, I know I am in a weird state and when I am able to open my eyes I take a gasp of breath. Idk if this helps but I’m only 16

    1. I always have this same dream. Most often I’m yelling at myself to wake up but i don’t. Just last night I was dreaming I was laying in bed and something was dragging me off the bed but couldn’t see anything. I knew it was a dream cause I pictured myself yelling at myself to wake up. It seemed like forever to actually wake up

  24. I have them all the time and I’ve just had one 10 minutes ago.
    I realized I was dreaming and woke myself up only to still be dreaming. The second dream I was unable to open my eyes.
    I’m normally aware of my proper surroundings because I can hear sounds but visually I’m in a dream.
    If I have no need to get up and stop trying to fight it then I find I have control of my dream and can do a lot of
    amazing stuff like floating or flying.

  25. Before laying down I was feeling really tired. I put on the elevation church app to hear a sermon by Larry Brey. I feel asleep half way, woke up and replayed it. I fell asleep once again, but a deep sleep. I heard it finished so I “woke” up and saw my phone unplug, so I reached over to get it and I thought I was dead. I plug it back on. Something was odd. My eyes were very heavy I barely could open one eye, it was half opened. Felt very tired, so I knew I was finding to wake up but not scared. I get up to go to the bathroom to turn the light on but it didn’t turned on. I thought dam the light bulb burn out because the vent turned on, as I thought at that moment. I walked out to the dining table and reached the cord to turn on the light on the sailing fan. Once again I barely had my heavy eyes open and thought to myself again, well the last light bulb burned out on this one too. So I turned back and headed to my room. I laid down. I fell asleep again. Forcibly. I fight to “open my eyes again. This time I was struggling I take off my pants. Even though I didn’t have “jeans” pants to even take off. But I was struggling to take off. I eventually did take them off. I lay my head back, a little confused. Still trying to keep my eyes open. On my third attempt to open my eyes I noticed something was off. I was still asleep. I wasn’t scared. There wasn’t fear. I didn’t hear a song can’t remember, but my phone was still off. So I let my eyes shut and I don’t remember what I said but suddenly I finally woke up. Now I’m here to figure out what was that.

    Sorry if it doesn’t make sense, I wrote this down as soon I woke up.

    I haven’t had a false awakening in a couple of years. I always had this since a child. Usually, I would feel fear like something is about to happen. I always reached to turn the light on because that’s what gives me the clue. This time I was clueless. I think because I didn’t feel in danger.

  26. I very frequently have these nested dreams and it makes me feel very weak in the mornings. The pattern is almost always the same. I wake up in my bed and look around and think to go back to sleep and suddenly realize that I am indeed in a dream. When I force myself to lose consciousness it becomes more dreadfully vivid so I try to scream but can’t. After minutes of effort, I finally wake up yet to another of that same dream. I, in the concurrent ones, know immediately that even though everything feels normal I am in a dream so try to scream or do quick movements to wake up but every nested dream becomes worst. I have up to 10 nested dreams in a night. Thank god I have never dreamed something demonic cause I would’ve probably peed my pajamas. In any case, I don’t know what to do, I want to consult a doctor but can’t decide whether to go to a psychologist or neurologist. I think about the former because I sometimes when drifting to sleep but awake hear voices almost like sound hallucinations. Sometimes a man with a very broad noise saying “bah” or a lot of people talking about random stuff. I sometimes see flashes when drifting to sleep as well. I would like to believe I am sane, indeed besides in bed I’ve never experienced such a thing (that’s what she said lol) Jokes aside I am worried and very much appreciate any suggestion. Thank you

    1. It is very disturbing! I get them one after another to only really wake up still thinking it the dream was real I usually scream out to my mom! I also tell myself to not go back to sleep but my eyes always feel so heavy I drift off and it happened again! I get scared

  27. Just woke up about 3 minutes ago from one of these nested dreams. Absolutely terrifying. The first one I remember started as two 50 year old sweaty bald guys doing coke next to me in my bed. My partner was there because he always sleeps in my bed with me. I said I wanted to get out the bed and I told him to stay there because I didn’t trust them alone in my room. I went into the living room and there was a shadow on the floor which I hunched down to get a closer look at. It was a 3D shadow. It turned into a demon girl thing and wrestled me around the room at about 3x the normal speed the dream was going at before. I can pull myself out of nightmares sometimes by imagining my real body making a violent quick movement so I tried this and I woke up but in a new dream. This kept happening and it keeps getting shorter and shorter until I woke up. Every one reset my brain somehow so I had to keep realizing it was a dream ever time. Each one had a completely different insanely horrifying scenario that I thought was true until I realized it was a nightmare. One of my cat attacking me and trying to kill me until I had to literally rip him apart to save my life. One of the people stalking me. One of finding out I had a memory illness and had lost half of my life’s memories. The last few we’re the most disturbing. I had started to figure out that none of my wakenings were real and every time I “woke up” I would question reality and ask myself outlook “is this real please god tell me it’s real let me out I’m trapped in dying” over and over again. In the very last one as I said I’m dying my imagination took over and I actually started dying. A black hole opened up right behind me next to the bed and tried to suck me in. I was trying to grab my partner and scream his name and he tried to grab me but his face was distorted and I was terrified of him too. Between both of these things I freaked out so much I actually managed to wake up properly and I could feel that it was actually real because I could feel the air on my face and hear him breathing. I still woke him up to ask if it was real and I’m sitting here trying to find out what actually happened to me and why. Now I’ve typed all this out because it makes me feel better when I get the dream in words. Makes it less scary. I’m very anxious right now and am scared to the back to sleep even though it’s 3:30 am and I have college tomorrow morning.

  28. I have just had this happen several times yesterday and then tonight. Each time I wake I have a really dry mouth and throat and I’m scared that if I don’t wake up that I am going to die in my sleep. I’ve taken a lot of benzodiazapines recent and put it down to this and also I had read that if you work out that you are dreaming in a dream then you can control it so the last time I did and started flying and was sort of semi in control for a short while then must have lost it at some point but when it came to waking I had 5 to 10 false awakenings and all of them I’m struggling to breathe and writhing around and then realise I’m back in the same position and it was all a dream and so on and so on until I jolted awake screaming and gasping for breathe. I nearly called the NHS emergency number I was so scared. I don’t know if it’s just FA dreams or if it has anything to do with the tablets I’ve taken. One of the scariest things that’s happened to me. Any advice would be appreciated. When I woke up my mouth was actually really dry and In one of the FA’s I coughed up some phlegm from my throat and wiped it away with my hand but I woke in such a panic and grabbed for a bottle of water at the side of my bed so im not sure if it was just another FA or if I actually did that. Too scared to go back to sleep. I’ve got alarms set for every twenty minutes. Pls Help!!

  29. I’ve had what you are calling false awakening for years and years. Fortunately not very often because they are always terrifying. I believe I am awake at first because all surroundings are exactly as they should be. That never changes no matter where I am. My surroundings are exactly as they would be if I were really awake. But the happenings are always so terrifying; ie once I thought I was awake, supposedly awakened by someone stomping around the house. I could see everything in the room as it should be. Then I “realized” (in my dream) it was my daughter home from college, stomping and breathing hard and looking for me so she could hurt or kill me. In my dream I got up and hid in the corner of the bedroom with the bedspread over me arranging it so it would look like it was just thrown there. Soon I realized I had been dreaming and was back in bed, but I still was not awake. I was still, I knew, lying in the position I always sleep in and she was still stomping around looking for me. I finally really woke up, but as usual I vividly remembered all that had transpired in my dream.

    I’ve had other dreams over the years, maybe 4 or 5, that are as real as that, but never the same dream. It is always totally different with different people, but terrifying.

    1. That’s how mine usually go, it’s always very very unpleasant to the point where I try my hardest to wake up but fail after several attempts. I’ve had about 8 of these dreams. It always feels like I’ve woken up from sleep then I see something horrific or even a dark figure. There have been times when it feels like I’ve been dragged out of bed and it’s so terrifying. I don’t know what to do I’m losing sleep.

  30. I had what this article explains as a “nested dream” yesterday night. Except I knew I was dreaming right away. I had night terrors as a child and have continued to have wild and terrifying dreams, I’ve even experienced full on sleep paralysis with psychotic hallucinations. This dream was just as horrible. I can’t rememeber what I was dreaming about before the false awakening started, but I remember it scared me. Since I’ve had issues with unsettling dreams my whole life I’ve become very good at pulling myself out of them. So right after being scared by whatever dream I was having, I became aware of my dream and went to wake up like I always do, Except this time I woke up in my bed, in my dream, in my dream still. So I tried again to pull myself out, same thing. The whole time I was completely aware that I was dreaming and it made me panic. I’m not sure what it is I do normally to pull myself out of dreams but most the time if I know I’m dreaming I literally just rip myself out and sit up in my bed scared for a moment. It almost became a back to back compilation of me waking up, but I felt like I was in layers of dreams, like being very deep in the ocean and panicking as you’re trying to swim all the way back up to the surface. So I started to scream my fiancé’s name as hard and loud as I could. As I did this I could feel myself push through several layers of my dream, until I actually opened my eyes and was saying her name. She heard me and grabbed me to calm me down bc she’s used to me having bad dreams. So yeah, it was not pleasant. And now “nested dreams” is the best description I can find. But i still don’t know why it took me so long to bail on the dream, it felt like I was trapped at least 10 or so dreams deep and completely aware I was dreaming so why couldn’t I get out? And I’ve never been able to lucid dream either. I’m always aware I’m dreaming 100% of the time. But it’s either a pleasant dream that I allow to go on or I pull the plug, or I have ones like this or sleep paralysis and I’m a conscious prisoner. Dreams suck.

    1. I can relate. Just a few hours ago I had a similar experience. I couldn’t scream I tried and nearly had a voice grabbing my partner who was laying in bed with me but it took me a few dreams to actually wake up. I have many night terrors and I’m well aware I am dreaming. I should be able to control my dreams but I can not manage that. I al always aware of my dreams but struggle to control them. Lots of times i have to repeat “this is a dream” many times in order to wake up but most of the time i only wake up in the most frightening parts of my dreams. They all feel so real so vivid and downright horrifying in nature.

    2. I resonate with this so hard. Like my experiences with this are exactly like yours. I have nested dreams where I wake up so many times I think i might be in purgatory. It’s like the fact that you know you are dreaming and can’t get out of it is way too trippy for me when it is happening. I’ve had great dreams before where I’ve known i’ve been dreaming and am able to control it, but that’s usually when I accept the fact that i know i’m dreaming and decide to stay anyway. Usually, those are already good dreams though (maybe i’m not as stressed out that night or something.) The bad dreams want you to wake up when you realize it is a dream, but when you keep trying and failing it makes you feel even more trapped. Sometimes my awareness of it being a dream will take a long time to kick in again after I “wake up” but once it does it just gives me a feeling of dread. I am glad I found this page and it makes me feel better that this happens to other people

  31. I have false awakening that I usually remember vividly. Just had one two nights ago in which I got up out of bed in the dream to check that I had locked the doors (I live alone after a recent parting of ways). Everything in my house was as it should be except what should have been a window was just an open hole. That’s when the dream ended except when I really woke up I was not sure of that for a moment. It was kind of disturbing. I usually dream in color..does everyone?

    1. Whoa, so glad I looked this up. I just had an impromptu afternoon nap and had the craziest dream that I woke up in but could hardly move or open my eyes. It felt like I was covered in bricks and my eyes were almost sewn shut. In the dream I slid out of bed and slowly felt my way out into the hallway but then I realized that my body was moving like a puddle and my house seemed different. When I had a moment of clear vision, my house appeared to be under renovation, and none of the lights worked but I could hear my radio on downstairs, but when I moved to head downstairs I suddenly couldn’t tell up from down. So unsettling! Then I thought to myself “I’ll just go back to bed and sleep this off”, and so I “fell back asleep” and woke up in the dream again with the same problem and started to think I had had a stroke! So I struggled to call 911 with limited vision and kept dialing the wrong number and talking to rude people who were speaking very slowly and answering my questions with questions. Then I could hear someone downstairs at my place and thought maybe I had been drugged! I kept calling out for my dog and grabbing her for comfort and a sense of reality. I could hear her collar but couldn’t seem to get hold of her. A couple times I thought maybe I was dreaming, but was too panicked to really explore it. I’m really glad that other people have crazy sleep experiences too! I have always had very vivid dreams in which I experience complex and intense emotions I’ve never actually experienced before.
      In terms of risk factors, I always delay sleep so I can get more done in the evening, leading to chronic sleep deprivation and afternoon naps. I seem to have the craziest, split consciousness dreams during those naps. I think hormones can also play a role as I’m a whole other level of tired during my cycle and seem to exit this world entirely while sleeping.
      Full disclosure- I also pushed myself running last night, came home totally beat and proceeded to eat way too many cookies, and stay up too late considering how tired I was, lol. I was telling my coworker earlier today that I indulge too much and joked that I would eventually have an Oreo-induced stroke, lol, so maybe my psyche is trying to tell me that saturated fat is not my friend…

  32. Happens to me frequently. I’ll check the alarm clock, put some shorts on, walk to the door, then realize I’m still asleep. Might happen 5 or 6 times before I “Really” wake up. Until then my body feels like a lead weight that can’t move. I read somewhere it may have to do with shift work, and your body trying to catch up on sleep.

  33. I have nested dreams really regularly. I’ll think I’ve woken up five or six times before finally actually waking up. I find them incredibly distressing. It’s gotten to the point where I’m afraid to sleep. I had one this afternoon where I would’ve sworn on my life I was awake, but couldn’t move and was stuck staring at my wrist beneath my head (on my side). I hate it. I’ve tried to go into lucid dreaming, but most of the time I end up screaming internally to wake up for what feels like forever. I think I sometimes wake up between the dreams, for a moment or two, but I’m too tired to move and fall back into being stuck in the dream/wake cycle. But I can’t tell if that’s real or part of the dream. It’s truly horrible.

    1. This just happened to me and I completely relate to your distress. My vision was showing that I was stuck on my side staring at my pillow and arm, but my body could move, so my eyes were saying one thing but it felt as if my body was doing another, and I kept trying to turn off my phone alarm, but I couldn’t because I wasn’t actually moving since I was asleep. I knew what was happening but there was no way to get out of it. I tried moving my body around as much as I could but it wasn’t changing my sight. Finally, I woke up and reached for my phone. Such a strange experience, and not the first time either.

  34. I’m unsure if this constitutes a “false awakening”, but several times, I have woken from a dream in the middle of the night and it’s dark in my room so I am unable to see. I feel as if I am still in my dream and I may rise from my bed and begin feeling around and touching my bed and my walls to try to figure out where I am. I start to panic when I cannot find the door to exit my room. It usually takes a couple of minutes and then I realize that I am in my room and I know how to get out. Why is this happening? I actually pulled all of the blankets off my bed in the night trying to find the way out of my room!

    1. I have come to experience this kind of thing so often to the point where it’s beginning to get distressing. One that happened not to long along ago involved my little dog. She was sleeping with me that night on my bed and, as I was sleeping, I had a ‘dream’ that she somehow was launched into the air and into the corner of my room. I instantly woke up (I didn’t imagine waking up), turned my light on and started frantically looking for my dog to make sure that she was ok. I was so convinced that it had happened until I saw that she was still asleep on my bed and my mum had called me to ask if I was ok after shouting after my dog.
      There have been so many occasions where things have happened in my sleep and I have woken just to think that they are still happening/ about to happen. Another scenario being that in my dream, my parents were letting people into my room. I quickly woke up and proceeded to get dressed, waking up in the morning to find that I was still fully clothed because I was that convinced that people were about to come into my room.
      I don’t know what it is considering that I am 100% waking up every time this happens, but I still remain convinced that whatever I dreamt about is still happening!!!

  35. I had experienced those nested dreams. I was reading about dreams and lucid dreaming but I really didn’t try it. That what happened was unexpected and it happened by itself. I also haven’t watched Inception or similar movie before those nested dreams, actually, that dream made me watch Inception :)
    Anyway, it happened about a year ago I think and I never got it again, but i would like it to experience it again because it was scary and interesting, made me explore new things. I “woke up” 3 times and started the regular routine after waking up until i “woke up” in reality. To be honest I started doubting reality much more and I was reading much about some theories of our reality and dreams because those dreams were so realistic and I can recall every one of them. I “woke up” in them when I saw something unusual, but until that, I thought it’s reality. Really interesting experience, just weird what our brain is capable of.

  36. I keep dreaming I’ve woken up but I haven’t, I try and scream so my kids hear me and come and wake me but in my dream they hear me and come to wake me but I’m still sleeping and have to wait till I wake but it’s dustressing. The latest one is I’m dying and can hear my grandchildren saying they love me and they can hear me but they can’t I wake up heart racing, is there an answer to my dreams please?

    1. I have really similar dream sequences. Not the dying part, but the locked in feeling. It’s really horrible. I feel you. I’m going to bring it up in therapy this week. If I find anything that helps, I’ll come back and let you know.

  37. I have experienced it a minute ago. I was awake in the same room with someone whispering words that I can’t remember right now. I walked in the same room and looked into the mirror. When I found out that I was dreaming I never stopped saying the name of Jesus, and after maybe 5 times of false awakening, finally I woke up for real.

  38. I find that I get stuck in dreams and there is no way to wake up unless if someone else wakes me up or an alarm went off. Today I was stuck in a nightmare and was stuck in it until my alarm went off at 3:10 PM. Also I have found in dreams I can feel things such as pain but when I wake up there are no marks. Today I got a nightmare that a man stabbed me and I felt ALOT of pain but after 10 seconds I suddenly was having another different dream of just waking up and being trapped in my room. Ifone can explain what is happening please let me know. Thank you.

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

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

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

    2. This is exactly what happened to me right now. Happens mostly in the mornings after I’ve woken with my fiance. We usually just talk a bit then I go back to sleep. When he leaves he gives me a kiss goodbye means im semi-awake again then I just go back to sleep. In that time is when everything happens and never have I had a good feeling while I’m in that situation. I always go paralyzed in my dreams not being able to do anything.
      I sometimes forget about my own rule not sleeping again in this morning after ive waken. But if I do, this happens – same thing different stories. Its terrifying, like I’m laying here, I’m so tired but extremely scared to go back to sleep.

      1. I think going back to sleep after having been awake for a little while is definitely a trigger! Today I got up for breakfast and then I came back to bed and fell back asleep. That’s when it starts and I dream I’m in bed in the process of waking up, but every part of my body weighs a ton, including my eyelids and even my mind. I struggle to sit up and it’s impossible, so I try to roll over to maybe fall off the bed and when I finally think I managed to wake up, I “wake up” in another dream that starts exactly the same, and I try everything all over again. This happens a few times until I actually wake up and it’s the greatest relief. I think this literally happens to me every time I wake up to have breakfast and then go back to sleep.

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