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

  • I frequently have these dreams, and they can be quite distressing. I will “wake up” 5-6 times but I’m still inside the dream. One common event is that I try to turn on my bedside lamp, but it won’t turn on. This is when I usually realize I’m still asleep. Or I grab my phone and try to look at it, only to realize that the phone is still on my nightstand and my hands are not doing what I tell them to do. Sometimes I do get the phone, but it’s full of weird symbols and images (weird mails, cartoons, one time deers’ antlers intertwining endlessly). I can’t get to the main menu, there are endless layers of apps that won’t close.

    The problem with trying to lucid dream is that usually, nothing interesting happens. I might float up into the ceiling and look down at the rooms while hovering. Since I can’t turn the lights on, I can’t see much in the dark, and I’m just hovering over empty, quiet rooms. I can’t turn the TV or computer on to entertain myself. I feel a strong sense of boredom that leads to anxiety, because I’m trapped inside a very dull place. Sometimes I start wondering if I’m in fact in Hell and I’ll never wake up for real, this cycle will just go on forever.

    What often helps is holding my breath. I just will myself not to breathe for a bit. When I start gasping for air, I almost always wake up. It’s not a comfortable feeling, but it usually works. It can also help me wake up from nightmares.

    I’ll try the tips in this article when I next have this kind of dream. It’s a relief to see I’m not alone and there are many other people who get caught inside their dreams sometimes.

  • I get these on a routine basis. Sometime 3 or more times in one morning.
    In one, i woke up like i normally do, noticed that it was full daylight outside, and left the room. The first thing that tipped me off was that the door was harder to open than usual. As soon as i left the bedroom, the house was suddenly too dark to see clearly (my house is small and has many windows, so this is never the case). There was no familiar furniture that i could see, there were doors in walls that i knew had no rooms behind them, and nobody was home.
    I didn’t get to explore much before i woke up for real, fell back asleep without realizing it, dreamed i was checking social media, and woke up again. Then I’d had enough and marched out of my room before i could fall asleep again.

  • I had a really bad dream of waking up but nothing in the house was the same as then I actually woke looked on google for answers went back to sleep to then have another dream just like it I tried to wake up but nothing was doing it, it scares me too know that I felt stuck like I would never wake up

  • I JUST woke up from the most terrifying dream of my entire life. All of my dreams I realize I’m dreaming and then can wake myself up if I need. Once I had one false awakening before actually waking up. I thought it was cool. This time turned into a nightmare. I must have had at least 6 or 7 false awaking “layers” as I described them. First I realized it was a dream and because I was taking a nap, decided to wake myself up. And I did only to realize that I was still dreaming, so I tried to wake myself up again, only to wake up and STILL be dreaming. As this went on 4 or 5 more times I felt myself become trapped in something similar to a casket or as if I was under a bed. I couldn’t sit up, couldn’t wiggle out, couldn’t slap myself awake. I had to then will myself awake mentally while panicking.

    Once I did FINALLY wake up, which I knew I was because of how different my surroundings were, I went out into the living room and actually had my husband pinch me to make sure I really was awake this time. I’m still freaked out about it and terrified to go to sleep tonight.

  • The first experience like this that I can remember happened when I was actually very young. Now that I think of it It seems obvious it was a dream, but for some reason at the time I wasn’t sure. It was very short, but felt so real.
    The dream go as follows: I wake up in the middle of the night. I hear some noise behind my night table. I move it to see what’s there, and I see my best friend’s little brother, hiding there. He mumbles, tells me to not tell anyone or something like that, but I start screaming at the top of my lungs.
    Funnily enough, I can’t remember waking up from this particular dream. I just remember the dream itself.

    The second experience was when I was a bit older (around 11 or something) and I had just watched something on the TV that I thought was very scary. The dream goes as follows:
    I wake up in the middle of the night, and I hear voices in the hallway. I get up from my bed and stand next to the door, trying to hear what is being said. Suddenly, I feel something grabbing my foot. The thing starts pulling me along the ground. The thing in question was some sort of weird green goblin thing, a creature that I don’t recall ever seeing before. I don’t remember screaming this time, but I do remember ”fighting back”, that is hitting the creature. I then woke up in the middle of the night and realized it was a dream.

    The third experience I had went as followed. I woke up in the middle of the night (again), and heard voices in the hallway (again). I got up, and stood next to my bed. I look at the window (which didn’t have any curtains for some reason) and I see a creature, that the best way I can describe is by comparing it to a weeping angel from dr.who, looking right at me just outside my window. I tell myself this can’t be real, and I suddenly realize I’m in a dream. I also feel myself waking up: a sensation that I somehow recognize. Then I wake up, in the middle of the night, in my bed.

    The next experience I am going to describe is not actually a false awakening, but is interesting nonetheless. I was in a dream, not a particularly nice one, quite distressing actually, but not necessarily scary, just weird. Suddenly, I realize I’m dreaming. However, this wasn’t followed by a waking up sensation. I actually had to ”fight” my way out of the dream. It’s hard to explain, but I had to really concentrate, telling myself ”this is a dream, wake the fuck up”. I even remember a moment where I could feel myself in my bed, but my eyes wouldn’t open.

    Then I woke up.

  • When I was 12 or 13 I woke up, I couldn’t move, I heard and felt a loud and intense humming all through out my body. It felt like someone was hold all of my muscles down. I opened my eyes and could see the daylight coming through the blinds from the window beside my bed and could feel the warmth of the sun on my face. I could not move a muscle. After a few seconds I fell back asleep only to wake right back up, run downstairs and tell my mom, who was sitting at the kitchen table reading a book and smoking a cigarette. I told her what had happened and then I woke up again, ran downstairs and told her again. This happened probably 5-6 times. When I finally woke up for real, I ran downstairs to tell her and she was sitting in the very spot she was in my dreams, smoking and reading just as she was in my dreams. I’m now 34. Last night I had a dream I was riding a bike out my road and came across my friends husband who was riding a dirt bike, it was broke down so I was trying to help him and we were talking. All of a sudden his dirt bike turned into his truck and we were both sitting in it parked at the side of the road still talking when his girlfriend (my friend) came around the corner driving someone else’s car. She looked at us like we were doing something behind her back. I got out, went to her car and she would barely let me speak she was so mad! I stopped and said to her ” it’s all okay! This is my dream” and speaking started to get harder but I managed to slowly tell her “I know this is a dream because I can’t talk very well and your eyes are rolled back in your head” then I looked at her eyes after I said that and they were completely white. That was so weird I went into a different dream for a bit and then woke up.

  • I was so scared. I couldn’t wake up. I woke up so many times in the dream I thought I was awake but not sure so I would go into my parents room. At one point I realized I was never waking up. Everytime I tried to turn a light on, it would never turn on which made the dream even more scary. There was a long dark hallway and at the end it was pitch black. I ran to my computer and googled how to wakeup. I pinched myself like 5 times to the point where I was pinching a layer or two of skin off but I still couldn’t wake up. And then I was back in bed. So I tried to scream and pound on the walls next to me, hoping my parents or sister could hear me doing this in my sleep and wake me up to this reality. It didn’t work…. eventually I was just… awake? It was so scary. I wasn’t even in my house I’m in now, I was in my old house in another state. I felt like I was in purgatory or something… stuck. I dont even believe in this stuff, but I felt another presence in the dream and it was scary. Glad it’s over but what the fuck.

  • I just woke up from a nested dream with
    1 false awakening. Previously a few weeks back I ‘woke up’ about 15 different times. It’s surprising to me that this is normal because I’ve never had it before. All you can feel in that situation is trapped. I know I’m dreaming, majority of the time I always know and my dream ends up being about me trying to wake up but I can never do it unless there’s an external factor (like someone entering my room or some sound) to wake me up. The sound can be very soft like just a handle turning or a door opening and it’s enough. But on my own I can never do it and that itself is terrifying.
    Last night I tried to punch a wall or scream or run and it was like I couldn’t or at least I couldn’t feel it. So I don’t know how to get better and stop this because i hate it and no one around me understands what I’m talking about

    • I understand you. I had a dream like that. I tried screaming. I know I was screaming too the top if my lungs. But nobody heard me. I only woke up because I was panicking so bad I couldn’t breathe. It’s very scary

  • I just woke from a “nested dream” on which I woke up (or I should say thought I woke up) about 6 different times. In each instance I woke up in my bed, wearing what I went to sleep in with my daughter sleeping in her bassinet next to me. The first one I realized I was dreaming and the energy in there room was odd so I tried to wake up, then I woke again only to find I had something in my mouth I needed to get rid of and I went to the bathroom door, it was closed when I opened it I found my fiancé in there with a friend of his and they were wearing hooded sweatshirts and I basically threw up and out a white substance that landed on them like snowflakes… I knew I was still dreaming then I woke up again to look for my fiancé and he wasn’t in the livingroom but when I went back to bed he was there I asked him to wake me up I felt like I could hear the real him through my subconscious and I wanted him to yell to wake me up, then I woke again to the sound of my 6 month old daughter singing (um she can barely talk) so I knew I was STILL dreaming and that happened again and that very last time before I finally and truly woke up I was just panicking and wanting to be awake to be out of the dream. During the 3rd go around within this dream sequence I wanted to enjoy it and do something cool and fun but each time the energy of my apartment was off and made me feel uneasy so I was lucid enough to know I was dreaming but just wanted to wake up. I have had only one other lucid (nested) dream which happened a few months ago and felt the same way. I am glad I read this article- it helped me to know they’re techniques to getting out of these dreams… ok back to bed- wish me luck!

  • Had a dream last night where I woke up and thought I need to go to the loo, however when trying to get out of bed found I couldn’t move without the greatest of effort and before I could get out of bed fell asleep only to re-awaken repeating the cycle. With each successive awakening I found it harder to move as if being held to the bed, eventually I woke up and found that I could move and got out of bed, it was after about 20 minutes of this I realised I was actually awake.
    Cant honestly say I enjoyed this new experience, but have to say all my dreams were extremely OTT last night and very varied, might have been something I ate.

  • I woke up in the morning today and was listening to class lecture online. After a while I got really tired so I closed my eyes. Eventually I realized that I was awake enough to know I needed to listen to the lecture but I was asleep enough to be dreaming. So I turned off the lecture and put my alarm on for one hour. About 50 minutes in, I realized that I was trying to wake up but I couldn’t really move because I felt so tired. I opened my eyes and saw that my alarm was going to go off in five minutes. I was awake enough to know it was a dream and I didn’t need to worry but not awake enough to realize that I could stop the dream and actually just get up. i was trying in my dream to get up somehow and sometimes I would sit up but just fall back down again because I was so tired. Then I tried to move my arms and legs one at a time so that I would get enough strength to move my whole body. Then doing that in my dream made me actually wake up and be able to move around. By then I just fell asleep for another three minutes until my alarm went off. Then when I had to get up it was actually really hard to because of how tired I was.

  • I had this happen to me today and it’s made me feel ver strange. I fell asleep however can’t remember what I was dreaming about although thought I had woken up. Tried to pick up my phone and my arms wouldn’t move, fell to sleep again then this happened twice more before I actually woke up and could move.

  • Had a false awakening happen for the first time this morning. Actually 3 of them. What was troubling was I didn’t wake up in my bedroom that I have in my home now but instead, my old bed at my former home I grew up in with my family. I had not slept in that bedroom for almost 20 years, yet 3 times I experienced it today. It was so real, the same bed, dressers, bookshelves,etc. My parents recently moved to a smaller home that’s more accommodating for them at their age, and a much safer neighborhood. I think I still have a lot of regret and anxiety since that house had been in our family for generations. Needless to say it was both bittersweet and frightening false waking up there.

  • I’ve been experiencing this for a couple of years now. I open my eyes and sometimes I can move only my arms and legs. I can’t get up and move. It usually happens when I fall asleep on the couch. It happened today, only thing was, I got the blanket off me, but when I could get up, the blanket was on me still. It used to terrifyme, sometimes I can’t breathe, now I feel like I got no sleeping and it creeps me out.

  • I have had sleep paralysis and false awakenings. The craziest one I had was a night I decided to sleep on the couch because my boyfriend was gone and I had moved to a new apartment and I wasn’t used to it yet. I fell asleep and thought I had awakened in the night by something moving in my apartment. I get up from the couch and turn the light on and I see rats and squirrels covering my living room floor. I new that I was dreaming then and tried to wake myself up. I actually think I have awakened myself at this point because I am in my apartment and I am laying on my couch where I had started the night. Okay, so this time I hear something coming from the kitchen. I get up from the couch and go to the kitchen, turning on the light when I go in. I see my stove, a gas stove, opened up. The top part of the stove can be lifted to clean out grease and food and it was up. Only difference is that all the burners are lined up in a row, not in a square pattern and the craziest thing is that my cell phone had been hooked up to the burners like some type of jerry-rigged bomb, LOL. At this point I realize that I am still dreaming and struggle again to wake up. I think I am awakening but this time I end up outside my apartment in a grocery store that I had never been in before. It was huge, with all kinds of displays and large rooms for produce and the like, not like a regular store. It is literally like a maze and I have to find my way to the exit. Once I find my way to the exit, there are three men in black outside the exit trying to keep me in the store. I manage to get by them and I again wake up. I think there was one more sequence of the dream that I don’t remember and I finally woke up for real on my couch. I think I did something to see if I was really awake but I don’t remember what it was. I think the sequence with the rats and squirrels was because of the apartment complex. It had all types of animals like squirrels and bats, flying squirrels but oddly no rats that had gotten into my old apartment in the same complex. The second sequence with the stove I think was because my boyfriend and I were having some problems and I had been texting some pretty ugly texts because I was convinced he was seeing someone else and he kept lying about it. The one in the store I think was because I was trying to lose weight and was really a slave to calorie counting. I was using this website to log all of my calories, sugar, salt, potassium, etc in order to make sure everything was in balance and I was also getting enough water and the like. I have had others but managed to wake myself up without really seeing what would happen. It was distressing to me to not be able to wake up.

  • This happens to me only if I sleep with the TV off and everythingsee pitch black. My recent one happened at work. Ok so I do security and i was the only guy at my post and I feel asleep not knowing I was sleep, I then dreamed I woke up from my exact spot everything seems to be normal. I did my rounds as I usually do but this time I was called down to parking lot, which never happens. I go down to the parking lot and a women tells me security is needed to check out a suspicious car. I then went to the car it was a black car with black rims and dark black tint. Mind you I have no gun. As I approached the vehicle the guy let’s down his window. I tell the guy hey man this is private property can you please leave. He then proceeds to shoot me in the side of my head. I didn’t die I just walked off holding my head and there was no blood. I was confused, so I go back in the building to see my baby daughter sitting in the chair and as I went to reach for her she starting sounding like my phone when she opened her mouth. I then woke up to my phone ringing. It was creepy.

  • Ive had sleep paralysis and false awakenings many times. I have noticed sjnxe having my baby 8months ago i havent had one since….and it used to happen every month or two.
    They were unsettling. Worst one was multiple false awakenings… i woke up heart pumping i was terrified. I kept waking up in my bed start my day to then realise it wasnt real…so my dream self would go back to bed…to try wake up for real….and i culdnt… this happened sso many times in the 1 dream i cant even count and i was becoming more and more distressed that i couldnt wake myself up. I also kept seeing a little boy or girl each time thats How i knew it wasnt real… i have read if u let your dream happen you will wake up…but because i was so terrified i couldnt. That was a really bad one.
    Ive plenty of times woken up only to find my mind is awake but my body isnt…paralysis..its a horribly sluggish feeling. When i was a small child i think i lucid dreamt too…. i remember waking hp above my bed and seeing myself and my sister alseep… i remember telling my parents i floated lol they told me i was dreaming..but it felt so real i remember it to this day. I always have whacked out crazy scary dreams even repetitive ones… maybe having a baby sorted my brain out!?! Only time will tell!! :)
    I am 26 now.

  • it happen to me in a loop…usually i started with the lucid dream,, then i want to wake up from it and end up waking up in a dream, it scared me a lot then if i try harder to wake up i get sleep paralysis,,,try to scream and other things, then woke up again, still in side my dream,, but usually i didn’t notice that for awhile until i walk out of house and see it’s still dark,, than it’s just turn to some nightmare like chased by something, or seeing my self still asleep,,, this just way too scary sometime,, it’s go in a loop,,, and after i woke up for real,, ham afraid to get back to sleep again,,, and end up getting more loop,,,, so from my experience,, after almost every night having those last year,, it’s really important to be relax and not thing too much before you go to bed,,, if you not sleepy than don’t try too hard to sleep.. for me listening to music help me a lot,,, just usual music,, the type of “going to bed” kind of music will not help much,, its just scare me… if you get sleep paralysis u’ll end up panicking, but make sure u calm your self and realize it’s just part of the dream,,, if you calm you’ll end up wake for real.. refers way of sleep,, if you get those scary thing when you sleeping up side,, then try to sleep right/left side way,,,and the opposite, it does help me a lot,,

  • As I was sleeping last night I had a horrible nightmare but I don’t know if it was a lucid dream because I thought about how I could wake up and tried so hard to wake up but I just wouldn’t budge! and when I did “wake up” i just woke up in that dream? If that makes sense. It’s like I woke up but I just woke up in that same dream just a different area of that scary house. It was terrifying! It was like a…i don’t know um…I have to do this in order to wake up kinda thing. The dream was:
    It was the first day of school apparently and we sat at this desk. Then we went to lunch and there was this HUGE hallway filled with water. Only the bottom was filled with water. And I touched it. I think this is the part where I started to realize I could do anything I wanted. So I jump in it and splashed around in the water. I even kissed my crush! Hehe, but I knew it was a dream. Then my dream was getting scary and the scenery turned a little different. My grandparents house was there and that where Monique (a person I know in real life) apparently lived there! She had kidnapped me! And I don’t remember some but I remember asking my friends to help me get out of this horrible dream and they did. Thank god. I said if I go through a Forrest I’ll be able to wake up. They took me to this Forrest type thing but it was upside down? And they pushed me in and trees were flying by me…then I didn’t wake up I was still terrified but I was safe. I called my mom on the phone I had. Where I was which was where I used to live. (condos) I left the condos and I thought something I was like “wait what I am I doing? Go back, my mom is probably sitting on the stairs!” And I go back and there she was! We hugged then went inside my moms friends house. I was safe…then I woke up.

    What was this? It was scary and I don’t want to go through this again. I always wanted a Lucid Dream but not like this!
    I’m also 13 but I’m not stressed or worried about anything. But before this dream I had slept the day before. Maybe that caused it? Because I was in a deep sleep. But I was also aware of myself laying in bed wanted to wake up!

  • I’ve had false awakenings many times. The usual pattern is that I’ll wake up seemingly normally and then quickly become aware that I’m actually dreaming and then I try to will myself to wake up, but keep waking up in another dream and the cycle will repeat several times as I get increasingly frustrated. When I finally wake up in real life, it’s obviously not a dream, but I feel afraid to fall back asleep and into that cycle.

    Another pattern is that I’ll dream that I’m in my room in my bed and the room looks normal. I can see my partner sleeping next to me. I become aware that I’m stuck in a dream and want to get out, so I’ll scream frantically to my gf to wake up. Eventually, I’ll wake up for real, but my gf is still sleeping soundly so I know that I wasn’t screaming in real life. I usually end up feeling distressed about these dreams throughout the day because the feeling is so unsettling.

    It also usually happens after waking up too early and falling back to sleep.

    I don’t see or feel any other presence aside from my gf. Just a sense of panic, like my consciousness might get stuck outside of my body and in a dream world forever if I can’t make myself wake up.

  • I have recently been falling into very lucid dreams that are now including false awakenings. In my situation I know when I’m about to experience these types of dreams because my bed starts to feel like it’s bending and pushing up against my back which leaves me feeling like I can’t move. I then start to experience something close to sleep paralysis, where I can’t move anything but my eyes. Last night I had a very strange dream where I kept waking up in my room only to find myself still dreaming. The funny thing is that each time I “woke” I would notice that something was out of place like the color of my room or a window out of place. This would lead me to realize I was dreaming and caused me to explore the boundaries of the dream. Each false awakening would lead into a lucid dream that was either based around sexual fantasy, assault, or strange worlds that took me through maze like situations. I don’t seem to mind these dreams but I do hate the sleep paralysis part especially when I feel or see, out of the corner of my eye, a demon like presence which seems like a little girl running around my bed. I also experience a spirit like voice whispering my name or asking me a question right before I actually wake up. If anyone has similar experience I would love to hear about them.

    • Hi John.
      I would like to know if you recently had a traumatic experience or by any change anesthesia. I had the same experience, and it only started after I had surgery and general anesthesia. The only difference was in mine the little girl was a man at the end of the bed. Would love to hear from you.
      Juni

  • I’ve had False awakening and sleep paralysis all at one time and i wake up stressed out and sometimes i have false awakenings twice in a row after i wake up from the dream it feels real like i woke up but i didnt then when i really wake up i cant go back to sleep bc im scared it will happen again but how it starts is that i cant move my body but only my eyes i can move then i close my eyes and i can feel my blood pumping hard and thats when the dreams start

    • I have the exact same experience. Sometimes I will “wake up” 4 or 5 times before actually becoming physically awake. Mine are always terrifying. A lot of times there is a figure at the end of my bed. I have been getting these for about 10 years. No rhyme or reason as to when it will happen. Always happens right after falling asleep though.

  • I never leave comments on anything but I honestly woke up so confused and slightly terrified (even though this won’t sound scary when you hear it).
    I woke up at 11.48am really tired still. I remember looking at the clock and thinking to myself, oh well I don’t have work today so if I sleep until like 2 pm it doesn’t matter. I then rolled over to face the other side and went back to sleep. I must have fallen asleep because I started dreaming, it was really random but didn’t end very well if I’m honest. So the dream must have woken me up because I woke up thinking about it nearly crying and filled with anxiety (bad dreams don’t bother me as the feeling passes pretty quickly), anyway after I woke I rolled over to look at my clock again to see how long I’d been asleep for (felt like forever) and low and behold it was 11.48am iv never been so confused in my life. I have been sat up for the past 20 minutes trying to work out what happened (even pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming again!) does this sound like a false awakening?
    sorry if the answer is obvious, this has never happened to me before and this is the first article iv come across that sounds similar !

    • Hi Courtney
      Thanks for your comment. Well, it’s hard to say really. I guess there’s the possibility that the first time you woke up and saw the time was a false awakening, yes. But usually if people remember these experiences, they kind of know that the previous waking wasn’t real. Is there the possibility that you misread the clock first time round, perhaps in the blur of waking up?
      Regards
      Ethan

    • Same thing happen to me I fell asleep at 10:50 pm and felt like I slept for like 8hrs woke up it was 10:51pm I was like what just happened and I wasn’t tired anymore didn’t go back to sleep til like 3am it was weird

  • Ever since a traumatic experience, I have false awakening dreams and sleep paralysis all the time. Many times I go from one to the other until I actually wake up. Some times (rarely) I know I am sleeping other times I am trying to figure it out the entire time until I actually wake up. This makes me panic and I do not get good rest. I try to force my eyes open and no matter what I do they wont open. Then I feel like I see my self out side of my body and all the different stages of my self almost like a flip book.. of what I was doing to try to wake my self up. I sometimes feel like there is a male presents in the same room. Last night was the first time they spoke to me and he said he was going to kill me. I was unable to move and had no control over my body to run or move. These are extremely frightening dreams. I wish I could learn to control them and have some fun like fly around and have a good time. I have these dreams often enough I hope to get control. I know this sounds unrealistic, but part of me wonders if there actually are presents (spirits) around us that influence us and our dreams.

    • I just woke up like this, I tried to wake up for the longest, and I couldn’t. I pictured I was in a very dark hospital with just this woman. And I remember thinking, I’ve had this dream before. And I remember that dream in my dream. So “I woke up” to notice I wasn’t awake. I was in bed still, and I would fall back asleep. But in reality I had never woken up. I finally did, and I still didn’t feel like it was real. I did feel a presence in the room, but I don’t like saying that because I feel like you invite that stuff in your home. But reading your post. Tbh made me more scared, but it’s interesting!

  • I get the false awakenings where you wake up in your room and you know you are dreaming but everything feels off and scary. At first is just trying to wake up for real, but after 6 times of waking up within the dream it’s just downright terrifying. I have done all the tricks in order to wake up but I can’t.

    Sometimes I do the reality checks and for some reason the dream passes the tests (I clap and it sounds and feels normal, I’m able to speak again) but then I wake up again. Also, pictures are clear and I’m able to read text off my phone. It feels so freaking real but I know it’s not reality because usually there’s not a scary atmosphere in my room.

    It’s so distressing because I keep thinking “this time, I’ll wake up for real” only to find myself in other stupid dream. When I wake up in real life, it’s pretty obvious that it is my reality but I start doubting whether I am really awake and it just freaks me out. Then I can’t really go back to sleep because I’m scared it will just happen all over again. Usually, my body is a bit sluggish and my movement feels as if I’m underwater, but as I wake up several times it feels closer to reality.

    If anyone has tips to take up besides blinking, shutting your eyes and opening them, screaming, focusing on something, jumping off the stairs and hitting the walls, please tell me. Also, does anybody feel that someone is watching you as you try to wake up? I feel like a show, like there is someone watching me in every dream (but I never see said person).

    • The same EXACT thing happens to me. Nothing helps to wake me up, and everything in my house look and feels exactly the same except I know something’s wrong. It’s absolutely horrifying. I feel like someone’s watching me too, even though I’ve never heard or seen anyone.

      Every dream starts the same- I wake up and feel strange. I immediately question whether I’m actually awake or not. The second I question it I know I’m still sleeping. So I try everything to wake myself up. I try to find my dog so she can lick me and wake me up. I read, I look at pictures, I touch my face, and everything is so real. So I convince myself I’m crazy and that I’m fine and I’m actually awake. Then it gets fuzzy and it resets in the same exact position, and I do it over and over again (at least 5-6 times) before finally waking up.

      The worst part is that when I finally do wake up, I’m so afraid of falling back asleep. I just want it to go away and I don’t know what to do.

      • This is what happens to me exactly. Eventualy though, i go to turn a light on, and it doesnt work. None of the lights work. And thats how i know im asleep and i get soooo angry

      • It happened to me this morning. I tried to get out of bed, but was unable to move the blanket. After several attempts, I started calling loudly, but my voice was not projecting any sound. I remember to casual friends where near by and got out of the same bed. Very strange. The room looked the same, except for some strange looking very dark knotted string in the corners of the room. I finally removed the blanket of the bed and actually was awake. Very disturbing and a repeat of a similar dream.
        Last night was very stressful with my dogs and the fireworks. In addition,we tried to save a baby seal from two circling eagles. This must have incorporated itself into my dream.

  • everytime it happens to me i try to wake up but i couldn’t then im starting to panic and suddenly i cant feel my body and i struggle in breathing and later on i woke up and its scared the shit out of me like i thought that my body feels the same way and never wake up again. sometimes when i go to sleep it happens again.

  • I’ve always dealt with sleep problems, Insomnia, Sleep Paralysis and I also Lucid Dream very often with no intent on doing it. Lately though, I’ve been getting alot of false awakenings. Infact the first time I had ever experianced False Awakenings was when I was a toddler, it was a horrible nightmare. Thankfully I was able to gain consciousness of it at such a young age. I’ve decided to make a guide on what I do for every situation, hopefully it helps anyone reading this.

    SLEEP PARALYSIS :
    This is probably the most frightening sleep disorders that I deal with on a regular. Some nights I will get it 3-5 times in a row. This is when your body is in a “sleep mode” but you are still conscious. When falling asleep your brain sends signals to your body, such as a common ” roll over ” where a person switches the side of thier body they are sleeping on. When the body doesnt respond your brain begins to put the body in a sleepmode aka the paralysis part of sleep paralysis. This is why you are unable to move during a period of time, there is a chemical unbalance in your body. This is very similar to when your leg, arm, foot pr hand falls asleep. You cant move that part of the body.

    What I do to “fix” or rather just deal with sleep paralysis is to just realize what is happening. Once I know i’m in a sleep paralysis state I begin to say in my own mind ” This is sleep paralysis, nothing that you are experiencing is real, its all fiction. ” In a few more seconds you will be able to move and gain control of your body once again. The best and only tactic I use for sleep paralysis is accepting its happening and waiting for it to finish.

    INSOMNIA:
    Ive experianced 2 types of insomnia, No sleep insomnia and Always sleepy Insomnia. Over the course of 4 years I only got around 2-3 hours of sleep a night. The only thing that bothered me during the 4 years is that if I wanted to fall asleep I couldnt. That bothered me the most, although I was very energized and didnt experiance any congnitive disfuctions during the 4 years. Over the last year Ive been able to sleep 9+ hours a night! I know this sounds amazing and seems like suck an improvement but unfortunately Ive felt the most dragged and unenergized Ive felt in my life. My competitive drive in sports is gone and so is my extrovert personality.

    I’ve yet to find something that gets rid of my insomnia. Eating well, drinking water and getting enough vitamins in my body definitly improves how I feel. Listening to uplifting music and staying goal oriented even when not motivated also helps with the slouch feeling I get all day. My philosophy is: Things only have power over you when you give it that power. Stay in control and great things will follow.

    LUCID DREAMING:
    This is very different, I’ve been able to lucid dream my whole life. It is very natural for me. I simply notice that Im dreaming so I begin to make my own decisions in my dreams. Ive never taken lucid dreaming to far, I usually stay within the boundaries of what the dream already was. I simply do whatever I want in the dream and see how it pans out. If the setting is at my house, I usually stay in that setting. I’ve never pushed the limits of lucid dreaming, Ive never seen the reason to do so. I do look foward to trying to control my dreams on a new level. Traveling my mind during a dream with no limits.

    FALSE AWAKENINGS:
    False awakenings is a very annoying and stressful thing I go through. I get anxious because I go through about 10-25 false awakenings before I actually wake up. I always get the sense of being trapped, so I begin to get extremely pissed when I can wake up.

    All I do is try something new every false awakening. I usually try and alter the dream so it breaks up the pattern. I might bite my hand to see if I feel any pain. If I dont then I restart. Next time I “wake up” I will stand up and jump. If Im still not awake I’ll try to force myself to wake up on the other side of my body. I simply try any and everything I can to trigger myself to wake up. I look at it as a puzzle, I force my mind to work at its highest capability. Im literally looking for the key ( trigger ) that will wake me up. Its never the same stimuli that will wake you up, so dont get fustrated, continue to do different things until you wake up.

    • Hi Adam
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing all of your ideas – that’s really helpful of you. I particularly liked the sleep paralysis concept of acceptance. I think staying calm is key, so that’s good advice.
      Regards
      Ethan

  • This is so distressing. And it usually happens to me after i’ve woken up in the morning and finally fallen back asleep. These sleeps are just so deep. i get sucked in. And this morning it was probably the most distressing of all. It happened TWICE in a row. and multiple times EACH SEPARATE time it occurred. The first was a nightmare about my ex.. i could almost feel him in bed with me. He wasn’t there. I just felt his presence. And it wasn’t even my current bed. It was my old bunkbed in my old house. The when I realised I could no longer control what I was doing or saying.. the last thing that I say usually resounds in my head like a broken record player as i lay there and stare at the ceiling or bed railing. (this happens in most dreams). This time, I was trying to tell my sister who was on the top bunk with me that “it hurts, Rana.” (as in the pain of my break up). Eventually that line was all i could hear on repeat while i lay there stuck. After finally waking up for certain, I checked my phone.. texted a few people, looked at my email.. (this all ACTUALLY happened) and all the while my eyes were so heavy. And i knew i should stay awake. I just KNEW i would get stuck if i fell asleep again. And it was just lulling me. I needed to shut my eyes. It didn’t take long before I gave in. Lo and behold, my next sleep was even worse. I was Lucid dreaming. I was in some weird festive place and a young gentlemen was trying to market something to me on an app on his phone. Eventually he left my line of sight and i was just scrolling through my instagram feed and stalking people I want to stalk. I knew he was still around. When i realised I was going to get stuck, I called him back and told him i was scared and that I didn’t want his phone. I started sobbing and crying because i knew i was going to get stuck. Eventually the scenery changed to my actual current bedroom and i had about 3 false awakenings while where i felt my eyes were open but my body was frozen. I could feel the shortness of my breath. I was panting. and again the broken record player “God, please help me.. God, please help me..” again and again. I woke but i still couldn’t move. I tried again. This time I felt the presence of my sister (who sleeps next to me). But i knew i was still dreaming because she had already left for work at 7am when i DID wake up. I heard her say “Zena… Oh my god…” as she realised i wouldnt wake up even after she nudged me. I FELT her nudge me. And i started to panic even more because i felt like even she couldn’t wake me up from the outside. Part of me knew she wasn’t actually there but part of me kept thinking it was real. Eventually I woke up with heavy eye lids once more.

    It’s really really stressful. and sometimes it makes me afraid to sleep.

  • I have been confused whether am having sleep paralysis or false awakening…? I know that taking a nap during the day is something I avoid as I always tend to have hard time waking up or I see myself up while I know I am still sleeping. Last night however, was terryfying as I saw someone touching me with her hands but like I was really awake… I remember calling to my husband “wake me up” three times I repeated this and I even felt touching him so he could wake up but I guess it was all in my sleep. I was scared. I did my best to wake myself up, I looked into my room about three times but always finding myself wanting to sleep again… I remember making up my mind to wake up and I finally did and the first thing I did was woke my husband and he heard me and he turned on the light and wet my head because I wanted to be really awake… this is the first time I experienced this and at night. Do you think this will continue to happen to me at nights? Because it is frightening.

    • I experience lucid dreams. They’re not all pleasant. like you, I have learned to call out to my husband if they turn nightmarish and he wakes me. I had a false awakening where I called to him and he woke me, or so I thought. I awoke into a false reality and I was suspicious that he wasn’t my husband. I told him that I knew he wasn’t my husband and his face became contorted and he took on demon like qualities. He sat in the bed and laughed as I called out to my husband to really wake me up. He didn’t hear me. My mind was fully conscious that I was trapped and began to reason that I may have died in my sleep and that this half world was what remained for the mind once the body had died. I woke up very suddenly in a state of shock. I didn’t even trust then that I was awake. I had to physically shake myself. I got up and put a comedy on the tv as I knew the dream was waiting. I managed to escape it but it has affected my whole day.

  • I started having sleep paralysis a couple years back and at first it happened a lot but not so much anymore. It really freaked me out and I would stress about it a lot. I found I started having false awakening dreams in which it just felt like I was waking up in a state of sleep paralysis. Even worse, every time I would think I was starting to move or come out of it I would start over a new dream where the same thing happened. Also I couldn’t use the regular methods I used to get out of sleep paralysis to get out of this, like trying to wiggle my toes or closing my eyes and falling back asleep. I’m very fast at recognizing if I’m dreaming now and I just try to picture something else like a cartoon character or something not so scary, but usually it’s not effective. The worst part of it is that if I’m dreaming of sleep paralysis it’s much more frightening because my hallucinations can talk to me. I just woke up from a sleep paralysis dream and went looking for answers, has anyone else experienced this?

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