What No Else Tells You About False Awakenings

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Also known as a double dream, a dream within a dream or nested dreams, false awakenings are dreaming that you’re awake while sleeping.

Have you ever had a day when you thought you’d woken up and checked the alarm clock only to notice that you’re terribly late? 

Most of us have this episode more than once a week, but have you ever woken up dreaming that you were late, only to check the alarm clock and note that you neither woke up or were late?


A puzzling or odd dream day to most of us, false awakenings are oftentimes thought of as a Gateway to lucid dreaming, yet mostly disconcerting to the person experiencing it.


Popularized by the 21st-century movies like Inception and Nightmare on Elm Street, false awakening is not a new-age somnipathy.

False awakenings are referred to as pre-lucid dreams, too.

What is a False Awakening?

Also known as a double dream, a dream within a dream, or nested dreams, false awakenings are dreaming that you’re awake while sleeping. 


People who have experienced false awakenings recollect that the dreams span from mundane to vivid, but majorly unnerving.


A peculiar case, the double dream is observed when the sleeper has an awakening dream while sleeping. 


After a false awakening, the sleeper often follows a familiar waking up routine, with the only difference being that it is in his dreams. 


Certain people also experience oddities in their routines which tend to raise fears and make the dream terrifying. For example, when dreaming that you’ve woken up, you may wet the bed because the dream makes you feel like you’re in the bathroom.


When the dreamer realizes the subtleties of why the dream is merely a dream, he or she can control it. 


At that point, a false awakening turns into lucid dreaming.


How to Check If You Are Really Dreaming

The reality of false awakenings can be jarring. 

The first step in figuring out your mental state is to be aware of your state of mind and question it – Is this too real to be your dream? 

Usually, only when you wake up do you realize how weird the dream was.

False awakenings can be distressing to a point that the sleeper might feel trapped in their own dreams – like Leo De Caprio in Inception.


The mind is a mystic, but it can also give you signals to recognize whether or not you’re dreaming.

Except for patients prone to narcolepsy, the jolting realization about realizing that you’re dreaming is uncommon.


The same is why if you’re doubtful whether you’re in a dream, you might really be!


Memory Test

Yet another important and enlightening test to ensure that you’re awake is to try remembering precise thoughts like addresses, phone numbers, and digits.

Science vouches that if you cannot recollect these tiny details, chances are, you are dreaming.


REM sleep tends to intervene and put our brain to rest during the sleep stage and accounts for the memory test.


Threshold Test


An important test to use if you’ve been worried about whether you’re awake or asleep is the reality check. For this, you must explore your surroundings within the dream.


If you chance upon a strange new room suddenly from your bathroom or hallway, then you are dreaming.


Types of False Awakenings


It is not that everyone who dreams about waking up while sleeping shows the same characteristics of false awakenings. 


Depending on the person and the sleep style, there are two types of false awakening.


Celia Green, a British Philosopher, and Psychologist submitted discernible studies on the matter first and the following are the classifications provided by the same.


Type I False Awakening


The most common type of false awakenings, Type I tends to make the sleeper dream that he or she is woken up, but in a strange or new setting never seen before. 


A common example of this false awakening is the introductory late-for-work false awakening.


Bedwetting is a common result of Type I False Awakening.


Type II False Awakening


A rare type of false awakening, Type II tends to make the sleeper dream about waking up in a normal yet, apprehensive or mystic setting full of suspense. 


The dream is stringed by a peaking excitement in the dreamer where distressed sounds are a common effect.


Possible Causes of False Awakenings

Just as none of us know why do we dream and forget the dreams we had, false awakenings are still a mysterious yet common sleep disorder. 


From paranoia to erratic disturbances in sleep schedule, there are many adversities that can add to worsen or expose a person to false awakenings.


Common causes of false awakening include.



The root of most evil in the modern age, anxiety is at the throat of a majority of the populous today.


Most of us worry about everything from waking upright, to being fine, happy, and sad, content or rate of being alive!


If you have a big day ahead, a false awakening about waking up late for the event or doing something embarrassing at the event can occur in tonight’s dream!



The right hand of anxiety, stress is eating the cheers out of our world today. 


From stress about the present day to your freshmen years, there are many things that can trigger or add to the stress of a usual day. 


The same can pop up in your dream as double dreams too.


False awakenings in stressed conditions can lead to disconcerting dreams.


Sleep Fragmentation

A little-known cause of nested dreams is based on our brain’s invincibility of juggling more than one consciousness at once. 


Detailed and HD dreaming is proof of the dream corners of the brain intersecting with your conscious brain and drawing on real-life experiences, colors, and details.


In such a case, the sleeper dreams about waking up in an accustomed setting.

False Awakening and Sleep Paralysis Are Married At The Hip

 It is true that false awakenings intersect with and introduce sleep paralysis.

When the sleeper dreams about feeling trapped in an uncanny dream, the occurrence of sleep paralysis can terrify the person. 

Sleep paralysis is a sleeping problem where the sleeper wakes up unable to move about or rebel against the dream trap.

Under stress and anxiety, the active brain tries to put itself to rest through imaginary resolutions for your worries. These dreams tend to play out your mind’s conflicts, simultaneously making you feel as if it is happening. 

The same is why people can take false awakenings as spiritual elixirs at times.

What happens when false awakening and sleep paralysis coincide?

The sleeper thinks he wakes up from a nightmare, into an eerie new room, bed or ceiling. The body restricts the movements and tends to feel paralyzed or continues the cycle of dreaming about waking from one dream and drifting into another.

Read more about sleep paralysis here. 

Ways to Divert False Awakening into Lucid Dreams

False awakenings are excruciatingly hard to recognize when you’re sleeping and dreaming.


The reason is not the subconscious state of your mind, but the finesse of the dream to make the dream a realistic trip.


For some, the episodes can be traumatizing and the best way to positively channel these terror attacks is by diverting your false awakenings into lucid dreams.


The best movie to teach the essentials of being an amazing dreamer is A Waking Life.


Once you’re aware that it is a dream, paint the sky in the color of roasted smores or grow wings to begin lucid dreaming!   

Alarm Clock

Just like the movie A Waking Life denotes, the easiest way to establish your dream as a lucid dream is by checking the time on your digital alarm clock.


If the number changes, morphs or tangles into each other, you’re definitely dreaming!


This is because during REM sleep it is impossible for the brain to read or use linguistic skills.


If you don’t have an alarm clock, try to read any text around your room within the dream.


The next best way to establish that you’re dreaming of entering lucid dreaming is by recollecting memories. 


If you feel like you’re simultaneously enacting the memories or failing to recollect, there are high chances that you might be dreaming!


This happens when the cognitive part of the brain overlaps with the REM sleep phase.

Check the Mirror

A silly yet, explicit way to divert your scary episode of false awakenings is to check yourself in the mirror.


Can you spot the mole above your right eyebrow or is it blurring out?


If your face begins to morph or change in the due time, dream more with authority!

Leave Notes for the Dreaming You

If you use paste-it-notes and the personal remainder around the house, the same can help you turn your false awakening into a lucid dream.


These things can act as a reality check and ensure that you’re lucid dreaming.

Breakfast Check

A common and important characteristic virtue of false awakenings is the lack or excessive sensitivity towards taste.


Go to your breakfast table and begin eating.


If you feel as if there’s no taste or if the taste is excessively trippy, then you’re dreaming and it surely is a heavenly dream.

Reality Check for Waking up

The truth about doing reality checks is that you must wake up with these and you must do the reality checks every day. 


The same will help you recognize that you’re dreaming during nested dreams. This must be something that you have enthusiastically trained yourself into regularly.


Pushing your hand through a wall or holding something that you love will help you distinguish dreams from reality.

Getting Rid of False Awakenings

For getting rid of false awakenings, you must discipline your sleep schedule.


The best way to treat false awakenings is via Dream Rehearsal Therapy or Medications for Stress, Anxiety, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Nap Before Bed

When your body and mind are not stressed, you have a peaceful sleep sans false awakenings. 


A nap snack that is heavy on carbohydrates is ideal to keep your sleep pattern intact. 


A glass of warm milk before bed does the same benefit.


Try to do ten-minute exercises before bed. This can include Yoga to aerobic workouts. 


Make sure that you do not overdo it, however, as certain exercises can trigger your mind to keep awake.

Relaxation exercises before bed

Meditating before bed can help to vent out your emotional blocks and stresses. 


Because false awakenings are linked to hyper-alertness, the sleeper must first feel at ease and comfortable when going to sleep. 


From playing with your pet to the teddy bear, good night exercises ensure cozy sleep without false awakenings.

Alcohol and Caffeine

Partying too hard and pumping the body with alerting chemicals will worsen your distressed mind that is prone to false awakenings. 


Nightcaps are not recommended before bed, and neither is caffeine or nicotine.

How To Wake Up from a False Awakening

If you’ve been wondering how to get rid of these nightmarish episodes and have a good night’s sleep in addition to a happy waking up routine, you will appreciate the following natural methods:

Begin moving your toes and fingertips slowly.

Slowly, start moving your eyeballs rapidly.

Try to maintain your focus on one object within your dream

Alternatively, you can try to do something sophisticated like cooking or writing.

Final Word

False awakenings are definitely nothing to worry about.


They do not worsen akin to sleep terrors or sleep paralysis, but if they do, you must seek the professional support of a sleep specialist immediately.


The right to sleep happily is critical to keeping your quality of life. 


The best way to use false awakenings is to explore your dreams with control via lucid dreaming and fulfill realistic dreams. These can help to vent out emotional turmoil and help you become more focused. 


On the other hand, if you cannot tolerate these episodes and the same shatter your peace, you need immediate help.


Try practicing the above methods and techniques to reign your dreams, but if you don’t hesitate to seek help.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.