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False Awakenings

You wake up, excited to start the day. You climb downstairs and begin your morning routine. Then you realise you’re still dreaming. This is a false awakening.

False awakenings are very realistic dreams that cross the boundaries between reality and the dream world. You can dream about your day as if it were a real as the situation you are in right now. They are caused by the amazing power of your mind to remember and recreate reality within your dream state.

They happen more often than you think

False awakenings seem so real that many of us have had them, but not recognised that they are dreams. They seem like a conscious situation being played out in reality, so we don’t question it.

Only when we recognise that we are dreaming (see Lucid Dreaming for more on this) do we realise our minds are creating a second copy of our world within our minds. It’s when we notice we are dreaming that we usually wake up.

Some people have experienced multiple false awakenings in one sleep session. Like the movie Groundhog Day, these awakenings happen one after another, often repeating the last. You carry out the same set of tasks over and over again. These dreams can be very disturbing, as you lose track of whether you have truly woken up or not.

If you can recognise that you are in a dream by practicing reality checks, you can turn your dream lucid. The dream is then yours to control. People who practice lucid dreaming are more likely to have false awakenings, as false awakenings often come after a lucid dream.

Common false awakening dreams

Being late for work is a common false awakening dream scenario. The dream starts by waking up panicking that you are late for work. Often your alarm clock in the dream will tell you that you’re late.

Another common scenario is performing your normal early morning routine. This can include washing, cooking and eating. Sometimes your body reacts to the reality you are creating in your mind and a visit to the bathroom in your dream can turn into bedwetting in reality.

What tends to link common false awakening dreams is either a sense of excitement or anxiety. If you are in an anxious or excited state of mind before you go to bed, these emotions could lead to you having a false awakening that plays out your thoughts during sleep.


Continuums are similar to false awakenings but happen when you fall asleep and dream as if you have stayed awake. In these dreams, your dream continues at the point you fell asleep. Often continuum dreams can result in sleep-walking or performing physical actions in real life while you are sleeping.


False Awakenings are a fascinating and slightly strange element of our dreams.

Remembering false awakenings can be tricky. They are difficult for you to recognise because they are so realistic, you may perceive them to be real. If you practice lucid dreaming, you have a greater chance of catching these dreams and being able to control them.

You may be experiencing repeated false awakening events over many nights. If this is the case, it can be quite disturbing. be reassured that they are harmless phenomena that affect our dreams, but if you are concerned seek out advice from a doctor. Alternatively, you may want to investigate practicing Lucid Dreaming. It could help you control your symptoms yourself.

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