False Awakening Dreams


False awakening dreams happen when you dream that you have woken up. This is a kind of dream that is not universal, but is very disconcerting to those to whom it happens. On the other hand, it is also oftentimes a gateway to lucid dreaming, if you can recognize the signs that you are not actually awake as such, instead of letting the nightmarish pseudo-reality continue.

False awakening dreams are often incredibly and bizarrely realistic, and you may dream of going through your entire morning routine, from going to the bathroom to eating breakfast. Certain details can usually be counted on not to be accurate in a false awakening. If you want to make sure of whether you are really awake or having a false awakening dream, here are some things you can do to test.

  1. Look at yourself in the mirror. Your reflection often appears distorted in the mirror if you are dreaming. Alternatively, you may look like someone else altogether. While you may not notice the change in your reflection if you do not know to look for it, accepting it as we often accept bizarre things in dreams, once you do know to pay attention, it is easy to tell a false awakening dream by details like this.
  2. Notice how your breakfast tastes. It is common for food to taste different in dreams. For some people, nothing in a dream has any flavor. For others, the flavors are bolder and tastier, and for still others, the flavors meld into the other senses in a dream synesthesia. If you notice any of these things happening, you will know that you are dreaming, and that is the first step to lucid dreaming.
  3. Try to read something. The part of our brain that handles written language is turned off while we are asleep. Pick up your morning paper and read the front page, or try to read the back of your cereal box. Try reading the same sentence twice. If the words change, you know you are dreaming. Some other dream signs connected to reading, which you may or may not experience, include the words you read being spoken aloud, or forming images that you can see.
  4. Walk one step at a time. Dream time passes according to your thoughts, and it is common in dreams to find yourself in places simply by thinking about going there. For some people, it is very difficult to literally take a dream step by step, noticing each step as you take it. If you find yourself floating from place to place, or simply appearing somewhere, you can know that you are dreaming, and from there you can begin to control the dream.
  5. Turn the lights on and off. There is usually some sort of ambient light in our dreams. However, this light source often does not change, even if you flip a light switch. Many people are not able to turn a light off and then walk into the dark room in their dreams; they are still able to see things. Conversely, if you dream that you are in the dark, it may be very difficult for you to turn the light on. Most of us get up early in the morning and get ready in the dark, at least part of the year. If you cannot turn the lights on or off, this should be a clue to you that you are in a dream.
  6. Come up with your own reality check. A reality check is something you train yourself to do in waking life in hopes that you will remember to do it in your dreams as well, thus leading to lucidity. You may have an item that you handle a lot in waking life, similar to a totem in Inception. However, the best reality checks are things that you always have with you, such as your hands. One common reality check is trying to press two fingers of one hand through the palm of the other. Obviously, if you are awake, your fingers will not be able to go through your hand. Another reality check is to try to push your hand through a closed door or wall.

When making your own reality check, you must train yourself to do your reality check frequently in your waking life as well. It does not work if you plan on only doing it in your dreams, because you will inevitably forget. Ask yourself frequently throughout the day, “Am I dreaming?” Then do your reality check, really expecting your fingers to go through your palm or your hand to go through the wall. Accept the possibility that you might be dreaming, and do not assume that you know you are awake. Really consider the fact that dreams feel like waking life as well, and then ask yourself the question, “Am I dreaming?” If you get into the habit of asking the question flippantly and expecting the reality check to work, then you will either forget to ask it when you are asleep, or the reality check will behave like reality in your sleep as well. If you get into the habit of doing reality checks and considering the possibility that you may be dreaming during the day, then you will be more likely to think about it during your dreams and realize that you are still asleep.

So I know I’m in a false awakening dream. Now what? Once you have realized that you are in a false awakening dream, you have the ability to lucid dream. You can do anything you want – fly, teleport, or turn your hair blue. What you should not do is try to wake up. You are in REM sleep, and you are not in control of your body right now. Your body is completely paralyzed, and will continue to be so until you wake up spontaneously. If you try to wake up at this point, you are likely to get stuck in a disturbing out-of-body or sleep paralysis experience.

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About Author

Stephen is a self confessed dream junkie that loves all things dream related. He is a writer for Dream Stop and has been working in the field of dreams for the past decade. He believes that the YOU are the only person who can truly understand the meaning of your dreams. You have to look inside your inner thoughts to find the hidden truths in your dream. These interpretations are for entertainment purposes only. Stephen's interpretations should be considered an opinion, not professional advice.


  1. I do this fairly frequently. Sometimes it kick starts excellent lucid dreaming, sometimes I spiral out in a series of false awakening dreams which can be very disturbing. It feels like a hallucination. Usually on a morning after having several false waking dreams, I will be exhausted, feeling like I never slept at all. The opposite experience I have is the dreaming within a dream. Those to me are far more favorable and are always a result of lucidity.

    • When that happens it means that your spirit has left your body and you are astratravelling, be careful this is how the evil spirits lead you astray. And eat nothing while you are in this state,they often appear as someone you know, a familiar spirit but it is not. This is because you would not go with a stranger as easy as you would go with a friend.

      • Lizish Mathuser on

        It is incredibly odd that you mentioned eating nothing in that state. I just had a dream about that and wrote about it yesterday because it was so vivid, and I was so absolutely certain that I should not eat while in a particular dream state. Here is the story I typed up yesterday of my dream from the previous night:

        In my dream last night I had to drive a great distance, but my car broke down. So then I had to walk an even greater distance, carrying a long heavy tube with me, across a broken road and then up several stories of wooden stairs. Finally the weight became too great, I could hardly move forward, and the people behind me began to complain. In exhaustion I turned around to face a friendly, heavy-set, Indian. He said, “Here, let me carry that for you.” I handed him the huge tube, which had grown like a snake during my journey, and instantly I was removed from the tedious queue and walking gracefully into a luxury spa. I meandered around pristine exercise equipment, and as my eyes scanned the room I became overwhelmed with de ja vu. I said out loud, “I am pretty sure I have dreamed of this place before. I must have. It is a dreamed room.”
        I shook off the feeling so as not to indulge, and sat down at a dining room table that served only the finest cuisine. They served me something special but I could not eat it. Eating in a dream is something unique… if I stop to eat in a dream I become lost in the act of eating. All my senses are focused on the handling, the taste, the sight, and the smell of the food. Whatever I had previously been doing in the dream fades into obsoletion, and the dream becomes nothing more than an indulgence. Two elderly white gentlemen noticed my admiration but refusal of the food, and approached me giggling loudly.
        They asked me why I wouldn’t eat and I said, “Because I believe this is a dreamed space and I can not eat in a dreamed space.” One of the gentlemen smiled and walked away, the other looked very serious and pulled up a chair next to me.
        “So,” he said with a look of solemness, “how do you know whether or not you’re dreaming now?”
        Suddenly it felt as though my mind was shaking itself violently. I became aware of two things: First, that I had previously assumed only that I had once “dreamed” about the room, NOT that I was dreaming at the moment. Second, that I was not in the practice of checking my reality, and had no current way of doing so.
        It was like a blow to the head. I had sensed that the my surroundings were dream-like, but I could not make the cognitive leap into complete lucidity. I felt baffled and worried. The gentleman sat waiting for a response.
        I stammered, “Dreaming can be a tricky thing! You have to know how to do a reality check in certain situations. Most people rely on a ‘totem’. A totem works like…” And the gentleman quickly stood up, looked at with me such annoyance that I felt like a complete jack ass, and walked away. My feeling of idiocy remained. I wasn’t being questioned, I was being quizzed.
        For a few minutes I had to gather my memories on totems. The movie ‘Inception’ came to mind, as did a number of books that I had read on the subject of lucid dreaming. Once my thoughts were collected I went and found the gentleman sitting and waiting for me with a chair facing him. I sat down across from him and began something I can only refer to as a maneuver of consciousness.
        “You have in your pocket a quarter sized coined with a hole in the middle, and inside that hole is a magnifying glass,” I started.
        He pulled out the coin from his pocket and showed it to me.
        “If you flip that coin and it lands facing downward, you will see the magnification of whatever you’re looking at. If it lands facing the opposite direction, whatever you see in the middle of the coin will be distorted. That is how you know whether or not you’re dreaming. It will always fall on one side or the other ”
        He didn’t look very impressed with my explanation, but he flipped the coin anyway and stared at the center of it when it landed. I attempted to look for myself to see what side it landed on but he quickly snatched it away.
        “What side did it land on?” He asked me.
        I tried to think, but couldn’t. I tried “sense” and couldn’t. I couldn’t trace outside clues to an answer I should have already known.
        “I don’t know,” I said.
        I woke up instantly to my dog staring directly into my eyes.

        Later this morning I decided to find a totem. I found two. One is a very simple thing to memorize visually, the other is a nearly impossible piece of round bone, hollowed out with grooves similar to the speckles in an eyeball with bits of color. I have a feeling I will need both. But you know, it’s all just a feeling.
        Dreams aren’t reality. They are the flip side of the coin.

        • Do you beleive in the spirit world of good and evil, Jesus and Satan.? It’s not just a dream,they are evil spirits that try to win over your spirit when you enter that realm.more than likely if you had eaten it might have poison your spirit in that realm, causing it to be unable to reach back to your body, causing you to remain in your bed in a vegetated state.I guess you are a kind of friendly person, or the evil one would have used someone familiar to you to entrap you in that dream as oppose to a stranger.with the abilities you have if you start on a path to God these dreaMs

          • These dreams would become violent in nature. Instead of feeding you they would be trying to kill you, cause you would become a direct threat to them.

          • Lizish Mathuser on

            Who are you? Hmm… dream stealers… I have never heard the term before… but I can tell you a story of what happened to me once I started projecting myself into outer space while lucid dreaming. I crossed a line I shouldn’t have crossed, and a particular race of beings promised to track me and capture me at the first chance they got. Eventually I did get trapped, many months later, when I tried to project again into another world. I was captured in my dream world and held in a dungeon for about 7 months, and during that time, for the first time in my life, I could not remember a single dream. Finally, some entity came and rescued me by pulling me under the dungeon (which held water), and returned me to a safe house where some of the beings recognized me and through a small celebration, and I was able to dream again. These events took course over the span of about 2 or 3 years, and I remember every little detail, but it would take me forever to tell the whole story. The point is – yeah, it can be dangerous out there. Yeah, you can get caught and there’s a chance you may never make it out alive. Based on my experiences I have no choice but to take head that there are some entities out there that are not “friendly”. There are some who are “friendly”. I do not like to define these two groups into “good” or “bad”, “sacred” or “evil”, because I don’t think I have the right to cast judgment on something that exists. if there is a God, I am no that God, so who would I be to pretend that I know these things. I prefer to think of things in terms of non-duality: there is a third point of reference that is observational and can see both up and down at the same time. But that’s just something I read about.
            BTW, that first time I went out into space, I flew by spacecraft, invited by a species of beings who offered to bring three friends with me. I chose three of my guy friends, only to find out later that the beings had in fact disguised themselves as my friends in order to get me on their spacecraft. It was very tricky of them. And then they offered me my favorite food while I was on the spacecraft… and after taking one bite, i knew I had made a mistake. But the biggest mistake I made, the one that got me in serious trouble, was when the craft landed. They told me not to leave the craft, and I did. And all hell broke loose. One day if you want, I’ll tell the whole story.

          • My name is Reggie, I’m from Barbados but I am currently living in St. Lucia for the past 5 months.first time I had a dream in a long time is couple days ago, and I that dream already more than once and that was about my teeth coming out. Before that couple years ago, I would constantly be in gun battle with people I don’t know that are always trying to take me somewhere that I don’t even want to know about. When I refuse is when the action starts. But to tell the truth I don’t even know how that dream end. Don’t know where you are from and what you know about St.Lucia but its not an easy place when it comes to the darkside. They prat theyTpractice everything here from witchcraft to sorcery and so on. Dreams are impojrtant

          • Hence why I ask you about dreams stealers, I need to recover my ability to get my dreams, but as for you, you are dangerously adventurous. Do you know that sex in dreams are spirits actually having sex with you hence why we reach the point of climax in some of the dreams, my friend a female actually got raped by an entity in her dream, and she getup in the morning break up with all her vagina hurting. True story.. will listen for the other part of your story. And who are you? Lol

        • What can you tell me about dream stealers? Spirits that steal your dreams? That when you get up you know you had a dream but you can hardly remember anything about it.then you Go some where and something happens and you say deejavou. you have already seen it in a dream, it is lodged deep in your subconscious mind. So very often you would say forget that, they steal your manifestations, your ideas,your future if possible.

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