False Awakening: Dreaming About Waking Up

Have you ever had a dream in which you think you’ve awakened, only to later wake up for real? Perhaps you’ve even gotten out of bed, started your morning routine, and then snapped out of an imaginary breakfast or journey to work, only to find yourself still in bed. If this sounds familiar, you might have experienced what’s known as “false awakening.” One of the fascinating features of false awakening is just how lifelike it can seem. 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. It’s only when you wake up for real that you realize what happened. There’s no scientific consensus on the cause of false awakenings. There are, however, two possible theories: (1) If you’re worried about something important in your life, you might dream about it, and the false awakening becomes your mental rehearsal; and (2) It’s possible that the part of your brain responsible for dreaming and also for waking consciousness are both active at the same time. The good news, if you question your grip on reality because of your false awakenings, is that they aren’t thought to be an indicator of mental illness. Your best option is not to worry and try to accept it as a normal part of dreaming.