Being fooled by false awakenings

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One of the dream state phenomena that people sometimes confuse with lucid dreaming is false awakening. This is the experience of realizing you are dreaming and then waking up, or so you think, because after you thought you woke up you start to notice things aren’t right and are perhaps quite surreal. That’s when you realize you are still dreaming and then wake up for real…or did you? People can get stuck in this cycle of false awakenings, each time not really waking at all but continuing to dream until they realize it and have another false awakening, and so on. The experience can be quite disturbing because you may start to have a sense of panic that you can never really wake up.

It may seem that a dream in which you have a false awakening is a lucid dream, but not really, because in fact you are still dreaming and don’t know it, therefore you are not really lucid. To enter lucid dreaming state you need to have a mental trick you can reliably use as a reality test in case you have a false awakening. Such lucid dreaming techniques can be learned.

If you have frequent false awakenings you will want to learn how to become lucid so avoid the cycle of false awakenings that may happen repeatedly in the same night and cause you to become very tired and frightened.

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Lucid dreaming differs from other dream states

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There are a number of commonly described mental states that occur during dreaming, including out of body experiences (OBE) and false awakenings. These dream states are usually quite vivid and realistic but they are distinct from lucid dreams because the dreamer is not truly aware they are dreaming during the experience.

False awakening is a dream in which you dream you wake up when in fact you are still asleep and dreaming. Many people have disturbing or even amusing stories to tell of their own false awakenings. Even dream researchers have documented their experiences, like the French zoologist Yves Delage, writing in 1919, described how he had heard a knock at his door and a friend calling for his help. He jumped out of bed, went to wash quickly with cold water, and when that woke him up he realized he had been dreaming. The events in his dream happened four times before he finally actually woke up still in his bed.

A common false awakening dream is where the dreamer experiences a common arduous or stressful task, such as a difficult trek to work or tortuous daily routine, only to wake up and find out they were dreaming and have to go through the whole thing for real. Researchers have discovered that false awakenings can actually be used to induce out of body experiences. And for many people OBEs and lucid dreams are practically indistinguishable, meaning they are lucid and actually able to guide the direction of the dream. However, these cases are not actually lucid dreams because the dreamer actually believes the OBE is occuring rather than recognizing it is actually a dream state.

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