False Awakenings

False awakenings can happen for lucid dreamers and non-lucid dreamers. They basically occur when you feel like you’ve woken up and are going about your morning routine, but you’re still actually in a dream. False awakenings can be a little freaky when you finally figure out that you weren’t awake after all – or when you do awaken for real and figure out that you haven’t actually showered or had breakfast yet!

The problem with false awakenings for lucid dreamers is that your brain assumes you’re awake, so you feel no need to do a reality check. You can get dressed, brush your teeth, and do everyday things, and the dream is super vivid, detailed, and real. However, you can learn to use false awakenings to induce lucid dreams if you follow a few simple steps:

  1. Perform Reality Checks in Daily Life: Because your brain assumes you’re actually awake during false awakenings, you won’t be as likely to perform a reality check as you would have been in a less lifelike dream. However, if you train yourself to always perform a certain reality check when you wake up in the morning, you’ll get in the habit, and you’ll be more likely to do it during a false awakening. One good option is to look at your digital alarm clock, look away, and look back. Since digital clocks often act differently in dreams, you’ll be aware you’re dreaming if your alarm clock is impossible to read or skips back in time, for instance.
  2. Leave Notes Around Your Home: Leaving notes for yourself around the house can help you remember to do reality checks in everyday life and during a false awakening. Put them by light switches and on mirrors in areas where you always go right when you wake up. They’ll help you remember to test reality, and if you find that you can’t read a note even though you know what it says, you’ll probably be aware that you’re dreaming, since letters, like digital clocks, are “off” in dreams.
  3. Check Out the Mirror: Chances are likely that you look in the mirror at some point during every morning routine. Look at your face in the mirror, and make sure you look normal. In a dream, you can often push your hand into the mirror. Unless your false awakenings are exceptionally convincing and realistic, you should be able to use this as a reality check. Again, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of doing this every morning, so you’ll be more likely to do it during a false awakening.

Inducing lucid dreams through false awakenings can be surprisingly difficult because the false awakenings seem so real. Even if you have multiple false awakenings in a row, which can be a little frustrating or disconcerting, you may still fail to actually realize you’re still in a dream. My brain’s ability to fill in the realistic little details of my day never ceases to amaze me when I have false awakenings.

It took me some time to learn to turn realistic false awakenings into lucid dreams, but now I can do it most of the time. It mainly comes through practice. I make a habit of doing reality checks as soon as I wake up and at key points throughout my day – including at least two during my morning routine. This means I’m more likely to notice I’m dreaming during false awakenings, even if my brain is filling in the details beautifully and isn’t letting on at all that this isn’t my actual reality.

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"The result of the struggle between the thought and the ability to express it, between dream and reality, is seldom more than a compromise or an approximation." - M. C. Escher