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You woke up, rubbed your eyes, and started drinking coffee already when your alarm suddenly went off and woke up once again.

Weird, right? This phenomenon is known as a false awakening or a dream within a dream.

There have been a lot of explanations about a dream within a dream meaning. If you’ve watched “Inception”, a 2010 science fiction film, it was all about entering different stages of a dream.

It was definitely fascinating, but the reason this movie became a blockbuster hit is that dreaming while in a dream is possible.

It may seem confusing for some people, so we will tell you exactly why this is happening and the exact meaning of a dream within a dream.


 A Dream Within a Dream Meaning

A false awakening is a strange experience where you actually wake up in a dream.

It means that you experienced the feeling of waking up when you are still asleep.

Basically, waking up in a dream would make you feel confused because the images may seem realistic.

There are even cases where people experience nested dreams where they wake up multiple times.

This type of dream will make anyone disoriented and confused, and they won’t even realize that they are already awake in reality.

There have been a lot of explanations about having a dream within a dream. Some are very hard to accept, but there are explanations based on science.

Let’s talk about the possible meanings behind this type of experience that experts have come up with over the years.

A Foreboding Event

Some people believe that a dream within a dream is a form of nightmare, especially if it is a nested dream.

They often link this to a bad event that might happen to your life, but there are no timelines.

A particular bad event may happen immediately or probably in the near future.

A few people already experienced something like this, but it is not the same for everyone.

As such, there is no general explanation why a dream within a dream is related to a possible bad experience that would happen to you.

That said, it is known that this type of event is directly related to something that you already know.

It might be possible that the bad event is related directly to a negative consequence of something that you did in the past.

You Experienced Sleep Paralysis

We’ve all had our share of sleep paralysis experiences, and it is never a good thing.

Some people associate this with other-world entities or ghosts, and they even try to ghost hunt because of this.

The truth is that all these are only related to possible hallucinations while under sleep paralysis.

Experts suggest that most people who experience a dream within a dream also experience sleep paralysis.

If you know that you are dreaming and you are having a hard time waking up, it means that your body temporarily lost its ability to move and talk.

There are even instances where you have difficulty breathing while in sleep paralysis.

Types of False Awakening

There are two common types of false awakening, which are actually based on what you experience during this period.

When you had a dream within a dream, you might experience one of two things:

A Realistic Setting

This is the most common type of false awakening where you wake up in a setting that you are comfortable with.

It might be the exact replica of your room or possibly a room you had in the past.

Basically, it won’t be easy for you to determine if the dream is actually real or not, but after a few minutes, you will suddenly wake up once again.

This type of false awakening is not too scary unless you will experience something like a nested dream.

A nested dream does not involve any scary happenings. It depends on the type of dream you are having, but the scary part is confusing a dream with reality.

There are records of people experiencing multiple dreams within a dream. When they finally woke up, they can’t seem to figure out if they are really awake or they are still in a dream.

Most of these people become disoriented because they already lost their sense of reality because of the nested dreams.


We’ve already mentioned sleep paralysis as one of the possible meanings behind a dream within a dream.

You might experience something similar. The only difference is that you are already aware that you are dreaming.

The scary part is that you noticed something wicked or ominous in your surroundings.

You will force yourself to wake up only to be transferred to another dream-like setting.

This kind of thing happens rarely, and most people would experience something like this at least once or twice in their life.

a dream within a dream meaning

The Causes of False Awakening

As of now, there are no concrete explanations on the primary causes of false awakening because there’s not much research done about it.

Some experts, though, made a hypothesis on the possible cause of this phenomenon.

Sleep Disorders

Having problems falling asleep might be one of the causes of false awakening.

Some say that sleep apnea and insomnia might cause false awakenings, especially if the person suffering from these managed to fall asleep for a few minutes.


Most people have a hard time sleeping when they are excited about a certain event.

This excitement usually extends to their dreams, which might be why they experience a dream within a dream.

It is probably related to strong emotions and not just excitement. As mentioned, it may also be related to a possible bad event that may happen the next day.

Noises and Disturbances Interrupting Your Sleep

They say that when you realized that you are dreaming, your mind is already awake, but your body is still in a state of inaction.

Most experts think that noises and other disturbances can interrupt your sleep without waking you up completely.

False Awakening and Your Overall Health

A false awakening is not a symptom of any type of disease. Although it is not a cause for concern in terms of your health, most people don’t want to experience this.

If you had a false awakening multiple times in a week, the best thing to do is consult a psychologist or a therapist.

It is possible that you are depressed or stressed. You might also be experiencing problems that you can’t resolve, which is why you usually experience strange dreams.

Preventing False Awakening

Can you prevent yourself from dreaming within a dream? Since it is not a type of medical issue and there are no scientific reasons behind it.

There are no definitive ways to prevent false awakening, but there are a few things that you can do to at least lessen its occurrence.

Avoid Caffeine in the Evening

There are times when people are so fond of caffeine that they even drink coffee before they sleep.

Some people have a hard time sleeping after taking caffeine, but some people still sleep soundly after drinking a cup of coffee.

If you don’t want to experience a false awakening, you should never drink caffeine when you are ready to sleep.

Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol can bring you to deep sleep. Some people think that it is fine, but drinking alcohol at night won’t be a good idea for people who are afraid of false awakenings.

The goal is to prevent yourself from having a deep sleep because it usually leads to a dream within a dream.

Calm Your Mind Before Sleeping

It’s not a bad idea to do some relaxation exercises before you sleep, especially if you are stressed at work or mentally unstable because of problems.

You should calm your mind before you sleep and stop yourself from thinking about your stress and problems.

It is better to empty your mind and think of happy thoughts until you drift to sleep.

Don’t Sleep Late

You are trying to prevent a night of deep sleep, so it makes sense that you should never sleep late.

If you force your body to stay awake at night and sleep when your body can’t take it anymore, there is a chance that you would enter deep sleep.

As you all know, there is a chance that you might experience a dream within a dream or probably a nested dream.

Regular Exercise

You should try to do some regular exercises. You can do it at night before you sleep to help your body feel relaxed.

You don’t need to do any hardcore exercises. You can do some simple stretching or jog for a few minutes outside to help you calm your mind.


The explanations concerning a dream within a dream meaning are usually vague. If you want a more thorough explanation, you need to remember your dream fully.

Some professionals can help you figure out your dreams and explain their meanings.

If you are experiencing false awakenings frequently, it is better to consult a therapist to help you figure out what you should do.