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False Awakening: Differentiating Between Dream and Reality

False-Awakening--Differentiating-Between-Dream-and-RealityThe box office success of the movie “Inception” may seem like it’s unlikely to happen in real life but the plot may be closer to reality than you think. The plot essentially highlights the possibility of waking up in a dream state. Almost all of us have experienced this feeling of waking up only to realize we are dreaming and are still asleep. Most of the people who have had these moments claim they get confused upon learning that they only woke up within a dream. This weird feeling is mostly because our minds lose the sense of what’s real and what’s not. Moreover, studies have proven that we can actually go on living in our dreams without realizing it is not the real world.

For centuries, these false awakenings have raised many questions, opinions, and theories about dreams and reality. Experts have established that you can’t rely solely on people who get confused about what is real and what is not real to differentiate between dreams and reality. Many people have dreamt they were animals in their dreams and when they woke up they could not fully determine whether they were animals dreaming they were humans or they were humans dreaming they were animals.

Most of us have a hard time distinguishing these types of dreams because they usually reflect things that we are familiar with such as distant or repressed memories and even places. This leads us to do the same things we would naturally do in the real world when we are dreaming and this is what actually makes us believe we are already awake.

Sometimes we wake up the dream and we are right in the middle of a place that somehow feels familiar to us although we do not fully recognize it. This false location in our dream could be some place we’ve been as a child or it could be a familiar landmark that we associate with visiting despite never setting foot at the place at all. For example, we may dream about structures or events that belong to ancient civilizations or perhaps seeing a glimpse of the future in a dream.


Another example of this false awakening is waking up in a dream while having a peculiar feeling that someone is actually watching us from behind or afar. It is not a feeling of being in danger but merely that someone we know is observing the things we do and the places we go.

As we go through the dream, we become more aware of the surroundings and recognize that we are still sleeping. This realization causes us to panic and do our best to wake up. There are people who know they are still dreaming and choose to remain sleeping. However, there are people who get unnerved so they force themselves to wake up. Then there are those who end up waking up into a different false awakening altogether.

There are very few studies being performed all over the world to determine the difference between dream and reality. This is because there are very few pieces of evidence we can use to establish the facts. And because we tend to forget most of our dreams, we don’t have enough sources of dreams to base our analyses.

By: Jeffrey Slayter

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