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Awake or Still Dreaming?

Did you ever wake up and start your
daily routine, only to wake up again and realize you never did any of it? Some
people can experience this more than one time in a row.

Nested dreams or false awakening are
also referred to as a dream within a dream. These are well-documented
throughout the ages, in art, in books and plays, and poetry.

Nested Dreams

The term nested dreams come from the
Russian dolls, who are all nested together. The dolls, like the dreams, keep
occurring until they are finally gone. Also, as the nesting dolls, they become
smaller, the false awakenings become less.

While people have often remarked
they have experienced several of these in a row, they are more commonly found
to happen from one to three times.

What Do Nested Dreams Mean?

Mostly, it seems that that is up to
the dreamer to interpret. It’s not really clearly known what these dreams mean,
but people often feel like it’s based around a bit of anxiety.

Often, people think they have been
neglecting some part of their life. Their work, their talent, their family. It
may be that our subconscious is telling us what we are missing. Or, at least,
that something is.

It’s also not uncommon for people to
have more than one. It can be very confusing for people to keep waking up and
starting their day, only to have to go through it all again.

Why Do Nested Dreams Happen?

False awakenings may occur with the
person with fragmented dreams and sleep. It is possible for the brain to be in
various states of consciousness or sleep at the same time.

It has been suggested that false awakenings come from the part
of the brain that is responsible for consciousness and may be activated while
the part that allows us vivid dreams is also engaged.

They can be brought on by:

  • Insomnia
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stress
  • Medication
  • Outside noises
  • Twitching limbs

There may be other causes, depending
on the individual and their own lives.

Types of Nested Dreams

These can be a great deal of
confusion with nested dreams. People feel they come from anxiety and that they
continue to wake up without waking up only adds to that.

There are two main types of nested

The first nested dream is known by
our mundane activities of waking: getting up, taking a shower, getting dressed,
eating breakfast, and leaving for work or school. Usually, the dreamer realizes
something is off and can actually wake up from this.

The second type of false awakenings
is often described as unpleasant, with more anxiety or ominous feeling. These
may come with hallucinations or images of foreboding people or monsters. These
are more likely to be considered nightmares and cause fear and anxiety.

Often, while in the state of nested
dreams, people also have problems trying to work machines or basic devices.
They may be trying to phone someone and can’t make it work, running away from
someone and trying to tell someone something.

They also report that things change
while they are in the process of doing something, a simple task. Like giving
someone an item, like a glass, then the glass turns into something else. These
new images may be the cause of the false awakenings, perhaps the things we are
not seeing.

These dreams can be frightening,
disorienting, and upsetting for people. The eerie feeling can stay with the
person all day and cause them not to function properly.

Side Effects of Nested Dreams

False awakenings or nested reams can
cause some discomfort but pose no real harm. Side effects can be mild, like
simply not getting the right amount of sleep or not feeling rested due to the
anxiety these can cause.

You may have a strange feeling all
day, as you recall how it felt to be awake yet not awake. It can be disconcerting
for people. People can be crabby or jumpy, as these can sometimes come with bad
images and feelings.

You may be tired all day, and just
out of sorts, due to the uncomfortable way you finally woke up. It’s like being
tricked by your own mind and not being able to shake the strange feeling.

Sleep Paralysis

Most of us have had dreams where you
can’t move, speak, or scream. Being scared in your sleep,  while you’re falling asleep, there is a
sensation of falling or fear of something unknown upon
waking up.

Trying to run away, to move, or to
scream and not being unable to is what sleep paralysis is. If it happens when
you’re waking up, it’s called hypnopompic or post-dormital sleep paralysis, and
if it happens when you’re falling asleep, it’s called hypnagogic or pre-dormital
sleep paralysis.

It is the inability to move or
speak. Often, the dreamer feels pressure on their chest or the throat rendering
them unable to breathe, as well. It can also include a shadowy figure in the
room, where the dreamer isn’t quite aware of whether they are real or not.

Prevention of Nested Dreams

While there isn’t a surefire cure
for nested dreams, you can take some preventive measures to keep them from


Try meditating before bed. It will
help your mind relax and focus on happier, calmer things in your life.

Avoid Stimulants

Caffeine, pills, or alcohol can
cause you to have bad dreams, fitful sleep, and even bad dreams. They impair
the REM sleep you need to feel rested and allow your brain to function

Regular Exercise

Even a walk around the block in the
evening can help calm you down and clear your mind. Regular exercise can help
you sleep better and tire you out so you can sleep more soundly.

Have a Routine

Having a regular routine, bedtime,
and waking up time keep your life regular, too. If you go to bed at the same
time and get up at the same time, your mind and body are allowed to heal and
function better.

Get Rid of Gadgets

Take the gadgets out of your room.
If the false awakening is caused by anxiety, the phone or tablet pinging all
night will not help you any. It may be adding to your worries and robbing you
of precious sleep.

People also engage in giving
themselves regular reality checks. When they do it while they are awake, this
process can train your brain to do it while you are sleeping. Something like
holding your nose and still being able to breathe or pushing your index finger
through your arm.

So when you have a dream within a
dream, you can make yourself do a reality check and very often, wake yourself
up. These should be something that you obviously can not do while you are awake
and do the same thing all the time. That way, your mind has its own go-to tool
for your reality check when you need it.

It can be very frightening for
people when these nested dreams happen, and many turn to stimulants for
sleeping through them to avoid having them again.

Dream Within a Dream

Nested dreams can happen to anyone,
and the effects are varying. It can be very disorienting for people who are not
used to it happening. If you can, try to remember what was happening in the
false awakening.

The ones that are frightening are
often out subconscious trying to tell us something that we need to hear. Record
these images, if you remember and see if there is a pattern forming.

It can also be connected to lucid
dreaming, where we know what is happening is a dream, and we are aware of our
state, that of sleeping yet aware of it. With lucid dreaming, we can train our
minds to take control of situations we are not comfortable in, like being
chased or items changing into something else.

If nesting dreams are a frequent
occurrence with you and they are bothersome, practice the methods of trying to
take control of the situation. If you challenge yourself with reality checks,
you may find it easier to get out of the uncomfortable situations or false
sense that comes with nested dreams.

It isn’t really known why these
happen, but if they happen a lot, try writing down what you can remember of the
nested dream. Look for patterns and things that are out of place.

This can be a clear indication of
what is troubling you or whare you need to look in your life for change and
finding peace. They may happen when you are also excited about the day ahead.

A new job or a new school can be
exciting, but it can also bring anxiety and fear, as well. Monitoring your
false awakening dreams can point out things that may be out of place or
something bothering your subconscious you are not even aware of.

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About Author

Forrest Webber, At Dreams and Mythology, our aim is to cultivate a more conscious relationship with the whispers within us. Our goal is not to decipher some cryptic message sent from an unknown source… thereby achieving some enlightenment or transcendence.

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