Dreaming About Waking Up Says More About Your Well-Being Than You Realize

We've seen this scene in a lot of movies. The lead character wakes up, gets their coffee, brushes their teeth, has a shower, and gets dressed for the day. They go downstairs, grab a quick meal, and head out the door. Somewhere between kissing their real-life crush (who is now apparently their partner) goodbye and heading out the door, they wake up again and find themselves still heavy-eyed in bed. 

For some, this is the stuff of motion pictures, but for others, it's real life — more specifically, dreams. Have you ever felt that you were halfway through your day only to realize that you were just dreaming that you were? Sure, your dream may not have been as fantastical as the ones in movies. In fact, it was most probably very similar to what your usual daytime routine is like. The sensation you felt when you woke up, though, was nothing short of disorientation and perhaps even dread. This phenomenon, commonly referred to by sleep experts and researchers as a "false awakening," is intriguing, to say the least.

Unlike other dreams — such as dreaming about the ocean or dreaming that you're walking on the moon — false awakenings have been studied in relation to lucid dreaming and sleep paralysis as well. Notably, researchers have found that some people who have lucid dreams also dream about waking up. Whether you have false awakenings often or not, what does this dream say about your well-being? Is there cause for concern?

You might be stressed or anxious

While dreaming about waking up isn't harmful to your health in any way, the dream could be telling you a few things about your wakeful self, according to dream analyst Kari Hohne (via Refinery29). 

Dreams can reveal things about our health, and false awakenings could be a sign of stress or anxiety in your real life, per Healthline. Did you dream that you woke up and sat through a particularly challenging exam you were worried about? Or was your dream about being at a job interview that was making you nervous? These upcoming scenarios in your life and the dread surrounding them could've given rise to the dreams. Insomnia and other sleeping disorders — plus disturbances during your sleep cycle — could also cause false awakenings.

"If we block something out of consciousness, it can appear in our dreams," Hohne told Refinery29. She further explained that while seeing such a dream occasionally is a sign of change in your routine or anticipation of an important future event, consistently dreaming about waking up could be a "double wake-up call." Do you have something in your life that you're unwilling to face? Perhaps it's a relationship problem or financial commitment. Hohne recommends using your dream to look for clues. According to the dream expert, the reason for the dream could be in some of the strange visuals you see (like a shoe in the underwear drawer) or a "purse in the freezer," which could signify lost identity. 

Things you can do for your well-being

While you may not have to run to the doctor the next time you see a dream about waking up, you could try reducing the level of stress and anxiety in your life. Establishing better sleeping habits and ensuring that you get uninterrupted sleep through the night could also help. Put away your phone before bed, try reading a book instead of scrolling, and maybe even incorporate meditation into your daily bed-time routine. Keeping to the same sleeping and waking times and making sure that your room is dark enough is also something most sleep experts would recommend. So is avoiding alcohol and caffeinated beverages in the evening. 

If you think anxiety could be the reason for your dream, psychotherapist Matt Lundquist suggested to Refinery29 that working with a therapist could be of advantage to you. "Identifying the source of anxiety can feel sometimes like catching a mouse — it sometimes doesn't want to be found. Therapy is the best place to examine what's going on," he shared. 

If persistent false awakenings are leaving you feeling disoriented and disturbed, enlist the help of a sleep therapist. This is especially true if your dreams are accompanied by other phenomena like insomnia and sleep paralysis. A good night's sleep and a refreshing morning routine are more important than you realize — they are crucial for your physical and mental well-being.