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False Waking or Nested Dreams

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Dreams within dreams, or dreams within dreams within dreams! It can be disorienting to wake up only to find sometime later that you're still in a dreamworld. Such experiences are often called "false waking" or "nested dreaming." The 2001 animated film WAKING LIFE is a fictional example of a deeply nested dream. Below are listed examples from one to more than six layers deep! Dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams within...

Most references I've found to false waking have a joking but frustrated tone: "I woke from the nightmare and shook it off, showered, ate, went to work... and at the end of the day, just as I was free at last, I woke up AGAIN and realized I still had to go to work!"

But in my experience, false waking isn't a mere joke on you--often it's helpful. A lot of my false wakings are like this: I wake, write a dream, figure out what it means, and then wake again to find my notebook blank--that dream interpretation was itself a dream. Yeah, it's extra work to write it twice, but it's when your dreams go to the trouble to interpret themselves, you better take that interpretation seriously!

That's just a special case. Other nested dreams of mine turn out to be precursors to lucid or powerful transcendent dreams, that night or the next night. Why this is, I'm not sure. Maybe it's just me. But watch for the possibility! Your dreams may not be trying to drive you crazy with false-waking. They may be telling you something, or preparing for something. Like fledgling birds practicing for flight?

I'm not sure. But you can test it! If you have a powerful nested dream (frustrating or not), ASK your dreams about it, the next night, just before sleeping. That night's dream may tell you. If you really were awake when you asked, of course; if you're not dreaming right now.

RELATED TOPICS: lucid dreams - dreams about dreaming and dreamwork - dreams that advise you directly - hypnogogic dreams on the border of waking and sleeping - dream induction, or "incubation" - recurring dreams - See also the full INDEX OF SUBJECTS.

What this site is - Add your dreams! - How to read blurbs - Ratings - Copyright - Downloading - The World Dream Bank has 3300+ dreams plus 1000 more pages on dreamwork, shamanism, surrealism, fantasy, worldbuilding, creativity and genius. Site © Chris Wayan 2001-2013.



AELFWINE: by Wayan; 1997/12/4, a dream on dreams.
I meet the Child who Dreams the World, go to a lucid-dreaming party, and find the Body under the Bed...
ALONE IN THE DARK IN THE WILD: by Wayan; 1980/7/24, a vision-quest nightmare.
A nightmare of a killer who I let torment me because it's better than being alone...
ANN-THENNATH: by Wayan; 1986/2/1, a fairytale freeway dream.
I dream of Beren and Luthien happy and mortal in their forest, and wake to find...
ARENNA, FREED: by Wayan; 1991/11/6, a magical pastlife/flying/freedom dream.
I learn to fly from Arenna the moon-girl and Crest the dragon, in the House of Deep Memory...
ART OR PROPAGANDA?: by Wayan; dreamed 2008/2/7, 3 dream-reactions to Philip Pullman's books
There's a rare dream-type that can change reality itself. Study its EEG trace. Can I learn to do it?...
I'm arguing with musicians--what's better, music that serves your goals, or purely great music...
I'm bored in class. Draw sexy furries. The babydykes by me do too! Art'll summon the girls we want...
CAUTION: PHILOSOPHY! OH NO!
BACKACHE DIALOGUES: by Wayan; 1993/12/10, four bizarre diagnostic dreamlets.
I asked my dreams why my back hurt. They told me: pregnancy, marsupial pouches, snapping turtles...
BACKWARDS CAUSATION: by Jo; 2008/3/3, a dream where I dream a dream in which I dream
No matter who I dream I am, twin secret agents dog me, eating my soup, playing my games...
CAUTION: EGREGIOUS PHILOSOPHY
BIRD CRASH: by Emily Joy; 2007/3/12, a set of didactic nightmares
Such pressures there are on the sick to act well! I implore you, ignore them all...
CAUTION: EXPLODING TEACHER
BITTER TRANSFORMATIONS: by Selena; 2017/10/18, a diagnostic gender identity dream
I finally admit who I am, and the truth is bitter...
CAUTION: GENDER DYSPHORIA, MENTION OF COPROPHAGY, POSSIBLE SITCOM SPOILER
BLUE BRAINS: by Wayan, 2017/12/11, a false-waking, self-flagging predictive dream
Our brains are really squid stuffed in a skulljar. I wake, see the image on TV. "So it's predictive!" I think.
Then I wake to find that too was a dream. "Not predictive!" I think. Until my friend turns on the TV, and...
CHELSEA AND THE PRESIDENTIAL COMPLEX: by Wayan; 1999/12/25, an odd political (?) dream.
I was hot tubbing and flirting... so how'd I end up as Chelsea Clinton running for office?
CHINA AND AMERICA: by Alder and Wayan; 1997/9/23, telepathic dreams.
Two giants wrestle in the Chinese mountains. Who'll win, Red or Yellow? But when I wake...
COUNTERSUE GOD: by Wayan; 1995/8/5, a sacrilegious dream.
God flames me for putting pagan stuff on the Net, and we end up suing each other. Then the riots begin...
CAUTION: HITMEN AND HERESY
CHINA AND AMERICA: by Alder and Wayan; 1997/9/23, telepathic dreams.
Two giants wrestle in the Chinese mountains. Who'll win, Red or Yellow? But when I wake...
CROC BOY: by Wayan; 2008/8/17, a dream-poem, Dreamverse #7.
I visit a witch-smeller, who judges apprentice shamans.
But when a boy dreams he's a crocodile, she freaks out...
DAD FALLS ASLEEP AT THE PODIUM: by Jenny Badger Sultan; 2008/3/8; painting in the Box of Dreams
My father is supposed to speak, but he falls asleep onstage. I rush up to try and rouse him, but...
DEER-MAN DANCING: by "Cmmndrblu"; early 2006, a shamanic dream-within-a-dream at least six layers deep!
I met a deer-man in the woods. I go lucid, then wake up... to find I'm still dreaming. And wake again, and wake, and wake...
DEER VERSUS PIGS: by Wayan; 2015/5/20; a practical-joke pair of dreams. Or is it just a joke?
Deer-mares join our theatre class. Adorable! Then pig people. Not adorable. I wake & sketch them.
Hear voices--sexy singing deer on TV! Wow, my dream was predictive! And then I wake AGAIN...
CAUTION: FURRY NUDITY
DINAH'S ADVICE: by Wayan; 2007/1/14, a false-waking advisory frustration dream
I struggle to write down a bizarre dream clearly and simply, but both pens and paper have mutated. Then a child prodigy explains ďdreams donít always want to be linearĒ...
THE DINOSAUR ELEVATOR: by Wayan; 1992/11/22, a paradoxical dream.
The dinosaurs I meet manage to prove BOTH time-travel theories! Yet they're contradictory...
DONE FOR: by the Reverend Francis Kilvert; 1872/10/14, a nightmare within a nightmare
I dreamt a friend poisoned me. I "woke" and slew him in fury. But guilt gnawed me. I confessed and was due to hang...
CAUTION: NOT A CALM GUY
DREAM ON DREAMS: by Wayan; 1994/5/31, a dream in a dream in a dream.
I'm the composer Schumann, till a nightmare jumps me and I wake. And wake. And wake...
DRUGGED, SHRUNK AND DAUBED: by Wayan; 2008/11/1, a dream-poem (Dreamverse #38)
I'm worried an alien charity is brainwashing an ex-prostitute. When I wake, she's still there--at 2/5 scale!...
EDDY DROPPED: by Frances's sister; pre-1961, a laughed-at warning nightmare
My brother-in-law Eddy was out hunting with a boy whose shotgun had its safety off. Suddenly Eddy...
THE EFFECTS OF PSYCHIC INVASION: by Wayan; 1999/4/17, a dreamtale on ESP.
What are the psychological effects of growing up psychic, as others' thoughts
and feelings invade you? When other's bodies invade you, it's molestation...
THE ELEVEN CENT ORACLE: by Wayan; 1998/11/12, a dream about collecting... change.
I'm a migratory girl who's lost my tribe. I find eleven coins, cross the world, and pay the Oracle...
THE ENTWINED CHILD AND MADAM PURR-SAY: by PurplePurplePurple; 2013/7/5, twin poem-dreams
I dream my autistic son, miraculously high-functioning, recites a math-poem to a crowd...
Then I become cartoon cat Madam Purr-Say and chant my own defiant poem at the dream gods...
CAUTION: FIRST POEM AUTISTIC, SECOND PISSY
FALCON AND FÜHRER: by Miriel; 1985/7/31, an epic flying/transformation dream
A mysterious "Führer" hypnotized all my companions. So I become a human-sized falcon and hunt him...
FAMILIARS: by Wayan; 1986/4/2, a dreamtale on the dark side of reading.
In ancient Britain, as Christianity moves in, I'm a slave--sailing through centuries, but never free...
FERRYGOAT: by Wayan; 2009/8/15, a dream warning what I was becoming; Dreamverse #48
That levitating bear's not tightrope-walking--she rides a goat strung like soap-on-a-rope. A goat that's me! I'm eating...
CAUTION: UGH!
FETAL PAUSE: by Wayan; 2008/8/31, a nightmare-poem, Dreamverse #17
As I write a sad sex dream, a madman curls up fetally in the road outside my window. I'm slow to call 9-1-1, and...
FIRST LADY: by Alder; 2008/7/2, a possibly psychic dream-within-a-dream.
I'm the First Lady. I have a dream that my husband's assassinated, and wake and try to warn him...
FLYING UNICORNS' GIFTS: by Lily Michaud; 2007/9/5, an advice-dream inside a flying dream
Flying unicorns hang out with me and my friends, sending us
dreams full of useful advice--and more concrete gifts...
FOAM, FURS, DREAMS: by Wayan; 2012-16, a blog + 170 pics; 43 dreams lead me to sew furry dream sculptures.
Dreams urge me to build furry dream creatures with joints, muscles & bones, then to heal myself by mating with them...
CAUTION: FETISHISM, FURRY NUDITY & SEX
FOUR DRAGONS: by 'Rasselon'; 2009/11/24, a dream of aerial duels
By a lake I've seen in many dreams, four dragons attack. I become one too, and duel them in mid-air...
GRIEF KIVA: by Wayan; 1980/2/16, a lucid psychic dream.
In a Hopi underworld, I find even lucid dreaming can't cure guilt and grief over losses yet to come...
THE GRIFFINS' LESSON: by Wayan, 2018/6/1, a pair of predictive dreamlets
I live through two teens' nightmares, then "wake" with them to find they were drugged by a third party! Why?
Then I'm with a wagon-crew of cheerful flirting griffins & talking horses who pull a cart made of grammar or logic.
Six days later, I see images from both dreams on TV!
CAUTION: CREEPY, THEN SAPPY, THEN FREAKY
THE HAND THAT WAKES: by Wayan; 1997; acrylic study of what makes us forget dreams.
I was painting to a sad scary song by Laurie Anderson that goes "This is the hand... the hand that takes..."
HELL-TORNADO: by Wayan; 1988/7/2, a dream on social engineering.
Who built the tornado in the Heartland, that sucks anyone who opens their spirit-wings down to Hell?
CAUTION: BAD THEOLOGY, WORSE PHYSICS
I FIGHT FOR BEAUTY: by Wayan; 1990/1/1, an incubated dream within a dream within a dream.
From Hawaii to Wyoming, I fight for beauty, always waking to find I'm someone new...
I OVERSLEPT: by Wayan; 1992/6/12, a dream of loss.
I oversleep more than usual, and wake to find a friend is dead. Or more than one. Maybe... everyone?
ILLUSION: by Georges Perec; December 1968, a prose-poem of a nested false-waking dream. Dream #4
I am dreaming. She's beside me. I tell myself I'm dreaming. I wake. She really is beside me. Delirious joy. I embrace her. I wake...
IN THE ENEMY MINE: by Wayan; 1986/1/11, a psychic dream.
On Mars, a child-sacrificing cult of miners wants to kill me, but something strange happens....
THE KEY IS HERE, BUT BEWARE; 2012/3/8 by Eleanor; nested nightmares of enlightenment
The moment I find the Key, I'm possessed! I wake to find it's just a nightmare. Only who's broken into my house?...
CAUTION: DEMONIC POSSESSION & EVERYDAY PSYCHOPATHS
LIES!: by Wayan; 1992/7/10, a dream that thinks it's a two-page novel.
To investigate a criminal couple, I have to lie. And that's hard, since all my lies turn true...
CAUTION: NEW AGE AND FILM NOIR DON'T MIX
A LIFE IN PERCENTAGES: by Wayan; 2013/5/19, a dream about dreams--and timesharing
A man I meet leads half a dozen consistent dreamlives--an experience
so splintered that it's hard to figure out which life is his waking one...
LITTLE BAD DREAM CHARM: by Kathy Fagan; 2001? A slip-filled dream-poem
Half asleep, I scrawl a nightmare of trying to rescue gasping boyfish, but my dreamwriting goes wrong too...
LOVE OF MY LIVES: by James Lyon; 2014/5/25, a life-spanning dream.
I live two complete lives with the same woman in my dreams, then wake up next to her...
LUNCH WITH THE STARS: by Wayan; 1981/2/2, a dream on beliefs.
I'm in an animal dance troupe, but wake to find I'm alone. For consolation, I eat at The Terrace, and meet...
MARABOU MONSTER: by Rustling Leaves; dreamed 2014/3/15
I've got too many obligations, an elderly relative to care for, and now giant birds are invading my house.
CAUTION: STALKING, KILLER BIRDS
MATURITY: by Wayan; 1989/1/26, a dream on bluntness.
Beverly Cleary's Ramona is a popular teen, but she's having a nervous breakdown. And her best friend...
CAUTION: STUDENT-TEACHER AFFAIR
MAYAN DOOR: by Wayan; 2008/3/21, a character-evaluation dream.
The Mayan cave was a door between worlds. But also a model of the character you need to walk through that door...
THE MER BUILDING: by Wayan; 2001/2/23, a dream of a double life.
Iím a puma with a night job as a cellist. But my day job with The Architectives is the bizarre one...
MINE BACK DOOR: by Wayan; 1979/9/7, a dream on mining the unconscious.
Deep in a secret mine, I see stars. A door opening to the night sky! But this shortcut's guarded...
MY EX-WIFE: by Wayan; 1982/3/23, a dream on delusions.
My ex-wife breaks in, but acts like I've crawled back to her... and I don't HAVE an ex-wife!
CAUTION: ADULT THEMES. REALLY, REALLY STUPID ADULT THEMES.
NO ďI": by Wayan; 2003/10/22, a dream of identity loss.
Iím in San Francisco trying to throw Sauronís Ring into the Cracks of San Andreas.
But a sexy sorcerer steals my sense of I! How can you act without a self?
: dreamed 2011 & 2013/11/19 by S---; nested, incubated advisory dreams
After asking "Am I ready to say yes to someone new?" I dreamed I met my old love...
THE PLAY: by Georges Perec; February 1972, a dream with the attention span of a gnat. Dream #108
I'm in a play. Fear, then joyful sex, then ranching, then silly hats, as a man drones on
about class struggle. Weird chairs, pingpong, coffee, impossible double utterances.
At last I tell friends my dream--backwards. Then I write the dream down on slices of cheese...
CAUTION: SEX ONSTAGE
POTLATCH SMOKE: by Wayan; 1988/5/10, a shamanic dream-inside-dream 4 levels deep!
Refugees flood the spirit worlds! War looms. Wolf, Silky, Dr Who, even the Bug-Goddess of Love are alarmed.
I'm just a blonde ditz, but I help inspect realities till we trace the source: a Tlingit potlatch! Why?
PREGNANCY FROM HELL: by Wayan; 1994/6/6, a predictive dream-farce.
I'm pregnant with the Antichrist. This is going to ruin my vacation! Why do I think this is all about money?
PRRL: by Wayan; 1997/1/17, a galactic dreamtale.
I'm in the Magellanic Clouds, an ambassador to the energy-beings who rule them. Or am really their... pet?
A PSYCHIC READING: by Wayan; 1981/10/13, a self-labeling dream
My friend Beryl's unconvinced that my dream of her death was a warning. Okay, it WAS hazy. But they get clearer...
QUOD VITAE: by Rene Descartes; 1619/11/11, three mystical dreams.
In one night Descartes had three dreams convincing him he had to change the course of his life...
THE RECURRING DREAM (CAT-BABY): by Julie Doucet; 1994/8/23-9/23-12/23, 1995/4/16: theme & variation!
Julie keeps dreaming that she gives birth to a cat, or a part-cat baby...
CAUTION: NUDITY, BIRTH, UNBIRTH, REBIRTH...
RETARDED STARS, by Wayan, 2009/2/28; a dream-poem, Dreamverse #42
A horde of demented dwarves invades Market Street, jumping up & down, shaking the skyscrapers...
REVOLUTION IS MESSY: by Emily Joy; 2006/4/26, a political dream
When whites invade, two shapeshifting Native American cubs resist architecturally...
SILKY'S REVOLUTION: by Wayan; 1995/9/4, a historical dream.
I'm in an alternate-history American Revolution with Silky the
talking black mare. We sail for Europe as diplomats...
SNOW by Nancy Price; 1948, a false-waking dream about living vs survival
Lost in the snow, I must give my baby to a stranger or let my dad put him in a box, safe, forever...
SPLINTER: by Wayan; 1981/3/14, a dream of love and nagging.
I love Splinter, but her mom insists I got BOTH of them pregnant. Then I notice I'm pregnant too...
CAUTION: SEX, NAGGING
STARHAWK THE WITCH: by Wayan; 1983/8/19, 6. illus., an epic, milestone dream.
DAY: I read Starhawk's Dreaming the Dark, on building unity, undoing capitalism;
DREAM: I'm forced to become Time Pilgrim, warning of the dangers of community--indeed, of unity...
STOP ME!: by Wayan; 1994/2/22, a nested nightmare.
I kill with an angry wish! I hide the bodies, but secretly pray someone'll catch me before I snipe again...
CAUTION: VIOLENCE, GUILT
STREAMLINING: by Wayan; 2004/11/10, a dream within a dream
I dream I'm an otter, and wake into a dream about sculpture--and learn my style's due to my species...
SURRENDER DARCY!: by Wayan; 1982/6/14, a dreamtale on pride and prejudice.
I'm Doctor Who, being chased by an air-surfer who demands we give up a reserved, proud man named...
CAUTION: MILD NUDITY
SWORD IN MY BACK: by Franz Kafka; 1915/1/19, a surreal but un-Kafkaesque dream.
I slept late and felt a bit stiff, but until my friends pulled it out of my neck I had no idea...
TAHOE DRAGON: by Wayan; 1980/8/16. A dream of flight and fire.
A dragon killed a friend, and threatened worse. I had to fight.
We dueled mid-air, over Lake Tahoe...
THEY DON'T BELIEVE ME: by Wayan; 550K total, 15 illus., 1989/10/4, an unbelievable dream.
My dog and I are abducted by aliens who turn us into cats. We escape & go feral to survive.
How we got back, and what happened along the way, even my own shrink refuses to believe...
CAUTION: LEWD SQUID AND KLEPTOMANIAC BUGS
THIS CAN'T BE REM!: by Wayan; 1981/8/18, a predictive stinky dream.
An article claimed smell is rare to absent in dreams. My dreams felt insulted and sent me a stinky one!
But why THAT stink? Well... next morning on my way to work...
TRISKELION; 2011/6/21 by Wayan; a repeated false-waking dream of dating advice
I wake up in a weird sexual situation. But I'm still dreaming--I wake again
to find I'm in an even weirder sexual situation. But I'm still...
CAUTION: NUDITY, SEX, (ANTI?)ROMANTICISM
VOR: by Wayan; 1984/3/27, an indescribable dream
Am I King Kong? No, it's a city of midgets! I leave and find I'm gay. Gay bugs come out of the closet too,
storming the fundamentalist flies of Heaven. And then Vor, the purple alien, does something peculiar...
CAUTION: LOOKS DOWN ON HOMOPHOBIC MIDGETS
VRILLASSAíS ONLY PRIEST: by Jo; 2007/2/10, a dream of meeting God
A job as the only priest on an island colony sounded perfect, only Iím the wrong religion...
CAUTION: DOGMATISTS AND DEAD BIRDS TALKING
WHAT E.S.P. IS FOR: by Wayan; 2012/12/10, three dreamlets on my real nature and purpose
I dream ESP isn't just for oneself.
A romance between a wolf singer & a deer guitarist.
I'm furry too, and better accept it!
WHAT STARTED THE PILLOWFIGHT: by Wayan; 1983/2/16, a strangely innocent dream.
My sister and I get into an argument about different kinds of incest, in embarrassing circumstances...
CAUTION: POST-ORGY HYPOCRISY
WHO IS OUTSIDE MY WINDOW?: by Krista G.; 2008/6/25, a recurrent false-waking dream.
Someone's prowling outside my window. I'm paralyzed in bed, but I force myself into action...
WHOSE DREAM WAS IT?: by Wayan; 2008/10/18, a nested-dream poem, Dreamverse #35.
I'm a Chinese kid fleeing the Japanese Occupation in 1938. As we near San Francisco,
I wake to find it's all my dad's dream. Wait--he's alive again? But he was never a refugee.
Is it a pastlife memory? If so, whose--his or mine?
WILD W.I.L.D.: by Dream Junkee; 2008/1/19, an epic lucid frustration dream?
I'm lucid but paralyzed. A weird child spies on me; is she controlling me?
Then I'm having sex--but if I come, I'll wake up! Then some thugs jump me.
I make sure they won't bother me again, but... is everyone in this dream out to distract me?
CAUTION: SEX, MUGGER-STOMPING
WIND OF SELF-HATE: by Wayan, 1976/4/4, a dream warning of family brainwashing
Biking around blindfolded and half-naked, I fight winds
of self-criticism and self-hatred that only I can feel...
WISH AND WAKE: by Wayan; 1998/7/9, a dream within a dream.
I wake up praying for love--and then realize my wish is contradictory, and revise it to...
THE WIZARD'S HORSE: by Wayan; 2018/9/3, a magical dream about... toxic waste?
I'm a wizard's horse, trying to warn him about a toxic spell on a roadside corpse...
Wake into a second dream, but try to return to being a dream-mare and warn my rider...
And then wake to realize my Nightmare was warning about a home-renovation project!


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