Dream about Dreaming: 4 Meanings & Interpretations

A dream within a dream is a rare occurrence, often caused by your brain tricking itself into thinking it is awake. It could mean that you are anxious about something. It could also expose some truths about your life that you would otherwise not consciously know.

If you’re looking for answers to what these strange dreams about dreaming might mean, you’ve come to the right place. In the rest of this article, we’ll be breaking down what medical professionals call this strange occurrence and what it symbolizes for you.

Dream about Dreaming

Editor’s Note: Dream interpretation is subjective, unscientific, and highly personal. The below information is some possible symbolic interpretations people have had – but there’s no evidence that your dream determines your future and no one can say exactly what the dream means. The ultimate interpretation is up to you!

What Does it Mean when you Dream about Dreaming?

Waking up from a dream only to once again wake up can be discombobulating. You will likely be questioning the meaning of the strange occurrence all day long.

A dream within a dream is odd and not something everyone experiences. While some dream sequences are easy to forget, dreams about dreams stick in our memories much longer.

Researchers claim that people who experience dreams about dreaming can often remember everything from them as if they were real-life events.

Some compare the experience to lucid dreaming. When lucid, you become aware that you are still asleep. However, not everyone becomes aware while dreaming inside a dream. 

Psychologists and medical professionals have studied the strange phenomenon of dreaming about dreams and call it the “false awakening.”

You Need to Know About the “False Awakening” Effect

A false awakening is when your brain attempts to wake up and fails. It convinces you that you are awake, only to realize later that you are still asleep and inside a dream.

Some people may not know it until they physically wake up. 

False awakenings usually occur during REM sleep, the sleep stage closest to dreaming.

This sleep cycle stage is why you often remember the dream. It happens during the more conscious side of dreaming instead of the unconscious ones we do not remember.

When inside a false awakening, people may go about their days as if they are awake. Some have reported that they got out of bed and brushed their teeth in the dream, only to wake up in bed.

Others have laid in bed recalling the accounts of the first dream or are telling someone else about it, only to wake up later and realize it was still a dream.

While rare, some realize they are still dreaming within the false awakening. This lucid state allows them to explore and interact with the dream in a much different atmosphere.

Related Article: Dreaming of Dog Biting and Not Letting Go

How to figure out the Meaning of a Dream within a Dream

If you can figure out how the two dreams relate, sometimes you can figure out their deeper meaning. 

For example, the encapsulated dream might have been regarding a problem, and the false awakening could have offered a solution.

Sometimes in the false awakening part, you are explaining the vision to someone. The individual might be trying to provide you with insight into some problems the dream revealed. 

Other times the first dream might show an “if this,” and the second reveals what would happen in succession to that first dream. Try to take notes as soon as you wake up to help you understand the meaning. 

Four Interpretations of a Dream about Dreaming

1. Anxiety

The most common reason why someone has a dream within a dream is anxiety. When you feel overwhelmed or stressed about things in your life, your subconscious seeps into your nightly visions. 

If something in your life is stressing you out, it might have shown up in some form in the first dream. It could deal with something currently happening in your life or something in the future. 

From a psychological perspective, anxious people tend to have more dreams within dreams.

When you’re overwhelmed, you do not sleep as deeply, thus allowing your brain to create a false awakening. 

Related Article: Dream of a Dead Cat

2. You’ve Uncovered New Knowledge

Waking up inside a dream can symbolize that you are gaining a new understanding of your life.

Your subconscious might have considered it a big deal, whether it is a spiritual or personal understanding.

Sometimes the dream itself might reveal some new understanding that will change your viewpoint of something when you wake. 

3. Hiding from yourself

Sometimes a dream within a dream highlights how you have been hiding things from yourself or denying your feelings. 

You might have been trying to convince yourself that everything is alright while awake, but in the dream, you revealed that everything was not okay. 

It could also highlight something in your life that you have not been aware was happening. Taking note of what happened in the dream can help you overcome these situations!

4. It reveals you cannot control everything.

If the first dream you experienced contained hardships, it might have revealed that you cannot control everything in your life. 

Bad things happen, and there is not much you can do about it besides controlling your reaction and decisions related to the event. 

Related Article: Dream of Pulling your Teeth Out


Dreaming about dreaming occurs because your brain is trying to wake up, but the interpretations of the dreams can vary. Every dream is different, meaning that yours will have a different meaning than someone else. 

The dreams will highlight specific issues within your life. The context clues within them (such as where you were, what was happening, and how you felt) will help you sort out what your dream about dreaming means.

But, at the end of the day, dreams have many different possible interpretations. And in fact, the above interpretations may not even be the right ones for you! It’s really hard to actually tell what the dream means. And really, it may not mean anything – it could just be a random dream! If you want to know more about your dreams, you could talk to a dream interpreter, spiritual advisor, or even a therapist.

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