How do you experience waking up at the end of a dream?

Curious how other dreamers experience waking up, particularly at the end of a lucid dream?
Does it take you by surprise, or do you feel it coming? Do you lapse in consciousness, or do you maintain your awareness? feel any sensations? What happens to your dream world as you wake up?

For me, I usually can feel the dream ending from within my LD. Sometimes I can prolong it, but somehow I can just start to “feel” the dream start to fade away. Often times I loose the visuals first. Things sometimes fade out to white or get very bright (even if I’m not opening my eyes, although sometimes I do realize that the sun is shining in my face when I open my eyes). Any physical sensation I have in the dream fades out next, I don’t notice a physical sensation from the experience itself except the dream sensations fading away to a sort of numbness.
Next I usually start to get the physical sensations from WL, the bed and warmth of the blankets, but sometimes physical pain from injuries (bruises and scrapes usually, a product of my love for roller skating :lol:). I don’t usually lapse in consciousness if I was lucid, and choose to keep my eyes closed. I focus on recalling the dream and holding onto the feelings and emotions, in this moment it’s great to feel like just moments ago I was in the dream, having that experience, like it still feels tangible instead of a memory. When I open my eyes it makes me much more awake, it’s like accepting the dream is over and I begin the day.

As lucid dreamers I think it’s easy to get bitter about waking up at the end of a dream because we all love and value dreams and being awake within them. Waking up at the end of a dream is a departure from our beloved dream worlds, but I think it can be a lovely and precious experience in it’s own right, especially from a lucid perspective. I think I want to try and observe the experience a little more because maybe I’ve been unfairly looking over it.

As lucid dreamers we spend a lot of time thinking about going to bed and sleeping and dreaming, but what about waking up? How do you experience waking up?

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An interesting topic. I’ll describe LDs first and will focus on those from which I directly wake up (usually the last dream of the night). I often can feel it when I’m about to wake up due to a natural process occurring in WL (so not talking about something that happens inside the dream here). But generally I can not tell a long time in advance, we are talking maybe 5 seconds here. I also think there’s pretty much nothing I can do at this point to stay inside the dream.

I would like to say that I can tell the end of the dream by some arcane divination. But in practice it’s mundane, as it’s mostly about suddenly perceiving physical sensory input from my waking body. Usually it’s something from my skin, but sometimes it’s also on the inside like having to go to the toilet or from the digestive system. It may also be light or sound that starts making it’s way into the dream.

Then when it comes to the actual transition, it usually feels like my body wakes up first and my mind follows a few seconds later. Sometimes I’m even still inside the dream and doing lucid stuff while I’m already rolling over in the bed or something. The dream starts to blur into something like daydreaming usually as I cannot block out the physical world any longer. Emotionally, however, I sometimes stay inside the dream for the rest of the day in extreme cases…

As for LDs I don’t wake up from directly or to some degree those that happen earlier in the night, they behave mostly like normal dreams of those kinds, see below.

A normal dream I wake up directly from, especially at the end of the night’s sleep, is similar to a lucid dream but not really the same actually. In general it’s definitely less intense how physical sensation carry over.

And most prominently, consciousness doesn’t make a fluid transition. The reason is simple: NDs don’t really feature a full consciousness, so there seems to be a sort of black out phase of maybe a few seconds during which, I guess, my brain properly boots up. Because there are some applications, drivers and protocols that were missing inside the dream and it sort of needs to take a small step back to get them running. Whereas in the lucid dream my mind is already operational enough so it can dynamically link the missing modules, to stay with the metaphor.

Emotionally the feelings often carry over in a more indirect way, too. I guess this is because of hormones in the body or other physiological and chemical residues from the design, but not any directly psychological ones (or software effects, to serve the lingo once more). This can lead to some strange emotions and feelings which don’t really have a WL equivalent. It can also lead to very strong and lasting feelings and impressions somehow. I dare to claim that my emotionally most intense NDs outshine my LDs in memory quite a lot. I mean their legacy, what they left behind in me for the rest of my life.

Then there are some dreams that are very intense and vivid and/or they are the last of the night but I don’t wake up directly from them. This is usually due to the alarm, I guess, or my mind just falling asleep again after the dream. They are basically cut off from waking life by a distinct blackness or void of memory and sensation and usually don’t carry much over into waking life. Extracting them from memory can have some strong emotional impact though.

And then there are normal dreams early in the night which are basically the same but feel so distant from waking life that I can’t really connect them to waking up at all or assign them to one sleeping cycle or another. It’s not like I think they have no awakening transition, I believe quite a few of them do. But unless its aftermath leaves me awake for a considerable amount of time, I just forget it all.

Those were a lot of words but there’s surprisingly much to talk about and many details and examples are still left to be explored. I’m also really curious about more reports from other dreamers :slight_smile:

I think these are very wise words. They should be part of every book that talks in detail about lucid dreaming. It’s not for the first chapter, or the second or third. But it’s for one of the last chapters when you really spent the effort to go through the entire book and finally deserve to learn about the unspoken truths of the subject.


Related to this. Emotionally my dreams often set the tone for the day, even for the next couple of days or weeks if it was significant enough.

I would say that waking up from my NDs is a similar experience. I definitely have that “black out phase” unless I’m awoken by an alarm or something sudden, which is more like being ripped out of the dream, kind of jarring, often with several moments of confusion as I realize I’m waking up and the input is now from WL and not a dream.

This is intriguing to me. Not sure I relate to it but I suppose that’s why I find it so interesting. I’ve definitely had significant NDs, but for some reason the emotions in my LDs settle in as something so much more genuine, because I guess I feel like I had the awareness to process them for what they are in the moment (a dream), and not just in the aftermath (which is the case for a ND).

You flatter me @Marvin :relaxed: Now that you mention it I actually haven’t read many books dedicated to lucid dreaming. If anyone knows, do any of the books actually talk about waking up? I suspect most people wouldn’t buy a lucid dreaming book to read about waking up, but I would :lol:

Lots to follow up here… I don’t think I have nearly as much to say, sadly. :stuck_out_tongue: Waking up from NLDs or LDs is kinda the same for me. Most of the time, the dream starts to “destabilize”. Logic, reason, plot goes right out the window. I start doing things that make even less sense than NLDs normally do. That or the plot starts making less sense. In general, everything starts to make less sense. When I’m not lucid and that happens I usually don’t notice it. When I am lucid, it’s a very clear sign that the dream is about to end and I have between 5 and 15 seconds before it does. Usually here I attempt drastic measures to prolong the dream, and have even been successful in extending it another minute in one instance.

As for the actual awakening, I don’t really start to get WL physical sensations in my dreams unless I’m sleeping in a strange position. Usually, the destabilization will occur and then 5 or so seconds later I snap awake. I’m usually groggy still and whatnot if its a NLD. If it’s an LD, I’m usually wide awake for quite a while before “sleep catches up with me.”

(I should add, though, that I get “false” WL physical sensations in my dreams all the time. Experience with them, though, has led me to the conclusion that this is my brain tricking itself because they always happen when lucid and when I’m worried about “passthrough”. :stuck_out_tongue: )

Sometimes, I’ll have the “blackout” style awakenings when the dream ends and then I wake up a bit later, but that tends to only happen if I wake up in between REM cycles, I think, due to alarms and whatnot. More often than not, though, I awaken directly from a dream at the end of every night. (My mother has actually wondered if I have any kind of sleep disorder because of that and given that they run a bit in the family.)

I love this metaphor. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Tl;dr: Normal dreams generally play a much bigger role in my dreaming life.

I would be surprised if nobody reported experiences different from mine. After all, LDs are generally brighter, more vivid, more aware and simply - more lucid. And sure enough, my average LD will leave a greater emotional impact than my average ND, too. But for extreme cases this seems not to be the case for me and I have several explanations.

The first one is they way I remember dreams after waking up, which is what this topic is all about in the first place :tongue: From LDs I mostly wake up directly and have a somewhat direct memory whereas NDs often have more indirect and thus distant memory. It feels like they are further in the past. Now I’m a very nostalgic person I think, so there’s maybe more of a romantic reminiscence associated with NDs, amplifying emotional memories.

Then there’s the nature of my LDs in general. So far I focus mostly on the actions in those dreams and pay less attention to feelings. As I get more used to lucid dreaming I expect this to change however. Still, what my subconscious brews together in a normal dream can well be anything, so sometimes it cranks the feels up pretty high.

Another aspect is my personality. I’m generally not an emotional person at all, I’m very rational. But in dreams almost anything goes, right? Our dream personalities don’t perfectly reflect our waking life personalities. Lucid dreams on the other hand may bring a little more of that WL personality back into play, hence delivering me more of a cool experience rather than searing pathos, if that makes sense? This is rather guesswork.

There’s also some dreaming biography aspect that I want to mention here. For the longest time I had maybe 1 or 2 LDs per year only. The current spree is a new situation. But I didn’t want to stop the dreaming hobby despite a constant dry spell. As a consequence I found that I can assess some of my normal dreams as very valuable, too.

In the end, it may be a sheer statistical effect though. I’ve had so many more big NDs than I had noteworthy LDs by magnitudes difference that this just skews the balance. My most intense feelings may be from NDs simply because there are so many more samples to draw from.

It’s all pretty speculative but as you can see, they are explanations based mostly off of my personal situation. So it’s very natural that many people have different experiences. I’m also anticipating that my own story has the potential to change in the future =)


Second this!

All very valid; that makes a lot of sense actually! Thank you for sharing your perspective on this. I used to be very action focused in many of my early LDs but as the years have gone by my dreams have become much more emotionally based. (Although I don’t consider myself a very emotional person. Maybe I just feel more at home or safer exploring my emotions in my dreams, eh?) Oh boy here I go derailing another topic :lol: my topic, even! :rofl:

I look forward to hearing it if you choose to share it here!

That actually seems like a good heads up aha, pretty cool that you’re able to use that.
Not sure I get what you mean when you say “before sleep catches up” with you? Do you mean like you feel physically and mentally awake and then that kinda wears off and you realize you’re tired from just waking up?

I’ve been trying to figure out what clues me off to that I’m waking up and I am just not sure. Maybe I can pay better attention to it next time I’m lucid. It’s almost as if you could feel the sun rising, even if you can’t see it. When lucid, it’s like sometimes myself and all the DCs will look up into the vague middle distance, up at the sky, into nowhere, like, oh, the dream’s about to end soon. You know like how you would look up and around if there’s just been an earthquake and you’re assessing if the world is goanna shake some more. Carol has occasionally given me a “good morning” as a goodbye in those moments.


I mean, I wake up from the dream and I’m wide awake… for about a sleep cycle’s worth of time. An hour and a half or so later, and sleep catches up with me. I get all tired and groggy again… it’s delayed onset grogginess. :stuck_out_tongue:

That sounds like an ironic kind of way my brain would want to wake me up. Seems almost a bit sarcastic. Just how I like it. :stuck_out_tongue:

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I’ve also given this some more thought. Back in my original topic response I wrote:

I chose this wording because that is how it somehow feels, “arcane divination”. But my rational mind has trouble accepting this explanation, so I groped for more. But the explanation I provided - WL physical stimuli invading the dream - does not seem to be the complete answer, either. I feel there must be some process that makes my mind aware somehow that the dream is about to end that I don’t fully understand yet. So I also want to do it like you.

I would say my experience correlates with this. I was reading through some of my DJ looking for observations and I particularly was drawn to this one dream where I accidently performed a WILD. I was so excited that my WBTB turned into a WILD (because I’m not a WILDer really), and I started to have a premature awakening. I started to wonder if maybe waking up is a similar process to falling asleep, but in reverse? That would make sense??? Maybe?

But, because I’m not a WILDer, I’m not too experienced with consciously observing falling asleep.
Are there any WILDer’s in the forum? :lol:

From that experience the resulting dream was very unstable, and I did keep getting sensory input from WL like sounds and stuff.
In that recording, my first observations were visual, which was the sign that I noticed I was entering a dream. I got too excited and started to wake up and I could feel my body in my bed, except my arms were still asleep (because I was probably laying ontop of them).When I reentered the dream from this, the physical sensation came before the visuals (maybe I just didn’t notice it the first time) of a DC touching my arms/hands. After that the visuals filled back in.

So falling asleep: Loss of visuals from WL (assuming eyes closed here?), Loss of physical sensation from WL, gain of physical sensation from dream, gain of visuals from dream?

So…waking up: Loss of visuals from dream? then loss of physical sensation from dream? Gain of physical sensation from WL, gain of visuals from WL?
I think there’s a lot of gray area between these distinctions. Even though, if that were the process, it still doesn’t really suggest what clues us off that the dream is ending before we start to loose the visuals and sensations and such.

Its the same with mine. I feel the dream fading and I can hold onto it for a little bit longer but then I either wake up or slip into a regular dream.

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Something that’s come to mind reading the latest replies… I imagine most LDs feel unstable probably due to their nature of being an LD. Normal dreams tend to have your awareness center and other parts of your brain on autopilot or turned down / off. Being awake has them on. So it’s possible that being lucid might actually confuse your brain at first and cause it to think you’re waking up.

This would really explain why most people’s early lucid dreams are really short… the brain thinks being aware means it’s time to wake up. It’s only after more and more LDs that that connection begins to be worn away and you can have longer LDs.


That actually makes a lot of sense! Usually people report that it is the sheer excitement that wakes them up from their first LD(s). I also know that feeling and may or may not have reported the same kind of story. But if we are being honest: Most of us also had super thrilling LDs at some point, maybe were even afraid of waking up due to intense excitement, but nothing of the sort happened, right? So I think your theory has a lot of merit, @Cornelia_Xaos!