What Are False Awakenings?
Along with Sleep Paralysis, weird and scary themes, and flying, you can also expect False Awakenings to occur while you are on your quest to induce lucid dreams.
A False Awakening is when you dream that you have woken up from a dream, but you are actually still inside of the dream-world (and don't realize it!). The environment can be very misleading, and false awakenings usually happen in a dream-scape that looks very much like your own bedroom in the real world. Upon closer inspection, or in retrospect, you may notice that things aren't exactly as they should be. For instance, windows may be a little out of place, or doors; basically, the dream re-creation of your surroundings will not exactly match their real-world counterparts. This is similar to in so-called "Out-Of-Body-Experiences" and "Astral Projections," where one mistakes the environment for the actual, everyday space we inhabit when awake, but of course it isn't.
False awakenings are a good sign that you are on the right track in your lucid dream ambitions. One type of false awakening that may happen to you is that in which you wake up and write down a previous dream in your dream journal (if you are doing this, and you SHOULD be keeping a journal!), only to discover later that you did all this in a dream.
So, how can you tell a false-awakening from a real-awakening? Simple (but not really): Reality Testing. When you think you have woken up, perform a test to see if you are really awake. Does the light switch work as it should? Are words remaining permanent when you look away and look back? Does the digital clock tell you the time, or is it showing you a bunch of hieroglyphs? Can you breathe normally if you close your moth and pinch your nose, or can you hover in the air a little too long when you jump up?
If you think you have woken up and things are going wrong, more so than they should, you may still be dreaming? Remember, dreaming has a built in Failure feature, and although we keep trying again and again to get something done, problems just keep arising. Stay vigilant in your quest to discover whether you are really awake or not. When you look out the window, are the clouds a little too beautiful and mysterious. All those birds out there, are they supposed to be with the fish-bird flying around? Did you wake up in bed but your bed is on a beach. A beach covered with snow (I have!)? Do you know where you are right now?