Have you ever gotten stuck in your dream?

This is inspired by the interesting dream thread, but I didn’t want to hijack it so I created my own.

I sometimes get stuck in my dreams, particularly if I’m taking a nap. What I mean by this is that I realize that I’m dreaming and try to wake myself up, but I can’t. I will try to physically force my eyelids open and cannot. I will often end up screaming in the dream in hopes that it will alert someone in real life that I’m stuck and need help, but that doesn’t work. It’s probably the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced, to be stuck inside my own subconscious mind.

I’m just wondering if any other Dopers ever experience this phenomena. Like I said, it happens most often when I’m taking a nap, and I’m a light sleeper, so it may have something to do with that as well. Anybody know what’s happening or why it happens?

Yep, it’s happened to me several times, especially during times of sleep paralysis. Sometimes I would scream and claw and fight my way to consciousness only to feel myself getting sucked back into the dream, over and over. Awful.

Had this experience just the other night. I was in the middle of a really stressful dream where my husband had accidentally killed someone and I was trying to save him from the cops who wanted to arrest him for capital murder.

I knew I was dreaming, but couldn’t rouse myself out of the nightmare.

I had a nightmare just last night in which I was being incredibly violent. I knew it was a dream, and I tried to wake myself up (since I don’t ENJOY being incredibly violent), but somehow that wove itself into the dream and I had to get to a particular room in the building before I could wake up.

Even after getting to that room, the dream continued until I killed the last person.

I woke up exhausted and in a really foul mood. Luckily the dogs got me back to myself in no time. Relentless sweetness will do that.

This just happened to me for the first time about a month ago. It was a bit scary because I usually just snap out of dreams once things get too weird and I realize that it’s just a dream. This time I couldn’t. I knew it was a dream, but I was stuck. So I assumed that I was dead, and then I woke up.

I’m able to wake myself up from a bad dream. In fact, depending on the dream I can tell you why I need to wake up. If it’s a claustrophobic dream then it means my nose is stuffed up and I’m having problems breathing. If the dream turns violent it means I’m getting a migraine headache.

I’ve awoken during sleep paralysis many times. What I do is look for a part of my body that is “awake” and move it until the rest of my body can move. For some reason that is usually a finger.

One thing I’ve discovered is that certain drugs greatly affect dreaming. Guaifenesin (an expectorant) will always create a looping dream that I will fall back into.

I had dreams, well actually nightmares, where I was able to wake myself up, finding myself in my bed, only to find that I was still dreaming that same nightmare, this sometimes repeated 4 or 5 times.

I’ve had sleep paralysis, too. It’s awful. Now when I get it, I sort of tell myself, “OK, this is familiar,” but that old sensation of FUCK I CAN’T OPEN MY EYES OH GOD OH GOD is awful.

Yeah, I’ve definitely experienced what you’re describing. It’s very disturbing. The last time it happened was about two months ago and I heard my phone make the “you have a text message” chime while asleep and I tried to open my eyes and move my limbs but I couldn’t do it. Everything just took an impossible amount of effort. I even had a dream that I had managed to roll over and answer the phone but I couldn’t talk. When I was finally able to wake up, I checked the time the text came and it took me 5 minutes to actually wake up.

Is sleep paralysis the actual technical term for it? I didn’t know there was a term!

This sounds horrible. If I realize ‘Hey, I’m dreaming’ I wake up instantly, even if it was a good dream that I would have liked to continue. This can suck sometimes but I guess it’s worth it to not get stuck in nightmares too.

Happens to me once in a while. Usually I try to jolt myself out of it, but sometimes I panic. I’ll start trying to yell “wake me up” or something, but it comes out as MWAAAAAAAAAAH…which doesn’t go over well with my wife in the middle of the night.

Oh yeah, it happens to me from time to time. The first time was really, really weird. I knew I was asleep. I knew I was dreaming. But I couldn’t get myself to snap out of it. It’s a bit easier to handle now, although sometimes I think I have in fact woken up and am walking about, only to later come to and find out that I was still asleep.

I also make the strange, muffed “MWAAAAAA!!!” sounds.

It happens to me 2 or 3 times a year. I’m not sure if I’m stuck in a dream or if I’m awake and just frozen. I try to figure it out while I’m trying to make sure I’m still breathing. It’s terrifying each time, even though I know what it is while it’s going on.

… waking up and then not being able to get back into a dream.

Sometimes I can, most times I can’t, and some of them are pretty nice. Not that they’re sexual in nature, but just that they show me as having a relationship again with a woman or girl from my past and either repeating the early days or doing the bad times over and this time getting them right.

The ones I can’t “get away” from, my doc calls “Night Terrors”, and those are my own private Stephen King novels. Not in that I enjoy them, especially, but that they are very vivid and I tend to remember them for a long time after that.

I have also been writing my dreams (no matter what they are) into a special “DREAMS” folder on my computer.


I used to be able to control my dreams when I was younger. During a particularly bad or unbelievable dream, I would remember to bite my lip. If I didn’t feel pain, I was dreaming. If I did feel pain (which obviously never happened in my dreams,) it was real life. I would then allow the bad guy/monster to get me, which at the height of the scariest part would cause me to wake up from my dream. If I could remember, I would also force myself to look upwards and diagonally to either the right or the left, which causes enough discomfort to wake me up.

I haven’t done this in a while, though. Although I remember to bite my lip, I find it harder to remember that I’m just dreaming and quickly recede back into my dream. I wish I could learn how to fix this because I have a lot of bad dreams I’d like to wake up from. :frowning:

Wow. No, I’ve not had that one.

I have had many incidents of dreaming, then somehow feeling in-dream my real physical state (paralysed & lying down) & so dreaming that I was stuck & unable to move. But being lucidly in a dream & utterly unable to wake, no, not that I recall.

I’ve only had it happen once, but it wasn’t really a panic-inducing sleep paralysis thing. In my dream, I was wandering around a mall food court of some kind, and out of the blue I realized I was dreaming. I told myself to wake up, but I couldn’t, so I thought “eh, fuck it” and went back to wandering. I do, though, hope never to experience the sort of thing some of you have.

Once I had the experience of being stuck in a dream and it was quite frightening.

I was asleep, I woke up, walked to my living room and looked outside, then realized I couldn’t be awake because it was summer outdoors-- and I was aware that we were in January. So then I willed myself to awaken, and I did: then I walked to the study and looked outside, but it wasn’t my street, so I started to be a bit nervous. I willed myself to wake up out of this dream again, and I did. But when I left my bedroom, the house was different… and I woke myself up again. I don’t remember what I saw next, but I screamed as loud as I could in order to wake myself up. I woke up then, drenched in sweat.

That was my first morning of what turned out to be pneumonia.

I get stuck in my dreams all the time, especially if I’m sleeping on my back. It really sucks since I have frequent nightmares and I can sort of feel pain in them.