False awakenings in light of the dream protoconsciousness theory: a study in lucid dreamers.
The results of a web-survey aimed at analyzing the phenomenology of False Awakenings (FAs) (sleep-related experiences in which the subjects erroneously believe that they have woken up, only to discover subsequently that the apparent awakening was part of a dream) were revised in light of Hobson’s recent dream protoconsciousness theory. A web-questionnaire had been previously submitted to three web-sites dedicated to lucid dreamers, a kind of subjects in which FAs have been reported to occur with high frequency. Ninety consecutive complete forms were analyzed. All the respondents were habitual lucid dreamers, 41% reported experiencing FAs at least monthly, 79% had experienced a FA in the last month and 46% in the last week. Some stereotyped dream patterns were found to recur repeatedly in FAs, including representations of normal awakenings, start-of-the-day routines and other realistically depicted activities (exploring, wandering) within the sleep environment. This finding is consistent with Hobson’s hypothesis that dream content feeds itself from innate schemes, enacted on the basis of subjective experiential memories. A possible evolutionary interpretation of FAs is proposed.