Sleep State Misperception - falsely believing you are awake

Does anyone here experience “sleep state misperception”? I do! Occasionally I’ve had the experience of lying awake in bed, aware of my immediate environment, my breath, the sound of the air filter we use as a white-noise generator, etc.–only to be nudged awake by my wife. “You were snoring.” “No I wasn’t, I was awake and didn’t hear any snoring!”

Recently on Twitter I saw this tweet by Dr. Kristin LaMarca (@LucidDreamTips):

This lead me to the paper The neurophysiological basis of the discrepancy between objective and subjective sleep during the sleep onset period: an EEG-fMRI study by Fan-Chi Shiao et al.

The abstract is intriguing:

Subjective perception of sleep is not necessarily consistent with electroencephalography (EEG) indications of sleep. The mismatch between subjective reports and objective measures is often referred to as “sleep state misperception.” Previous studies evince that this mismatch is found in both patients with insomnia and in normal sleepers, but the neurophysiological mechanism remains unclear. The aim of the study is to explore the neurophysiological basis of this mechanism, from the perspective of both EEG power and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) fluctuations. Thirty-six healthy young adults participated in the study. Simultaneous EEG and fMRI recordings were conducted while the participants were trying to fall asleep in an MRI scanner at approximately 9:00 pm. They were awakened after achieving stable N1 or N2 sleep, or after 90 min without falling into stable sleep. Next they were asked to recall their conscious experiences from the moment immediately prior to awakening. Sixty-one instances of scheduled awakenings were collected: 21 of these after having achieved stable stage N2 sleep; 12, during stage N1 sleep; and, 20 during the waking state. Relative to those awakenings without subjective–objective discrepancy ( n = 27), these awakenings with discrepancy ( n = 14) were associated with lower θ power, as well as higher α, β, and γ power. Moreover, we found that participants who exhibited the discrepancy, compared with those who did not, evinced a higher amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation levels in the prefrontal cortex. These results lend support to the conjecture that the subjective–objective discrepancy is associated with central nervous system hyperarousal.

Unfortunately the paper itself is locked behind a paywall and not available through my community college databases. (If anyone gets their hands on a copy please send one to me at Scientific information wants to be free, yo.)

Does anyone know more about this phenomenon? Do you experience it yourself? What do you think are the implications for lucid dreaming, dream and sleep yoga?



This happened to me just the other night! I was quite restless which is unusual for me - the tossing and turning and trying to count my breaths with little success. I looked at the clock a few times, 1:30… 3:00… I got up around 4:55 to use the bathroom, convinced I had been up for hours. Something on the way to the bathroom sparked a memory and suddenly the flood of the dream came back to me in high detail. I was so shocked because I was absolutely sure I had been awake. Further surprising, there was a clear and distinct point in which I became lucid - low level and unsustained - but I can recall the exact DILD moment of awareness and everything I did during the lucid state. Quite an unusual experience, indeed.