A dream where you become aware of the fact you are dreaming is called a Lucid Dream.
Some people actively encourage lucid dreaming, becoming “awake” in the dream and using the opportunity to ‘play out’ their part in a meeting the next day or to see what it would be like to walk through walls. I know if someone who will carry a newspaper under their arm in a dream and if they don’t like the way the dream is going, they simply read the newspaper which prompts an exit from the dream.
It’s a handy technique for resolving nightmares, for example, but it must be done in the right circumstances. Changing the ending of a real life event through a dream isn’t always the best way to come to terms with it. Seeking professional help in these cases can be useful.
Regular lucid dreaming can take time and practice, so don’t be disappointed if you don’t have lucid dreams as often as you’d like or have tried to become lucid but have been unsuccessful.
There are techniques you can try (I recommend books by Charlie Morley) but it’s important to consider the impact of being ‘awake’ whilst you’re dreaming during a time when your mind is roaming freely to tackle problems and find answers. Your dreams can be useful to you, without telling them how you want them to end.
You may have “woken up” in a dream but believed you were awake, then actually woken up. This type of dream within a dream was the basis behind much of the plot in the movie “Inception” and may feel like a nightmare (there is also the idea of mutual dreaming – where two people can experience the same dream at the same time). Depending on how this dream pans out can suggest whether or not you’re going through a period of stress (e.g. If what “wakes” you in the dream is frightening, for you to then realise that as also a dream) so it’s worth paying attention to that when you wake up.
Keeping a dream diary is a useful way to notice patterns in your dreaming and understand why you dream what you do. You can access a free guide to keeping a dream diary in the members area of the Helping you Sparkle™ website when you subscribe to my dreams mailing list. If you’re having trouble sleeping, take a look at help with Insomnia here.