Cooper told jesusfreakhideout.com
the song was inspired by the 1995 historical epic Braveheart
, starring Mel Gibson as the Scottish war hero William Wallace. "His wife was killed. He has these dreams about his wife, and in one of them, she tells him that he's dreaming and he has to wake up. And he tells her that he doesn't want to wake up."
But the song has a more personal meaning for the Skillet frontman, who was also visited by a loved one in his dreams. "While we were recording Comatose
, my grandfather got really sick. He passed away probably 6 months after that. And for a year, I just had these dreams about him all the time. I started writing 'Don't Wake Me' before Comatose
came out. It was the first song I wrote for Awake. That's when I started having more and more thoughts about it. I was dreaming about me and my grandfather hanging out all the time. I meant to dedicate it to him in the artwork and I forgot to because I was so stressed out. But that song is dedicated to him even though it ended up having a different meaning than I intended."