11 of the Most Common Dreams (And What They Mean)
Dreams have the power to affect us in different ways. While some can leave you with a warm and fuzzy sensation on the inside, others can have you feeling a little shook in the AM.
There's a wide range of theories when it comes to what our dreams mean. Some experts believe that dreams are just nonsensical activities of the sleeping brain, while others say that dreams are necessary for mental and physical health. The founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud understood dreams to be “the window into our subconscious”.
While this should mean that dreams are individualistic, it’s not unusual to have “common dreams”, such as being naked in public or losing all of your teeth. In fact, a recent survey revealed that men typically dream about falling (19.4%), being chased (17.1%) or being attacked (13.7%); with women dreaming about being chased (19.6%), falling or losing their teeth (9.9%) or ending a relationship with a significant other (8.3%).
Regardless of why, here’s what the most common dreams really mean...
The most frequent in the common dream family, researchers say that the average human will dream about falling to his or her death more than five times in their lives (yikes). As with most common dreams, falling can be an indication of your insecurities or anxieties, with author Lauri Loewenberg stating that such dreams can be a “red flag from your subconscious”, especially if you’re struggling at work or home. If you lose balance and fall in the dream, it could mean the problem is within you. Alternatively, if you’ve been pushed, you could be overworking or stretching yourself too thin. Lastly, if you’re holding on for dear life, chances are you need to slow down a little.
Being naked in public
There’s nothing funny about looking down and realising you're nude, mid-presentation (even if it’s just a dream). And while we’ve all woken up gasping for air and clutching at our nighties, experts say public nudity actually points to vulnerability and exposing yourself for all to see. Penny Pierse, author of the Dream Dictionary for Dummies, suggests that dreams such as these may also indicate that you feel like a fraud or that you’re afraid of sharing any shortcomings with those around you. Further research suggests that public nudity dreams can be put down to a new job, promotion or any situation where you'll be coming into public view.
One of the more frightening dreams on the list, being chased can stem from stress or anxiety. Tony Crisp, author of Dream Dictionary, says that being chased might indicate a desire to escape “from your fears or desires”. He also mentions that the key to understanding what this type of dream could mean comes from your pursuer. If you don’t know them, it’s prompting your response to pressure, and the way in which you avoid issues you’re uncomfortable addressing. In a situation where you're being chased by someone that you know, it means that your pursuer is a powerful enemy. If you’re the one doing the chasing, well, you’re in luck – it conveys that you are ambitious enough to achieve all that you want in life.
While some dreams have both positive and negative connotations, dreaming about your teeth doesn’t come with many real pros (sorry!). The most common meaning for this type of dream comes from feelings of grief, loss of control, or fear of failure and abandonment. Losing your teeth can represent your inability to communicate something important, which in turn, leaves you feeling powerless.
Dreaming about your death, or the death of a loved one can be quite confronting. Dream translators suggest that such dreams reflect a fear of the unknown, with the passing of a loved one suggesting a fear of change. According to columnist and host Lauren Lawrence, this dream could also “reveal the wish to terminate something in life: a relationship, a job, a career path or even the past.” On a more positive note, it could simply mean a fresh start.
Dreams about flying can signify two very different things. On the one hand, they represent the freedom, excitement and independence associated with flying. On the other, they could illustrate your desire to escape from a role or responsibility. If you’re scared of flying in your dream, it's time to regain some control and balance in your life.
If you’re not trying to fall pregnant, dreaming of baby bumps could make you (and your partner) somewhat nervous. Dream analyst, Stephanie Gailing believes, however, that pregnancy dreams can represent the relationship you have with creativity. While you may be physically pregnant in your dream, it could symbolise that you’re birthing an incredible idea or project, something Loewenberg says “relates to the time things take to grow”.
Like many of the dreams above, being late can suggest a number of theories. If you’re in a rush, it means that others’ expectations or demands of you are too much (and also an indication that you need to reshuffle your priorities). Another take is that you need to make a change so that you don’t miss out on what you really want, for example, an opportunity at work or raising a child. It's safe to say that dreams about being late can serve as a major wake up call.
Taking a test
According to Craig Hamilton, author of The Hidden Meaning of Dreams, taking a test in a dream might describe a fear of failure. Studies also show that one in every five people will experience an exam dream at least once in their lives, referring to a lack of confidence or inability to advance to where they’d like to be.
Another topic we're not dying to have a dream about any time soon is drowning. According to dream expert, Cynthia Richmond, “fear of drowning in the language of dreams is a fear of getting too involved in feelings.” Additional studies suggest that if you’re “suddenly swept away”, you could be hit by an unforeseen situation in your life that is difficult to handle. Being thrown into rocks is said to represent intentional hurt or pain.
Cutting off your hair
While it may sound like an ordinary dream, cutting off your hair is actually quite an emotional response to real situations in your life. If it’s a drastic chop and not something you’ve been planning, chances are you need to make a big change in your life. If you’re the one wielding the scissors, it could mean that you're feeling smothered or censored, and are experiencing a loss of strength because of this.
Loved this? Discover the 7 biggest misconceptions about sleep.