Whether our dreams make us happy, sad, confused or scared, we’ve all awoken from sleep with our subconscious thoughts lingering in our minds, wondering ‘what did that mean?’
Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung believed that dreams are a clear picture of a person’s inner truth and thought that they revealed what a person was truly thinking and feeling. He also believed that dreams were a way that a person’s psyche would let them know what was really important to them.
Clinical hypnotherapist Sarah Bick told NationalWorld that dreams and their associations are highly individual and are in fact unique to each of us. “Dreams are powerful messages, full of pure subconscious material, and often aim to bring balance to us. They offer information that we would benefit from facing, even if it is challenging, and often also give warnings about our current path. I believe dreams can be very useful to personal growth, and also in healing parts of ourselves that we deny or keep hidden. They can also process what has already happened and help us to make sense of the day.”
The specific reasons why people have certain thoughts after they fall asleep may depend on the circumstances of the dreamer, but there are some dreams which are so common that it is possible for experts to decode their general meanings. So, here are the 12 most common dreams, and the explanations behind them, according to professionals.
Rosey Davidson, a sleep expert, author, founder and CEO of infant sleep consultancy Just Chill Baby Sleep, said that dreaming about being naked in public can be linked to periods of change and development. “Feeling vulnerable, and processing how we might be perceived, or coping with significant changes and unchartered territory can lead to these kinds of dreams,” she told NationalWorld.
Marilyn Devonish, a certified Mental Health First Aid trainer and therapist, said that this dream could also have positive or negative connotations. She says: “It could mean you are fearing exposure or have a lack of personal boundaries, or are feeling guilt, shame or vulnerability. If you feel positive about the exposure, however, it can mean liberation, freedom from constraints, openness, sensuality and the power to be yourself.”
Davidson said the reason why someone is being chased in a dream may be obvious if they have watched a film where someone was being chased recently. She said, however, that dream can be frightening, especially if it is recurring, and that the dream is linked to anxiety, stress and fear of the unknown. She added: “We might have a big event coming up, or we might be avoiding something that we don’t want to deal with or just feeling generally overwhelmed.”
Devonish said: “This dream happens when there is something unrequited or out of reach, or you have fear or panic, or you’re striving for something, or you are afraid of being found out, or are running away from something in your life.” She advised that people should notice who or what you are being chased by, and anything which appears during the chase, because this can reveal the cause of the dream.
Bick said that dreaming about falling is one of the most common dreams. “It often signifies feeling a loss of control or helplessness. Falling and loud noises are innate primal fears from our human evolution so, while most other fears are learnt through life experiences, these two are built into us. It’s understandable, therefore, that a fear of falling can often come up in our dreams if we’re feeling unsupported in a situation, about to take a risk, or try something new.”
Teeth falling out
Devonish believed that dreaming about your teeth falling out is an indication that you have too much to say, or there’s something in particular you want to express. She felt it could also show that you fear personal or material loss, are going through grief, or have lost something precious - and all this is linked to worry and anxiety.
“Teeth are also said to relate to power, so when you dream of them falling out it can be related to some kind of loss of power. Dreams can also be practical, so if you’ve not been to the dentist in a while, the dream might alert you to potential problems brewing.” She also thought that it could mean there is something that you have been metaphorically chewing over, or have seen once permanent foundations in your life disappear.
If you have lost someone recently or been watching the news about a person’s death, this can cause you to dream about it, says Davidson, but we don’t have to worry about it - though it is distressing. She says: “Dreaming about dying doesn’t mean you or anyone close to you is going to die. It is often linked to anxiety or worry in your life. Dreaming about our own death could be symbolic of a period of positive change in our lives – perhaps we want a fresh start.”
Dreaming about flying can be symbolic of hope. Davidson, who also runs an online adult sleep course called ‘How to Sleep Better’, said it can mean that we need to look at things in our lives with a broader perspective too because we can see things more clearly from above. She attested: “It can also be interpreted as a longing for freedom or to escape, or to embrace positive change in our lives.”
Devonish said this dream can also relate to feelings of uncertainty or instability or being out of control in an area of life or losing a sense of direction. She added: “It can also be a sign of letting things fall away, and if there’s a feeling of excitement then perhaps falling into something new or exciting.”
Dreaming about sex, or having sex, is a very common dream, said Davidson. “Just because someone appears in sex dream, however, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to be intimate with them,” she said. “It could just mean that you admire them, or see something in them that reminds you of yourself. Dreaming about infidelity can be linked to insecurity or genuine worries about your relationship.”
Being with an ex
Devonish felt dreaming of an ex could mean you are having thoughts of what was unfinished business, but it could also be symbolic of deeper life lessons. She said: “If things ended badly, the dream can relate to feeling abandoned. There can be an element of regret or it could reveal how far you have moved on with your life.
“This dream can also have connotations around loss in general and being unsure of where you’re headed in the future. If the relationship was one where you were dominated, it can be a reminder to take your power back. You could just be dreaming about the aspects of the relationship you miss, or you could just be missing the feeling of being wanted - particularly if you are single. It could also happen because of childhood issues about not being cared for, or feeling left out.”
Dreaming about pregnancy can be linked to productivity. Davidson said: “You might be planning a big project, house move, new career or working on a new relationship - essentially, you’re birthing something new. There are obvious factors to think about too of
course – you may have this dream if you are trying to have a baby, or even if you are trying to avoid having a baby.”
Searching for a toilet
Davidson said that the meaning behind this dream may be obvious and it may simply be that your body is trying to wake you up because you need the toilet. She added: “Other interpretations are needing to let go of negativity or things in your life that don’t serve you. You could also be craving some more privacy and me time in your life.”
Unable to find something
Devonish said if you dream that you are searching for something in your dreams this could mean you are unfulfilled in reality. She told us: “It could mean that there is something missing in life and you find things are never quite enough. If you are looking for a location or place, it could mean being in search of direction in life or pastures new. If you are looking for a lost item, what does the item mean to you, or represent? For example, if in your dreams you keep looking for a lost shoe, it could represent not stepping forward in life, not having the support and lacking clarity about the next step.”
Bick said dreams about being lost may show you may have gone off course somewhere in your life. “It can symbolise a disconnect between your true nature and how you are living and presenting in the world,” she said. “Maybe you don’t know where you’re headed. Perhaps a big change or loss has occurred and the loss is looking to express itself. Maybe it doesn’t feel like there is anyone there to help, and that means in waking life it’s time to reach out for connection with others. Look for clues. It may also be an exploratory dream, where you’re trying a new path and in that case it’s an adventure to learn new things.”