What do dreams of falling mean?

Jonathan Warren

Author: Jonathan Warren



What do dreams of falling mean?

At Time4Sleep we live for falling asleep and getting a truly restful night's sleep. But what is going on if after falling asleep you experience a whole different kind of falling?

Dreams are often labelled as a window into the soul so whether it's falling over, off a tall building, into water or even through the floor beneath your feet, your dreams could be giving you an insight into how you really feel in your waking life.

In this blog, we've put together all the information we can find about falling in dreams, what they mean and what common scenarios dreamers might experience.


Symbolism of falling in dreams

Falling in a dream could be symbolic of a feeling of losing control or fear. These dreams are often associated with negative emotions and experiences, and can also be an insight into the subconscious.

On a more positive note, hitting the ground after falling in a dream could also be symbolic of reaching a landing on a particular issue which has been causing stress.


Personal interpretations

Dreams are incredibly subjective but when they involve falling, it is typical to experience feelings of helplessness, rejection, stress, insecurity or instability.

Remember that dreams are personal experiences. To learn more about your own dreams, you could consider keeping a dream journal to document your brain's nighttime jaunts to see if there are common patterns or themes. You could also discuss your dreams with a therapist to help connect more with your subconscious feelings.


Common falling dream scenarios

Despite dreams being personal to each of us, there are some common examples of dreams involving falling.

Falling over

If during your dream you stumble along the pavement or experience falling over, this could be representative of a fear of making mistakes. Perhaps you have had a bad day at work and there's an error which you can't quite shake off. Or maybe you've been experiencing some setbacks in your personal life. Whichever it is, these dreamy slip ups could be a reason to reflect on your day before you head to bed so you can enjoy a fall-free sleep!

Falling off a building or being pushed off a cliff

These types of dreams are classically linked to a feeling of no control. If you are falling from a building, perhaps you are in a turbulent situation personally or professionally. For those experiencing falling off a cliff, maybe there are significant stressors in your life which are interrupting your sleep. Whichever form your falling dream takes, when it involves falling from a height, your subconscious could be dropping hints for you to tackle your feelings more directly.

Falling into water

Splashing into water or falling whilst submerged could be reflective of feeling unsupported or a fear of water. The floating sensation associated with water could well be your very own limbo dreamland. Perhaps your subconscious is telling you to confront feelings of uncertainty in your work or personal life.

Falling through the floor

Feel like the rug has been whipped away beneath your feet? If you dream about falling through the floor, then you might have experienced a sudden change in your life that you feel concerned about. These dreams can reflect a feeling of a lack of safety and uneasiness with change. 


Emotional, psychological and physiological interpretation of falling dreams

The act of falling in your dreams could be symbolic of various different emotional or psychological experiences.

Falling dreams are often linked to feelings of anxiety, helplessness and inadequacy. On an emotional level, these experiences in our subconscious whilst we sleep could indicate that we are going through some tumultuous times in our waking lives.

Physiologically, experiences of falling in dreams and jerking awake are incredibly common. Known as Hypnic Jerks, or "sleep starts", these sudden and involuntary movements are often experienced with a sensation of tripping or falling but do not really have one identifiable cause, with caffeine, tiredness and stress being some of the potential triggers.

Hypnic Jerks should be harmless if they are experienced irregularly but if you find that they are hampering your ability to get a restful night of sleep under your belt more often than not, it could be time to consult your GP.


Cultural and historical perspectives

Dreams are constantly explored in popular culture and its no surprise that dreams which involve falling feature heavily on the big screen and in famous books.

Alice in Wonderland is perhaps one of the more famous examples of dreams involving falling with the titular character "falling down the rabbit hole" and discovering a fantasy world full of magical creatures and individuals. Though the key themes of Lewis Carroll's classic are often debated, the idea of falling conjures up feelings of disorientation and confusion.

In Christopher Nolan's Inception, dreams are used by Leonardo di Caprio to steal or plant ideas into the subconscious minds of others with his comrades using a "kick" to transport themselves back to reality, often through simulating falling. Whether off a bridge or into a freezing cold bath, Inception seems to link hitting the bottom with a return to a reality which might be a common experience of sleepers experiencing dreams where they hit the ground or hit water.


Common misconceptions about dreams of falling

Dreams about falling, whether into water or from a great height, are very common and as such there are examples of misconceptions when it comes to these types of dreams.

For example, if you dream about falling and you hit the ground, it doesn't necessarily mean you will die. Typically, sleepers experiencing this falling dream will either wake up or continue dreaming and the experience isn't necessarily a negative one. This could mean that you have discovered the root of a particular issue you have been facing which has been causing you to worry. Hitting the ground could also be symbolic of coming back down to reality.

Dreams about falling also do not always mean there is a theme of failure present in your dream. Falling dreams are closely connected when we are hanging on too tightly to certain issues and your subconscious could just be trying to tell you to address some issues which are causing you stress rather than to highlight recent pitfalls. These dreams also need not be all negative. If you're dreaming about falling in love, for example, this could be symbolic that you are getting closer to a special someone or beginning a new fresh chapter in your life.


Searching for more meaning in your dreams?


Whether it's dreaming about fire, dreaming about snakes or dreaming about dogs, we've put together a variety of different blogs exploring common themes when it comes to our brains' nighttime wanderings. Check out our Time4Sleep blog to find out more and also discover plenty of tips on how to enhance your sleep quality.