What Do Dreams Of Water Mean?

Jonathan Warren

Author: Jonathan Warren



What Do Dreams Of Water Mean?

It's no surprise that water is a common dream theme considering about 75% of the human brain is made up of water! But beyond helping our bodies to function, water's appearance in our dreams can also serve as a window into the subconscious. From peacefully floating along a river, to standing in torrential downpour, or more troubling simulations of drowning, have you ever wondered what your dreams of water mean?

In this blog, we've put together a whole host of water dream interpretations to ensure you can get some peace come bedtime.

Symbolism of Water in Dreams

Water can play as much of a key role in our sleeping life as in our waking moments and can be symbolic of a variety of themes. Purity, cleanliness, depth, peace, flow, fertility, chaos and creativity are just some of the symbolic meanings associated with water.

Common Water Dreams

Rivers or Streams

Just like the nursery rhyme, if you're rowing a boat down a stream "life is but a dream". When floating down a river or stream in a dream, it’s likely reflective of positive feelings and contentedness. You might feel like you are making progress in your professional life or perhaps your personal life is in a calm, comforting place.

However, if the stream in your dream is more murky and muddied than blue and crystal clear, this could be highlighting you are experiencing some confused emotions of insecurity and doubt. Or, if the current of your dream river is a little too fast and choppy for your liking, this could suggest an area of your life is getting out of control in some capacity. Should rivers or streams not be the serene oasis you want them to be, reflect on what is causing you stress and stopping you from experiencing calmer waters.  


The ocean is said to be symbolic of our subconscious and our emotions. The vastness, the rise and fall of the tides and the various sea creatures which inhabit it, makes the ocean the perfect representation for our complex and ever changing emotions.

A stormy sea may represent some inner turmoil you are experiencing, or perhaps you are so overwhelmed during the day that your sleep is dominated by dreams of tidal waves. On the other hand, dreaming of a calm and open ocean could be reflective of stability or happiness in your life. But, just like the constant up and down of an ocean's waves, dreaming about the seas could mean a mixture of positive and negative emotions, mirroring the complex array of feelings we all experience in our daily lives.

Swimming Underwater or Drowning

Being underneath the water's surface can feel overwhelming. If your water-based dreams feature being submerged, you could be processing a feeling of being flooded with negative emotions or dealing with struggles in your personal life. Drowning can also be representative of a high level of stress which feels inescapable to you. If that rings true, it's time to focus on yourself and tackle some of the stressors in your life. You could start by checking out our blog about how better sleep can reduce stress.

Others might disagree that dreaming about being enveloped by water is a bad experience. Being surrounded by water could represent a feeling of being protected and safe as there are parallels we could draw to our earlier days in the womb!

Emotional and Psychological Associations

As we have seen in some common dreams, when water makes an appearance during our sleep it can often be representative of how we feel. The full range of emotions connected with water are as vast as the Pacific Ocean and we will all have our own individual relationship with water.

With our lives beginning in the womb, visions of being submerged in a big body of water could psychologically link to a feeling of security or a desire to feel safe and protected. Equally, dreaming of water can relate to inner peace and tranquillity making for a truly restful sleep. Water might also be related to other positive feelings of purity, revitalisation or creativity.

On the other hand, for some dreamers, water could be more closely linked to fear or anxiety. Motifs of struggling in the water, swimming upstream, or drowning, are all examples of overwhelming negative feelings making their presence felt in your dreams. If bodies of water in your sleep are causing you to toss and turn in the night, it might be time to check in with your emotional wellbeing.

Cultural and Historical Perspectives

Water is a positive symbol in various religions across history. In Christianity, water represents purity and rebirth, hence the focus on using water for baptisms. This view of purification is mirrored in Hinduism which views water as cleansing.

Islam also views water in a joyous way, with a focus on it representing wisdom due to it reaching everything across the world. Dreaming of the deep blue sea might be your subconscious exploring the depths of your own wisdom.

More negative perspectives on water can be found in modern day popular culture, with water playing a key role in various disaster movies, such as The Perfect Storm, The Impossible and even Jaws! All of these films highlight the unmistakable power of the ocean and how hopeless we are when faced with the sheer force of its swells, waves and the creatures that lurk beneath its surface.

Common Misconceptions

A common misconception when it comes to dreams of water is that they must mean a specific thing for all dreamers. Dreams are so subjective, they will vary for each person and will depend on their own relationship with water as well as what they are experiencing in their lives. Some might revel in dreaming about the vastness of an ocean to be explored but for others could find this to be overwhelming and cause them to feel lost and unsettled.

Another misconception about water dreams is that they are always caused by our own feelings about water. Whilst these might influence the nature of our dreams (and certainly so if you have a particular phobia about water), as themes of water are so closely related to our emotional state, our dreams are more likely to be reflective of how we are feeling in our day to day lives.


Water plays such a significant role in our lives, it's no wonder it features so commonly in our dreams and in so many different forms. Just remember that dreams are subjective and if you want to know more about what your dreams are telling you, then starting a dream journal is a great first step to get in touch with your subconscious and your emotions.

If you want to know more about dream interpretation, then check out our Time4Sleep blog for more information on what dreams mean. We have also got tonnes of other blogs all focused on getting the best night's sleep, from plants to improve your sleep to relaxing bedroom colour ideas, we've got you covered!