There are many theories on why we dream, but noone has a definitive answer. While some scientists believe that dreams serve no purpose at all, others believe they are essential for maintaining our mental and emotional health.
But what do dreams mean? Could they simply be nonsensical workings of the brain, or our inner thoughts translated in a visual way? If you’re interested in dreams and their meanings, read on.
What does my dream mean?
Dreams are one of the biggest mysteries of life. At one point or another, you have probably wondered ‘what does my dream mean?’ and you’re not alone. For centuries, people have taken an interest in dreams, what they mean, or what they could be telling us. Ancient civilisations thought of dreams as a medium between humans and the gods, and different cultures have believed them to be premonitions.
The simplest explanation though is that dreams are a manifestation of our inner thoughts and feelings. Perhaps a window into our subconscious (as Sigmund Freud put it), or a way for us to solve problems.
Whatever the reason, it is thought that 95-99% of all dreams are forgotten as soon as we wake up. A recent study conducted on mice even suggests that the brain actively forgets, making dream recall difficult. This makes it even more intriguing when we do remember a dream so vividly.
The most common dreams and their meanings
Whether you believe them to be an insight into your soul or just nonsense, here are the most common dreams and their (possible) meanings.
Dreams about falling
Falling in dreams is very common. The falling dream is commonly interpreted as being afraid of something happening, or that an aspect of your life which is failing. Whether it’s your love life taking a nosedive, your career going downhill or anxiety about a certain situation, dreams where you are falling reveals insecurity.
On the flipside, if in your dream you are happily free falling without fear, it could suggest that you are feeling confident, are not afraid of change and are ready to embrace what’s ahead.
Dreams about losing teeth
Losing your teeth is another common dream that people have, and it’s one that often causes a lot of panic when you wake up. These dreams can be depicted by teeth starting to rot, teeth falling out one by one, or teeth crumbling into your hands. They are interpreted to mean anxiety about the way people perceive you, fear of being rejected, or fear of embarrassment.
Some believe that losing teeth in your dream represents the feeling of not being able to communicate effectively or express yourself the way you want to, and there are a few out there that say this type of dream is related to money worries.
Dreams of flying
Flying can be exciting, liberating and also quite scary. Many of us remember this kind of dream fondly, particularly as children. So what does flying in your dream mean? Depending on how you look at it, flying can reveal positive feelings of freedom, confidence and power –or it can depict your desire to escape.
If you are struggling to fly in your dream, this is a sign that your feelings are not so positive, and it is suggested people experience these dreams when someone or something is standing in the way of them reaching their goals.
Dreams of water
Water in your dream can be understood in a number of ways, and two opposite suggestions are either feelings of being trapped or feelings of being liberated. A large amount of water may represent deep emotions, thoughts of being overwhelmed, or feeling like you’re not getting enough support from loved ones.
It’s also an idea to consider the movement of the water. Was it calm and soothing to listen to? Or was it turbulent and choppy? Clear waters can be a positive reflection of your inner thoughts, while muddy or murky waters can represent confusion.
Dreams about someone you know
What do dreams mean when they involve people? Perhaps it’s a friend, a family member or someone from your past? Although it can seem random, the people you know who appear in your dreams often have a simple explanation. It could be someone you’ve seen or spoken to recently, someone you’re having disputes with, or someone you really love and care about. Either way, it’s likely that you were thinking about them or a situation than reminds you of them as you fell asleep.
If it’s someone you haven’t thought about in a long time or who isn’t a big part of your life, try to deduce from it aspects such as their personality or their relationship with you to find a meaning. It could be what this person symbolises rather than the person itself.
Dreams of being late
A dream of being late can be easily interpreted. Running late for an event or meeting can be stressful and even embarrassing – so like many of the other dreams that involve feeling worried or anxious, lateness could mean that there are certain pressures you’re dealing with.
Perhaps you’re running out of time to get something done, you feel rushed by others, or there’s a subconscious fear of missing an opportunity or missing out on something critical. These opportunities could be the next step in your relationship (such as getting married), having a family, or grabbing a promotion at work. Being late in a dream can also be a symbol of much needed change, or a hope of change in your life.
Dreams of being naked
This is the one dream that everyone fears and has appeared in many episodes of our favourite shows. Being naked in public is a very common dream (or nightmare) for many of us. But it’s nothing unusual if you find yourself dreaming about being exposed in a crowd of people. This type of dream could indicate being afraid of revealing your imperfections to others. It could also mean that you have ‘imposter syndrome’ and are feeling like a phony in a work or social situation. It may even suggest that you are struggling to find yourself or understand who you are.
If in the dream you are not the one naked but are repulsed by the sight of someone else naked, it could mean that you are worried about exposing someone over a particular issue.
Dreams about death
Another common theme in people’s dreams is death, which can be very disconcerting. It could be a loved one or dreaming that you’re dying yourself. Either way, this kind of dream reflects anxiety, change or fear of the unknown. Like death, changes in life don’t come with a manual for what’s on the other side. Those who are going through a period of uncertainty (such as job loss or divorce) may experience dreams of dying.
Typically, no matter how weird the dream, one off dreams have little impact in our lives and there is no need to worry about the content. If you find yourself having the same dream over and over again, it can be beneficially to analyse what happens and see if it relates to any issues in your life that need fixing.