The 10 Most Common Dreams and What They Mean.

Yup, we’re all unique flowers who are special and individual in every way.  Except when it comes to our dreams.  However different we might seem as humans, how similar we really are all shows up in our dreams. The top 10 dreams everyone has and what they mean.

Woman sleeping on disheveled bed.

Skip right to the dream meanings.

In the great tradition of people who bore other people by recounting  their dreams, I … am going to recount my dreams to you. Don’t worry. You’re gonna get the chance to bore everyone else, including me, later.

Since I was young I’ve had nightmares. Lots of them. Death, destruction, chasing, kidnapping, murderous heart pounding dreams. You name the nightmare and I’ve had it. Oftentimes over and over again.

In the past few years I’ve switched over to general anxiety dreams that are still very disturbing but not quite as death filled. I’ve never thought much about these nightmares of mine. They’re just who I am and believe it or not, and this will sound really insane, but … I find them kind of comforting now.

I’m sure it’s some sort of subconscious appreciation of how my dreams are dealing with the real life problems I have. Not that I feel like I have any at the moment, but my dreams know better – they know we’re all dealing with something.

That’s generally what dreams do. They deal with all the stuff you aren’t dealing with in your waking life because you’re too busy paying bills and wondering where you hid the vodka.

According to the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders only a small percentage of people have nightmares on a regular basis. Nightmares aren’t just scary dreams, they’re terrifying.  They can wake you up and the fear will stay with you.

About half of all people who suffer with nightmares also suffer from psychiatric disorders. I don’t think I have a psychiatric disorder, at least not one fierce enough to cause nightmares every night so I’m more inclined to go with the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorder’s other rationale for people with nightly nightmares which is the fact that artistic or creative people are at a greater risk of nightmares. Mainly because they have better imaginations.

5 or so years ago, around the time my fella of 11 years ran away from home,  I was having nightmares that revolved around cloudy, scary, turbulent water.  And I was in the scary water. I wasn’t afraid of drowning, that wasn’t the feeling – it was just dark and ominous.   The dreams were me finding my way.  

1 year ago, just after I had the relief of finding out that I *didn’t* have breast cancer (I really encourage you to read that post here), I started having anxiety dreams. 

It’s amazing that there are so many of us with such different brains and personalities – yet we all have the same themes in dreams.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s a look at 10 of the most common dreams.  I’m guessing you’ve experienced at least half of them.

If you’re looking for a little more information on dream interpretation get The Dream Dictionary for Dummies.

Dreams Analysis

 

Being Chased

Having a person chasing you in a dream can mean you feel threatened by something in your life or you’re avoiding something. You are running from something in your conscious life; emotions, a relationship, worries or even your taxes.  

It’s a classic anxiety dream.

If you’re being chased by someone who is trying to to kill you, you can take that as a pretty direct translation. That something or someone that has to do with you is bad for you. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will literally kill you, but could kill parts of you. Your creativity, your happiness or your sanity for instance.

It could be a direction you yourself are going in that isn’t healthy like hard drug use or other bad habits like eating a pound of butter for breakfast every day. 

NOW, if you’re the one doing the chasing it can mean a couple of things. You’re possibly trying to run off that morning pound of butter orrrr you’re running towards something (an ambition, person or goal). 

 

Water

If the water is calm and clear, you’re at peace obviously.  If the waters are murky or turbulent you’re struggling with equally turbulent emotions.

THIS is the dream I had a lot after my breakup. Murky, turbulent, violent water. I had no idea it was such a common dream because I don’t remember ever dreaming about it before. 

 

Teeth falling out

It’s surprising how your teeth falling out in a dream can be every bit as horrifying as it would be in real life. You’re in your dream, walking down the middle of a highway with your new florist Jeff Goldblum, as one does in dreams, and you feel something in your moth. A tooth. Then another and another and soon you have no teeth. 

This seems like a bad sign.

BUT as with a lot of dreams, something that seems negative in a dream isn’t necessarily bad. There CAN be a positive interpretation.

When you lose your baby teeth in real life it’s a step towards growing up. The meaning of the dream about your teeth falling out could be that you’re maturing and growing as a person.

On the other hand, it can have a negative connotation too. (Weirdly, dream science isn’t very sciency. Actually, that’s not weird at all)  

The negative analysis of dreaming that your teeth fell out of your head is that you’re afraid that you’re losing control over something.  It’s a symbol of powerlessness and insecurity. 

Flying

 You live in Canada where pot is legal and you’re super high.  No wait, that’s not right.  Flying dreams represent experiencing a newfound sense of freedom or control.  The next time you dream about flying make a point of thinking about whether you are experiencing either of these things in your life. You know. Just for dream analysis fun.

The most reasonable explanation for dreaming about flying is that you got a new cape, so …

Karen Bertelsen dressed as Superwoman flying over Paris.

 

 

Exam time/Audition time

Dreaming about missing exams or suddenly realizing you haven’t studied for a test make sense for someone in high school or University. But these dreams continue into adulthood. 

The ubiquitous “I have an exam or test and I never went to class and never studied” dream can happen through your whole life.  The test could be in another language or you can’t get into the exam room … whatever the case it’s a test and you’re anxious about it. This is a classic anxiety dream and usually means  you feel like you’re being judged or evaluated by someone in your life.

I have both exam and audition dreams.  Audition dreams happen more often than test dreams in people who went to performing art schools or studied music and acting.  I have them because of my career as a television host. 

omg i’m naked

You’re feeling exposed or ashamed of something if you dream you’re naked in public.  It can also mean you’re feeling vulnerable.  Or you’re just a hippie.

 

Death

Dreaming that you die means you actually died while sleeping.  Just kidding.  My 12 year old self couldn’t resist saying t hat.

Dreaming of your own death signifies starting over.  So it’s not a bad thing, it’s the chance to start over. New job, new relationship, or a new you after coming out of a relationship.

Dreaming of a parent’s death can mean a couple of things. Well, a million really, but I’m trying to keep these interpretations to what most experts believe is the most plausible explanation.  Dreaming of a parent’s death is often literal. You’re literally afraid of your parent dying either because they’re sick or it’s a deep seeded fear of yours. 

It can also mean that you’re finally a grown up – the dream is like a rebirth. Dreaming of a parent dying can mean you’re personally at the point where you can live your own life. Your own mature life where you can survive and take care of yourself without any parenting. For women this kind of dream is typical around the age of 10. For men, it’s around 73. Just kidding.  

Dreaming of a sibling’s death generally means you miss them. 

If the death of the person in your dream doesn’t make you sad do you feel like that person betrayed you in real life? Having them die in your dream is your retribution.  It doesn’t mean you actually want them dead, your dream is just giving you a chance to punish them so you can get over it.

Cheating

Cheating dreams are another common anxiety dream.  If you dream your husband/wife is cheating it can mean you’re actually worried about them cheating.  It can also mean you have trust issues with them or are feeling insecure for some reason.

Sex

Dreaming about sex means you want to have sex.  Seriously.  Well sometimes it does.

Gay Sex (when you’re not gay) means you’re secretly gay.  No it doesn’t.

Same sex dreams often mean you need to get in touch with your feminine side (if you’re a gal) or your more masculine side (if you’re a dude). So break out the nail polish or start swinging that hammer.

Falling

Dreams where you’re falling are also classic anxiety dreams. They usually mean a situation in your life is spiralling out of control. It could be your job or  a relationship.

If you’re falling but aren’t afraid, it means you’re in control of your situation and will easily get through it.


Some interesting less common dreams??  

Poop.  Dreaming about poop is NOT common. Butttttt, it’s the 3rd most Googled dream, lol. So I guess even if it doesn’t happen often, dreaming about poop is alarming enough that everyone who does it searches for the meaning of it.

So what does it mean if you dream about poop? That your life stinks? That you feel like crap? No.  Shockingly, dreaming about poop is kind of a good (albeit disturbing and gross) thing. It means you’re letting go of negativity and positive changes are ahead. But maybe buy some Immodium, just in case. 

Alligators.  Dreaming about alligators means you’re feeling vulnerable about something. It can also mean that you’re worried about a decision you’re having to make in real life. 


Keep in mind dreams can be interpreted in a few different ways.  Also keep in mind some people think dream interpretation is a bunch of hoodoo. By nature, I’m a skeptic who always wants to be proven wrong. So my inclination is to scream HOOEY about all of this.

But if that was the case, if dreams and dream interpretation was hooey, then chances are we wouldn’t all be having the same dreams as each other.   A dream may mean one thing for you and another thing for someone else but as long as you know what you’re going through in your real life you should be able to figure out what your dream means to you.

If you don’t know what you’re going through in your own life you’re very, very dead so it doesn’t matter.

If you want to delve a bit further into your dreams (and who doesn’t) I can recommend 2 books to keep on your bedside table.


The Dreamer’s Dictionary which as published in 1986  with the majority of hundreds of readers on Amazon giving it a 5 star review and  The Dream Dictionary for Dummies which includes not only dream interpretations but also techniques for dreaming more and remembering the dreams you do have.

If you want to keep track of your dreams, you need to keep a journal beside your bed to write them down immediately when you wake up. You think you’ll remember them, and you might for a few hours, but then they’re gone. 

Cover and inside of a dream journal, with the title "Strange Dreams" on the cover.

THIS is the most fun dream journal I’ve ever seen. I mean, it has a strangeness meter at the top of every page.

It’s now time for you to bore everyone with your dreams!

Can you remember what you dreamed about last night?  Lay it on me!

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311 Comments

  1. Shannon says:

    A reoccurring dream. I am driving north on I-5, in oregon, headed to Washington and I’m almost to the bridge when I drive over some bumps and realize there are body parts everywhere. Up ahead the Taliban has taken the bridge and is sorting cars into different lines. I always protest and I always wake up just as they are about to shoot me.

    I blame the news before bed.

  2. Kasia says:

    I have several recurring dreams. My favorite (most of them are not good, but this one is ok) is when I dream Im running. Sometimes Im being chased, sometmes Im just going somewhere, but I always run on all fours, and its soooo much easier and I wonder about the idiots using just their legs, and when I run on all fours, I am SUPER SUPER fast! Everything goes by in a blur, and its so much fun, and I never get tired either!

  3. Wendy says:

    I fly often…zip up Brant street (local road near Superwoman), I turn the corner flapping my arms (no cape..darn would have loved the red one) I normally sleep walk when stressed…wake up in the closet. Spouse is not pleased, actually very annoyed that I’ve whipped the covers off of him while I wipe spiders away…still married. I love dreams & nightmares the wonders of our subconscious minds of our excess storage.

  4. Kate S. says:

    A recent funny dream: I was living with my much younger sister’s boyfriend (whom I have never met) in a university dining hall during WWII; he had been discharged after injury; my husband was off at war; but I was carrying on a romantic relationship with this boy and wondered how we were all going to work it out when the war ended. Plus, the university was overrun with abandoned cats and dogs, so we had numerous kittens and puppies, mostly Bassett Hounds, to take care of.

    Now, that said, I’ve never had most of the “most common” dreams you list. The only one I sometimes have is losing teeth/breaking teeth, which I think comes from my deep-seated fear of tooth loss and I do sometimes dream about being chased, but always in the context of a home invasion, one of my other deep fears. I don’t believe in dream symbolism. Often I can pick out where all the silly/odd elements of my dreams came out of my real life–buy manilla envelopes during the day, dream about stuffing a Bassett Hound puppy into one and mailing it overseas that night.

  5. Mary says:

    Many of you sound like you are experiencing sleep paralysis which is a state when your mind wakes up before your body does, it can make you feel like someone or something is holding you down, it can be quite scary and I have been known to scream and cry out when it is happening. It doesn’t happen when I sleep on my sides only when I on my back.

    My dreams are either trying to get someplace and people and things keep getting in the way.

    Or I win some strange amount of money($160,000.67) from what looks like a combo pinball/slot machine

  6. Kate says:

    a recurring dream I have is that I cannot move… I’m trying to cross the street, or walk down a path, and my body is so heavy I can barely move… I’m so slow… it’s like walking in cement.

  7. Kate says:

    I am walking down the aisle at my wedding followed by a slew of bridesmaids. we are all wearing a cross between a storm trooper and power ranger outfit – all white. except I have purple leggings – because I’m the bride, duh. we are almost to the end of the aisle and the bridesmaid to my right (I assume this was the maid of honor) yells “GO POWER RANGER’S GOOOO!!!!!” and we went. we turned around and ran. leaving that poor groom standing there.

    mind you, I have never seen the show power rangers and do not even have a current boyfriend.

  8. ellen says:

    Last night I dreamed I went to a celebrity party and was afraid I was not cool enough. After I had been there awhile I realized that the young famous & pretty people there were not very smart so I had sex with one and went home where the conversation was better.

  9. Jacquie says:

    I have night terrors but of course I don’t remember anything about them. I forget I have them and live on my own but it can be a bit of a shock for overnight guests who I forget to warn.

    My recurring dream though since childhood is about being chased by a giant English penny about 50ft tall. That’s it, I don’t know where it happens, can’t remember any scenery but every time I think about the dream, I get a faint weird swelling feeling in my tongue. I’ve got it now.

  10. susie heller says:

    last night I dreamt about this hunk who wanted me and found me A+++. Upon awakening, my husband had forgotten my birthday today. Can I go back to bed and finish that dream?

  11. Kelli says:

    I have the “teeth” dreams as well as “losing hair” dreams, but I think it’s more literal for me: I have been losing my hair for about 20 years, and it weighs heavily on my mind. :(

    To show my age, when I was very young, I used to have dreams of the local milk truck chasing me through the neighborhood…over the rooftops. No idea what that was about.

    Currently, 2 basic themes in my dreams seem to be large rambling spaces, whether it’s a mall, a house, a barn, or an apartment building, that I’m wandering through, or trying to find my way out of. The other is that I get very angry that people don’t understand me, so I’m continuously YELLING or talking LOUDLY and s l o w l y to the other people in my dreams (who are continually ignoring me, not taking me seriously or are just plain stupid).

    I have issues. :)

  12. Kristin Ferguson says:

    My version of the “not prepared for the exam” dream:
    I’m cooking a very important dinner (either at home or at a restaurant) and I realize the guests arrive in 20 minutes and I haven’t even gone shopping for groceries yet, much less started the dinner prep. So I start trying to cook and prep with what I have on hand, but nothing I do accomplishes anything, and time is ticking away….

  13. Manisha says:

    Here’s one from my past…I need to get out of the house because a tornado is coming through but the big hairy bear is in my way and threatening to claw me….So glad I don’t have that dream anymore, apparently I must have worked something out.

  14. Anti Kate says:

    I’ve moved into a new house and everywhere I turn, there are more hallways and more rooms, it just keeps growing. Some of the rooms are empty, some have furniture and some have, EEEEK!, strange people in them. It’s always a different house. I wake up irritable, and wanting more space in my real house. The end.

    • Karen says:

      I dream that I suddenly discover a whole other room in my house (a den/library) ALL the time. So disappointing. On the flip side I also had a dream once when I first moved into my house that I discovered central vacuum outlets. I woke up and looked behind the bed but it wasn’t there. So the next week I went to Costco, bought the central vac kit and installed it. ~ karen!

  15. Dawn says:

    I need to practice my flying so I can better get away from the kittens with scorpion tails that are chasing me.

  16. Nancy says:

    So SORRY DanniS, that’s awful. My dreams are so boring and repetitive. I’m being chased and try to scream and no sound comes out or I’m in quicksand and can hardly run away or I forget about baby animals and I never remember if they are ok when I find them. My life is lovely nowadays so I don’t know why I stress dream.
    I always wanted a black eye but never pain. Perhaps I should get a face scrubber? How do you explain that one?

  17. Langela says:

    Another dream I have is of feeling drugged. I go about my day with my eyes closed, unable to open them regardless of how hard I try. The dream varies in what my day consists of, but I can never open my eyes.

    • Kristin Ferguson says:

      This was a big one for me as well–I’m somehow incoherent and don’t feel mentally alert, and keep making dumb mistakes like forgetting where I left my child. I end up begging someone to tell me what’s wrong with me. I don’t have these dreams much anymore, but they were big when I was about 22.

  18. Langela says:

    I wake up to find a giant spider lowering itself to my head. I quickly pull the blanket over my head. Aware that I often see this and it is actually a dream, I ask myself if I’m awake. Yes, I’m actually awake this time. I move my head around to see the dark room. Yep, awake. Sure I am awake and need saving, I start to scream to wake my husband. He awakes, terrified (or excited) that I’m being murdered. He assures me it is a dream. I look around again for the giant spider and it’s nowhere. It WAS a dream. I feel horrible for waking my husband. I was so sure I was actually awake!

  19. Sboo says:

    The animatronic wolf from The Neverending Story slowly creeps out of my closet. He bites off any part of my body hanging off the edge of the bed or sticking out from the covers. My head is exempt from these rules because I have to be able to breathe.

    That was my reoccurring childhood nightmare. It got to the point where I would instantly wake up if my foot slid off the edge of the bed. Don’t remember my dreams most times, but have had very intense ones in the audition (I’m a singer), water, cheating, being chased, and sex categories.

  20. Kristin says:

    I’m building an elaborate prop of the Vasa (old Swedish ship that sank on its maiden voyage in 1628 or so) and I almost fall overboard, realizing that if I did fall overboard, I couldn’t be rescued because the ship is going too fast to turn around and fetch me. Sometime during its construction my model ship has set out to sea with me on it and it doesn’t seem strange.

  21. DanniS says:

    My husband was sleeping with my best friend and I caught them. I was very angry when I woke up….5 years later I found out it was true.

  22. Jess says:

    More dreams than I would like are centered on my need to use the restroom. Often, I dream I have to go #1 very badly, but all the bathroom stalls are completely open to the room, or have meager dividers that leave you open to the gaze of others, and often its a room that men can go into also. Usually its a locker room with bathroom facilities, or just a large restroom like you would find at a sports stadium, so lots of toilets and sinks and ppl. I spend the whole dream trying to find a toilet with a little more privacy, or trying to wait for a moment when no one else is in the room. Which is funny, because in real life I’m not super shy about bodily functions, and happily they work fine. Another common dream about urinating is that in the dream I’m waking up to go use the restroom, but I never quite make it out of bed or the room, and then fall back asleep again (in the dream). Maybe I need to cut back on the amount of water I drink before bed!

    • Kristin Ferguson says:

      I have this exact dream. And while I’m trying to find privacy, I often think I’ve found it and start to pull my undies down and sit on the toilet, but then someone walks in or comes around a corner or whatever. These dreams never seem to correlate with actually having to go to the toilet.

    • tiffany says:

      I have this one often. Usually signals that I need to get up and go.

  23. julie says:

    I’m trying to catch the ferry…but I haven’t gotten ready. I need to pack but I can’t decide what to take…time is going by.. I have had this one for years….

  24. Jennie Lee says:

    I dreamed that I could jump really high, like maybe 100 feet, in slow motion. I’d squat down and jump up, rising slowly up, then down, in a smooth parabola. The landing was soft, with very little impact. During the jumps, I’d see people through their windows, and we’d wave at each other. When I woke up, I almost believed that I could really do that.

  25. naomi says:

    I’m from The Netherlands, so I apologize for the bad English. My reoccurring dream:
    I’m on my way to get to bed, but than I remember I’ve forgotten something. I go downstairs and open about ten big boxes with baby guinea pigs I got a couple of weeks ago. They’re fine, by the way. There’s also a puppy version.

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