Common Dreams and What They Might Mean

Everyone has dreams. Some dreams can be fascinating and pleasant, while others can be disturbing and absolutely frightening. On average, a typical person over 10 years of age has 4 dreams each night, which equates to an astonishing 1,460 dreams per year! Dreams last between 5 and 20 minutes each, although few people are able to recall much, if anything about their dreams. It’s estimated that about 95% of dreams are forgotten by the time a person is finished sleeping and gets out of bed to start the day. Dreams can occur at any time while sleeping, but the strongest, most intense and most realistic dreams usually occur during REM (rapid eye movement) stages of sleep.

Many people believe dreams have deep, subliminal meanings. According to a Newsweek poll, 43% of Americans think dreams have hidden meanings that unconsciously represent a person’s needs and desires. Below are some of the most common dreams people report experiencing and what they might represent, although dream interpretations are highly subjective.


Falling is one of the most common dreams people report having experienced. Dream experts interpret falling from great heights as meaning the person believes he or she lacks control over an important matter or matters, such as work or personal relationships. It may be that the person has experienced major setbacks in dealing with these issues in their daily lives. In these dreams, the person never hits bottom, but rather keeps on falling until waking up. It could also mean there’s a need for the person to let go of someone or something they believe is holding them back in life.

Being Chased

This is another common dream, and like virtually all dreams can be interpreted in a few different ways. One of the most popular beliefs is that dreaming of being chased means that the person is running away from an important issue that needs to be addressed and resolved. Through the dream, the subconscious mind is telling you to face up to and take on whatever it is you fear rather than avoiding the matter by running and hiding from reality. Dreaming of being chased can also mean you’re trying to get away from someone or something that you fear and feel threatened by. Being chased by a member of the opposite sex might mean you’re afraid of becoming romantically involved or are troubled by a past relationship. Some dream experts have found that dreams of being chased are more common among women than men.


Dreaming about flying or floating usually means you’re seeking to be freed from someone or something in your life that’s holding you back. It can also signify having successfully achieved one of your major goals in life, which allows you to rise above and look down on the world with feelings of superiority, accomplishment and contentment. At the other end of the spectrum are flying dreams that can indicate a desire to escape from life’s realities. As with dreams about falling, flying dreams can be terrifying for people who have a fear of heights.

Being Naked in Public

Dreaming about being in a state of undress in front of others is fairly common. As you might have guessed, a dream where you’re naked in public most likely means you feel vulnerable and exposed. It usually has nothing to do with body image, but rather might symbolize embarrassment over something in your character that you want to hide from others. It can also be a sign of being insecure about how you’re perceived by other people. If this is a recurring dream, it could mean that you need to work on improving your self-confidence.

Showing Up Late

Showing up late for work, an exam, job interview or other important event is another common dream. It could be a sign that you’re under stress from taking on more than you can realistically handle and are overwhelmed by the demands of your job, a personal relationship or society in general. Showing up late may also be a subconscious wake-up call alerting you of a last chance to make a change in your career path, relationship or other important matter while there’s still time. Dreaming of showing up late may be telling you not to make commitments you can’t realistically keep. Dreaming about being late may also be a signal that you need to take the time to reprioritize the issues in your life that are most important.

Death, Dying and Funerals

Dreaming about death is fairly common and understandably can be disturbing, although dreams about death aren’t necessarily nightmares, nor do they necessarily mean that something ominous or negative is about to occur in your life. They can be a signal that it’s time to get a new start by transitioning from one stage of your life into the next. Dreams about death and dying can also indicate a fear of the unknown or anxiety over changes in your life that have recently been made or are about to occur.

Being in a Vehicle That’s Out of Control

Cars in dreams can often be a good sign, since they can represent progress being made toward reaching an objective. As with dreams of falling, dreaming you’re in a car that’s out of control indicates a lack of control over one or more matters in your daily life. It can also be a warning sign that a bad habit might evolve into a long-term problem unless some life changes are made. Dreams of being unable to control a car, bus or other moving vehicle often occur when a person is consciously attempting to achieve a goal but subconsciously fear they’re going about it the wrong way.

Dreams About Losing Teeth

Dreams that center around losing a tooth or teeth can have multiple meanings, although they almost always have a negative connotation. It could mean you’re concerned over your physical appearance. A dream that includes the loss of teeth also might mean you’re unable to communicate effectively or are afraid you might have said something you’ll later regret. These dreams might also mean you’re afraid of losing someone or something important, such as a significant other or a job. Some dream experts interpret losing teeth as a sign that something in the dreamer’s life has occurred that resulted in a loss of his or her self-confidence.

Taking Tests

Perfectionists often have dreams that involve taking tests or sitting for exams. Tests usually involve high levels of stress, and these dreams might be indications of a subconscious fear of doing poorly or even failing. Dreaming of being unprepared, late for or failing an exam indicates an anxiety over meeting the challenges of everyday life. On a positive note, dreams that involve test-taking might indicate you’ve achieved a major milestone and are prepared to graduate to a higher level of achievement on your journey toward happiness and success.

Based on your own dreaming experiences, these interpretations may or may not seem accurate. Each individual’s dreams are highly personal and unique. Look at them as a subconscious reflection of your life during waking hours. They can reflect your hopes, desires, fears and anxieties, as well as your goals for the future. It’s highly likely that your dreams are centered around your actual experiences and the concerns you face in your everyday life while awake.

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