9 Common Dreams and What They Supposedly Mean

Have you ever woken up after a dream and wondered if it has a deeper meaning? Surprisingly, about 43% of Americans believe that their dreams are more than imaginative scenarios.

Sigmund Freud, famed psychoanalyst, said dreams are the “royal road” to the unconscious, and by studying the apparent content of dreams, one could bring light to the hidden desires or messages.

Every night, a person will have around five episodes of dreams, and they can last between 15 to 40 minutes. Dream experts describe dreams as a mirror of the fundamental patterns of human behavior – they reflect who we are, what we believe in, and what we need.

The meanings of common dreams are not black and white; they are presented metaphorically. Analyzing dream symbols and placing significance has become a popular source of entertainment and self-reflection.

Regardless of whether or not dreams have meaning, interpreters and analysts have created entire hosts of dream dictionaries to imply what common dream themes and symbols stand for.

Here we explore the ten most common dreams and what they (supposedly) mean.


Have you ever started falling into your dream, and then you get jolted awake? There are two very different types of falling dreams.

So, when falling in your dream, and on top of this, being overcome with fear could represent insecurity or anxiety about a situation. Maybe you failed at doing something in your waking life, and the dream you have in expressing your feelings about not doing as well as you would have wanted.

It could also mean you feel a loss of control in an aspect of your life. Or it could signal a loss of support or even a symbolic warning your conscious ego has to become more grounded.

On the other hand, happily free-falling in your dream suggests you are not afraid of changes and are ready to embrace its joy.

Being Naked

Have you ever had an awkward dream where you show up to your workplace or school in your birthday suit? Or maybe you are walking down the street and realize you don”t have clothes on, or you forgot your shirt or pants.

Dreams of being naked in public can leave you feeling incredibly embarrassed, humiliated, and exposed. These dreams can mean that you feel vulnerable or are afraid that others see through your “clothes” to find the real you within.

It could also suggest that you struggle to find yourself or feel that you are being wrongly exposed or accused. Experts largely agree that this type of dream represents anxiety or vulnerability – maybe you have accepted a promotion, started a new job, or are coming into public view.

But another take on it suggests you are comfortable in your skin and have nothing to hide, showing that you have the self-confidence to let the world see you precisely who you are. And with who you and others are because you comprehend that everyone is different.


Now, dreaming about a loved one’s death or even your death can be incredibly terrifying, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the dream is a nightmare or that you or someone you know will die.

Instead, this dream encourages a person to embark on a new endeavor or fresh start.

These dreams could also reflect anxiety about change or fear of the unknown.

Like death, change can be scary because we do not know what is on the other side of the change, so the dreaming mind equates change with death.

Therefore, dreaming about the death of a loved one can reflect a similar fear of change, particularly regarding children reaching milestones. The changes could indicate that a child is growing and getting older, and a parent begins to wonder where the younger child went.

Thus, such dreams of dying reflect a sort of mourning for the inescapable passage of time.

Studies have shown that people approaching the end of life or knowing of a loved one getting older could get significance and meaning from these dreams, often related to a comforting presence, like getting ready to go.

Losing Teeth

There are many different interpretations of what this dream could mean. Teeth are often symbols of strength and youth, and losing teeth is one of the most common experiences of getting older.

It could suggest a fear of getting older and losing your youth.

These dreams might also reflect your anxieties about your appearance and how others perceive you because showing teeth or smiling is a vital part of how we present ourselves to others.

It could be a symbol of our social interaction and persona. Also, lost teeth make it harder to eat things and speak clearly. When you dream about losing teeth, you could be dreaming of losing your power and attraction in the context of your social life or feeling you’re having trouble communicating with others.

Usually, these dreams stem from a fear of rejection, embarrassment, or feeling unattractive.

Other interpretations say that teeth are a bad omen and represent a broken relationship.

And that for women, this dream is an example of wish-fulfillment, wanting to become pregnant, and for men, it is the desire for sexual activity.

Also, losing a tooth that has been causing you pain could be an enormous relief. This image is potentially beneficial in that losing teeth can be a signal of impending rebirth.


Humans have imagined soaring and flying with the birds above throughout history. These dreams are often about independence and liberty, but they also can suggest having a birds-eye view of the world.

This type of dream can encourage a person to let go of current issues and allow things to fall into place. Likewise, flying is a sign that there is an out-of-control situation in your real life that might need to be looked at.

A difficult time flying in your dream suggests that someone or something stops you from moving on to the next step in your life. If you cannot fly, it indicates that you might be struggling to meet the high goals you set for yourself.

Similarly, being alone and trying hard to fly implies lacking confidence in yourself.

Being Chased

Running away from something or being chased suggests that you are trying to avoid something that is causing you anxiety or fear in waking life.

When considering the symbolic meaning of being pursued, it could indicate that something wants to catch up with you.

It is often related to how you feel about some tricky part of your life that you are not paying enough attention to, like an unrecognized trauma or stressful event.

Most dream psychologists say that the so-called “monster” chasing you could be an aspect of yourself that you purposefully suppress.

Your act of running in your dreams could mean that this is how you would respond to daily stresses to cope with the anxious occurrences.

If you tend to run away from issues rather than tackle them, being chased could be a recurring dream until you figure out the problem and resolve it in your conscious life.

Driving/Crashing a Car

Cars in our dreams represent our drive and motivation in life and our direction. If you dream about your car losing control, you may feel that you might not have enough power on your road to success or are off track and need to get back on the main road to keep going.

So, yes, just as cliché as you might have expected it. It can also signify that a current lousy habit may become a long-term problem.

If you lose control of your vehicle and someone you know is driving the car, you might also need to get them back on track.

The person driving will help you understand who is controlling the direction you are taking.

Exam Time

These could be the scarier of dreams. Feeling unprepared for an exam in a dream can be commonly linked to young adults or children being under a lot of pressure and stress.

Sometimes they can feel so real that when the person wakes up, they are genuinely convinced that they just failed an important test.

This type of dream can reflect the individual’s lack of confidence and inability to advance to the next stage in life.

Taking an exam in your dreams could reveal an underlying fear of failure. It is proven that at least 1 in 5 people will experience an exam dream in their lives.

It is also said that perfectionists tend to have recurring stressful test-taking dreams.

The dream could remind a person to stay alert.

And when this dream occurs in adults, it draws parallels between school and a job typically because both places see many pressure-filled situations, which could mean work stress.

Examinations are dire experiences in which you are made to face- to dream of failing an exam or being unprepared could show that you feel unprepared for the challenges of waking life.

Being Late

This leads up to our last common dream, which is being late. This represents worry and anxiety about taking a different direction in your life. You might feel that you are now 100% confident about making a change.

It could also mean that you feel that you are running out of time to accomplish something you have been meaning to do. However, your unconscious might be telling you that it is never too late to achieve the things you want in life. But don”t make any promises you can”t keep!

This could be a reason why you are having this dream.

Do most of these dream interpretations seem accurate? While dreams could mean various things, I hope you can make some sense out of some of the common dreams you have been having.

Instead of trying to piece together a confusing puzzle of what your dreams could mean, consider your dreams a contemplation of your waking life, reflecting your fears, anxieties, desires, and aspirations for the future.

It is quite likely that the things you experience in your dreams probably reflect the concerns you face in your daily existence.


Hamilton-Parker, C. (1999). The hidden meaning of dreams. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc..

Nir, Y., & Tononi, G. (2010). Dreaming and the brain: from phenomenology to neurophysiology. Trends in cognitive sciences, 14(2), 88-100.

Schredl, M. (2008). Freud’s interpretation of his own dreams in “ The interpretation of dreams”: a continuity hypothesis perspective. International Journal of Dream Research, 44-47.

Weinstein, N., Campbell, R., & Vansteenkiste, M. (2018). Linking psychological need experiences to daily and recurring dreams. Motivation and Emotion, 42(1), 50-63.

Saul Mcleod, PhD

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Educator, Researcher

Saul Mcleod, Ph.D., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years experience of working in further and higher education.

Mia Belle Frothingham

Harvard Graduate

B.A., Sciences and Psychology

Mia Belle Frothingham is a Harvard University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Sciences with minors in biology and psychology