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Most Common Dreams and What They Mean

You wake up and find yourself trying to find the bathroom. You really have to go but when you find it, something isn’t right. This doesn’t look like your bathroom door, it’s old and dingy. Plus, when you open it, you see a dining room filled with people. But you can’t enter and your teeth are falling out!

If you’ve ever had a dream like this, you’re not alone. These are some of the most common themes people experience in their dreams. Dreams are reflections of the concerns, worries, fears and anxieties we have in conscious reality. Sometimes they carry profound meaning and other times they’re just a reflection of our daily experiences.

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There is some research on how frequently these common dreams occur. Robert Hoss, an expert in the field of dream science, states that these dreams are only common because we tend to remember them better, as they are more dramatic and vivid. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are more common or more meaningful.

Dream scholar Deidre Barret, PhD, states in the American Psychological Association, “ There’s something to the idea that there’s some universal, very frequent dreams meaning something similar for most people who have them”. However, it’s generally believed that every dream means something different, based on the dreamer’s individual experiences, life, and context. So, while a dream may be common because it explores experiences and feelings that are common to most people, regardless of where in the world they come from, each dream is an individual experience and should be interpreted accordingly.

With that said, here are some of the most common dreams that people tend to have.

Most Common Dreams

Most Common Dreams

1. Dreaming of Being in a Relationship

Relationship dreams mirror habits or situations in reality. When in a real relationship, this may not have much significance, but if you’re unattached, it reflects unusual success. If you dream of a relationship with a stranger and wake up missing them, it may mean that you aren’t addressing real issues in your life. If the relationship was abusive, it may symbolize harmful habits.

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2. Dreaming of Being Late

Dreaming of lateness tends to represent anxieties and feeling unprepared. It may signify that you’re finding it difficult to live up to expectations.  However, this dream can also mean that you’re worried about missing out on a good opportunity in your life or career. It can also indicate you’re about to wind down in life and reorganize what’s most important to you.

3. Dreaming of Being Lost

Being lost in a dream signifies a need to make better decisions, a sense of loss, a lack of fulfilling relationships, or a difficult time in the near future. How stressed, anxious, or worried you are in waking reality will also direct the interpretation.

4. Dreaming of Cats

One of the most common animal dreams, cats generally imply self-deception, illusion and/or delusion. You have a need to feel good, loved or comfortable about things that you can’t prove or that aren’t objective. You’re choosing to ignore facts or reality because it feels better to do so.

5. Dreaming of Chasing

Most common for children and those with PTSD, dreams about someone chasing you relates to fear and avoidance. You intentionally avert certain situations or some aspect of your personality. If you are the pursuer, you are trying to catch up with others you’ve left behind. When the pursuer is a wild animal, it represents suppressed anger.

6. Dreaming of a Cheating Spouse

When you see or know your spouse/partner is cheating with another person in a dream, it’s often a sense of misplaced insecurity, fear of abandonment, and low self-esteem. However, if you recently watched a movie about someone cheating, it could be your subconscious playing it out.

7. Dreaming of Doors

In its most basic sense, dreaming of a door is a symbol for change. You either need a change or are in the process of changing stages in life. Depending on what’s beyond the door and the condition of the door, going through it can mean adventure, secrets, opportunities, or new beginnings.

8. Dreaming of Driving

Driving dreams relate to feelings of control, responsibility, and the manner in which you function in life. This can also indicate power, domination, authority, emotional stability, or a need to prove yourself. These interpretations will rely on who’s driving the car, the condition of the car, and whether you reach your intended destination.

9. Dreaming of Dying

Dreams of dying often denotes a change within or a rebirth of a new you. When someone else dies, it either symbolizes a belief or person you have to let go of. But dreams of dying can also mean you are so stressed or anxious in reality you desire an escape.

10. Dreaming of Falling

Dreams of falling are a literal interpretation and reflection of waking life. It almost always means a loss of control in some way. It can also indicate concern over a major decision and you have doubts about having made the right choice.

11. Dreaming of False Waking

Waking up while still sleeping is a very common dream, where you see yourself waking up but in fact, you’re still sleeping. These dreams are generally accompanied by panic and confusion, as reality is blurred, and you don’t know what’s really happening to you. This implies a recent change to your schedule or  a sense of urgency about something. If this isn’t the case, it likely indicates a situation you don’t want to face.

12. Dreaming of Feeling Trapped

Dreams where you feel trapped, either as a hostage, captive, or prisoner indicate a sense of suffocation in waking life. Some part of your existence feels out of your control and you are helpless to change it. It can also indicate something about which you’re in denial.

13. Dreaming of Finding Rooms

It’s generally good when you dream of finding a new a room. The kind of room, its size, the number of rooms and other details represent your interests and capabilities. For instance, a small room means you want to escape while a dining room foretells sorrow. More than one room suggests different stages of life or the importance of family traditions.

14. Dreaming of Floating

Whether in air or water, floating means you are either newly delivered from cares or are free from the chains of something. If you’re floating on water in your dream, it indicates an ability to coast through life. If you are floating through both air and water, you lack discipline of direction or there’s a loss of personal power.

15. Dreaming of Flying

Flying represents freedom or a desire to be free of things holding you back. It denotes you have already taken the steps to better your life and are releasing unwanted people, places and experiences. This is one of the most common dreams for adult men.

16. Dreaming of Hair Falling

Hair falling in a dream will depend on the dreamer’s gender along with the cultural, spiritual, and social standards around the concept of hair. But, in general, it can mean a fear of aging or death as well as a deep inner sense of inferiority, loss of control, or betrayal. It can also reveal health concerns, feeling less attractive, overworked, and stressed.

17. Dreaming of Murdering or Killing

If things like aggression, violence, or anger are a constant in reality, it most often reveals itself as murdering or killing in a dreamscape. However, some people, who are very open to their emotions and new experiences, dream of murdering or killing to explore the safety of the subconscious.

18. Dreaming of Needing to Urinate

If you feel the strain of having to urinate in your dream, it may mean you want to release some serious inner emotional turmoil. When you can’t find a bathroom, it predicts an emotional release soon to come. However, sometimes it can indicate an actual need to pee and it’s your brain’s way of waking you up.

19. Dreaming of Nudity

You harbor shame, guilt, or embarrassment about some aspect of your life when dreaming of your own nakedness. Nudity can also mean you’re afraid to let others see your weaknesses.

However, in your dream, if you enjoyed the experience of nudity, then it denotes a sense of pride or freedom.

Being nude in front of a crowd means you care too much about others’ opinions. If someone else is naked in the dream, it’s a warning about trusting strangers.

20. Dreaming of Pregnancy

Dreams of being pregnant are common for women who are or have been pregnant, so it doesn’t symbolize much. In other circumstances, it means there’s a major life change coming that will require some form of nurturing.

For men to dream of being pregnant is a red flag that points to a relationship; romantic or otherwise. If a man dreams of his wife pregnant, and she isn’t, it may mean that an idea that’s coming to pass. If it’s his girlfriend, she might be keeping important secrets from him.

21. Dreaming of Sex

Sex dreams symbolize union or embracing something outside your realm of experience. They can also denote a profound sense of self-love and acceptance. Sex dreams also serve as a means of releasing tension, even if you are sexually active. However, for adolescent males, it’s an expression of hormonal changes.

22. Dreaming of Shadowy Figures

To dream of dark, shadowy figures is a classic psychological experience. It represents a part of yourself you either don’t accept or can’t convey in waking reality. For introverts, it’s a part of your subconscious trying to express itself. For extroverts, it could represent hurt pride.

23. Dreaming of Taking an Exam

When you’re in school, taking an exam in your dream mirrors your concerns in waking life. However, if you’re no longer taking exams but you dream of it, it connotes a time of heavy testing, challenges, and judgment from others. It could also indicate a real-life agitation or your feeling unprepared for the challenges coming into your life.

24. Teeth Falling Out

Not only are dreams of teeth falling out one of the most common, but they’re also among the most ancient to be recorded. Jewish writers, Greek philosophers, and the Ancient Egyptians studied the meaning behind such dreams. They thought it prophesied something as mundane as paying off debts to as dire an event as losing a loved one. These sensations of loss and death also apply to people in the modern world.

However, these dreams can also be very practical. If you are having worries about dental issues, it is your subconscious playing out those concerns.

25. Dreaming of Being Unable to Scream

When you can’t scream in your dream, it’s a sign of trouble with self-expression. If this often reoccurs, there’s something important you never say but should.

However, such a dream can also indicate feelings of helplessness, shyness, or self-sabotage. If you lose your voice while talking, you either don’t have control over your life, someone is ignoring you, or you fear standing up for yourself.

Interpreting Dreams

To glean a better understanding of how these dreams could combine in a dream, let’s disseminate the hypothetical scenario in our introduction.

…You wake up and find yourself trying to find the bathroom. You really have to go but when you find it, something isn’t right. This doesn’t look like your bathroom door, it’s old and dingy. Plus, when you open it, you see a dining room filled with people. But you can’t enter, and your teeth are falling out!…

This person possibly has serious anxieties about a secret, or they worry about exposing their weaknesses to others. The fact that they’re nude and find a dining room of people is a good indication.

The old door suggests a major life change while the teeth falling out imply feelings of powerless in life. What’s more, it seems the changes coming will be difficult and filled with sorrow.

Some sort of emotional release is possible as well. Their need to use the bathroom but instead finding the dining room connotes this.

In Brief

There are other universal dream themes that people have. It’s not surprising though, since humankind shares feelings of worry, frustration, anxiety, and concern. However, the details of the dream and the culture or religion of the dreamer are what creates the nuances and differences in symbolism.

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Apsara Palit
Apsara Palit

After completing her post-grad in Values, Ethics and Indian Culture, Apsara is sharing her knowledge of symbolism, mythology, history and culture through her blogs. Apsara lives in India and believes in getting a first-hand understanding of culture through travelling.