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Common Dreams and What Do They Mean

Fact Checked
Up to date
Update: May 25, 2023
7 min read

Written by

Rahul Upadhyay
Content Writer
What Do Dreams Mean

While some dreams wake you up feeling on top of the world, some feel illogical. If you have vivid dreams involving everything from your ex to meeting a celebrity, you probably wonder if they mean anything. Well, it is believed that dreams can have meanings and patterns.  So, what do dreams mean? Well, just read ahead to know all about them! 

What Are Dreams?

Wondering what is a dream? Dreams are like a movie played by your mind when you fall asleep. Even today, with loads of research on the subject, an aura of mystery is still attached to them. It is because conducting a dream study can be challenging.

While dreams can occur during any sleep stage, vivid dreams occur in the REM sleep stage. During REM, the brain is active, and there is movement behind closed eyes. That’s not all. Here, you also experience temporary paralysis. So, you generally don’t easily wake up during the dream phase. This is dream meaning.

Why Do We Dream?

One of the most intriguing questions pertaining to our brains is why people dream. Even today, experts are still determining why we dream. That being said, the main theory is that dreams can assist with the consolidation and analysis of our memories or any difficulties we go through during the day. This is what causes dreams.

As aforementioned, dreams occur during the REM sleep stage when the brainwaves are at peak. And experts also believe that the brainstem is the reason for our REM sleep, and the forebrain produces dreams. So, if you are thinking about where do dreams come from, this is it. However, a study also found that dreams can result from the imagination rather than the memories present in the forebrain. When it comes to how do dreams work, there is still research needed on the subject.

Most Common Dreams and Their Meanings

Dreams can have meaning. However, the reason why sometimes they seem so surreal is because of dopamine. Below is a rundown of the most common dreams and the meaning of dreams. 

Dreams About Being Chased

Being chased in a dream can be pretty unsettling. But what do dreams of being chased mean? Well, one of the most dream triggers can be stress. And in today’s day and age, being chased is the most common theme of adult dreams

In fact, in one study, out of all the participants, 65% had dreams that reflected their previous day. So, if you have been battling stress at work or home, that can be why you are being chased in the dream. And a few other reasons why you can have this dream can be because;

  • Anxiety
  • Stress 
  • Worry about certain things 
  • Trying to avoid an event or a person
  • Overwhelmed with responsibilities

Dreams About Falling

Another common dream people have is about falling. Researchers say that these dreams can be because they can mirror feelings of helplessness or rejection. It can be because;

  • Insecurity or feeling unstable 
  • Inferior complex
  • Anxiety or overwhelmed
  • Feeling of losing control 

Dreams About Being Naked

Are you having dreams about being naked and wondering what does my dream mean? Well, it could be a sign of vulnerability. How? Clothes represent protection. So, nakedness can be an indication that you are afraid of being ridiculed or humiliated. 

Dreams About Flying

Most of us would love to fly high up in the air. One interpretation of dreams of flying can be that you have freed yourself from whatever was holding you back. You have taken a step to give yourself the life you deserve. However, if you are flying in dreams with a sense of anxiety attached to it, it can mean that you are looking for a semblance of stability that is missing in your life. 

Dreams About Death

Dreams about death can be morbid. In one study, it was seen that terminally ill people often dreamt of their loved ones dying and dream about someone you have lost recently. 

While dreams about death may leave you questioning why do we have dreams. Fret not, it is not a prediction or a sign. So, what do recurring dreams mean here? It may be an indication of unresolved problems in your life. Therefore, figuring out the issue can help you avoid this dream. 

Dreams About Pregnancy

Dreams can be fascinating, and dreaming about pregnancy can be a good thing as they represent a creative process. So, if you are working on a project or towards a particular goal, this vivid dreams meaning can be a representation of the same

Dreams About Water

What do your dreams mean when you dream about water? Well, it can be a representation of our emotions. Not the ones you show everyone but the hidden feelings beneath the facade of normalcy. Dreams about water can mean;

  • A large water body means deep emotions within 
  • Walking in the rain can mean cleansing 
  • If you see turbulent waters in the dreams, it can be a sign of turbulent emotions 
  • Muddy or unclean water can be a representation of confused feelings 
  • Drowning can mean that you are overburdened by your emotions

Dreams About Food

According to research, food dreams may indicate suffering from an eating disorder. But not all food dreams point in that direction. It can also be a reflection of your current state. If the taste and smell of food in your dreams are pleasant, it can mean positive emotions. 

Recurring Dreams

Recurring dreams are usually quite common. If you tend to have recurring dreams surrounding the same topic, it can mean that you have unresolved issues. It can also mean that there is a need to process trauma

Dreams About Animals

Dreams about animals can be interesting. However, there are a plethora of interpretations when it comes to animal dreams. But the most common one reminds you of your instincts or to trust your gut. That being said, the meaning of your dream can also be related to the animal you see. For instance, if you are dreaming about a dog, it can mean that you are looking for a true friend for yourself.

Dreams About Test Taking

If you fear exams, dreams about taking a test can almost feel nightmarish. However, you probably have this dream because you have a decision to make. It can also indicate fear associated with a new phase of your life. 

Dreams About Infidelity/Cheating

Dreaming about cheating on your partner can be upsetting, especially when you have a rock-solid relationship. But there is nothing to worry about. Cheating or infidelity-related dreams are quite common. Some of the reasons why you may be having this dream are;

  • You have a secret
  • You are probably refraining from facing the truth or trying to hide from it 
  • You probably think there is a fact that you must uncover 
  • You feel that something is missing in life, for instance, intimacy or adventure

Dreams Where You Can’t Move

When you are in a dream-like state but unable to move, it is sleep paralysis. This occurs during the REM sleep phase. It is a temporary state and not a sign of any medical issue. Sometimes, hallucinations are also a part of sleep paralysis and it may last for a few seconds. 

Dreams Where You Can’t Speak

A straightforward meaning of a dream where you cannot speak is that you feel your voice isn’t heard in reality. You may be feeling ignored or undervalued. If you have recurring dreams where you cannot speak, it can mean that you are repressing painful memories from your childhood. 

Dreams About Meeting a Celebrity

If you adore a particular celebrity and tend to think of them a lot, it is possible to dream of meeting them. However, if you dream of a random celebrity, you may relate to them or appreciate how they look or their charisma. 

Dreams About Showing Up Late for Something

Nobody likes being late. For some, being late can cause anxiety! However, if you are dreaming about showing up late for something, it can mean you are under pressure to live up to someone’s expectations. 

Why Do Some People Forget Their Dreams?

We all dream but most of the time cannot remember these dreams. Now, dreams tend to occur when the brain is processing short and long-term memory. So, when you wake up, you may not be able to access this information.

In one study, researchers pointed out that we may be unable to remember our dreams due to the changing levels of acetylcholine and norepinephrine

Also, in a 2014 study, it was seen that people with high dream recall had increased blood flow in the TPJ and MPFC areas of the brain, which helps store the memory of the dream in our brain. 

Tips to Remember Your Dreams

If you want to remember your dreams once you wake up, you can try a few things. 

Keep a Dream Diary

A dream journal is when you write down everything you remember about your dream as soon as you wake up. It can help you remember your dreams better.

Train Your Brain

Tell yourself you will remember your dreams repeatedly before you dose off. It should be your last thought before you fall asleep. And as soon as you wake up, try to remember your dreams, even if it is just a feeling. With time, you will be able to remember them better.

Wake Up Without an Alarm

Your dreams tend to fade in the morning. But an alarm can shift your mind’s focus from the dream. Here, waking up naturally can be beneficial.

Limit Alcohol and Caffeine

Too much caffeine or alcohol before bed can hamper your REM sleep; this is where most of the dreaming occurs. 

Follow a Regular Sleep Schedule

Finally, make sure to follow a regular sleep schedule and sleep for at least 7 to 9 hours. This helps you get enough REM sleep and this is when dreaming occurs. 


Dreams are fascinating but can sometimes be terrifying too. However, it is believed that our dreams have a hidden meaning behind them. Infact, some also think it can be a message from the spiritual being. That being said. Dreams may also be fragments of memories we see during the memory consolidation process. But if you are experiencing recurrent nightmares or wake up frightened, it is best to consult a doctor.


Why is it so hard for me to sleep alone?

It can be because of sleep anxiety. It is best to consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. 

How do I learn to sleep alone?

Some tips you can try are;

  • Sleep with a pet 
  • Try talk therapy
  • Practice relaxation techniques

Is sleeping alone healthy?

According to a study, sleeping with a partner can help you achieve better sleep when compared to sleeping alone. 

Is it OK to sleep with someone?

Yes, as mentioned above, sleeping with your partner can be beneficial for you.

Why do some people like to sleep alone?

It depends on everyone’s personal preference. For instance, some may find it comfortable to sleep alone.

Are dreams real?

No, dreams are not real but a collection of random thoughts and images.


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Written by

Rahul Upadhyay
Content Writer
10 years of experience as a content writer Previously worked as a copywriter for a health journal Ability to write in a variety of formats, including articles, white papers, and clinical trial summaries

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