8 Common Nightmares And What They Mean

Ever woke up from a nightmare, wondering what the hell it all meant? Nightmares are a normal thing to occasionally experience during your sleep cycle. Usually, we dream approximately two hours per night (even though we can’t always remember), mostly during the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep phase. Since REM sleep is known to stimulate the brain regions used in learning, dreaming is basically our brain trying to make sense of our daily experiences, emotions and anxieties.

According to Psychology Today, about “50 percent of adults experience occasional nightmares, women more often than men.” Surprisingly so, there are a few nightmares that seem to be very common among different people. Even though our lives vary significantly, many of us experience similar nightmares. These are the most common ones.


1. Being chased.

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Reportedly, this is one of the most common nightmares. Many people dream about being chased by a person or a monster while running away in order to prevent injury or death. Mostly, this dream relates to us trying to avoid an issue in our life. According to Freud, dreams are a “completely valid psychological phenomenon,” and can be described as the “royal road to […] the unconscious.” If you’re being chased in your dreams, you may have to look at certain insecurities and issues in your life which you’d rather avoid dealing with.


2. Losing teeth.

Yes, we’ve all been there. Dreaming about losing your teeth in one way or another can be surprisingly terrifying, no matter how old you are. Even though this dream could be dealing with a variety of issues, including a feeling of losing/lacking control in life, it could also reflect helplessness or a lack of confidence. Losing our baby teeth when we’re children is connected with strong emotions and has left a significant imprint on our memory. This is why our unconsciousness can wander back to this time of change when we’re feeling helpless and lost.


3. Failing a test.

It sucks in real life, and it sucks whilst dreaming. This could simply be related to the actual fear of a future test or a test you’ve already taken. It may also be related to a fear of entering situations unprepared. Like many other nightmares, it can highlight a lack of self-confidence and being scared of not being good enough. Nowadays, especially university students are under more pressure than they used to be. Often, they end up feeling as if they can’t compete or are lacking important knowledge.

4. Feeling trapped.

Extreme nightmares about being trapped often relate to high frustration levels in real life. You may feel ‘trapped’ in a bad relationship, job or financial issues. If these dreams keep re-occurring, you should probably look at making a few changes in real life, just so you can move forward instead of being stuck. Personal development is important for our brains, while stagnation will eventually lead to suppressed anger, boredom and anxiety.


5. Being lost.

Nightmares about being lost can often be interpreted as the fear of not fitting in, or anxiety in general. These dreams can mirror feeling disconnected from the rest of the world, or being scared of future decisions such as a new relationship, a new job, or moving away. Most people are weary of the unknown, so dreaming about feeling lost is fairly common.


6. Being nude in public.

If you’re dreaming about your clothes suddenly disappearing in public, you may feel embarrassed or exposed in real life. Sometimes, we’re scared of being exposed in front of people we wish to impress, or we struggle with the feeling of inferiority. Healthy self-esteem is important, and if it cannot be acquired naturally, counseling sessions can provide assistance and support.

7. Falling.

Dreaming about falling can be caused by several things. Firstly, all of us know the feeling of suddenly feeling as if you’re falling when you’ve just started drifting off to sleep. This is often due to changes in blood pressure when we’re falling asleep. Secondly, actual nightmares about falling can be interpreted as a general feeling of losing control, lacking aim or purpose, or a fear of failure.


8. Dying.

Even though some people maintain that dreaming about your own death is impossible, it does happen from time to time. This has nothing to do with a bad omen or bad news, it mostly signifies concerns about your past or personality, or a fear of ceasing to exist. This could relate to suppressed personality parts which are not being nurtured enough, or certain emotions that are not given enough room. Dreaming about death, however, can also relate to you making room in your life for new beginnings.