Brain and Body

10 Common Dreams and What They Really Mean

October 8, 2015 | Kelly Tatera

Artist's impression of girl flying
Photo credit: "Flying Girl" by Niko47/Deviant Art (CC BY 3.0)

If you’ve had any of these dreams, you’re not alone. And what they really mean might surprise you.

Dreams. They’ve perplexed scientists and dreamers alike since the beginning of time. Why do we see these strange visualizations in our minds when we’re asleep? Do they serve an evolutionary purpose, or are they just nonsensical visions meant to dazzle and confuse us? While psychologists and biologists will have to continue solving these puzzles, they’ve identified some of the most common dreams among humans, as well as what these dreams may signify in waking life.

SEE ALSO: How We "See " Our Dreams

Teeth Falling Out

Indeed, suddenly losing all of your teeth one-by-one would be a strange sensation, at least in the dream world. (It would probably be quite painful in reality.) The “teeth falling out” dream can also manifest itself as dissolving or decaying teeth, but it all boils down to one overlying feeling: anxiety. Losing teeth in a dream can symbolize that you feel like you’ve lost control of an important aspect of your life. In fact, some dream analysts suggest the teeth are a sign of power and confidence, so losing control over them might represent a feeling of powerlessness in real life.

Naked in Front of a Crowd

This one’s not too hard to decipher. Psychologists speculate that dreams in which you forget to wear clothes to school or work represent a feeling of vulnerability. Ian Wallace, a dream psychologist who wrote The Complete A to Z Dictionary of Dreams, says many people who are moving to a new place or starting a new job will fall victim to the dream of dropping pants in front of a crowd.

Meeting a Celebrity

Many of us have probably dreamed about solving the black hole paradox with Stephen Hawking once and for all, or, more commonly, marrying Jake Gyllenhaal or Scarlett Johansson. Dream specialists believe that dreams involving celebrities symbolize a need for recognition or acceptance, whether in terms of physical appearance or mental aptitude


Falling from a skyscraper in New York City or a neverending drop off the side of a cliff could certainly make for tense nightmares. But psychologists say that not all falling dreams have to be negative. Sometimes, the act of falling in a dream feels more slow and serene, which might symbolize a necessary act of letting go.


Dreaming of the liquid of life can offer a look into our subconscious minds and emotions. It’s important, however, to note the state of the water in your dream — turbulent and murky or clear and calm? Whether the water is stormy or serene can offer insight into how we’re managing our emotions in response to the events and changes occurring in our lives.


Dreaming that your significant other is cheating on you (or vice versa) doesn’t mean the dream gods want to notify you that it’s happening in real life, so don’t jump to any rash conclusions. Instead, it symbolizes an underlying feeling of distrust or insecurity within the relationship. Lauri Loewenberg, a dream psychologist who has written 3 books and has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show and Anderson Cooper 360, says it could also be as simple as feeling like your partner has been spending too much time and attention outside of your relationship.


Dreaming of taking a test, failing one, or showing up late for an exam offers a pretty straightforward look into your subconscious. Psychologists believe these dreams signify feeling underprepared or anxious about the upcoming events in your life.


When death is the theme of a dream, dreamers often get spooked into thinking it’s a hint that death will soon manifest in their lives in some way. But dream analysts say that death doesn’t always have to hint at the negative or the end to something — it can symbolize a dramatic change in the dreamer’s life. While something might be coming to an end, there will be something new to take its place.


Wallace believes that dreaming of flight symbolizes liberation and breaking free of something that’s been holding you back in your life.


Many psychologists find difficult to agree upon the meaning of pregnancy dreams. Some view it as a feeling of creativity and eagerness to take on a new project, while others believe it embodies the insecurity a woman may feel about whether or not she will be a good mother.


While these dream interpretations probably won’t solve all of your life’s problems, they can be used as insight into why you might be feeling a certain way. All of our dreams share certain common signs and occurrences, but in the end it’s up to the dreamer to decide what to make of them.

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