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Have you ever had a dream where all your teeth were falling out, or that you were naked in class? You are not alone. There are over 35 billion dreams that occur on earth in any given 24-hour period, and a large amount of these are classified as nightmares. Nightmares are dark, scary, or stressful dreams you might have while sleeping.

Nightmares can disrupt your sleep pattern and make you feel anxious upon waking. They can be reoccurring, making you want to avoid sleep in the first place. Even the most well-adjusted people will have distressing dreams now and again. It also does not matter your age; both adults and children can have nightmares.

According to experts, dreams are “the stories our brain tells us during sleep – a collection of clips, images, feelings, and memories that involuntarily occur during REM stage of slumber”. Due to the connection dreams have to our day to day lives, some experts further believe that nightmares are messages or signals our brain is trying to tell our conscious self. Additionally, nightmares may be a tool our brain uses to try and solve scary problems.

While nightmares come in many shapes and forms, when it comes to understanding the meaning behind them it is probably easier than you think. When looking at the key features and themes in your nightmares, you should be able to relate them back to something going on in your life. You will likely be able to see connections between your nightmares and the things that were most troubling to you at the time. Here are some of the most common nightmares and what they mean to help you get started.

Seeing the Dead

There are a few different reasons why you might be seeing people who have died in your dreams. In some cases, your mind is trying to process grief. This might happen if you lost someone suddenly and have not been able to fully deal with the sadness. Seeing a dead loved one can also mean you are having difficulty letting them go. Some dream specialists also suggest it could mean you are having issues letting anything go – such as a bad relationship or a job. Other times, seeing the dead, especially someone you did not know that well, could mean that you are struggling with an increased awareness of your own morality.

Being Chased

When you are being chased in a dream it means that you are trying to run away or avoid something in your waking life that makes you stressed or anxious. You might be trying to hide the pain the situation is causing you, so it starts to bubble up in your dreams. The person or monster chasing you can also represent an aspect of yourself. For example, if you dislike the part of yourself that is overly jealous, it can manifest into a threatening figure trying to come after you.

Ending a Relationship

Being in a happy, healthy relationship is a great thing. However, if you have been hurt in the past it can be hard to fully feel secure in your new relationship. Dreams where your partner leaves you means that you are struggling to fully trust and feel vulnerable with your new boo, because you are afraid of getting hurt again. It can be fears that you are not good enough for your new partner, or fears that they will suddenly cheat on your or similar. If you have these types of dreams but are not in a relationship, it could signal that you are afraid you will never meet the right person.

Suffering an Injury

There are many ways you could get hurt in a dream. You might have a nightmare that you are burned badly in a house fire or fall of your bike and break your arm. Regardless of how the injury occurs, the theory that dream experts usually go to is that injuries are tied with feeling weak or powerless in some aspect of the dreamer’s life. You might feel that you are unable to leave a job that stresses you or overcome a big exam. This could be tied to feeling unable to change your appearance in some way as well. As you work on building self-confidence, these dreams typically end.

Feeling Trapped

Many American’s have phobias of being trapped in small spaces. Phobia dreams can mean just that, worrying about some phobia you have, however sometimes they can mean something bigger. Nightmares about being physically trapped in some way could mean that you are feeling trapped or restricted in your waking life. You might feel stuck in a living situation or job, for example. As with the other nightmares, addressing why you feel stuck will help the dreams stop.


Dreaming about flying is one of the most positive dream experiences reported, however the opposite, falling, is one of the scariest dreams someone can have. You can wake up with a racing heart and a deep feeling of helplessness from falling nightmares. The source of these nightmares is usually connected with how much anxiety you feel on a day to day basis.

You likely are feeling that you are not in control of your life or that negative outcomes of life’s situations are inevitable. If you cannot fix whatever is going on in your life, start focusing on the parts you can control. This will help alleviate some of the stress you have.

Nightmares are terrifying experiences, and it may feel like you cannot ever stop them. Learning the meaning of your dreams can help you identify parts of your waking life that need adjusting, and thus your scary dreams will end. Additionally, cutting down on caffeine, using your phone less before bed, trying relaxation techniques like yoga, and going to sleep at the same time each night can also help you get on a regular sleep schedule that cuts down on nightmare.

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