Common Recurring Dreams and What They Mean

Common Recurring Dreams and What They Mean

Sleeping Student

Ever wonder what your dreams are trying to tell you?

Each night, your brain goes through multiple stages of sleep but has only two main types of sleep:  REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and non-REM.  Throughout the night, our body and mind transition from wakefulness, to light sleep, to deep sleep, to REM sleep (the phase in which dreams occur).

Recurring Dreams

Often, recurring dreams indicate a stressful decision or incident you are experiencing in waking life.

REM sleep is characterized by high brain activity in addition to the rapid, back-and-forth movement of the eyes.  REM is also known as paradoxical sleep because brain activity increases while muscles simultaneously become more relaxed.  REM sleep is crucial to your health because it allows your brain to process information it has gathered from the previous day and leaves your brain with a “clean slate” for the next day.  As a result, dreams often reflect or seem inspired by events we experienced, thoughts we had, or information we learned from the day before.  While for the most part dreams are a pleasant, if not uneventful, experience, many people report specific recurring dreams.  After speaking with our experts at Sleep City, and consulting the trusted internet, I’ve collected 5 of the most common recurring dreams and what they are trying to tell you.


  1. Teeth Falling Out – Although I have been fortunate enough to never experience this specific dream, I have had similar ones (jaws locking, teeth clenching, etc.).  While this dream has nothing to do with the state of your oral health, it can tell you loads about how you see yourself.  There is no single explanation for what this dream is telling you, but experts have said that it could symbolize a communication issue (perhaps you said something you weren’t supposed to?), a fear of being found unattractive or growing old, or feelings of insecurity and vulnerability in your life.  There are a number of other interpretations out there, ranging from sexual repression to signs of depression, but these are a few of the most common explanations.
  2. Nudity – Whether you are nude or partially nude, or even just witness to another’s nudity, this dream often means the same thing:  in some aspect of your life you are feeling vulnerable, exposed, or awkward.  This dream could mean that at some point in waking life, you feel you have exposed too much of yourself and now feel uncomfortable. One website stated that this dream often occurs when you are involved in a wedding in real life.  Hmmm…
  3. Being Chased – As one of the most commonly shared nightmare themes, this dream is
    Being Chased

    The recurring dream of being chased often signifies some sort of threat in real life.

    understandably terrifying.  One expert explained that this dream often symbolizes a perceived threat in your waking life.  By analyzing who or what is chasing you in the dream, you may be able to better understand what you feel threatened by in real life.  This dream could also signify a “fight-or-flight” situation in which you have chosen to flee in real life; in other words, you have chosen avoidance over confrontation at some point in your waking life.  Interestingly, women reportedly experience this dream more often than men.

  4. Cheating Partner – No need to go through your partner’s phone or dresser drawers just yet.  While this dream often leaves couples on thin ice, it is rarely an indication that your partner is hiding something from you.  Rather, most experts explain this dream signifies a feeling of being “cheated” by something going on in his or her life.  In other words, you feel, at some level, that a certain amount of attention in your partner’s life is going towards someone or something (often work) rather than towards you.  As a result, you feel that you are being cheated of time and attention from your partner.  
  5. Failing a Test – This dream most commonly occurs in people who have been out of school for a substantial period of time (although it can occur during school as well).  This dream is often characterized by something inhibiting you from scoring well on an important test, whether you are late for the test, have not had time to prepare, or are missing some type of equipment necessary for the test.  Most likely, this dream means you are feeling tested in some aspect of your waking life and you feel that you are unprepared for it.  It could also signify that you feel you are in the wrong place or playing the wrong “part” in life.   

Luckily, each of these dreams can be solved in the same fashion.  By understanding your dreams, you often learn a lot about yourself and what is causing you stress in your day-to-day excursions.  After relieving the stress that is causing them, these dreams should cease to occur. More likely than not, through research and understanding of these dreams, you will have the tools to solve the problems that inspire them.  

While dreams can tell us a lot about ourselves, they can also keep us from achieving a good night’s sleep.  By not relieving the stress that causes nightmares such as these, many people begin to experience severe sleeplessness.  In addition, these dreams can leave you feeling like you hardly slept even after a full night of sleep.  It is important to address dreams such as these and solve the issues that provoke them before they result in serious sleep loss.

Cheers and sleep well.