We spend a third of our lives sleeping and dreaming. Even though many people may insist that they do not have dreams, the reality is that they do not recall their dreams. Interpreting the meaning of a perplexing dream can be very unnerving. “Dreams have always been considered important in many cultures and traditions worldwide. The Bible references dreams many times, like Joseph’s famous dream. Tibetan Buddhists and Hindus practice dream yoga. Shamans are also known to fight with other shamans in dreams regularly,” says Tara Green, a certified Psychotherapy counselor, and Astrology consultant.

For something with so much historical and cultural significance, it becomes essential for our mental well-being to comprehend whether our dreams are mere fragments of imagination, reflections of our innermost thoughts, or carry profound symbolism.

How to Analyze Dreams

Depending on what you believe in, you can utilize any of these four different methods to analyze your dreams. Psychoanalytic Interpretation, rooted in Sigmund Freud’s theories, suggests dreams reveal unconscious desires, repressed memories, and unresolved conflicts. 

Cognitive Interpretation views dreams as a mental process that organizes information, consolidates memories, and prepares us for the future. 

Emotional Interpretation emphasizes the role of emotions in dreams, providing a platform to experience and cope with intense feelings symbolically. 

Spiritual and Symbolic Interpretation recognizes cultural and personal variations in assigning mystical or symbolic meanings to dream elements.

While most dreams tend to be unique to the individual, research has identified several recurring themes that frequently manifest in our dreams. Some examples are being attacked or chased, encountering the death of loved ones, falling, flying, seeing an ex in a dream, or dreaming of being pregnant. Read on for the 11 most common dreams and their meanings and some tips on adequately interpreting your dreams.

Being Attacked or Chased

This type of dream can be extremely frightening and may make you anxious. In dream interpretation, being chased often represents feeling threatened or overwhelmed in your waking life. The attacker or pursuer may symbolize a person, situation, or emotion you feel is causing you distress.

Running Late

Another general dream theme involves being late for an important event or appointment. This type of dream generally reflects feelings of anxiety, stress, or a lack of control in your daily life. It may indicate that you need help managing your time effectively or are feeling unprepared or inadequate in some aspect of your life.

Death of Loved Ones

Dreaming of the death of a loved one can be incredibly distressing. However, these dreams are not always literal omens of death. Instead, they may symbolize significant changes or transitions in your life or relationships. The death in the dream may represent the end of one phase and the beginning of a new one, or it could symbolize feelings of loss, separation, or fear of change.


Falling dreams are another common occurrence and can be pretty unsettling. In dream interpretation, falling often symbolizes feelings of insecurity, instability, or loss of control in your waking life. It may also represent feelings of failure or a fear of letting go.


Flying dreams can be exhilarating and empowering, often representing feelings of freedom, independence, and a desire for self-expression. Flying may symbolize your ability to overcome challenges or limitations. It can also signify a desire to escape from a difficult situation or to explore new perspectives and possibilities.

Many people experience school-related dreams, such as being unprepared for an exam or unable to find their classroom. These dreams often reflect feelings of anxiety, stress, or inadequacy in your waking life. They may indicate that you’re facing challenges or high expectations in your personal or professional life or are feeling unprepared or uncertain about a particular situation or decision.

Sexual Dreams

Sexual dreams are quite common and can be both enjoyable and confusing. In dream interpretation, sexual experiences often represent a desire for intimacy, connection, or self-expression. They may also symbolize underlying feelings of vulnerability, power, or control in your relationships or personal life.

Losing Teeth

Dreams about losing teeth are surprisingly common and can be unsettling. In dream interpretation, losing teeth often symbolizes feelings of powerlessness, insecurity, or a fear of losing control of your life. It may also represent concerns about your appearance, self-esteem, or ability to communicate effectively with others.

Being Naked in Public

Finding yourself naked in public in a dream can be embarrassing and distressing. Public nudity often represents fee lings of vulnerability, exposure, or shame in your waking life. It may also indicate that you’re hiding something or afraid of revealing your true self to others.

Failing an Exam

Dreams of failing an exam or being unprepared for a test are common, particularly among students and professionals. Failing an exam usually symbolizes feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, or a fear of failure in your personal or professional life. It may also represent a lack of confidence in your abilities or a fear of being judged by others.

Trapped or Unable to Move

Dreams in which you’re trapped or unable to move can be incredibly distressing. Feeling trapped may represent confinement, restriction, or a lack of freedom in your waking life. It may also symbolize helplessness or a fear of being unable to change or escape from a difficult situation.

Some Factors To Consider When Interpreting Your Dreams

The meaning of your dreams and whether they reveal your true feelings depends on various factors. It’s essential to consider the context of your dream and any personal associations or experiences that may be influencing the dream’s symbols and themes.

Personal Associations

Your personal experiences and associations play a significant role in shaping the meaning of your dreams. For example, if you fear spiders, dreaming about spiders may represent your anxieties related to this specific fear rather than a more general symbol of entrapment or deception.

Emotional State

Your emotional state during and after waking can also provide valuable insights into the dream’s meaning. If a dream leaves you feeling anxious, sad, or angry, it may indicate that it reflects unresolved emotions or issues in your waking life.

Recurring Dreams

If you experience recurring dreams or dream themes, it may be a sign that your unconscious mind is trying to bring your attention to a particular issue or unresolved conflict. Paying close attention to these recurring dreams and exploring their possible meanings can help you gain valuable insights and potentially resolve the underlying problem.

Other Helpful Dream Interpretation Tips

Keep a dream journal to capture and preserve the details of your dreams, so you can reflect on them later and identify patterns or recurring themes. Start by writing down your dreams immediately upon waking, as they tend to fade quickly; then, reflect on the context surrounding your dream. 

Consider the events, changes, challenges, or stressors in your life during that time, as they may provide valuable insights into the dream’s meaning. Also, pay attention to personal associations. Your unique experiences and connections to the symbols and themes in your dreams can influence their interpretation. 

Finally, if you’re still having difficulty, you can utilize dream interpretation resources such as books and 21Ninety’s Dream Interpretation Guide for guidance and additional perspectives.