Dreams: sometimes we remember them, sometimes we don’t, but some dreams stick with us, plaguing us throughout our waking hours, inciting almost visceral reactions of anxiety, fear, longing, sadness, or happiness.
Dreaming is a natural part of being human – they are by-products of consciousness, collections of thoughts and memories often pieced together nonsensically.
Typically, the dreams of early sleep are memories your mind processes as you fall asleep: what you did, what you watched, where you went, who you saw. But, as you drift into REM sleep, your dreams become more surreal, cinematic, and (often) emotional.
Often times dreams can be intense, feel real and can even evoke legitimate, lingering feelings. In fact, people have sought meaning in them for centuries….
From ancient times through to Jungian and Freudian, dream theories and analysis, shamans, spiritual leaders, healers, counsellors, psychologists, and psychiatrists have studied dreams, seeking to understand their connection to our psyche and mental health.
What’s even more interesting about dreams is that many types of dreams are universally shared, inviting these common interpretations for understanding these common dream symbols:
LOSING CONTROL OF YOUR VEHICLE
Do you ever jerk awake from a dream where you suddenly don’t know how to drive or you’ve inexplicably lost control of your car? Sometimes we’re trapped in these dreams, scrambling within them to avoid an accident, and then we wake up shaken or out of breath.
Most interpreters take a very literal approach to understanding this dream complete with “road to success” analogies and feeling out of control. Other interpretations vary depending on whether you’re alone or others are in the car with you, but, generally, this dream is believed to indicate that you need to exercise some control and direction over your life.
FALLING, USUALLY WITHOUT LANDING
At some point, we’ve all dreamt of falling, our limbs flailing and grasping at nothing as we try desperately to brace or prevent the seemingly endless plunge into nothingness. In fact, most of us awaken before we land. But, like the driving dream, a falling dream also suggests feeling out of control, insecure, anxious – like we’ve got rocky footing in life.
Some believe this dream stems from clinging too tightly to something we need to let go of, while others say it’s merely a warning us to take a life struggle more seriously.
Unlike the chaos of driving and falling dreams, flying dreams tend to be positive, whimsical and full of elation.
Just think about it: when you’re soaring through the air, the wind at your face, the world open to you, you’re more than likely grinning the entire time. While we wake with a sense of foreboding and anxiety from falling and driving dreams, we rarely want to wake from flying dreams – typically because they symbolize liberation, freedom, and truly letting go of things that are weighing us down.
Being able to fly suggests that you have released yourself from circumstances that have been weighing you down in waking life. However, if you’re flying dream is a bad one (trouble taking off, feeling scared while flying, etc.), it’s another sign that you need to exercise some control over your life.
TAKING AN EXAM YOU WEREN’T PREPARED FOR
Even if you’ve been out of school for ten years, you can still frequent dreams where you’re forced to take an exam you’re in no way ready for (whether didn’t study, or never went to the class altogether).
These dreams are paralyzing and create a tangible anxiety that often remains upon waking. Most interpret this dream as being a sign that we’re unhappy with ourselves and feel like we’re not showing up in our lives (particularly at work or in our creative endeavours). The general consensus here is that if you’re having this dream, you need to be more alert and stay on top of things, or limit your stress and find better ways to cope.
LOSING YOUR TEETH
Whether your teeth are falling out one by one, in bloody heaps, or your palate is coming out with your teeth attached, this dream is one of the most alarming. Interestingly, there are two different schools of thought on this dream: you’ve either lost confidence, or its an omen of a damaged relationship.
Your teeth symbolize how confident and powerful you feel, so some situation is causing your confidence to crumble in waking life. Either way, this dream seems to be about powerlessness, meaning that we should try to find ways to feel empowered and confident.
Overthinking and over analyzing your dreams might be keeping you up at night, but sleep apnea shouldn’t. A common sleep disorder, sleep apnea is sometimes associated with night terrors and waking up gasping. If you’re losing sleep due to sleep apnea symptoms like these as well as morning headaches, daytime sleepiness, and moodiness, take our sleep quiz to discover your risk level. But don’t worry, sleep apnea treatments can help!