How to interpret the meaning of your most common dreams

27 Apr, 2023 | Notes from the Universe

5 Minute Read

Words by Kate Lucey

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Dreams have fascinated and perplexed humans for centuries. From the ancient Greeks to modern-day scientists, we’ve all tried to understand the meaning of dreams and their significance in our lives.

Do our dreams really mean anything? Some believe that dreams are messages from the universe, while others think they are nothing more than random firings of the brain. Dream decoding expert and Sunday Times bestselling author Theresa Cheung believes that dreams are our “inner therapist – and far cheaper than a real one!

“Dreams never lie,” says Theresa. “Every night they are sending you precious insight to help you understand yourself and make better decisions in your waking life. They take you right to the truth of who you are. The problem is most people don’t know how to decode them. You just need to understand that dreams are not literal but symbolic.”

So if you’ve woken up surprised from a raunchy dream about someone you absolutely do not find attractive, your subconscious is trying to tell you something else – not necessarily that you should make a move on your dentist.

All dreams are utterly unique, but some dream themes are more common than others and here listed below are what dream surveys consistently show as the most common dream themes. You’ll notice there are several suggested interpretations here so always go for the one that feels right for you. Trust your gut instinct.

The 10 most common dreams and their meanings

1. Dreaming of being pregnant or having a baby…

This can be a sign you are thinking about getting pregnant, but in the majority of cases it is a symbol of a new relationship, phase of life, idea or creative project you are giving birth to or need to give birth too,” confirms Theresa. “It can also be a sign that your inner child (the part of you that is vulnerable and spontaneous and trusting) needs protecting, and another interpretation is the need for patience and waiting for the right time to make your move.”

2. Dreaming of falling from a height…

“Falling dreams are one of the most commonly reported dreams and a classic sign that you may be feeling unsupported in your waking life,” says Theresa. “They suggest that something in your life feels out of control, and the dream is urging you to take charge of a situation or to change your mindset because you’re heading in a reckless direction. The dream is a warning to course-correct, but do pay attention to how you feel when you fall in your dream; if you feel relaxed and not anxious, then it’s actually a sign that you need to trust the universe and go with the flow.”

3. Dreaming of flying…

“Flying dreams are always exhilarating, and while the majority of dream symbols tend to be anxiety related, flying suggests positivity and an ability to see the bigger picture 

“It can also suggest feeling liberated in your waking life, but pay close attention to how you are flying; flying high suggests spiritual growth whereas flying closer to the ground suggests more material ambitions. Either way, flying dreams should always be celebrated.”

Neon head with storm clouds

4. Dreaming of teeth falling out…

“These dreams can suggest a fear of ageing or concern with how you appear to others, but more often than not it is a fear of change,” says Theresa. “Keep in mind that teeth are symbols of assertiveness in the animal kingdom, so if you dream of them falling out perhaps you need to be more assertive – or perhaps there is something you have said that you regret. It could be a warning to be more careful with your words. 

“Hair falling out is also a common dream theme and the interpretation is similar. Hair is often considered the ‘crowning glory’ so dreaming of your hair falling out could symbolise a loss of personal power.”

5. Dreaming of sex or cheating…

“These dreams do not mean you want to cheat. They represent a longing to connect to some internal aspect of that person, like their assertiveness or their sense of humour, rather than their body. The partners in your dream represent aspects of yourself you need to get more intimate with.

“If you dream of someone you don’t find attractive, ask yourself what you immediately associate with that person. If they have a great sense of humour, for example, your dreaming mind may simply be urging you to lighten up. If you dream of having sex with a stranger or someone you don’t know, your dreaming mind is urging you to unlock your own hidden potential or aspects of yourself that you need to get to know better.”

6. Dreaming of being chased…

Being chased in a dream can be terrifying, but it’s actually a common dream experience. Being chased in a dream often represents a fear of confrontation or a feeling of being overwhelmed in waking life. “If you are being chased in a dream this suggests there is something in your waking life that you don’t want to face or which you are running from,” adds Theresa. “Try to remember who or what was chasing you, and then free associate (go for the first word that comes to mind) to see if you can get to the bottom of what is making you feel overwhelmed. It is important you face and understand your fears. What are you trying to avoid?”

7. Dreaming of being naked…

Naked dreams are often associated with feelings of vulnerability and exposure. “Nudity in a dream is all about personal honesty and how vulnerable you feel about revealing your true self to others. If you feel embarrassed, this is a sign that you are not being authentic or true to yourself,” says Theresa.

“If, however, you are relaxed with your nakedness, the dream is encouraging you to be proud of and true to who you are or the way you think and act.”

8. Dreaming of water…

Water dreams can take many forms, from swimming in a pool to being caught in a storm at sea. “Water is a symbol of emotions because both are fluid, so notice the appearance of the water. Is it muddy and cloudy or is it clear and refreshing? If you are in water, are you swimming or are you drowning? If it is the latter this suggests your emotions are overwhelming, and you need to remind yourself that your emotions don’t define you. You can take charge of your emotions.”

Neon head with storm clouds

9. Dreaming of death…

Death dreams can be unsettling, but they are not necessarily a harbinger of doom. “Death and dying themes symbolise endings and the importance of letting go, and they are also a reminder that with every ending there is always a new beginning,” says Theresa. “So if death is a theme of your dreams, embrace change in your waking life.

“Your dreaming mind is showing you the ending you are dealing with in waking life so you can better deal with the reality of it and look ahead to a new beginning. This could be the ending of a relationship or a shift in your career but it can also be a change of mindset or perspective that is happening or needs to happen for you to evolve.

10. Dreaming of being late or missing a flight…

“Being late and missing a flight are both turning the nightlight on a fear of missing out on opportunities. If you have these dreams you may feel that life is passing you by, so if you have this dream it is urging you to get out of your comfort zone and feel less like a victim.

“You may feel that you are running out of chances, but your dreaming mind is reminding you that it is never too late to change and you are never past your prime.”

Our dreams are often emotionally charged, and can leave us feeling unsettled, shocked, or even scared. If you’re not feeling great when you wake up and would rather your recurring dream themes leave you well alone, try to note down your dreams when you wake up.

“Research shows that dream recall is a sign of emotional and mental wellbeing,” says Theresa, “but don’t panic if you don’t always recall your dreams, that’s entirely normal. Just get in the habit of writing down any dream memories on waking and if none come through, write down how you feel. That feeling will have been inspired by a dream, as you dream every single night – even when you don’t recall it.”

“The better you understand your dreams, the better you understand yourself.”

“Think of dreams as messages or thoughts from your heart, your intuition,” advises Theresa. “During the day your intuition notices things that your conscious rational mind may miss or neglect, but which are important for you to reflect on. So in your dreams when your conscious mind is asleep but your intuition is still awake, those things are given the spotlight.

“The better you understand your dreams, the better you understand yourself, and self-knowledge is the beginning of all true wisdom.

If you can remember your dreams, paying attention to the details that Theresa’s outlined here can help you realise what your dreaming mind is trying to show you about your waking life.

Dream decoder Theresa accepts personal (FREE!) dream decoding requests at You can also find her on Instagram @thetheresacheung.

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