If you frequently dream about failing that final exam, free-falling a great distance, or even rolling up to work without clothes, then you are far from alone. These are just a few of the common dream scenarios that seem to exist on a loop for some people. And as it turns out, the freaky things it means if you have reoccurring dreams more than 3 times may cause you to rethink these scenarios forever.
As weird as they can be, recurring dreams are common. In fact, about 75 percent of Americans claimed to experience reoccurring dreams at some point in their lives, according to a survey of over 2,000 people by Amerisleep. Falling or being chased were among the most common scenarios in these dreams.
But what do all these repetitive dreams mean? Even today, dreams are notoriously difficult to untangle and understand. That's why I pulled from a variety of disciplines, from psychiatrists to dream consultation experts, to get at the meanings behind these reoccurring dreams. Although there may not be a definitive answer for every dream scenario, it's definitely interesting to make sense of the dream world in various ways. Here's what those reoccurring dreams might say about your waking life.
1. Unresolved Conflict
The dream that keeps playing on repeat may represent something that's stressful in your waking life. "Theoretically, recurrent dreams are assumed to reveal the presence of unresolved conflicts or stressors in an individual’s life," wrote dream researcher Michelle Carr Ph.D. in Psychology Today. Is there something going on in your daily life that needs to be addressed?
2. Past Trauma
Terrible events from your waking life can play out in your dreams as well. For example, some people experience "replicative nightmares," which are replays of traumatic events from real life, according to the National Sleep Foundation. If your recurring dream is one of these replicative nightmares, then consider some form of counseling to address that underlying trauma.
3. Feeling Trapped
Sometimes it helps to consider your dreams in a symbolic way. "I had one patient who had recurrent nightmares about being buried alive, but as it turned out he was in a very bad marriage," said Patricia Garfield, PhD, co-founder of The Association for the Study of Dreams, in Woman's Day. "Once he left the relationship, the nightmares stopped." Maybe the dream is reflecting how you feel in daily life with some creative imagery.
4. Task Anxiety
Sometimes these repetitive dreams are just your mind's way of digesting the day. For instance, some repetitive dreams focus on a task that the dreamer has not yet completed, according to HuffPost. If you're continually haunted by items from the to-do list every night, then keeping a bullet journal may help manage that anxiety, as explained in Bustle. Get the list out of your head and onto paper.
5. Analyzing What You've Said
If you have the dream about teeth falling out, then it may relate to communication more than dental hygiene. "The teeth falling out dream is one of the five most common dreams that gets reported to me, so you are in very good and plentiful company," said professional dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg in Buzzfeed. "This dream can almost always be connected to loose speech — saying things without thinking about it first, or allowing things out of your mouth that should have remained in there permanently." It could just be your subconscious brain wondering "Why did I say that?"
6. Fear Of Being Vulnerable
If you have recurring dreams about being naked in front of a group of people, it doesn't mean you're about to forget your clothes before heading to work tomorrow. "Well, most people don't want to be naked in public. You're exposed, you're embarrassed . . . so that's a dream about the fear of being vulnerable," said Columbia University psychiatry professor Dr. Philip Muskin on CBS. You're scared about being exposed emotionally.
7. Unexpressed Thoughts & Feelings
Maybe there's something you need to communicate, if only to yourself. For some people, recurring dreams are evidence of deep thoughts and feelings, as noted in WebMD. However you interpret them, these repetitious dreams are a somewhat mysterious phenomenon that affects countless dreamers every night.
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