What you dream about can reveal a lot about your subconscious and what it is trying to tell you; however, not all dreams are created equal. To make matters more confusing, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the meaning of a particular dream—every individual’s experience with dreaming is unique.
What’s more, depending on why you’re dreaming in the first place, most adults have multiple types of dreams that they may encounter throughout their lifetime. That being said, there are some common themes among the vast spectrum of dreams out there. In this article, we’ll go over 14 of them so that you can get a better idea of what your mind is trying to achieve when wiring up your thoughts slumber.
What it means: The most basic meaning of a dream about numbers is that you’re dreaming in numerical code. According to sleep scientist Dr. John J. Hopkin, the meaning behind a number-themed dream unsurprisingly has everything to do with your daily life and current concerns—so if you’ve been obsessing over a particular issue or situation lately, this type of dream might be your brain’s way of trying to make sense out of what’s going on .
What it means: Dreams about fire are pretty common among both children and adults alike. Basically , a dream that features fire carries with it an underlying meaning centered around passion and desire, especially when paired with flames. Most likely, this type of dream is trying to show you that you’re feeling passionate about something; alternatively, it can also indicate that you’re burning with something—which really depends on the context of the dream.
What it means: Dreaming about liquids is one of those experiences that people tend to look back on and wonder what exactly was going through their subconscious when they had it; since most people don’t sit around thinking about liquid (especially non-Newtonian) substances like water all day, this type of dream usually feels like an anomaly during the short time period after a person wakes up. In actuality though, dreaming about water isn’t as strange as some may think—it’s actually kind of common for people to have at least a couple of dreams about this substance over the course of a lifetime.
When it comes to the meaning behind water in your dreams, there are generally two main interpretations: 1) Water is symbolic for emotions, so if you have a dream about being near or around water , it can point towards feelings that you’re experiencing—being “emotionally flooded” as opposed to having actual literal waters breaking inside of you. 2) Alternatively, water symbolizes your subconscious and what’s going on down below; this is especially true with sea-related dreams, since they tend to be more intense than river or lake-themed ones .
What it means: Dreams that feature trees heavily can be a little surreal at first glance because many of us don’t think about them very much, let alone envision standing under them or traversing through their branches. Despite that, dreaming about trees is one of those experiences that has a meaning behind it—and there are actually quite a few.
When it comes to the meaning of seeing trees in your dream , they can signify some pretty interesting stuff. For example, if you see an apple tree , it usually means family; maple trees tend to represent new beginnings; and oaks typically mean strength (fun fact: this type of tree was used as an emblem on some coat of arms). More often than not though, trees symbolize growth ; whether that’s spiritual growth related to self-enlightenment or physical growth revolving around becoming stronger, trees in your dreams can represent either.
What it means: It’s true that not all dogs are friendly—but when you see a dog in your dream, it usually signifies protection. According to Dr. Richard Smith , one of the most common symbols for this meaning is a Doberman Pinscher; other breeds like German Shepherds and Rottweilers can sometimes stand for similar ideas. While the meaning behind a dog-related dream depends on what breed you’re encountering inside a dreamscape, a watchdog or guard dog is almost always a symbol for safeguarding yourself from future dangers .
What it means: Hearts are pretty straightforward when it comes to meaning—they tend to point toward love, either romantic or platonic. Sure, hearts can be a little cliché from time to time—but that doesn’t take away from their meaning.
What it means: If you’ve had a dream that features a mirror in some way shape or form, don’t be surprised if your reflection ended up being distorted in some way. According to Jessica MacBain , Ph.D., distorted reflections (like seeing yourself as old when you’re actually young) tend to indicate misgivings about self-image; this meaning is especially true if the person you see isn’t your typical mirror image . Dreams featuring mirrors aren’t always negative though; oftentimes they can signify looking back or reflecting on something.
What it means: Dreams about birds can vary a lot from person to person—there really isn’t a solid meaning behind them, per se. For some people, seeing a bird in their dreams may signify freedom ; for others, it could be about taking flight and how you’re always moving toward something that seems out of reach (even if that’s not the case). With that said, one dream interpretation site claims that there’s significance behind seeing certain types of birds; red birds generally mean positive things while white ones indicate the opposite. The meaning of specific kinds of birds is actually based on folklore and superstition , so this meaning isn’t necessarily universal among everyone who has experienced dreaming about these animals .
What it means: Seeing an open door in your dream is actually pretty common; according to expert Kelly Bulkeley, Ph.D. , dreaming about doors can represent “the passage between the conscious and unconscious aspects of ourselves” (which makes sense with what we know about these portals). It’s possible that you’re subconsciously worrying about being able to move through something unseen—whether it be moving through some kind of challenge or not being able to escape from the meaning behind a terrifying nightmare . Because this meaning depends on context, it isn’t always true that dreams featuring open doors are negative experiences—they could just signify new ideas or opportunities coming into your life.
What it means: When you have a dream with flying in it, it typically means that you’re “at home in the world,” meaning that you feel secure when at high elevations.
What it means: If you dream about being chased by something (or someone), this could mean that there’s some kind of internal struggle going on inside yourself; in other words, your subconscious might be pushing back against your own desires or impulses. It’s also possible that your dreaming mind is portraying someone else who’s chasing you—and if this happens, Dr. Bulkeley says they may symbolize an obstacle to overcome with help from another person.
What it means: When something like a car appears in your dreams, it can represent independence and freedom. The meaning behind a car dream also varies depending on the make, model, and type of vehicle you’re driving—the more luxurious it is, the better your life is going.
What it means: In most cases, dreaming about water represents emotions or subconscious thoughts that are hard to grasp. For example, some people claim that seeing running water in a dream can indicate stagnancy , meaning that an aspect of your life isn’t going anywhere (and there may be nothing you can do about it). However, if you see a still or frozen body of water in your dreams, this could mean that you’re having trouble expressing yourself openly . This meaning is typically associated with emotional as opposed to being “figurative,” meaning that a frozen lake might mean you’re having trouble being emotionally intimate or connecting with someone on a deeper level.
What it means: Seeing water in your dream can have a lot of different meanings depending on the context. For example, if you dreamed about “walking on water,” this typically indicates that you’re able to adapt easily and don’t let obstacles get in your way; but there’s also symbolism behind standing at the edge of an ocean, which can symbolize how close to death you feel (or how near-death experiences may be influencing what you experience in dreams). And if water exists somewhere where it shouldn’t (like a desert), this meaning is more psychological —it usually signifies feelings of complete vulnerability .
What it means: According to Linda Magallón, LCSW-R , dreaming about an accident can represent self-destructive behavior or feelings that you’re “out of control.” For example, maybe you dreamed about driving carelessly and crashing your car—this meaning reflects reckless decisions in waking life.
What it means: If you dream about being naked in public with no feeling of embarrassment, this is often just a reflection of something that’s happening in your daily life; for example, maybe there’s some new information that’s making you question who you are as a person. Dreams featuring nudity can also be reflections of anxiety over the way others might perceive you (in other words, you feel vulnerable), and feeling embarrassed in a dream can meaningfully reflect feelings of shame.
What it means: Seeing small children in your dreams frequently symbolizes new ideas or upcoming creative projects—similar to seeing babies , they’re representative of something “unformed.” Similarly, if you find yourself dreaming about playing with a child, this meaning is generally thought to reflect creativity and spontaneity. This meaning could be influenced by how old the person looks in your dream—if he/she appears very young (in early childhood) this meaning would apply; but if the person seems older (or is a stranger), this meaning may change slightly to indicate an emotional connection with someone else. And if you dream about being with a child, this meaning leans more heavily towards emotional meaning—it can mean you’re experiencing worry or anxiety about something.
What it means: In most cases, dreaming about being chased is linked to feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth. You might be putting too much pressure on yourself or fear that someone else is going to catch up to you (and “catch” you in your dream). This meaning varies slightly if someone’s chasing you, meaning that perhaps there’s a current obstacle in life that is difficult for you to overcome . And a final meaning for this type of dream pertains to fears about losing or failing at something important—in other words, waking life guilt over not living up to your own expectations.
What it means: Dreaming about a tornado is typically associated with a period of change and transformation—you may be going through an intense time in your waking life, where everything seems chaotic and out of control . The meaning for this type of dream can vary slightly depending on whether you’re trapped by the tornado or not; if you are, this meaning leans more towards growing fears over some kind of possible loss , but if you aren’t (for example, flying around like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz) then there’s more meaning to be found in your feelings of strength and determination . And one final meaning for dreaming about tornados pertains to times when thoughts racing around in your head might feel out of control—this meaning can overlap with other meaning associated with dreams about being chased or running from something.
What it means: In most cases, dreaming about a UFO is linked to some kind of revelation —you may be going through a time in life where you’re experiencing strong feelings of epiphany and new discoveries . This meaning might also signify a lack of intimacy within your waking life (because they often appear in dreams as a sign of things “unseen”). However there are additional meanings associated with UFOs that pertain to invention and new technology , interference from outside forces, and an overall sense of paranoia .
What it means: According to Dr. Farley, dreaming about food frequently points to a meaning linked to self-worth. Perhaps you didn’t feel adequate about yourself when you were growing up, so many of your dreams today are compensating for that by showing you that you’re “lovable and worthy.” Alternatively, it could mean that there’s something you need to nourish in your life—maybe it’s a new project at work or some kind of idea .
What it means: Dreams featuring car accidents can signify feelings of guilt , especially if it’s someone else who caused the accident. You might be feeling guilty over an action that had nothing to do with what happened in the dream, but still reflects how you’re feeling towards something (or even just life in general). Other meanings associated with this type of dream include fears over a possible loss, or an overall sense that something in your waking life is out of control .
What it means: According to Dr. Farley, dreams about sleeping can be rooted in feelings of guilt—for example, if you’re not getting enough sleep because you’re spending too much time working , meaning that there’s “not enough time for fun.” Another meaning associated with dreaming about sleeping pertains to feeling like you need more rest (or less), meaning that perhaps you feel completely overwhelmed by everything going on in your life right now. And final meaning related to these types of dreams involves sexual desire—in other words, not enough sex within your current relationship! (And this could also mean that you feel like something is missing in your relationship.)
What it means: If you find yourself drowning in a dream, meaning that you might be afraid of failure . Alternatively, this meaning pertains to feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities from work or at home. In some cases, it can also refer to a fear over an inability to escape certain situations in life—for instance, if a loved one is sick and there’s nothing you can do about it. Finally, another meaning associated with dreams featuring drowning pertains to guilt over letting someone down (and the resulting shame).
What it means: Similar to dreams about being chased , dreaming about zombies often symbolizes feelings of dread and anxiety . Dr. Farley also notes the meaning of a zombie-themed dream may have to do with a sense of “feeling dead” inside—a feeling that you don’t feel anything anymore and your life is going nowhere.
What it means: According to Dr. Farley, dreams about being naked signify feelings of vulnerability . It’s possible you lack something in your waking life (like security or confidence) and this meaning might even extend into other meaning related to embarrassment or past trauma. And finally, dreams about being naked can point towards repressed sexuality —meaning that there are certain desires within you that you’re trying to hide from others.