Not all dreams fall into common categories, and even those that do often branch out in various directions. But there are some universal themes that people report time and time again.
Below is a list of 20 common themes, excerpted from dream expert Alan Siegel's Dream Wisdom: Uncovering Life's Answers in Your Dreams (Celestial Arts, 2003). Keep in mind, though, dreams that recur throughout your lifetime might have different meanings at different times, says Siegel.
- Flying on your own or in an airplane (also, plane crashes).
- Failing or forgetting to study for an exam in high school or college, or forgetting your lines for a presentation, speech or play.
- Appearing naked or partially clad in public.
- Being paralyzed or partially or totally restricted in movement, like trying to run away but being unable to move fast enough.
- Getting chased or kidnapped by people, animals, or creatures.
- Sexual adventures, including overt references to heterosexual or homosexual acts.
- Natural disasters such as earthquakes, tidal waves, tornadoes, floods and volcanoes.
- Technological disasters such as explosions, fire, terrorist acts, nuclear war, chemical contamination, or plane crashes.
- Losing your teeth, often with the teeth seeming to crumble.
- Violent threats, attack or injuries to self or others.
- Rejection, abandonment, betrayal or humiliation.
- Driving or being in cars (also crashing a car, brakes locking, going out of control).
- Missing a bus, train or plane (arriving late or missing an appointment).
- Discovering new and unexpected rooms in houses or buildings.
- Finding or losing money, wallet, purse or valuables.
- People appearing from your past (both living and dead).
- Returning to a childhood or previous home, school or setting from childhood.
- Pregnancy and birth (seeing yourself or others pregnant or birthing).
- Meeting unknown or unfamiliar people, or finding yourself in unfamiliar settings.