Dreams: What They Say And Mean

Dream Series: Part V – Dream signs are what your dreams say about you, as in what are the dream meanings behind these visions that you are having? This is a question to answer is we discover the secret meanings behind your dreams.

Dreams… they’re bizarre, powerful, emotional, frightening, and can be even devastating. What makes them range from the droll monotony of stuffing napkin holders to the gut-wrenching insanity of being stuck on an alien planet and riding a giant version of your childhood pet? Scientists and laymen alike have puzzled over the mystery of dreams for centuries — why do we have them, and what do they mean (if anything)?

Psychoanalysis would have us believe that dreams are an access point to our unconscious and ill-driven desires, unleashed while executing controlled snoozes. On the other hand, researchers who study sleep and dreaming have proposed that dreams are just noise, a by-product of the firing of neural pathways as the brain runs nightly maintenance scripts.

We do know that just like all perceived experiences, you have your unique brain to thank for the experience of dreaming. Though we may not know whether our dreams should be interpreted as meaningful in the psychoanalytic sense, they may tell us something about who we are as individuals. We know that people’s brains are systematically different from one another, and that such differences correspond with personality trait variance. It seems reasonable to imagine that if these neurobiological differences give rise to individual differences in our waking life tendencies, they should also create measurable differences in our dream worlds.

Neurobiology tells us that during REM sleep, your emotional and visual circuits are blazing with activity, while your executive control networks snooze away placidly. During dreaming, your brain’s metaphorical conductor, usually responsible for error monitoring, evaluation, and planning, is basically on a lunch break. One of the most common experiences documented in dream reports is the frustrated memory of knowing there was a plan/goal in your dream saga, but never being quite able to take any steps toward completing it!

“Dreams don’t happen to us, we happen to them,” says dream psychologist Ian Wallace. In other words, we’re the director, star, and producer of all the movies that play inside our heads after we fall asleep. But it’s not just for our own entertainment. In dreams, new information is combined with old information of the person’s life in a creative way so that new solutions might emerge. If you want to make sense of your own dreams, first put paper and pencil on your nightstand, and write down what you dreamed about when you first wake up. Then compare notes with this list of common dreams and see what they could possibly mean.

The Dream: Run as fast as you can. You still won’t get away from whatever’s on your tail, even if you don’t have a clue what it is.

What It Means: Just like you can’t seem to lose the bad guy behind you, chances are you’re having trouble getting past some issues in your waking life. It could be a relationship squabble, a business opportunity, or just a nasty nagging feeling, according to Wallace.

Teeth Falling Out

The Dream: It’s like a scene out of a cheesy horror film—your teeth dangle, crumble, shatter, and leave you freaking the hell out.

What It Means: Teeth are symbols of power and confidence. After all, you show them when you are smiling, biting, or even snarling. Having this dream means that your self-assurance may have taken a hit in the kisser, says Wallace.

Unable To Find A Toilet

The Dream: After running around like a madman and waiting through one freakishly long line for the bathroom, you discover that the toilet you’ve been waiting on is filthy or exposed to the whole world—not to mention that there’s not a scrap of toilet paper in sight.

What It Means: If you can’t take care of business in your dream, it’s possible that you’re metaphorically blocked in waking life, Wallace suggests. You may have something you need to purge—whether it’s a toxic friend or a soul-crushing job—and you fear it will be messy. So what do you do? Hold it in.

Naked In Public

The Dream: You’re naked—full frontal and everything. And while no one seems to notice, you’re desperate to hide yourself.

What It Means: “You’re feeling out-of-place, vulnerable, and scared of being exposed,” Wallace says. But just like no one notices your package, your fears remain hidden as well. Perhaps your new job or relationship is making you uneasy. If the dream takes place in a classroom, it’s possible that whatever you learned there continues to make you insecure. If the dream is in a cafeteria, this could reflect social anxiety, no matter how long you’ve been out of school.

Unprepared For An Exam

The Dream: You’re back in school and it’s time to get out the number-two pencil. Only problem is you’ve done absolutely no studying. Why? You’re not quite sure. You knew about the test and bought the books—but now you’re screwed.

What It Means: Are you a perfectionist? If this is a recurring dream (or nightmare), chances are you live in fear of messing up even things you’re well prepared for, suggests Wallace. If you dream about flunking an exam you’ve already passed, this could reflect worries about performance, not actual competence, Schredl adds.


The Dream: Whether you’re soaring on your own or in an aircraft, your head is literally in the clouds. Even Superman would be jealous.

What It Means: Just like in your dream, you’ve most likely surmounted a big obstacle in your life, according to Wallace. At this moment, you may feel free of limitations, and open to making unfettered decisions.


The Dream: You step off of a curb and fall flat on your face—or you take a nosedive right off a cliff. Either way, you usually jolt awake as soon as you hit the bottom.

What It Means: While the sensations may feel similar, these are actually two types of dreams, according to Wallace. The minor slip dream happens when you first fall asleep and have that last little twitch (called a myoclonic jerk) after your muscles completely relax. The second, more dramatic dream, happens when you’re already in a deep sleep. This dream often reflects a perceived failure in your life or a realization that you don’t have control over a situation.

Out Of Control Vehicle

The Dream: You’re barreling down a road, over sidewalks, and screaming like a baby. You hit the brakes, turn the steering wheel, but still have no control of the car. Crap.

What It Means: In dreams, vehicles represent an ability to move toward a goal or destination. And if the car is out of control, your life probably is, too, suggests Schredl. You’re afraid that a wreck is imminent.

Finding An Unused Room

The Dream: You’re walking through a house, maybe the one you grew up in. Normally, you’d know every square inch of that place—but you soon find a door you’ve never seen before. Behind it is an empty room.

What It Means: Home is the most frequently occurring symbol in dreams. It actually represents the Self, and each room reflects a different aspect of your personality (sociability, strength, sexual prowess). When you find an unused room, you are discovering an aspect of your identity that you may be stifling, according to Wallace—it could even be an untapped talent or passion. The bigger the room you find, the bigger the opportunity you may have to realize your full potential.

Being Late

The Dream: You thought you had plenty of time to hit your deadline, make your meeting, or get to your date. But now you’re supposed to be across town in 15 minutes and everything is going wrong. The alarm didn’t go off. Your phone is ringing. Traffic is impossible.

What It Means: Whatever you’re rushing to in your subconscious represents a real-life goal or milestone, Wallace says. There is likely an actual deadline looming or maybe an arbitrary one (like having a certain salary by the age of 30 or 40), and it’s stressing you out big time.

Tristan Reed (script), Troy Hudson (narration), HowlingCreations (animation)

Dreams: Part I – Cause & Interpretation
Dreams: Part II – Remembering & Forgetting
Dreams: Part III – Trying To Solve The Mystery
Dreams: Part IV – Lucid Dreams
Dreams: Part V – What They Say & Mean

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