The most common nightmares in Britain revealed... and they might not mean what you think

24 September 2020, 13:17 | Updated: 25 September 2020, 09:09

If you've been having more bad dreams lately, you're not alone
If you've been having more bad dreams lately, you're not alone. Picture: Getty
Emma Gritt

By Emma Gritt

There's been a huge increase in nightmares over the last few months, and considering the ups-and-downs of 2020, it's no surprise - but what is your subconscious really telling you?

Cancelled holidays, a killer virus, political uncertainty, no late nights at the pub - for many of us, we are already living a nightmare.

But new research has revealed that the traditional after dark ones are on the increase, too.

Using data from 20 UK cities, there has been a whopping 21 per cent increase in nightmares over the past year, with terrifying visions of teeth loss topping the list as the most frequent.

Ghosts, going bald, being shot and running late have also made the top ten, but according to the dream experts who spoke to MattressNextDay, they don't always have a literal meaning.

Here's the top 10 most common nightmares plaguing Brits, and what they really mean...

1. Teeth falling out

According to Lee Chambers, an Environmental Psychologist and Wellbeing Consultant, dreaming of your teeth falling out is often a sign of psychological stress.

He says, “if you are grieving, under intense pressure, significantly worried about major life changes or neglecting your self care, this dream can be extremely common. While it is scary in the moment, it is likely a signal to look at your overall health and wellbeing.”

Read more: Dad shares simple trick to get crying baby to sleep in adorable video

Losing teeth is the most common nightmare in the UK
Losing teeth is the most common nightmare in the UK. Picture: Getty

2. Pregnancy

Dreams about pregnancy don’t always mean the birth of a child. Pregnancy can often symbolise the relationship between the dreamer and their creativity. It could point to a project or idea that is formulating in your mind. An event could be due, or your subconscious could be giving you a nudge to share something with the world.

3. Being chased

This is a common theme and one that points to being told by your subconscious that you are avoiding a person or an issue that needs attention.

The key to figuring out these dreams is to focus on who or what is chasing you. What that person or thing represents is important. Is it an animal? A being? Male or female? Or is it a presence or a feeling? You could be running away from your fears or something you feel uncomfortable addressing.

4. Death

If you’re entering or leaving an uncertain time in your life, you may very well have a dream about death. While these can be frightening, they’re also an opportunity for growth and taking a look at what’s going on in your waking life.

It often indicates the end of something, whether that be a relationship, a job or a phase of your life. It can also hint at not being at peace with a part of your life and so could be a chance to take stock and change things if needed. 

5. Falling

Ever had that sensation that you’re tripping or tumbling over something? Only to jerk awake? Well that could be a physiological reaction to the body going to sleep. As the nervous systems begins to calm, heart rate and blood pressure drop, and this can trigger a falling dream.

Most often though, it’s a symbolic way of alerting the dreamer to something in their waking life that makes them feel out of control. A feeling of things ‘going downhill’ or ‘slipping away’ can manifest as a literal fall.

If this is you, pay attention to daytime emotions of vulnerability or being overwhelmed. You may need to deal with these and the associated situations to regain your balance

Read more: Teacher reveals exact time kids should be in bed according to their age

Fire might mean the birth of new ideas
Fire might mean the birth of new ideas. Picture: Getty

6. Fire

Fire can symbolise passion, light, destruction, anger and more, so you need to work out how it fits in with the rest of your dream.

If you were unafraid of the fire, then it could be a reference to your own internal fire. Your views and opinions could be changing, bringing forth a renewal of self. If you are burned by fire, it indicates that your temper is raging, and you are ‘burning up inside’. 

Fire can also represent your drive and creativity, or your subconscious could be trying to warn you against risky or dangerous activities, of ‘playing with fire’.

7. Cheating

Dreams of cheating can stem from feeling insecure, anxious or angry. It might relate to being cheated on in a previous relationship, or your brain telling you of a lack of satisfaction in your current romantic situation.

8. Drowning

Drowning in a dream is often a fear of losing yourself in some way. Whether this is from being overwhelmed by work, a relationship issue or stress, there’s the fear of ‘drowning’ under the weight of the emotions and being unable to handle or process them. 

9. Ghosts

Ghostly apparitions are often the effect of a sleep disorder called sleep paralysis. This happens when we are partially awake but our bodies are still in slumber, meaning we experience hallucinations but are struggling to move. It can be terrifying.

It's also possible to have more positive dreams about deceased relatives and loved ones. These are often known as ‘visitation dreams’, where people believe that it is a way for spirits to visit and communicate with us through our dreams, where we are more likely to be open and receptive to them.

These dreams are said to be clear, vivid and more intense, with the dreamer feeling it to be distinctly different to their normal dreams. 

10. Being lost

These are most commonly related to grieving, with the brain using it as a way to process the loss of a person. Another theory is that you feel you have lost a part of yourself.

To dream of being lost can invoke feelings of frustration, of not fitting in and of confusion. If you have a situation in your waking life where you are anxious that you may not find your way, these dreams can help you find direction. It can also be a dream for those grieving. A way to process the loss of a person, or part of yourself that is missing. Although other people in your dreams can often represent other parts of yourself, so it could also be that you feel you have lost an aspect of yourself.