Dreaming in Public

During the Roman Era, some dreams were submitted to the Senate for analysis and interpretation.

What do our dreams mean?

Those on the physiology side of the "why we dream" argument see dreams as only nonsense that the brain creates from fragments of images and memory. For centuries, however, people have looked at their dreams as both omens and insights into their own psyches. Many think dreams are full of symbolic messages that may not be clear to us on the surface. But, if we dig deeper and think about what is going on in our lives, we can usually come up with an interpretation that makes sense. Let's look at the most common dream themes and how dream experts interpret them.

Common Dream Themes and Their InterpretationsBeing naked in public

Most of us have had the dream at some point that we're at school, work or some social event, and we suddenly realize we forgot to put on clothes! Experts say this means:

  • We're trying to hide something (and without clothes we have a hard time doing that).
  • We're not prepared for something, like a presentation or test (and now everyone is going to know -- we're exposed!).

If we're naked but no one notices, then the interpretation is that whatever we're afraid of is unfounded. If we don't care that we're naked, the interpretation is that we're comfortable with who we are.

Falling

You're falling, falling, falling... and then you wake up. This is a very common dream and is said to symbolize insecurities and anxiety. Something in your life is essentially out of control and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Another interpretation is that you have a sense of failure about something. Maybe you're not doing well in school or at work and are afraid you're going to be fired or expelled. Again, you feel that you can't control the situation. 

Being chased

The ever-popular chase dream can be extremely frightening. What it usually symbolizes is that you're running away from your problems. What that problem is depends on who is chasing you. It may be a problem at work, or it may be something about yourself that you know is destructive. For example, you may be drinking too much, and your dream may be telling you that your drinking is becoming a real problem.

Taking an exam (or forgetting that you have one)

This is another very common dream. You suddenly realize you are supposed to be taking an exam at that very moment. You might be running through the hallways and can't find the classroom. This type of dream can have several variations that have similar meanings. (Maybe your pen won't write, so you can't finish writing your answers.) What experts say this may mean is that you're being scrutinized about something or feel you're being tested -- maybe you're facing a challenge you don't think you're up to. You don't feel prepared or able to hold up to the scrutiny. It may also mean there is something you've neglected that you know needs your attention.

Flying

Many flying dreams are the result of lucid dreaming. Not all flying dreams are, however. Typically, dreaming that you are flying means you are on top of things. You are in control of the things that matter to you. Or, maybe you've just gained a new perspective on things. It may also mean you are strong willed and feel like no one and nothing can defeat you. If you are having problems maintaining your flight, someone or something may be standing in the way of you having control. If you are afraid while flying, you may have challenges that you don't feel up to. 

Running, but going nowhere

This theme can also be part of the chasing dream. You're trying to run, but either your legs won't move or you simply aren't going anywhere -- as if you were on a treadmill. According to some, this dream means you have too much on your plate. You're trying to do too many things at once and can't catch up or ever get ahead.

Your teeth falling out

Many people have dreams that they lose all of their teeth. In this dream, they may feel something strange in their mouth and then spit teeth into their hand, eventually losing all of their teeth. According to some, our teeth are related to our sense of power and our ability to communicate. Losing our teeth not only makes us embarrassed by our appearance, which hinders our communications, but it also lessens our power because we may not speak our minds. It's also associated with feelings about our appearance.