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Top 10 Nightmares and What They Mean

by C.J. McAllister
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Most people suffer from the occasional nightmare, and some seem to experience them almost every night. What exactly do these night terrors mean? Although nightmares can sometimes be random creations of the subconscious brain with no particular deeper interpretation, in many cases nightmares actually do have specific causes or meanings behind them. They can allow you to look deeper into your thoughts and feelings to get a better gauge of your current mental or emotional state. Listed below are ten of the most common types of nightmares that people tend to experience as they sleep, along with insights into what they most often mean.


Natural Disasters


Have you ever found yourself dreaming about being caught in a violent hurricane, or perhaps an approaching tornado that is ripping apart houses and trees? These types of nightmares are said to indicate a sense of impending fear or anxiety in the person having the dream. Since the weather is often unpredictable and cannot be controlled, this relates to the individual holding stress and anxiety throughout their day to day life. This can be caused by anxiety or nervousness about anything from a test, to a doctor’s appointment, to a required speech, to relationship issues.

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Seeing the Dead

Zombies By Icedcoffee

In this chilling type of nightmare, you feel as though you are being contacted or approached by someone who is dead. This can either be by someone you know who has recently passed away, or random people whom you feel in the dream that you do not actually know. These types of nightmares can be associated with an inability to let go. For example, if you are having nightmares about your recently deceased grandmother, the cause could be that you are struggling emotionally to cope with her loss. These nightmares can also be linked with terror of the unknown and anxiety about personal illness. People with terminal or life-threatening health problems often experience these types of nightmares.


Missing Important Events


Nightmares about missing your wedding, an important appointment or some other special event are particularly common in people who live a fast-paced and high-pressure life, although they can happen to anyone. These types of nightmares are often linked to anxiety about failing or not being able to perform up to expectations. People who experience these nightmares might be surprised at how much suppressed anxiety and negativity they have about failing or coming up short.



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Being naked in public seems like a funny dilemma – at least, after you wake up – but this type of nightmare can be related to a much bigger issue. These nightmares are often experienced by individuals that suffer from self-image issues and low self-esteem issues. Being naked in public may relate to fear of being judged by other people. To the person having the nightmares, this can be very unsettling.



Teeth Nightmare By Jacquijax

This is another type of dream that plays on the insecurities of the person having it. Much like the nightmare about being naked in public, nightmares about teeth falling out are often a representation of the individual being filled with anxiety and inner turmoil about being judged by others on his or her physical appearance.




When people experience nightmares of being injured or wounded, the cause is often some feeling of weakness in their own personal lives. Dreaming about breaking bones or injuries can be your brain’s way of alerting you that you are feeling weakness or vulnerability in one part of your life or another. Finding out what your weaknesses are and working on improving them can often help relieve this type of nightmare.


Partner Leaving


Nightmares about a person’s spouse or significant other leaving them are definitely one of the types most rooted in the real world. This can be a straightforward nightmare that simply represents a feeling of dread from the individual about their partner leaving them and being alone. This type of nightmare can also be caused by feelings of insecurity in the relationship where the individual feels they are sub-par or not good enough for their partner.

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Being Trapped


Dreams about being trapped are quite common for individuals who suffer from claustrophobic anxiety, a condition in which a person has a fear of being in small spaces where they cannot move and become trapped. However, this type of nightmare can also be experienced by types of individuals who are afraid of not being able to get out of their current situation, including financial problems, a dead end job or a negative relationship they feel they cannot escape. The nightmare can be a manifestation of fear of not being able to reach your full potential due to circumstances.




Nightmares about falling are often a representation of anxiety in your personal life about not being in control of yourself. These anxieties are often due to issues with money, relationships, careers or some kind of abuse. The feeling of falling to certain death relates to the person feeling that they are unable to control a certain aspect of, or situation in, their life. These nightmares are often shared by people who are in high places of power, but still feel that they cannot control certain parts of their life.


Being Chased or Attacked


This is by far the most common of all the nightmares that people tend to experience. Nightmares in this category can deal with being chased or attacked by people, animals or paranormal creatures. These types of dreams are frequently manifestations of being afraid of confrontation regarding something in your life. This can be a pushy boss, an unruly teacher, an abusive parent or even an unhealthy romantic relationship. The feeling of being chased is often a sign of not being able to confront difficult scenarios within your personal life. Also, your actions within the dream to get away from the attacker may also be influenced by your real life. For example, if you find yourself hiding in fear in the dream, this may indicate that that is how you are dealing with your problems in the real world. Taking note of your actions within the dream may help you find a correlation between the nightmare and your real life actions that can help you deal with the problem.

fact checked by Jamie Frater