Chat to a group of friends about their last memorable dream and chances are there are some common themes that crop up.
And if those themes involve tigers, crumbing teeth and a failure to revise for an important exam, the odds are that the unlucky dreamer is feeling rather stressed.
According to New Zealand dream experts Margaret Bowater and Dr Rosie Gibson, what you dream about can be a key indicator for your state of mind.
According to ream experts Margaret Bowater and Dr Rose Gibson, what you dream about can be a key indicator for your state of mind, with failure to revise of an exam (stock image pictured) a common indicator of stress
Ms Bowater, who is the president of the Dream Network Aotearoa New Zealand, shared some of the themes to look out for with Stuff – and while the sensation of falling while asleep was a common occurrence in stressed dreamers, other symbols might surprise you.
FAILING TO REVISE FOR A TEST
‘I used to be a teacher, so my typical stress dream was about the whole classroom getting out of control. I would be feeling powerless or helpless to manage a situation,’ Ms Bowater told the publication.
But she isn’t alone, with the expert revealing that if you find yourself being totally unprepared for an exam in a dream, you are most likely feeling under pressure in real life.
The expert said children in particular are susceptible to seeing a ‘token stress creature’ in their dreams which can be embodied as a tiger or wolf
Common dreams and what they mean
Speaking previously, UK dream expert Ian Wallace explained the meanings behind some other common dreams.
Being exposed in public: You’re taking too much on and no setting boundaries so you can look after your own needs
Being immersed in water: Water symbolises your emotions, being kept from water means your emotions are being repressed
Dreaming about your house: Your house symbolises your identity and if you’re dreaming about old houses, you’re missing your old self
Dr Rosie Gibson, who is a research officer at Massey University’s Sleep/Wake Research Centre, said that children in particular are susceptible to seeing a ‘token stress creature’ in their dreams – which can be embodied as a tiger or wolf.
‘My own repetitive stress dream as a child would be of a wolf jumping down my next door neighbour’s stairs and I’d wake up with that rush of stress and anxiety,’ she told the publication.
TEETH FALLING OUT
Perhaps one of the most common anxiety dreams is said to be the unpleasant sensation of your teeth crumbling in your mouth during a nightmare.
According to Ms Bowater, this dream represents ‘words that have fallen out of your mouth that you wish you hadn’t said.’
She added that it could also indicate that you have been unable to find the right words to express yourself.
Perhaps one of the most common anxiety dreams is said to be the unpleasant sensation of your teeth crumbling in your mouth during a nightmare
According to Dr Gibson, being unable to drive a car in the right direction is a dream which can mean that you feel out of control.
Those enduring this unpleasant night-time ordeal are more likely to be adults, the expert said.
Other dreams involving vehicles that indicate stress include a car rolling backwards, or possibly towards a cliff edge.
Ms Bowater said that this kind of dream is a ‘conceptual’ one – whereby the dreamer feels trapped or lost in real life.
‘A dream is trying to show, or repeat, something back to you,’ she said.
‘It’s usually using concrete imagery for something that is not necessarily a concrete thing to say.’
According to Dr Gibson, being unable to drive a car in the right direction is a dream which can mean that you feel out of control
WHAT ABOUT A DREAM OF DYING?
Whilst anyone who has had a nightmare about passing away might naturally attest that it was a sobering experience, UK dream expert Ian Wallace has previously explained that it has nothing to do with death in waking life.
Writing on his website, Mr Wallace – who has analysed more than 200,000 dreams and is author of the book The Top 100 Dreams – said ‘dying symbolises a fundamental change in how you view a situation in your day-to-day life, so that you can healthily transform it’.
‘Although dying may symbolise the end of a particular process in your waking life, its main purpose it to draw your attention to the fact that a while new area of growing opportunity is emerging for you,’ he wrote.