Dreams

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For a new project, I’m interested in my readers’ most common dreams.

For instance, for a long time, years, I had only one dream. It was a variation on the actor’s nightmare: I was always booked for some kind of performance in some faraway city, and I was always showing up the day of the show and finding out that my housing was bizarrely inadequate (one dream had me staying in a rotting trailer in the middle of a woods), my transportation confusing and dangerous (subway trains without platforms, jet planes that must take off or leave in the middle of city centers), and the venue always in a state of turmoil. And, of course, I was always showing up without a clear idea of what the show was and what my part was in it.

The other dream I’ve had for at least the past twenty years is that I’m showing up at a college campus on finals day and realizing that I’m due to take an exam and haven’t been to any of the classes that semester. In fact, I haven’t even been on the campus before.

I used to have the dream where I showed up at work naked. The strange thing about that one was that no one else ever noticed that I was there, much less that I was naked.

And, in times of great stress, I’d have flight dreams every night. I would have them so often that they became routine, I would know when one was starting and know exactly what to do. I had them so often that my flight-dream life became an easy, comfortable place, and flying became no big deal — I could just as easily fly down the hallway to get to class as soar over my neighborhood in the moonlight.

I’ve had some version of every kind of dream reported in the Wikipedia "Common Themes" paragraph, with the exception of the one with the dreamer’s teeth rotting and falling out.  That one strikes me as bizarre.

Comments

65 Responses to “Dreams”
  1. My worst recurring dream involves trying to catch a huge number of snakes as they escape. In reality I only own one snake and he’s never gotten out, but in the dream I’m running from cage to cage trying to gather them all up into my arms to save them, because if they reach the floor they will die, either from the fall or by crawling into the recesses of my apartment and starving. It centers around my failure to protect something I’m supposed to be caring for–I’m surprised that wasn’t one of the common themes. My mom has had a similar recurring dream in which she has to rescue children in a hurricane/flood by swimming while they cling to her back, but some of them don’t make it.

    I’ve had the teeth falling out one, and the one where I realize halfway through the semester that I’m signed up for a class that I haven’t been attending or doing the work for. I’ve also had dreams where I sprouted facial hair and/or testicles (I’m female).

    • Todd says:

      I used to have the dream where I’m supposed to be protecting something or someone, and failing. And it always came down to me trying to yell out a warning and not being able to.

  2. autodidactic says:

    I’ve had my teeth turn to powder in my mouth, in a dream. I don’t think I was trying to eat, only to talk.

    My next commonest one is The Soul Factory, followed by The Endless Asylum.

  3. notthebuddha says:

    I had the rotting teeth dream fairly often when I was younger, but the weakened teeth would burst with a sound like the old flashbulbs rather than fall out. Since then it’s been mostly pursuit by some indistinct figure, maybe human maybe not, or being abandoned in the rain or snow, with incoherent flashbacks to toddlerhood a distant third, but positively the most disturbing.

    (I do have ‘happy’ dreams, but they don’t seem to repeat.)

  4. schwa242 says:

    The other dream I’ve had for at least the past twenty years is that I’m showing up at a college campus on finals day and realizing that I’m due to take an exam and haven’t been to any of the classes that semester. In fact, I haven’t even been on the campus before.

    I have similar dreams quite often. Supposedly it means you aren’t being well prepared for dealing with some aspect of your life, whether it be work or day-to-day things, and the background stress is showing up in your dreams. I procrastinate a lot, and I have this dream a lot, though it will usually be at my old high school or college.

    I’ve had some version of every kind of dream reported in the Wikipedia “Common Themes” paragraph, with the exception of the one with the dreamer’s teeth rotting and falling out.

    I do have dreams of pulling my teeth out, or my teeth growing large inside my head and falling out. Sometimes I pull so many out I have a handful of teeth (more than I could possibly have in my mouth. Sometimes it is painful, sometimes not. Sometimes it goes along with strong pains in my jaw. I’ve read three interpretations of dreams where teeth are lost. One is that you are being dishonest somehow. Words come out of one’s mouth, and a broken mouth means broken words. Another is that you are self-conscious about your body image. People want a beautiful smile, and teeth can represent body image as a whole. A third interpretation is that you are worried about your health. Again, bad teeth can be seen as a sign of bad health as a whole.

    I used to be plagued by nightmares of being attacked by a helicopter between the ages of nine and my mid-twenties. It usually starts with me being in whatever bedroom I live in at the time. I hear a buzzing in the distance, open my window, and there is a black helicopter outside shooting at me. I run around my home looking for places to hide, but can’t seem to get away. The first time I had this dream, it was the size of a fly. But eventually it was a helicopter the size and shape of the one from Airwolf. Sometimes I could flee my house but it would still hunt me down until I woke up. As I got older, I was able to “fight back”, which essentially meant I stood my ground, yelled, maybe flipped it the bird while it shot at me. Sometimes it would kill me and sometimes the bullets did nothing.

    Sometimes I dream that there is a loud rumbling in my head. When this occurs, it usually means that I am going to have a lucid dream or go through awareness during sleep paralysis. Both are generally fun, and feel like I am getting free drug experiences without any negative consequence. Sleep paralysis is often frightening for most (I’m guessing the painting in your post is representing it, since old myths have it that an incubus or whatever evil beastie is sitting on your chest), but I have found it to be a pleasant experience for the most part. Occasionally it’s scary, but it’s rare.

    I used to dream of nuclear war quite often. I was either at home when the bomb went off, or I’d be wandering the ruins of the city I lived in. Then the cold war ended and those dreams went away for awhile. Then Bush got voted into office, and well…

    A friend of mine collected stories of friends’ nightmares that she worked into her final project for film school. Part of the story was the protagonist suffering various nightmares, so a few people got to see their worst dreams on the big screen.

    • schwa242 says:

      Oops, forgot to add…

      I also have dreams where made up locations are recurring, rather than actual events. There’s a city in the mountains (though I live in Colorado, so that explains that), a walled city in the middle of a desert (though I lived in Riyadh as a kid, so that explains that), a large black tower in a red hellish landscape, an anonymous airport, and others that escape me.

      Aaand I just remembered another recurring dream. I’m in a plane that is about to crash. I constantly dips low towards the landscape (which can be mountains, plains, a city, or whatever), and then bounces up at the last second. I feel the drop though in my stomach and it makes me ill.

    • numbereleven says:

      I was plagued with awful bombing nightmares for years after 9/11. They were usually Super Mario bombs, but it was still terrifying.

  5. ndgmtlcd says:

    - Flight dreams, yes but they don’t always happen in times of stress. They are always wonderful dreams.
    - Getting to school and finding out that I have never prepared for that kind of test, yes, I’ve had those dreams but they include university situations as well as junior college ones and high school ones and grade school ones. The locale varies but the terror remains the same.
    - Losing my home. The locale varies greatly and that home in the nightmare never looks like any of my past homes in reality.

  6. planettom says:

    I’ve had the teeth one.

    The “end of semester and there’s the class I forgot about until this moment” one interests me because it’s so universal, and I wonder how far back it goes. I mean, did guys at university in the 1600s have this dream? Did Socrates’s students? Did cavemen have this dream, years after their rite of passage, that they have to go out for their first saber-tooth kill today, and they haven’t practiced at all for it?

    • Todd says:

      For that matter, do dogs dream that they show up for a pack hunt and don’t know what they’re supposed to do and the pack loses the rabbit?

      • planettom says:

        That NPR article that mentions below is interesting, because it says that the exam dream is recorded in 2nd century China.

        I’ve never had this, but my dad and sister (and several friends) have had the “safe haven” dream, the place you revisit in various dreams that you’ve never been but could draw a floorplan of. In my dad’s case, it was a house on a beach, in my sister’s, a church in the woods. They seem to be very peaceful dreams, so I assume it’s the mind making a sort of Fortress of Solitude…

      • curt_holman says:

        Do dogs dream that they show up for a pack hunt without wearing their fur?

  7. cheshyre says:

    I have those “final exam” dreams all the time (or dealing with final papers).

    Last week, I had one with an odd twist. In the dream, the semester was over and I had scraped up enough credits to graduate. I was trying to decide whether or not to get robes and attend the actual ceremony — I’ve done this before (have a Masters), had no interest in the speaker, and sitting out in the heat (or cold) while s/he droned on seemed particularly unappealing. Just as I’d nearly convinced myself to have the school mail me the diploma, I told my husband (in the dream) that I’d better attend in hopes that memories of sitting thru a graduation ceremony would stop the dreams of flunking out…

    Ironic, no?

    A few years ago, NPR interviewed a professor of dream studies on what graduation nightmares mean.

  8. I’ve had a tooth dream that was particularly disturbing because I knew I was breaking my teeth but continued to mash them together as hard as I could, essentially being the cause of my own shattering teeth.

  9. I have many common dreams, but I had a completely new one 2 nights ago that rang eerily inside my head throughout the following day.

    I swam in murky waters . . . with dolphins. I felt the presence of other sea creatures.

    By the way, this is Lacy, formerly PanickedZebra. I just created this new journal since my previous began in 2002. I just started teaching 6 grade science this week, finally applying my MA. Perhaps we will discuss a common bacteria, bisocosis populi.

    In Greenaway-related news, I received The Pillow Book on DVD today. My last copy was VHS, so hurray!

  10. meowwcat says:

    I’ve had reoccurring flight dreams – one of the more common themes is I know it is a dream, and I’m up high somewhere, usually atop a mountain peak or cliff, a up very high in skyscraper, etc. From this very high peak, I think: it is dream I can fly so I just run off the cliff or leap out a window, a small moment of sinking and then I’m flying (kind of like when you jump in a pool).

    A series of reoccurring dreams I had when I was younger: I had this entire dreamscrape formed around this lake surrounded by a forest, and a small town on one side, and an old hospital on another side and a house a bit down the path from it. I would walk down a path, and come to a fork in the road, I’d make a choice which way to go: to the hospital or the house, down towards the lake, etc. Over time I recognized the dream for what it was so I tried to explore more and more. . .but I stopped having the dream and haven’t been “back” since.

    • Todd says:

      That’s funny, I’ve never had a flight dream where I was anyplace special, it’s always a very mundane, everyday environment.

  11. faeryhead says:

    When I read “flight dreams” I thought “I have those!”–but I thought you meant trying to make a flight and just missing it or you make the plane but realize you’re on the wrong one, etc. In times of stress I have dreams like that or endless packing dreams. I’m either packing to move somewhere and I realize I’d rather not move at all or I dream about packing for a trip and it feels like I pack and pack and pack for hours.

  12. greyaenigma says:

    I have a lot of dreams that are very place-specific. Many of which are the typical hybrids – my old house or old school combined with something else. I have noticed a great many dreams of stores, usually old-timey toy stores.

    The places feel very specific, specific enough that I can recognize them years later — which has happened quite a few times. Just the other day I dreamed about a specific apartment which I had never seen in my waking life and hadn’t dreamed about for years.

    I did have a few dreams where I was a super secret agent, those were fun.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have had similar place specific nightmares. In fact the only nightmares I seem to have had for as far back as I can remember all revolve around a town that as far as I know only exists in my head.

      They tend to occur in the same places (The town mall, school, library, specific houses.) but occasionally I am just wandering about the streets. Something horrible always happens ranging from the mundane to the fantastical, and usually completely different from dream to dream, and I always end up fighting for my life.

      - Jon R.

  13. Like everyone else in the known universe since the 2nd century apparently, I’ve had “the class I never went to” dreams. One of them was fairly recent in fact. They’re more frustrating than frightening and tend not to have much hold on me after a wake up and have the presence of mind to remember that I don’t go to school anymore.

    A recurring theme in some of my dreams is that I am trying to talk, but my mouth is for some reason full of cloth of some kind. No matter how much I pull out, there is still some remaining and I still can’t say whatever it is I need to say. This one is a bit more disturbing than the school dreams, but still mainly frustrating. I fortunately do not have any recurring terrifying nightmares, just random ones.

    I’ve had flying dreams, which I like, though they’re not all that frequent. In some cases, particularly ones I remember from when I was little, I wasn’t so much flying as literally walking on air.

    Since sleep paralysis came up, my husband used to have a fairly regular problem with this. I would sometimes lie awake for a little while after we went to bed and listen to his breathing. If He started to breathe fast, I knew he was “stuck” and would shake him to get him to wake up fully. We also both occasionally have sort of full body muscle spasms when we start to drift off. I guess if sleep paralysis is the mind waking up while the body is still asleep, these spasm are the body suddenly deciding “No, wait! I’m awake!”

    In my senior year of high school, when I was both stressed and depressed, the dreams i could remember were ridiculously mundane. I would dream about eating cereal, wake up, and be surprised that there was still a full bowl of cereal on my bedside table.

  14. I often will find myself in a situation where I have to flee from some threat but that I suddenly become weightless. When I try to run I end up pushing myself straight up in the air where I just sort of drift slowly back to earth (flailing and cursing all the way) where I try to take another stride only to repeat the whole infuriating process. I usually end up clawing my way along the ground on all fours until I wake up.

    Also, check out http://www.slowwave.com/

  15. lolavavoom says:

    I’m surprised that pregnancy doesn’t show up on that wikipedia article. It’s a fairly common theme as well, from what I’ve read – and tends to signify change.

    My recurring dreams involve 1. running away – not being chased! Just running away. and 2. Sea creatures – often whales. Usually orcas

    • Todd says:

      My wife was also baffled by the lack of pregnancy dreams in the top-recurring-dreams lists she sought out. The other dream that all the women she knows has that she never has is that their mates are cheating on them and everyone knows but them.

  16. curt_holman says:

    “In dreams I walk with you…”

    When I was in high school, and occasionally when I’m feeling stressed out in recent years, I have vivid dreams of being chased. When I was a teenager, I went through a phase of being-chased-dreams, and remember that on separate occasions I was chased by 1.) a carnivorous dinosaur along the lines of an Allosaurus; 2.) an angry mob that, in retrospect, had a ’28 Days Later’ quality; and 3.) a giant, four-legged, long-necked swan like beast. I remember being vaguely aware of the ridiculousness of the last one while that was going on.

    Occasionally I’ll have dreams of being in ill-lit, labyrinthine basements. When movies or TV shows have scenes in such settings, sometimes I’ll have a sharp feeling of deja vu. Once I dreamed I was in a basement with a dirt floor and dozens of brown recluse spiders started leaping on me and biting me – I literally thrashed myself awake.

    Most of the time, though, my dreams are quite mundane and commonplace. They remind me of Ted Danson’s line from Body Heat — “Last night I had a dream so boring, it woke me up.”

    BTW, Todd: thoughts on Inglourious Basterds?

    • Todd says:

      Re: “In dreams I walk with you…”

      Inglourious Basterds I thought was just swell, but I’ll need to see it again at least once before I can say anything coherent about it.

  17. planettom says:

    I also have ones of levitating, which I’m sure is similar to flying dreams, but seems a little different.

    In the dream, it seems very reasonable. Like, “Geez, I’ve just realized the secret of levitating, I’m amazed nobody has figured it out before!”

    Then I’ll wake up, but the dream seemed to be so reasonable, that for a few half-asleep minutes I’ll be thinking; oh, that was just a dream. Well, everything but the levitating part; I’ll have to do some more of that once I wake up…

    • numbereleven says:

      Oh, me too! I remember having my first one in grade school, and being honestly confused that I couldn’t levitate in real life because the rest of the dream was so mundane.

  18. rootboy says:

    The events of my dreams are rather mundane – generally failing at things – but the settings are unique, I beleive: there’s always impossibly huge architecture. Every house is the size of a cathedral and the rooms are a maze, but no one remarks on this as it is terribly ordinary. Probably the closest real-world example to my dream architecture is something like the Louvre (where on my first and only visit I did not heed the warnings and just wandered around until I got lost). The absurdly huge castle from the video game Ico is also a pretty good approximation for the kind of spaces I’m talking about.

  19. numbereleven says:

    The most common themes in my dreams are amusement parks/roller coasters, being lost/searching for someone, and bathrooms. The first two are fairly typical, I’d guess. The bathroom thing is bizarre, because I usually have to find it first, and then a lot of times, it’s a weird, new type of toilet that I can’t figure out how to use. Or something will happen like, I’ll lose my pants or the toilet will overflow and I’m sort of “trapped” in there.

    I also used to have a fairly common dream about sharing a department store bed with a man, both of us being half naked like we’re home.

  20. jasonlove says:

    When I dream, the “places” I find myself have more weight, reality, and significance than any place does in the real world: a specific hotel/shopping mall megaplex of my own invention, for example, or an imaginary university with submarine-like dormitories. The places themselves can be conceptually ordinary (a new store location for the local supermarket has been showing up a lot lately, as well as a particular nonexistent suburban comic shop), but something about their atmosphere just feels more resonant than real places do. More Archetypical. This is the Subway restaurant of the gods, on which all its brethren are mere models.

    I kept intermittent dream journals until I got tired of trying to write about dream-logic. “Moved into a new apartment, whose former occupant had been murdered. By checking out the building in Google Street View, the apartment’s original entrance was shown to be next door–proving incontrovertibly that the man had ACTUALLY been killed in a football accident. See, he’d miscalculated the odds of a critical play succeeding and was fatally sacked. He thought the odds of failure were only five-to-one, when league rules CLEARLY indicated that pre-play calculations require the function to be iterated twice if the opposing players were wearing dark jerseys.” All of which is from an actual dream on April 24. After putting up with enough of that, I stopped trying to record plots; better to watch the way mundane architecture becomes magical.

  21. Since I started writing and attending SF conventions, the missed college class dreams have morphed into missed plane/train to convention. When I finally arrive, I have about five minutes to get to a panel, discover I’m not registered for the convention, and keep running into friends who delay me.

    I used to wear contact lenses. Every so often, I would dream that I had to put in contact lenses the size of small plates. They didn’t sit on my eyes, but sort of wrapped around the whole eyeball. Those were weird.

    Lately, car accident dreams. I mash down on the brakes, and the car keeps moving. I drift into intersections, miss the light changes, and find myself trapped as the cars roar around me. The last one ended when I hit the rear of a shuttle bus that had cut in front of me to make a right hand turn. Dream ended. I was really happy to wake up from that one.

  22. jkcarrier says:

    A lot of my dreams involve being lost. I don’t think there’s any deep symbolism there, though, because I have a terrible sense of direction and am always getting lost in real life too.

    I don’t think I’ve had too many of the Common Themes on that list, other than the broad category of “embarrassing moments”.

  23. squidattack says:

    My nightmares typically involve plane crashes, but never in a plane I am simply riding. I am either piloting or about to be hit by a plane that is coming down onto me somehow. Once, I had a dream wherein an airplane was following me until it turned into a red-headed, zitty teenager who then proceeded to stab me. I am not consciously afraid of planes and have never had any sort of trouble on a flight, so I’m assuming it’s just generic loss-of-control type stuff.

    Feelings of responsibility and obligation manifest as kittens frequently, too. I usually have to protect, seek, take care of kittens and inevitably they end up lost. I’d guess that these dreams are about failure.

    Good luck on your project!

  24. zentinal says:

    When I was a teenager through my twenties I had two recurring dreams.

    One was a leaping, hopping dream, where the wind is blowing on a clear day. I run and jump down a hill and pull my legs up at the last moment and glide down the hill, skimming a foot or two above the ground. Sometimes the wind catches me and sends me up to treetop level. Occasionally, I’d get caught in a tree and have to climb down.

    The other dream was a flight dream. It always started on a cloudless, starry night. I’d look up and pick a star and stare at it until I felt it pulling at me. If I lost focus, I’d slip back down, but if I maintained focus, I’d accelerate until I arrived at the vicinity of the star. Getting back home was sometimes a problem, I’d have to try and feel where home was and accelerate in that direction.

  25. dougo says:

    I don’t recall ever having a teeth dream either. And yeah, that does seem bizarre, though I’ve heard of it before. I wonder if we don’t have the “dreams about teeth” gene.

    I haven’t had flying dreams in decades, but they used to involve falling off a mountaintop and soaring over the countryside. Never flown indoors or anywhere mundane.

    I have the “unprepared for exams” (and workplace analog) dreams a lot. The other main kinds of dreams I have are in the two rough categories (from the Wikipedia list) “car accidents” and “going to the toilet”, but they’re very specific: I am slamming on the car brakes, but the car takes a long time to stop, and keeps going into an intersection—but I never actually crash into anything; and, I am searching for a toilet to pee in, but whenever I find a bathroom, the toilet is either running over or is not actually a toilet but just a bucket or sink or something.

    Every once in a while I’ll have a really awesome sci-fi dream, involving time travel or virtual reality or spaceships. I wish I could remember enough details to write a story, although it would probably turn out to be derivative of other stuff I’ve read or seen.

  26. faroffstar says:

    I’ve experienced similar reoccurring dreams that you have described in your post.

    1. Going to work and realizing I’m not wearing any pants. I’m never completely naked, I just have no pants. When I realize it, I always freak out and run to the bathroom and hide.

    2. I am in High School again, I have missed a lot of school, I can’t remember my schedule, I don’t know where any of my classes are and I haven’t done the homework. I absolutely hate this dream, because usually towards the end I realize it’s a dream and become frustrated.

    3. I often dream I am trying to escape my house. Someone has broken in and I am trying to find a way out. The escape route varies from jumping out the window in the bedroom and running down the street, to sneaking out the back door. The weird thing is, I am never in the house I currently live, but ALWAYS a house we rented when i was 10/11 years old.

    And finally, a dream I have most commonly, is that I am waking up, but everything is moving really slow. I try to get out of bed and turn on the light only to find my self BACK in bed. This happens over and over again until I realize I am dreaming. Then I try to call out to my husband to wake me up. in the dream I am screaming, but out loud my husband says I am murmuring.

    • Todd says:

      Yeah, whenever I have a “home” dream, it’s always the house I grew up in, never in any of the dozen or so dwellings I’ve lived in since then.

  27. quitwriting says:

    This one appears periodically throughout my life:

    In this dream, I’m always attempting to accomplish some goal by using abilities that humans don’t have. In the dream, I’m always able to use the abilities, and it’s always a relief that I remembered how to do it. I’m aware that I’m dreaming and I, as the avatar in the dream (I often dream in third person), turn to myself as the viewer of the dream and say “This is how you do it. Don’t forget!” I always forget because right after I say that I either wake up or have another unrelated dream.

    It’s a frustrating dream set.

  28. Tie my kangaroo down sport…

    I envy people who can have flight dreams at will! I have only done it once and would like to do it again!

    Last night I dreamed my partner was getting assistance with kinky bondage games and I walked in…must be something to do with my recent role of fatherhood and nights of pampers rather than passion!

    As an aside, I have discovered the wonderful world of podcasts (yes, slow on the uptake), and have found it a useful, reassuring source of ideas and motivation. Not sure if they have this field covered but you never know… I go to sleep with my iPod in, so maybe I have been getting scriptwriters talking about S&M and it is entering my head sublimally!!!!

  29. chevett says:

    A common one for me: I’m trying to run away from or run to something (context is always different), but can only move in slow motion no matter how hard I try to run faster.

    I’ve never had a lot of the common dreams mentioned here: teeth falling out, test for class I never attended, flying…

  30. I dream lucidly. In almost all of my dreams I can fly, turn invisible, throw things around by telekinesis, etc. For this reason I don’t have many nightmares — I get the impression that the things I meet in dreams are scared of me.

  31. kittercall says:

    Growing up I had a reoccuring dream that my family had been kidnapped and everytime I found them they turned out to be people in masks posing as my family…so it was constantly running to find them and then ripping off masks, then running to find them again on a loop.

    I’ve also had serious food dreams where I woken up chewing and drooling on my pillow…ewww

  32. ahura_nissan says:

    Teeth and toilets.

    Teeth being loose and falling out yes, that happens to me every once in a while. Usually happens in conjunction with myself looking in a mirror at a fatter, uglier version of myself.

    The ones that scare me the most though, are dirty bathroom dreams where every toilet is disgustingly plugged and the floor has nasty piss/shit stains everywhere. For whatever reason I have trouble standing in these dreams and end up touching every goddamn piece of filth I see. Also, it usually ends up that I am barefoot.

  33. eevilalice says:

    I’m always intrigued that I never have flying dreams, or the school-related anxiety dreams (especially the latter, given that I’m a grad student).

    I’m frequently swimming, or things are flooded, there are pools, water parks. That, or things are on fire (a house, a car).

    Definitely lots of being lost, in large, cavernous buildings with lots of hallways. Lots of being chased, by people (e.g. a murderer), monsters (literally, an alien from Aliens once, w/Sigourney Weaver and everything), or an invisible menace. I may or may not be trying to save someone else from these threats.

    I sort of, kind of, maybe sometimes find my dreams to be prophetic (I found out a friend was pregnant the day after I dreamed it; and she wasn’t trying).

  34. Anonymous says:

    The only dreams I ever remember clearly are the ones that have famous people in them. I can remember every detail about the dream where I was in a class taught by Stephen Fry, and the one where Kate Winslet gave me writing advice*. I suppose the rest of my dreams just don’t rate.

    I’ve also had dreams that I can’t instantly separate from reality once I’ve woken up. For instance I’ll dream that two of my friends had an affair, while in reality they’ve never even met one another. And it’ll take me a while to realize that it didn’t actually happen in real life.

    *No writing credits to her name.

    • Todd says:

      I wouldn’t discount Kate Winslet’s writing advice — she’s been in some pretty well-written movies and seems pretty smart to me. And don’t forget, Emma Thompson won an Oscar for her first screenplay. So you never know.

  35. samedietc says:

    yes to the teeth falling out dream, no to flying dreams

    I may talk in my sleep or snore–either way, I don’t often have dreams I remember.

    So, I don’t remember having many of the common dreams–being unprepared or naked for class, flying, falling, running slowly, etc.

    I have had some teeth falling out dreams. In fact, in waking life I went to my therapist at the time and asked her about that dream, and she said I probably grind my teeth when I sleep and am stressed, which is true. That said, I still like my friend’s classically Freudian take on it: teeth = penis = ability to talk / write; teeth falling out = castration = inability to talk / write.

    I was recently camping in Michigan with my gf, and had a variation on a home invasion dream that is a recurring theme in my dreams: either people have gotten into my home or people are trying to get into my home. In this particular dream, my apartment was somehow also partly the hallway for my apartment building, and the band that lived above me was moving out, and they were accidentally taking my stuff out with them.

    (Other times I have had to race around the house locking doors to keep some shadowy figure out–the shadowy figure often a man, rarely a pack of dogs–or have had to beat back the invasion when they got inside; but I have had before the dream where my space is also communal/hallway space. And naturally, the home in my dreams always incorporates my childhood home in some way: either it is my parents’ home; or when I go outside from my apartment or from room to room, it turns out to be my parents’ home.)

  36. johnnycrulez says:

    The one where my teeth fall out is the scariest. At first my teeth just feel less stable than they should, and then they slowly start to break into small pieces and I always have to spit out my broken fragments of teeth until I have none. The entire time I’m pleading to be sent to a dentist but nobody listens, or, more recently, I can’t afford it.

  37. Anonymous says:

    I had a dream the other night in which I was fighting some kind of demon or monster that looked *exactly* like me. I don’t say fighting myself because it was definitely a creature that had shape-shifted to look like me.

    First and hopefully last time for that one. I’ve had my teeth fall out two or three times.

  38. czarinakat says:

    When I was in college, teeth became my recurring nightmare — sometimes the dreams took place in the residence hall, so I rarely had the reassuring “Hey, relax, this is just a dream” feeling. The most fanciful involved spitting blood and broken teeth into my hands, then sprinkling them into water and watching my teeth turn into black pearls.

    I have had dreams in which I desperately, desperately want a cigarette. In reality, I’ve never smoked a day in my life, not even a puff.

    I always dream about houses, never the same house, not always even “my” house; someone explained to me that if the house is cluttered and messy, it represents emotional baggage; after that, I paid more attention to the dreams, and I realised that I was starting to clean up the rooms, open windows, and redecorate. The dreams really did seem to gauge the emotional improvement of my real-life circumstances.

    And once, fairly recently, I dreamt the zombies were coming and my friend had a gun with two bullets; we knew we weren’t going to make it out, and that it was better to commit suicide rather than being torn apart. My anguish, however, involved my cat. I really love this cat, so although I didn’t want him to get eaten by the zombies, I couldn’t bear the thought of killing him myself. We came to the conclusion that I should hug my cat so his head was close to mine, and my friend would kill us both with one bullet. Ya know, even in my waking moments, I think that’s what I’d probably do. I don’t quite know what it says about me.

    • Todd says:

      Even stranger, the “zombie apocalypse” dream seems to be gaining quite a significant foothold on our society — I see serious discussions about what one would or could or should do in a zombie apocalypse all the time. When I was a teenager, those discussions were reserved only for the slightly-more-probable possibility of a nuclear holocaust. It was a simpler, more innocent time.

  39. davejustus says:

    The teeth-falling-out dream was always my most common recurring theme, though it’s been a few years since I had one. In almost every one of them, the problem was compounded by the fact that I was trying to hide my malady from somebody or -bodies. The dreams always felt very visceral; I could wiggle my tongue in the empty sockets and taste the coppery flavor of blood. And the teeth (which I would gather in my hand, I suppose in hopes of somehow reattaching them later) would make a hollow, haunting clacking noise. Awful.

    The other recurring theme, and clearly related, was that my body was producing what I could only call a “cud,” some sort of mass that I was coughing up in quantity. Again, I generally had to hide this fact from someone, and again, I could always clearly taste the stuff.

    (It should be pointed out that I’ve had several dental/sinus surgeries in my lifetime, so these dreams aren’t exactly coming out of left field.)

  40. eronanke says:

    I occasionally have the ‘teeth-falling-out’ dream. I’ve heard it’s about the fear of the loss of control, but that doesn’t really seem like me.

  41. sbrungardt says:

    I don’t recall ever having had any of those common dream-types; without exception, every dream I recall ever having has been some kind of action, adventure, or fantasy story. Most times I’m the lead character in these, though sometimes I get a large supporting role.

    I’ve always found them to be remarkably well-detailed and thoroughly fleshed out, with some manner of social commentary at the core of whatever story is being told, too; I’ve never bothered to write them down, but on numerous occasions I’ve thought that they’d make good subject material for a movie or a video game of some kind.

    I’m betting the psychoanalysts would have a field day, especially on the ones revolving around gender roles…

  42. Anonymous says:

    teeth

    Instead of the common rotten teeth dream, I have a recurring motif in which I have an enormous wad of gum in my mouth and I can’t get rid of it. No matter how much I pull out, there’s still some left, stuck to my hard palate. It drives me insane!
    –Ed.

  43. cadaverine says:

    I’ve always been curious about other people’s recurring dreams ~ I never have the same dreams – but I do have recurring themes, and sometimes I get feelings of deja vu [though, things never happen the way I think they're going to].

    I’ve only figured-out what a handful of my recurring themes mean. The first is the naked dream. I stopped having naked dreams once I became more self-confident in the waking world. So now, if I ever have a dream in which I’m naked, I look to see what I’m so insecure about in real life.

    The second theme involves driving my car. Sometimes I’ll dream that I’m driving and the brakes don’t work [or they mostly work, but no matter how hard I press on the brake pedal the car will still inch forward], or that I’m a passenger and no one is driving. Sometimes other people are driving my car and I’m either up front or in the back, or there’s something wrong with the car. The car represents my life and reflects what’s happening in real life. So, whenever I’m stressed and my life feels out of control – I dream that I’m not in control of the car I’m driving.

    The third theme is a little vague and involves oceans. Whenever there’s an ocean in my dream, it has something to do with my spirituality. This is a newer theme for me, so I haven’t really been able to figure much out yet.

    Other themes include: flying, breathing underwater, roller skating, grocery stores, bathrooms, animal guides, dying/the afterlife, being male [I'm female], being a hermaphrodite, being someone of a different race, seeing myself in mirrors, killing people [always strangers, never someone I know personally], being pregnant, being a supernatural creature/or just having super powers, meeting Death personified [he's always non-threatening and easy to get along with], dinosaurs, ghosts [I always start the dream afraid of them, but by the end we're fast friends], traveling through outer space, being intoxicated, zombies, cartoon characters, speaking foreign languages [it's pretty limited to what I know in real life], having a dream within a dream within a dream [I "wake up" several times and tell people about my dream as I'm still dreaming], apocalyptic dreams [tornadoes/hurricanes, meteor showers, disease/biological warfare, flooding, et cetera], dreaming of winter while it’s summer in real life & vice-versa…

    My less common dreams include: making-out with a hideous demon to prove I’m not afraid of him, having Grandmother Earth help me into a trance to begin a spiritual journey, laughing really loudly and being worried that I might wake up my sleeping boyfriend in real life, turning into an oak tree after I die…

    Ahahaha…Sorry this is so long, I could go on forever. But one thing I find strange is that I don’t recall ever dreaming in black and white.

  44. naltrexone says:

    I do have one maddening recurring dream in which I wake up and work my way through an entirely normal, rather boring day. I’ll make it to the end of work in my dream with a sense of relief. Then I wake up in real-life feeling exhausted and irritated that I now have to go through the work day… again.

    Other than that, I no longer have any recurring dreams. There are, however, recurring elements in many of my otherwise-unrelated dreams. In some decent percentage of dreams (maybe 1/2 to 2/3), I’m not myself. In those cases I’m only very rarely someone specific I know or am aware of in real life. I’m usually but not always someone approximately my own age / race / sex / orientation.

    Sometimes (usually at some dramatic moment in the dream), I’ll switch to the perspective of a different person in the dream. And on rare occasion I’ll switch to an entirely passive, disembodied 3rd-person perspective and just watch things play out with no sense of self-awareness.

    My dreams almost never include supernatural elements, or any sort of big budget special effects. They tend toward small, complex interpersonal dramas. Anything that begins to stray too much away from non-dream-reality makes me immediately aware that I’m dreaming and causes me to wake up.

  45. teamwak says:

    The only reoccuring dream Ive had is of being underwater and holding my breathe. I begin to panic as my breathe begins to run out, then a take a deep breathe underwater then find that I can breathe underwater, and a great sense of peace comes over me. Had that one many times over the years.

    And I did have the flight one in my teens, but it was always as one of the vampires of Lost Boys lol. God, I did love that film as a kid. Plus it had a great flying technique with the sound and camera movement. Had that one a few times :)

  46. curt_holman says:

    Power of suggestion?

    Weird! I literally had “the Actor’s Nightmare” this morning, even though I’d never had it before in my life. I realized that I was playing a small role in one of the Shakespeare companies at local playhouse Georgia Shakespeare and was at home frantically trying to learn my lines. I wasn’t scared about BEING in the show, just that I didn’t know my stuff. I remember thinking, “Boy, I wish I’d thought of this sooner.”