The 5 Most Common Nightmares: What These Scary Dreams Mean

By laura.cox

Posted in: 

October 3, 2022

With Halloween just around the corner, you might be thinking more about the scary dreams that keep you up at night, and maybe even creep into your thoughts during the day. Maybe you have a recurring nightmare that leaves your heart pounding when you wake up, wondering why the same theme seems to haunt you again and again. 

JustAnswer Dream Interpretation Expert Ashleigh Sacks explains, “Like dreams, nightmares are a reflection of the thoughts, experiences, and emotions that make up our waking life. Nightmares are most commonly experienced in times of stress, trauma, and heightened anxiety.” 

According to Sacks, here are the five most common nightmares asked about on JustAnswer, and what they mean for the person experiencing them:

Being Chased

When a distressing dream occurs about a person being chased, this may indicate overwhelming challenges, feelings, or experiences in the dreamer’s waking life. In this common nightmare, a person is usually running away from a symbolic representation of problems they may be experiencing in their relationships, careers, finance, health—or even their relationship with themselves.

Being chased symbolizes a person's desire to remove themselves from a harsh or traumatic obstacle from which they feel there is no solution, or that they feel insecure about fixing or addressing adequately. A person may tend to avoid the difficulty of a confrontation instead of addressing it and resolving the problem. This type of nightmare may also indicate that a person is not on the right path, and is not accepting of their ability to cope with the obstacles and challenges in their daily life.  

Teeth Falling out 

This type of nightmare is often related to the themes of birth, death, and transformation. Lost teeth may be related to something significant coming to an end, or something new starting in the dreamer’s waking life.   

Teeth are also a reflection of a person’s self-image and appearance. To have one’s teeth fall out may reflect a lack of confidence in their physical appearance. 

Nightmares of this nature may also symbolize the feeling of losing control over certain aspirations, dreams, or goals. This type of dream often comes as a warning to take back control and feel more confident about one's path and life choices. 

Losing a Loved One

When a person experiences this type of nightmare, they are often considering the potential loss of important relationships in their lives, or facing their own mortality. These types of nightmares can symbolize a deterioration in a relationship with self or others that the dreamer needs to address in their waking life. When interpreting this dream, one of the main considerations is who the lost loved one is and their relationship to the dreamer. The lost loved one may reflect a deeper aspect of the dreamer that is at risk or under attack. 

Dreaming of losing a father, for example, may indicate difficulties in that primary relationship, or a lost sense of strength, determination, or masculinity in oneself. Dreaming of losing a mother may indicate a lost sense of nurturing, femininity, or emotional support. These types of dreams typically reveal that something is lacking in a person’s life, and are often represented by the deceased loved one.

Partner Cheating

There are two main themes that this nightmare may represent. One theme relates to feelings of insecurity, unworthiness, low self-esteem, and the fear of abandonment or rejection. On the other hand, this type of dream can also represent the need to address a stress-related or anxiety-inducing issue in the dreamer’s relationship. 

Dreams of partners cheating may be the result of events that led to feelings of mistrust, lack of communication, or unaddressed conflict in the relationship. This type of dream can also refer to the dreamer not living up to their personal goals and life expectations, thus feeling inferior and unsatisfied with certain aspects of their life. 

Being Attacked or Bitten by Dangerous Creatures

When dangerous animals attack or bite a person in their nightmares, this is often a warning from a person's subconscious that there are deceitful, dishonest people in their life that may have a hidden agenda, or may not be looking out for their best interests. Being attacked in a dream can also reflect a conflict being experienced by the dreamer, and the feelings this triggers. This type of nightmare may also reflect internal conflict, as the attacker may represent certain anxieties, fears, or distrust. 

Do you recognize your frequent nightmare on this list? If you’re still looking for answers, the Dream Interpretation Experts on JustAnswer can help you to decipher what’s really going on in your subconscious mind.