10 Common Dreams Caused By Anxiety & What They Actually Mean

We all know the feeling. You're in the depths of a deep snooze when, all of a sudden, you feel like you're submerged in water. And now you're falling down a steep staircase. And now a snake is trailing you? All at once? Isn't sleep a time for relaxation?! At times, our anxieties can haunt us in our dreams, and make themselves known in strange ways — and in fact, there are some common dreams that are caused by anxiety, which each have their own distinctive meanings.

We're told that we need up to eight hours of sleep a night in order to feel properly rested. But if you're stressing in your dreams, you're hardly getting any of that coveted rest. If you typically toss and turn, wake up crying, or in a puddle of your own sweat, chances are you are aren't snoozing well.

Our anxieties can be shared but they're also our own. Common dreams that we all have can indicate general fears and anxieties, but mean something completely personal to the dreamer. Underwater? Ever heard of a "wave of emotions"? We can learn something from our anxiety dreams, like pinpointing the problem as our sub conscious serves them and work on getting that anxiety getaway of our dreams — also known as restful sleep.

Teeth Falling Out


According to Dream Moods, a website that's basically an encyclopedia for common dreams, teeth falling out is amongst the most commonly shared sleep stress sequence. But of course, no one dream has a single definition. Because teeth are presented on our face, it can be theorized that dreaming about them falling out has a lot to do with our anxieties of our we're perceived and a fear of rejection. Another interpretation of this dream, "may be rooted in your fear of being embarrassed or making a fool of yourself in some situation." Rest assured knowing that your teeth are still in your head. And if you're worried about their health, visit your dentist!

Appearing Naked In Public


Ah, yes, the dreaded forgot-my-pants-at-home-but-now-I'm-in-public debacle. This could mean that you have stress and anxiety surrounding perceived shortcomings. According to Dream Dictionary this symbolizes, "shame with yourself, afraid of being exposed, trying to be something that you are not, scared of being noticed," to name a few. It could be pointing out your social anxiety.

Being Chased


This is a nightmare. You're being chased and suddenly you forget how to run. Or your legs turn to slow-motion mush. Or you find a cool rock to duck behind to hide. Either outcome of what your dream self chooses to do means you're stressing. Dream Moods says, "your actions in the dream parallel how you would respond to pressure and cope with fears, stress or various situations in your waking life. Instead of confronting the situation, your dream indicates that you have a tendency to run away and avoid the issue. Ask yourself who is chasing you, so that you can gain a better understanding and insight on the source of your fears and anxieties." You don't have to get an unexpected workout in your dream.

Forgetting Something Important


You're on stage, at a Broadway performance, and you totally forgot you were part of the show, and you now have no idea what your lines are or what stage directions mean. If you were ever in a high school musical, you've probably experienced this dream once or ten times. But you don't have to be a performer to have anxiety dreams about forgetting something important. Dream Moods says this kind of dream indicates, "You are expressing an overwhelming amount of stress in your life. You feel the need to tend to everything and everyone's needs." And the anxious meaning behind the stressful dream can alter depending on what you're forgetting.



What an annoying dream. You're slowly, calmly drifting into a sleep when all of a sudden a staircase appears that's so steep you just have to fall down it, shoot awake and catch your breath all at once. Welcome to your next eight hours of sleep! According to Dream Dictionary, "Researchers say the average human will dream about falling to his death more than five times in their life." So, we've all been there. Which means that we've all felt like we've lost control over a certain situation.

Those quick falling dreams in which you jerk yourself awake? Those have a name. It's called a "hypnagogic jerk" and it's a muscle spasm. It happens to most people, stressed or not, but, if you're "suffering from stress, depression, anxiety," you could experience these spasms during REM sleep.

Being Underwater Or Facing A Large Wave


Is something changing in your life that's causing subconscious stress? The Dream Well explains, "If we look at water in our dreams as a symbol of our emotions and feelings, part of our inner world, then tidal waves can be like our emotions welling up and getting a little out of control." If you're imagining yourself under the weight of a large wave or body of water this could mean that you're feeling under a lot of pressure. Maybe meditate before bed.

The World Ending


Dreaming about the doom of the world you live in is the opposite of a relaxing night's sleep. According to Dreams Cloud, "Dreaming of an apocalypse or that the world is coming to an end may represent dealing with a major transition or life changing event. Your life, as you currently know it, is coming to an end." Even though things aren't ~actually~ going to end, a major life change can feel like the final conclusion in a lot of ways leading to anxious dreams.

Being Late


If you take pride in showing up early for commitments, traffic delays are pretty much your mortal enemy. Dreaming about being late is just as stressful. Dream Stop says, " It signifies the anxieties and pressures you have in real life. You may be afraid of missing an important opportunity. It can also mean there are big changes coming you should embrace rather than fear." Release yourself from the shackles of self induced pressure and relax, confident in your ability to wake up on time and be prompt for events.

Driving Out Of Control


Sometimes you might dream that you're in a car you have no control over. You could — in my personal experience of night terrors — be in a car that nobody is driving as it navigates a coastline. So much for sweet dreams, right? According to Dream Cloud, dreaming of being a passenger could mean, "you may be allowing someone else to control you or your life; or you may be feeling you have no control over your life; or you may not be taking responsibility for your actions." Grab the steering wheel of your own life and find roads you're more comfortable with!

People Are Laughing At You


We all fear that point and laugh humiliation. And sometimes laughing in a dream can be a good thing. But surprisingly it can be a sign of anxiety. Dream Stop says, "Are you afraid of being ridiculed? Is there something you feel ashamed of? Hearing a group of people laughing can mean there are those who are waiting and wishing for you to fail." Your anxieties can have a lot to do with the people you surround yourself with and what you think they think of you.