Psychologist decodes the meaning behind the five most common types of dreams (and being chased could be a GOOD thing)

  • EXCLUSIVE: Femail spoke to psychologist and dream guru Dr Ian Wallace about how to decode the nightmares that unsettle us in waking hours 
  • Some of the most common dreams include being naked, or being chased 
  • Dr Wallace advises how you can get a better night’s rest by limiting alcohol and coffee intake and resisting the temptation to check messages at 3am  

While around 95 per cent of dreams are banished from memory before we’ve even got out of bed, the ones that stick tend to haunt us for the rest of the day.

A dream – random thoughts, images and sensations during sleep – may only last around five to 20 minutes but they could offer insight into deeper issues.

According to a survey of 2,000 people across the UK commissioned by leading jobs board Totaljobs, a staggering 50 per cent of Brits have faltering sleep over work pressures – with nightmares a frequent occurrence.

Some of the most common – and unnerving – dreams, according to psychologist and dream expert Dr Ian Wallace, include losing your teeth, being chased and not being able to find a loo in time.

Femail spoke to psychologist and dream expert Dr Ian Wallace about what your reoccurring dreams mean, following reports that 50 per cent of Brits are losing 9 hours of sleep a week

Femail spoke to psychologist and dream expert Dr Ian Wallace about what your reoccurring dreams mean, following reports that 50 per cent of Brits are losing 9 hours of sleep a week

Reassuringly, no matter how terrifying a middle-of-the-night pursuit might seem, it could actually be a good sign, as it can signify striving for your goals.

Femail asked Dr Wallace to explain just what those reoccurring dreams mean and how, even with technology constantly around us, you can still get a better night’s rest.

 

TOP FIVE DREAMS DECODED

1. Being chased

If you have nightmares about being chased this could signify that there is an issue in your waking life that you want to confront but are unsure how to do so. This issue is often a great opportunity for you to pursue a particular personal ambition.

Although they may seem scary, your pursuers are actually bringing your attention to your unrealised talents in your own pursuit of fulfillment.

'If you keep dreaming you are being chased then there is an issue in your waking life that you want to confront but are unsure how to do so', Dr Wallace says

‘If you keep dreaming you are being chased then there is an issue in your waking life that you want to confront but are unsure how to do so’, Dr Wallace says

2. Teeth falling out

Your teeth symbolise how confident and powerful you feel, so some situation is causing your confidence to crumble in waking life.

Rather than seeing this situation as something that will leave you powerless, just try calmly chewing over the facts and relish it as a challenge that you can really get your teeth into.

'Your teeth symbolise how confident and powerful you feel, so some situation is causing your confidence to crumble in waking life', Dr Wallace reveals of dreams you are losing your teeth

‘Your teeth symbolise how confident and powerful you feel, so some situation is causing your confidence to crumble in waking life’, Dr Wallace reveals of dreams you are losing your teeth

3. Unable to find a toilet

Toilets are what we use to cleanly respond to some of our most fundamental needs, so there is an issue in your waking life where you are finding it a challenge to clearly express your own needs.

This can often occur if you always spend your time looking after the needs of other people, rather than your own needs.

'Toilets are what we use to cleanly respond to some of our most fundamental needs, so there is an issue where you are finding it a challenge to clearly express your own needs', he says

‘Toilets are what we use to cleanly respond to some of our most fundamental needs, so there is an issue where you are finding it a challenge to clearly express your own needs’, he says

4. Naked in public

We choose our clothes to present a particular image to the people around us, so being naked in public suggests that there is a situation in waking life that is making you feel vulnerable and exposed.

Although it might be potentially embarrassing, sometimes you just have to open up to others so they can see your real talents.

If you are dreaming about being naked a lot you could be feeling vulnerable in your waking life

If you are dreaming about being naked a lot you could be feeling vulnerable in your waking life

5. Unprepared for an exam

Exams are how we judge our ability to perform, so this indicates that you are critically examining your own performance in waking life.

Rather than immersing yourself in endless self-examination, the real test of your character is being able to accept your talents by celebrating your knowledge and achievements, instead of constantly judging them.

'This indicates that you are critically examining your own performance in waking life', Dr Wallace advises to stop judging yourself so harshly if you're dreaming of exams

‘This indicates that you are critically examining your own performance in waking life’, Dr Wallace advises to stop judging yourself so harshly if you’re dreaming of exams

Why we have nightmares and how you can stop them 

Nightmares may be scary but they are among the most useful dreams that you create as they alert you to opportunities in your waking life where you can make powerful choices to increase your sense of well-being and levels of fulfillment.

A nightmare is just a particular type of dream experience where your emotions are heightened and a situation feels out of control.

Although the nightmare may seem uncontrollable, you are creating it, and so you can also take steps to resolve it.

The reason that you create a nightmare isn’t to scare or upset yourself but to make yourself aware that something is out of balance in your waking life. If you try to ignore this imbalance, your unconscious awareness will begin to increase the emotional content of the dream and make it apparently scarier and scarier until you start to consciously pay attention.

'As you start paying attention to the issues, the nightmare will fade', Dr Wallace explains

‘As you start paying attention to the issues, the nightmare will fade’, Dr Wallace explains

The most disturbing aspect of a nightmare can be the feeling that you have no control over it. You may often feel terrified as your unconscious self illuminates some of your frustrated intentions and unresolved tensions from waking life.

Although this can be a nightmarish experience, you are trying to tell yourself something of vital importance and as soon as you start paying attention to this issue, the nightmare will fade.

It can seem easier to avoid scary dreams but the gift of the nightmare is that it will help you to specifically identify powerful solutions to the frustrations and anxieties you may be experiencing in everyday life.

Dr. Ian Wallace was speaking on behalf of online jobs board totaljobs as part of their campaign to highlight how the ‘always-on’ culture is disrupting employee sleep patterns and well-being. 

 

HOW TO GET A BETTER NIGHT’S SLEEP

Make your bedroom a haven for sleep

Rather than simply viewing your bed as a place you go to for a brief respite before facing the challenges of next day, make your bedroom into a haven for sleep, a place where you can always feel comfortable and cosy.

Make sure that the outer world does not intrude into your private space by minimising light and sound levels. Your bedroom should be the place where you can feel most relaxed and at home with yourself.

Minimise gadgets

Try to keep phones, tablets, computers and televisions out of your bedroom. Although they may seem to be quite a nice way to relax when you’re tucked up cosily in bed, they can also make your thoughts overly active at a time when you want your mind to be less consciously active, so that you can gently slip into a deep and restful sleep.

Recharge your batteries

Although it’s OK to keep your phone in your bedroom to recharge it overnight, always remember that the purpose of your bedroom is as a place to recharge your batteries, not the batteries in your phone.

Resist the temptation to check your work emails at 3AM, otherwise your phone will be fully charged in the morning but you will have to try and get through the next day on a half charge of sleep.

Less coffee later in the day

Even though you might be trying to perk yourself up to get through that late afternoon alertness dip, try not to drink too much coffee later in the day, as it will often remain in your system into the evening.

That lovely cappuccino that you drank in the middle of the afternoon may still be working to keep you alert in the middle of the night.

Limit evening alcohol intake

It can be tempting to have a few glasses of wine in the evening to take the edge off a long day and become drowsily relaxed so that you can quickly fall asleep. As your body processes alcohol, however, it becomes a stimulant rather than a sedative, causing you to wake up in the middle of the night and making it difficult for you to get back to sleep again.

Avoid late evening feasts

One of the most popular misconceptions about dreaming and sleeping is that cheese causes nightmares. This is simply an old wives tale, loosely based on the fact that cheese can take quite a bit of effort to digest, so resulting in restless sleep.

Eating any heavy or hard to digest meals late in the evening, such as a big spicy curry, will prevent your body from fully relaxing during sleep, inevitably causing restlessness and wakefulness.

Sort it in the morning

If you have something on your mind in the evening and can’t do anything about it until the next day, simply let it go by making the conscious choice to stop thinking about it.

Worrying needlessly about a situation that you can’t immediately resolve is not the most effective way to use your imagination and just results in a busy mind that may keep you awake.

The best way to resolve any challenging situation is to ensure that you have access to the clarity of thought provided by a well-slept brain.