This Is Why You're Dreaming About Danger (And When You Should Be Worried)

When you crawl into bed, you're probably looking forward to a night of sweet dreams. But sometimes, nightmares come along and ruin your peaceful eight hours. Even though scary dreams can leave you feeling on edge, they aren't uncommon — half of adults report having nightmares every now and then, according to WebMD.

One theme of many bad dreams is being in danger, where you feel that your life is on the line. Interpretations of danger-related dreams can vary. For example, Dream Glossary suggests that dreaming about being in danger signals real-life tension and that you might be overworked. TellMeMyDream also says these dreams may relate to problems in day-to-day life, though it explains that the subconscious may also be trying to encourage caution. CheckMyDream, on the other hand, explains that danger in a dream often results in the opposite in your waking life. In other words, dreaming of being in danger could mean that luck and growth are on the way.

Another way to interpret these dreams is to look at the dangerous situations they contain. Certain types of danger can offer more specific clues about the dream's true meaning. Here are some of the most common dreams about danger and when they could spell danger in real life.

Dreams about falling

There's a good chance you've dreamed of falling at least once or twice. Falling dreams are among the most common dreams, and they're also the most common type of nightmare (per Amerisleep). Unlike dreams about flying or floating, these nightmares often feel more frightening, as you watch your dream self descend toward the ground.

According to Healthline, dreaming about falling may reveal certain emotions or thinking patterns that are troubling you. These can include feeling insecure, unstable, anxious, overwhelmed, or out of control. Falling in a dream might also signal feelings of inadequacy or inferiority.

In other cases, your psyche may have little to do with these dreams. Sometimes, muscle contractions that occur as you fall asleep — called hypnic jerks — can make you feel like you're falling, triggering a nightmare of tumbling through the air (via Healthline). It's common to be woken from these dreams as your body twitches in real life.

Dreams about being chased

Dreams of being chased can be disturbing, even if you're not sure who (or what) is chasing you. Antonio Zadra, a professor of psychology and co-author of "When Brains Dream," told Women's Health that these dreams may mean you feel smothered or trapped in some way. Another explanation, he says, is that you're being chased by a part of yourself that you're trying to escape.

Sometimes, your fears may be embodied by a person chasing you, even if that person isn't truly dangerous, says Dreams' dream encyclopedia. For example, you may be chased by a loved one who represents a challenging aspect of yourself or your life. Similarly, an animal chasing you likely symbolizes a worry you're wrestling with.

If a stranger is chasing you in your dream, Dreams explains that you likely feel anxious in real life, but you're not sure why. This could mean that it's time to confront any problems you've been trying to ignore or hide from.

Dreams about accidents

Anyone who drives or takes public transportation knows that accidents happen from time to time. You might see a car crash on the side of the road or hear of a train accident causing delays in your city. If you're exposed to this type of danger in your everyday life, you might find that accidents soon make their way into your dreams too.

Psychic website Aunty Flo says that accident dreams don't necessarily have a spiritual meaning, but they could be a warning of a possible threat in your life. Experiencing an accident in your dream may also indicate general fear and worry.

If you dream about car crashes specifically, you might be stressed about some real-life conflict (via This type of dream could follow a breakup, argument, or unresolved tension with someone you've been trying to avoid.

Also, pay attention to who's in the driver's seat in your car accident dream. If it's someone other than yourself, you may feel that this person exercises too much control over you and your life.

Dreams about natural disasters

Like accidents, natural disasters are dangerous situations that often happen without warning and involve being out of control — think earthquakes, tornados, or wildfires. However, the meanings of these danger-related dreams can be slightly different.

First, Dream Dictionary suggests taking note of any natural disasters in the media you've consumed lately. Sometimes, hearing of a tragic wildfire or watching a movie about a flood is enough to influence your dreams.

If your dreams about natural disasters aren't connected to current events or media, they might be communicating your inner mood. According to Keen — a website about spirituality and psychic mediums — water, wind, and other natural phenomena can represent emotions in dreams. For instance, the powerful winds of a hurricane symbolize overwhelm and emotional upheaval. The shakiness of an earthquake can mean you feel unstable. And a volcanic eruption might indicate an explosion of anger or sexual arousal.

With so many types of natural disasters, not all dreams involving one will have the same meaning. Note the type of natural disaster you dreamed of, and consider what emotional state it may connect to in your life.

When to worry about dreams of danger

The danger-related dream that jolts you awake may be one of the types discussed above, or it might have a different theme, such as a dream about drowning or a house fire. Regardless of the specifics, dreams about danger are usually normal and may even be beneficial. Antonio Zadra told Women's Health that "the brain creates these unusual dream narratives so we have an experience that we react to. Then it uses these feelings to make sense of the world around us." Similarly, research supports a theory —called the threat simulation theory — that scary dreams allow the brain to rehearse dangerous situations so it's prepared in case they ever come true.

Even though dreaming of danger is a normal and even healthy way for the brain to process information, notice how these dreams affect you. According to the Sleep Foundation, unsettling dreams that happen more than once a week and negatively impact your well-being and daily functioning should be discussed with a medical professional. Additionally, talk to your doctor if you notice nightmares after starting a new medication.

And what about danger-related dreams that end in death? While these dreams might be disturbing, they can't predict the future and shouldn't be taken literally (per Healthline). If recurring dreams about death are keeping you awake at night — literally or figuratively — share your concerns with a therapist.