What It Really Means When You Dream About Falling

Dreams have their own logic. One minute you might be wandering through a foggy street, or eating an ice cream cone, or slow-dancing with your high school crush. And then the next, you're free-falling — a sensation so vivid that you might even jerk awake. The feeling of wind through your hair as you descend downward can seem so real; the impending ground getting closer and closer. As your eyelids snap open, you're probably wondering what on earth that was about. Congratulations: You've just had one of the most common dreams people experience.

"Dreaming about falling is one of the universal dream experiences. Virtually everyone has dreamt about and experienced the sensation of falling when asleep," dream expert Cathleen O'Connor, Ph.D., told Huffington Post. "Like any dream symbol, understanding the relevance of a falling dream to your waking life is key." So what should you make of your nightmare about falling?

Dreams about falling can mean you're feeling anxious

Throughout time, theologists, philosophers, and psychologists have had similar theories about what it means to dream about falling. A biblical interpretation is that you've failed morally (via Evangelist Joshua). Similarly, Sigmund Freud famously wrote in his 1899 book, The Interpretation of Dreams, "If a woman dreams of falling, it almost invariably has a sexual sense; she is imagining herself as a 'fallen woman.'" This commentary may sound a wee bit judge-y in the 21st century, but no doubt being seen as "fallen" was a legit concern in those days. 

A more modern interpretation of a falling dream: You're feeling insecure, anxious, and/or out of control in some area of your life, possibly in your career or in a relationship, per Dream Moods. "Whether you are plummeting off a skyscraper or tumbling into a ditch, the falling dream indicates that something in your life or within your psyche is going in the wrong direction," dream expert Lauri Loewenberg told The Zoe Report. "We tend to get the falling dream as it is an expression of how the bad news brings our spirits down."

So how do you prevent these nightmares from wrecking your precious eight hours? O'Connor said it's important to deal with your feelings of failure or disappointment while you're awake — then they won't haunt you so much when you're asleep.