Shakespeare’s Hamlet quote famously stated “to sleep, perchance to dream” but he may have changed his mind judging by the latest survey results from Sealy UK. Their study of one thousand adults in the UK revealed a disturbing trend for Brits to let fear and worry dominate their dreams once they drift off into sleep, with images involving falling or being chased topping the poll.

Top ten themes

Those interviewed were asked to indicate what ran through their minds while they slept and began to let dreams take over their subconscious thoughts. The top ten most common themes (in order), or commonly nightmares judging by the list, were classified as follows:

  • Falling
  • Being chased
  • Teeth falling out
  • Famous people
  • Taking a test without having revised for it
  • Sleeping through an alarm
  • A partner cheating
  • Being naked in public
  • Death
  • Being pregnant

Intriguingly, the life changing events of ‘death’ and ‘being pregnant’ were seemingly overshadowed by more mundane concerns about taking tests or perhaps being late for an appointment.

Freud would see meanings

Sigmund Freud would have no doubt found the results extremely interesting, being something of an expert in the field of finding explanations for people’s behaviour through their dreams. The famous Austrian is often considered to be the father of psychoanalysis, whereby daytime events either current or repressed from the past can be revealed through the subconscious. Being able to interpret them can be the first step to finding a remedy or solution for what is troubling the individual.

Dream interpretation

Dreams are one means by which concerns may show themselves, albeit often in a confusing manner that isn’t immediately clear as to their real message. A dream featuring falling for instance could indicate that a person feels that they are losing control, being unable to get to grips with an issue that faces them in their waking lives.

It can imply insecurity or a sense of a lack of support from others leading to a sense of helplessness.

Being chased could indicate that a person is avoiding facing an issue or situation. The issue may be something that the individual believes is impossible to overcome. The consequent stress and anxiety that is being caused may make the issue feel deeply threatening.

Dreams relating to being naked in a public place are quite common and perhaps slightly surprisingly only ranked eighth on the recent survey. It is commonly interpreted as a sense of being vulnerable or exposed. Perhaps an aspect of a person’s private life now feels as though it is out in the open for others to see it, implying that personal privacy has been infringed.

Not everyone dreams

The survey was conducted on behalf of Sealy UK, the bed manufacturer. The results did however highlight that one in nine people (11 per cent) have no need to worry about interpreting their dreams: they simply don’t dream at all!