Every once in a while, we wake up from a dream that is so strange, wonderful, or just plain terrifying, we wonder if our mind is trying to let us in on a future event. Could our dreaming minds be warning us of an impending death– or maybe even a lottery win?!

But, for better or for worse, common sense dictates that dreams are anything but prophetic. For example, just because you had a dream that you married Donald Duck doesn’t mean you should book your ticket to the Magic Kingdom. (Bad example, we know!) The occurrences in your dreams shouldn’t be treated as future events, but rather as symbols for what your intuition might be trying to tell you.

When taken at surface level, this symbolism can be jarring and even scary, but if you start familiarizing yourself with the common themes found in dreams, you’ll learn to interpret emotions so deep, you may not have even realized that you were suppressing them in the first place! Here are 7 of the most common dream symbols decoded.

  1. Missing Teeth

    Do your teeth have trouble staying in your mouth when you’re dreaming? OK, we can practically hear you guys saying “Yes!” to this one. It goes without saying that these types of nightmares are some of the most common, but just because so many of us have them doesn’t mean that we are all late on our 6-month checkups.

    According to Dream Moods, the teeth act as a symbol for how you feel about your appearance, so if you have some anxieties about the way you look, these types of dreams may be a frequent occurrence for you. People also report similar instances of their teeth falling out as they speak in their dreams, a sign that might be indicative of not feeling heard either at work or at home. Time to assert yourselves, folks!

  2. Money

    When it comes to money, it’s fair to say that the dream could go a couple of different ways– you could either win the lottery or you could lose all of your cash! But while the most pleasant of slumbers involve monetary gains, more often than not, money acts as a symbol of high anxiety.

    In fact, many individuals report dreams of losing money, falling victim to a scam, or even over-indulging. That can be interpreted as a “loss of credit.” Perhaps your mind is trying to tell you it’s time to re-evaluate your current spending habits or even the spending habits of those around you!

  3. Final Exams

    There’s nothing worse than suffering from that dreaded “I have a final biology exam, but haven’t studied a lick” nightmare well after you’ve earned your diploma!

    An article published in Psychology Today suggests that this dream points to a sort of school-themed PTSD that affects individuals who were educated in “high-stakes,” results-based environments. It makes sense, but who knew that a super hard 10th-grade science class would be stressing you out for the rest of your life?!

  4. Home Invasions

    There’s no nightmare more terrifying than one in which a home invasion occurs. To understand a dream like this, you need to look closely at the main symbol— home. Home is where the heart is; it’s supposed to be a safe place of protection and relaxation. So if someone or something is infringing on that safety, it likely means that you feel that your privacy is being threatened in your day-to-day.

    Perhaps you’re a stay-at-home mom who can’t get any alone time or maybe you feel that your safety has been compromised. Either way, it’s a powerful symbol that can lead to distressing dreams. Definitely not one to be ignored!

  5. Public Nudity

    Unless you’re a nudist – not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course! – the idea of going about your day in the buff probably makes you want to curl up into a corner and cry. That said, most of us endure the embarrassment in dreams from time to time, a sign that you may actually be deeply embarrassed about something in your waking life.

    So, after you wake up from your next nude nightmare, take a moment to think about what you might be embarrassed or ashamed about. Sometimes these issues are so deep, we hide them from even ourselves— until we fall asleep, that is…

  6. Birth

    Birth dreams can be jarring ones, especially if you’ve never had a baby in real life— or if you’re a dude, of course. Now, the first thought that many ladies have when they experience birthing dreams is that they might be pregnant, but usually, this is not the case.

    Giving birth generally just means that your mind is going through a creative spell— think of it as you giving “birth” to a new idea. If the babies are twins, you could be grappling with creative conflict – the left brain is fighting the right brain – and if your dream baby is premature, it could mean that your ideas are underdeveloped. A deep recurring dream, indeed!

  7. Sleep Paralysis

    Though not necessarily a symbol, this is quite possibly the most striking way to dream. Those who experience sleep paralysis are often described as being “half awake and half asleep.” It may sound intriguing to those who have never dealt with it, but sufferers know all too well how terrifying this place can be.

    Oftentimes, these folks are burdened with the sensation that they are “locked inside” their bodies— they can’t move, talk, and in the worst cases, breathe. To top it all off, many report seeing visions of demonic presences or intruders sitting atop their chests. Yep, pretty awful.

    Although recurring sleep paralysis is categorized as a sleep disorder, it could occur when your body is trying to tell you something. Studies show that sufferers are generally people who may be experiencing hidden health problems, like mental health disorders or even narcolepsy– serious stuff. So, if the above symptoms ring true for you, it’s time to talk to your doc!

Do you feel better knowing that you’re not the only person in the world having that “naked at work” dream? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this list. Do you pay attention to the symbolism in your dreams? If so, which ones are recurring for you? Have you found a way to treat your sleep paralysis?