While we can conquer our infantile fear of darkness and replace stuffed animals with fully real (much more fun) bedfellows, nightmares never vanish. Some surface infrequently at startlingly inappropriate moments (i.e. beside aforementioned bedfellow) or huddle up in our heads, mercilessly recurring throughout the years. Either way, we can agree they are largely unwelcome by almost all of us, but, that for all the fear they create, we’re fascinated by these strangely intriguing messages sent from our subconscious. Now, Mom might have insisted we were entirely unique from everyone else, but that’s only partially true, because night terrors are not entirely our own. Collisions, catastrophes, massive tidal waves – these and several others are shared by slumberers with common anxieties, fears and rages. Check out the eight, timeless tales of subconscious storytelling below – your biggest sleep secret just may have an answer.

Car Crash Dream

Think of the car in this dream as a vehicle symbolic of your emotional state. Here you are, barreling down the highway of your life, and suddenly the car begins staggering like crazy. While the nightmare does not forecast any future danger of literal car accidents, the dream is a symbol of subconsciously lurking anxiety and lack of self control. Dream experts say it is important to take note of whether or not you are in the driver’s seat or the passenger seat of the car that begins to lose control. If you are driving the car, it implies that you are recklessly navigating your real life or driving yourself too hard. If you are in the backseat, it implies that you are not at the helm of your psychological progress – that you are allowing others to drive you to your demise.

Falling Dream

The falling dream often happens as you are literally ‘falling off’ to sleep, simply due to a drop in blood pressure or a foot flung off the corner of the bed. However, it can also signify a high level of anxiety in the dreamer. Suggesting an imbalance of emotions, the falling dream represents a fear of failure and/or letting go. Workaholics and self-destructive sorts are common subjects, because their high level of ambition and anxiety surrounding accomplishment push them to feelings of dread. For the daring dreamers, researchers recommend you allow the fall to complete itself before forcing yourself to wake up. This way, you may see what it is you fear falling into.

Naked Dream

You appear in a highly public place and realize you are wearing absolutely nothing. Awkward and startling, the naked dream carries with it vivid feelings of embarrassment and unfortunate locations (i.e. high school?) loathed by all. This communicates to the dreamer feelings of intense vulnerability or inferiority, as the dream suggests a fear of being discovered emotionally naked and honest, of being judged by merciless fixtures in your life (i.e….high school). A dream wherein you are disgusted by someone else’s nakedness symbolizes your inability to accept them as emotionally naked, transforming you into the judgmental crowd (which is at least better than the naked guy).

Snake Dream

Even Indiana Jones hated snakes, so there’s no need to feel emasculated in your rage against the slithery, shifty species. Dreams about lone snakes signify an awaiting enemy or your anxiety over the possibility of such an enemy, whereas to dream of an entire pit of snakes is said to forecast unfortunate occurrences between lovers or businesses. Snakes are wily, unpredictable creatures and therefore symbolize anything coming your way that might inspire feelings of poisonous threat and manipulative attack. If, in your dream, you heroically defeat the bastard, you’re projecting an ability on your behalf to defeat the threat of your real life adversary and triumph your fears. Good for you.

Chase Dream

The chase dream’s interpretation is pretty logical – you’ve done something none too awesome and are now paying for it by eternally attempting to escape. It may be that you haven’t actually committed any crimes, but more that you are experiencing heavy feelings of guilt from which you’d like to run away. Known as a metaphor for insecurity, this dream suggests you’re stuck in restrictive circumstances, much like the dreams where you find yourself walled into a small enclosure from which you cannot escape.

Drowning Dream

Similar to the vehicle’s manifestation of emotional reality witnessed in the car crash dream, treacherous waters represent the depths of your unconscious. If you find yourself flailing around in a spiraling swell of waves and dark liquid, this reveals your fear of being swallowed by your own, internal confusion. To have this dream more than once is most likely communicating a fear of being sucked into an agreement against your will (i.e. marriage, business ordeal, family affair, ) and the fact that you’re heavily overwhelmed.

Rotted Teeth Dream

By far one of the most terrifying dreams, the rotted teeth dream is highly common amongst people transitioning from one phase of life to the next Whether it is one tooth that falls out by itself, or an entire mouthful of teeth that crumble into the dreamer’s hand, the rotted teeth dream signifies a changeover to higher levels of maturity, (metaphorically addressing the loss of your baby teeth). For this reason, the dream is also associated with fear of aging and feelings of insecurity akin to our childhood years. If they appear to look almost like animal teeth, this signifies an abundance of aggression in the dreamer’s subconscious. If, however, they are false teeth, the dreamer suffers from insecurity concerning sexual attractiveness.

Death Dream

First of all, calm down – death dreams are very rarely actual premonitions of your expiration (excluding Abe Lincoln who was actually right…). For the most part, death dreams are entirely metaphoric, meaning that whomever you see dead is merely representational of an inner death on your part. For example, if you see your mother dead, it may mean that you are witnessing the subconscious death of your care-taking instincts. Take careful notice of the dead person in your dream and ask yourself what this person might represent in your emotional life. If it is you yourself that you see dead, try to observe your clothing or hairstyle – this may represent a time in your life that has come to a close or a part of yourself you are putting to rest. All in all, the death dream can be considered one of the more positive nightmares (though not the most enjoyable), because it is most commonly a liberation from something yet unsolved.